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book review: machine moon (descender vol. 2)

I like space operas. They are a very comfortable kind of fiction for me. Assembled families in space ships going around and having adventures is all I really want in life and is actually one of the things I’m saddest will never be a real thing I can do. Since I’ll never get to live in a spaceship I make do with making this kind of thing my favourite kind of RPG scenario and read comics that follow the path.

Dustin Nguyen and Jeff Lemire’s Descender is one of those stories. The main character is a companion robot who is the key to robot evolution and was missed when the majority of robots were exterminated after turning on humanity.

Machine Moon is the second volume in the series and it remains pretty good. Nguyen’s watercoloury art makes it feel more serious than it might otherwise. The dialogue is good and I like the characters and the big problems they’re facing. The main problem is just one of serialization; I’d like to read the whole story in one go but can’t.

This isn’t better than Saga, but I like it.

And I haven’t ever written about Saga on here? What? We talked a bit about it in an old episode of Librarians on the Radio if you’re interested.

librarians on democracy

The most recent full LotR episode – Librarians on Democracy – is available on the Internet Archive. We have interviews with Micheal Vonn, Vincent Gogolek and David Christopher about information issues in the upcoming federal election. It’ll be in the Librarianautica podcast (iTunes / RSS) soon after airing on CHLY 101.7FM. The next episode will be airing October 20, 2015.

text "Librarianautica" split over 4 lines over a Hokusai print of waves

librarianautica podcast = librarians on the radio

One of the issues I have with Librarians on the Radio is that we are often talked about as a podcast. Until now that hasn’t been strictly true. We’ve been a radio show whose episodes I collect on the Internet Archive in the Nanaimo Community Radio Library. Podcasts need an RSS feed and for people not to have to go to a website to find a new episode. We didn’t have a really good podcast feed and more importantly for a lot of users, we weren’t findable in iTunes’ podcasts even before the radio station’s previous podcast hosting went under. That has all changed!

Here’s the Librarianautica RSS feed to plug into your non-iTunes podcast app and here’s the iTunes link to the show. I call it Librarianautica rather than Librarians on the Radio for the searchability factor (search for it in iTunes Podcasts and you should find it unlike the previous show title), and because I like making up words. It doesn’t have the whole back catalogue yet (only two storytime episodes up so far) because I don’t have a hugely expensive hosting plan, but this’ll be enough for now and hopefully a while into the future.

I hope that’s useful for you. Thanks for listening.

storytime (in seniors’ centres and on the radio)

One of the things I don’t get a chance to do so much since moving into my new position as a librarian for adults is read stories to people. So it’s kind of cool that with our library branch being renovated (and me being redeployed to a branch where I am kind of extraneous a lot of the time) I get to do something about that.

Jen — one of my adult-librarian colleagues — and I have been visiting seniors’ homes in our town and just reading stories to them. There are two of us so we can alternate and not get too tired, and so the listeners get a bit of a range of voices. Originally we looked at the kinds of stories recommended by “library services” books for this kind of program and oh my glob were they terrible. All Reader’s Digest “ain’t that just the way things work?” sorts of schmaltzy/down-homey bullshit. Instead we just grabbed books and stories we liked and read them to the seniors.

Yes, many of them fall asleep while we’re reading Ivan Coyote and Neil Gaiman and Lydia Davis, but we see that as a good thing. It’s soothing to be read to, and adults don’t get enough of that. And sometimes there are cookies after our 30-60 minutes are up!

A couple of weeks ago we ran into a couple of young visitors who were leaving and they saw our stacks of books (we always bring too many) and they asked what we’d be doing. Jen gave a bit of an elevator pitch and the family members smiled. Then the guy said “that crowd in there is hoping you work blue” and we all laughed. (We do tend to shy away from really cuss-laden stories for the old people.)

And because that’s been working in person I’m starting to do some grown-up storytime shows on Librarians on the Radio with Emily Orr (who also works on LotR proper). Yesterday was the first official one on the Changes broadcast, but I did a couple of independent test episodes as training on the boards at CHLY. I call them Librarianautica shows because I like the idea of these shows being a collection of stories a wandering librarian gathers. You can listen to yesterday’s show — Wild Musical Beasts — here. Apologies for the 30-second CHLY promo off the top.

winning awards

Around our workplace there’s a joke that we should all be putting “award-winning librarian” in our bios when we show up in the outside world. After all, who is to say that the participation award from your grade 4 track meet isn’t what made you the professional you are today? I’ve totally done it though. I called myself award-winning in the bio for a talk Jason and I gave at the Vancouver Island Library Staff Conference a few weeks ago, because I really did win an award for making radio back in journalism school. It seemed relevant as part of my radio librarian bona fides. But whatever.

I worry about winning awards in librarianship. The things I tend to do are, while not designed to be high profile, a bit different from the standard librarian things. Which isn’t to say I don’t love the nuts & bolts kind of work of figuring out the answer to a tricky question – that’s the reason I librarian at all – but I’ve always always always wanted to do something different from what other people are doing rather than do what they’re doing better. So I see people who are amazeballs at storytime, bringing in huge crowds and getting all that awesome early learning stuff in there and I want to leave that to them and go do something else, like our radio show, or e-privacy workshop type stuff. Which is fine and all. I get to do things I’m good at and let the people who are really good at the core libraryish things do them.

But then I get twitchy about this because I’m basically just taking advantage of the novelty of what I’m doing to get recognition or whatever. It feels like an ego-stroke, a lot like going to the BC library conference is the only place in this world where I “know people” which can be weirdly ego-inflating. And then the people who are doing the really great normal librarian stuff get left out of the recognition party, which sucks. I don’t want my flashy, kind-of-tangential-to-traditional-library-work projects to outshine my colleagues who are awesome in lower profile ways.

Anyway yeah. Which is to say, I’m sorry for self-promoting. I think what we’re doing with Librarians on the Radio is fun and a good use of my talents such as they are. We won a BCLA Merit award for it (well, our library did). It goes on the CV and we’ll try to keep on making shows I hope are deserving of the recognition all my colleagues should be getting.

librarians on tales and poetry

The most recent LotR episode – Librarians on Tales and Poetry (MP3 link) – is now available on the Internet Archive. That episode features an epic albumfight in honour of National Poetry month (MP3 link). Next show will air May 26, 2015 and it’s tentatively entitled Librarians on Words and Pictures (it’s a comics episode).