Book Review 015

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman

Book: The Grimm Legacy

Author: Polly Shulman

Summary: Elizabeth Rew is feeling lonely in her new home and school. With her father working more to pay for her step sisters’ college tuition and her best friend moving to California,  her closet confidant is a rag doll that once belonged to her late mother. After a particularly lonely day Elizabeth is offered a part-time job at a local repository. From that day on Elizabeth’s life is not the same. Getting to know her new coworkers is giving her spirits some lifting and is allowing her to learn and see new things, surrounded by objects from all over the world and throughout history. But there are whispers and a tension that is permeating through her new workplace. Everyone is talking about recent thefts attributed to an old page, yet are still occurring. And what is this Dungeon she keeps hearing about but yet no one will be straight with her about it? She’s warned to take care with a possible abnormally large bird stalking pages and patrons alike. But when she’s finally let in on the secret will it be too late for her?

My thoughts:First I found out about this book on while browsing Pinterest. And it was an instant “Must Read This Book!” moment. The description attached to the pin was this:

Have you ever wondered what they keep in the super special collections at libraries? Elizabeth Rew is about to find out. She takes an after school job as a page at the New York Circulating Material Repository, which houses a collection of objects ranging from plastic buttons to Marie Antoinette’s wig. But as Elizabeth becomes more comfortable at her new job she begins to see that there is something odd going on. Two of the previous pages left the Repository under suspicious circumstances…

I’ve always been attracted to special collections, the rarer the better. But even simple historical objects are a big thing to me. If objects could talk the stories they could tell. And who hasn’t ever thought about a super special collection hidden away behind a secret door in a library? I have, plenty of times, especially those old ornate libraries that have you thinking if you pull on the right lever or knock in the right place a swish and a swoosh will happen and before you will be an old passageway leading to great secrets. That’s the feeling Shulman tries to infuse into this story. It inspires great fantasies of what libraries could be or are. I find that this was indeed a great read, simple and sweet if you will. I started it and finished it one day, and it’s a decent size teen book. It just flows really well, and the writing is smooth. There’s action, romance, mystery, and suspense but none of them is overtly strong…they’re pretty balance resulting in a fun read. I think this will make a great addition to my library and I hear there is a sequel but yet I can’t find actual proof that it has been published. But I think young teens would enjoy this book, especially if they have a liking of libraries, history, mystery or all three.


My Time in Special Collections

Me working in Special Collections

I realized that I never spoke about my time in Special Collections. If you’ve read my blog doing the early months then you probably know that I entered grad school believing I wanted to work in Archives or Special Collections. It soon morphed to me not really knowing where I wanted to fit it and only recently have I felt like I’ve found my calling in the Reference department.

When I got a chance to tour special collections and archives at ZSR, I took it as a chance to get some hours and experience in. I still love special collections and archives because at heart I will always be a history geek. One day I hope to be able to combine reference and archives but that’s for another day. Today we’re going to talk about my three weeks in Special Collection, specifically Rare Books.

While there I started an inventory project. ZSR Rare Books is basically built around the library of one man. Charles Lee Smith, a professor, university president, publisher, bibliophile. He donated his entire collection in 1941. The inventory project came about when they noticed that some of the books where not showing up in the catalog. While some books are in multiples and housed in different departments it was important to note the ones in Rare Books.

My part in the project was to check each book against the catalog. Note the ones that weren’t in there and any strange occurrences. Thinking that I would find one or two in a section. Imagine my surprise when only one or two on the shelf WAS in the catalog. Here’s some snapshots I took.

The Alcove where I worked

Shelf full of old books

One of the books protected by a wax paper cover

Showing the catalog card Charles Smith created for his library

The call numbers, the collection is organized by this system

In the end I was able to handle the rare books and learn from the librarians about rare books. Even though this wasn’t the point of my practicum I’m still glad I was able to fit this in. It was a great experience and now I can say I’ve handled rare books and have knowledge of special collection management.

Practicum: Day 15 and 16: Instruction and Special Collection

Another busy week and I have the bags under my eyes to prove it. Tuesday I found myself on the reference desk solo. Unlike Spring Break however I wasn’t bombarded with telephone and chat questions but in person requests for help. Paper season is officially in effect. Most of the questions resulted in ILL requests. Which meant I got a lot of exposure to their ILL set up. After lunch I had the co-instruction class which included going over finding reference materials as suppose to general sources. After class I had another one on one meeting with the Science Liaison Librarian. Then I headed up to Special Collections to start working on an inventory project that has me working directly with their special collection, which is really (for the most part) a guy’s personal library that he donated in whole. I’m going through each book and seeing if shows up in the catalog. Surprisingly almost every other book is not showing up. Which is a major problem as he has some awesome texts that could help a lot of researchers. His library covered many areas. But no one knew they had theses titles.

Thursday was a big day that started again on the reference desk as usual but after lunch I officially entered the world of instruction as I had my first chance to teach a class. It was Zotero and how to use it for their first assignment. It went faster than I thought and the fact that I was able to stay calm and not freak out before or after is a big success for me. The librarian that I’m co-teaching with said I did a wonderful job and am on track to becoming an excellent instructor. I had one student stay behind so I could help them some as they aren’t comfortable with technology. I ended the day again back in special collection talking with the librarians about how so many books could have been left off. I was sure to mention that it could have been just that one section as the titles are common and they show up others places and maybe people were confused and thought they had covered that one.

Even though physically I’m near the end of my energy pool I still have a lot of excitement about the things to come. Just recapping my week shows how much I’ve done and how far I’ve come since January. Taking on the reference desk alone and not thinking twice about it. Prepping for a class and ignoring the rabid butterflies attacking my spleen. Talking to professionals and giving my thoughts on a project as if I’d been doing that kind of thing for years are all new and excitedly different things for me.

I learned a lot this week, just like the other weeks but I think the biggest lesson came from teaching the class. And that would be to plan on teaching 1/3 of what you’ve plan to teach. I managed to get through most of it and show them how to use it for the first assignment which is due next week. But none of the fun, great, features that it holds. I teach another class next week.

Practicum Day Four: Personal Research Help and Special Collections

After serving my reference desk hours which started off slow thanks to the dreary weather today, I was able to change up the normal schedule some. I sat in with my supervisor as she conducted a personal research session with an undergraduate student. The personal research sessions aren’t something unique to my site however it was still good to sit in on one as I’ve only been involved in one from the opposite side of the coin. It was fun because the topic dealt with history. The way they do their sessions is the student requests a session, using a form they can find on the library’s webpage, which is then automatically emailed out on a specific listserv. The whole department gets the listserv, which allows anyone who is interested in the topic, or maybe has some background with the student can then take the appointment. I know that in my school the student has to email the librarian that works as their department liaison. I’ve noticed that most students don’t know who that is, usually it’s those who has had a professor ask the librarian into the classroom. I think my site’s system works a bit better because even through it’ still on the student to initiate the help, it makes it easier for them to get help. They don’t have to search and then email a librarian who might not have the real time to devote solely to the student as much as the student need.

I then met up with Special Collections Librarian for a one or one tour and an introduction to Special Collections. Most of you know I have a thing for Archives and Special Collections. Although as I learn more I realize I have a thing for all departments. Which is why I know I’m in the right field since I’ll find joy in any part of the library world. Any way back to my point, meeting with the Special Collections Librarian was great, we talked about the job market particularly Special Collections and Archives. I was sharing how I wasn’t find many job postings for entry-level work in that part of the field. He agreed that it was a hard to break into. He gave me some tips on where to look and then offered a chance to come back for a project or two. I’m going to definitely take him up on that. If all learn is how to repair a book I’d be stoked.

I’m so glad that I listened to my advisor and made sure I did a practicum. Even though I’ve done the internship. This is proving to be more than about earning skills as it is dispel some of the misunderstandings and having awesome discussions about this field.