New Title On My Shelf – Library Director!

There’s a new title on Bookstoremama’s shelf. Actually the title is attached to Bookstoremama’s life. It is Library Director!

After the bookstore that I had worked at for over 23 years closed I went to work for a marketing company who specializes in web design, but I kept my hand in the book world by volunteering at my local library. The library had always been a  place of great enjoyment even while I worked at the bookstore. I had a friendly relationship with the staff and the then director and I shared information, questions, and alot of the same tastes in reading, with enough differences that we constantly exposed each other to new authors. We would use each other as resources when trying to solve questions raised by our patrons.

Three years ago one of the library technicians retired and after a long process I was hired to fill her position. This happened not long after my friend, the library director, had been diagnosed with colon cancer. Over the next year as she successfully fought her cancer battle, I was given the opportunity to step up and use skills I had acquired while at the bookstore to serve our library. During that first year I organized the week-long centennial celebration for the library. It is one of the 25 Carnegie libraries (originally there were 66) still operating as a public library in Minnesota. The research involved in putting the celebration together sparked a bigger involvement in helping promote the history of our city and involvement with our Heritage Committee for a website, Facebook, and other projects.

Over the last 3 years I’ve learned that there is a HUGE difference between a bookstore and a library. A library is SO MUCH MORE than connecting people with books, but it’s all good! Along the way I’ve picked up more schooling, done library workshops on cataloging, children’s programming, and other fun things. And although my friend, the Director, recovered from her cancer battle other health issues harassed her to the point where she opted to take early retirement in June. Since then the City has been going through the process of selecting a new Library Director. An Interim Director was brought into place during the process, which enabled me to apply for the position without any conflict of interest. The process ran its course last month and I received notification that I was not selected for the position. A disappointment for sure, but I also knew those involved in the selection process and knew that their pick would be the best choice for our library. That said, you can imagine my shock and gratitude when I walked into the City Administrator’s office on the morning 2 days before the Interim Director was stepping down to find out how we were to handle things until the new Director arrived only to be asked if I was still interested in the position. YES!!! My nomination went before the City Council the next night and I started as Library Director at 8 a.m. the following morning!

While on the one hand it was a head-spinning, whiplash-inducing feeling, once I got past the swimming-in-jello stage, it feels so totally right. There’s lots to figure out at this time, planning for next year, filling my place on the staff, getting new books ordered, making sure everyone uses up their personal/vacation time before the end of the year….the list seems to be getting longer instead of shorter, but I’m settling into this next season of life with great joy.

So I am looking forward to checking out this new title on my shelf.


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So What Do I Expect to Get Out of 23 Mobile Things?

How do you know if you’ve accomplished what you set out to achieve if you don’t first identify where you think you are going? That is the challenge before me, to identify what I hope to get out of 23 Mobile Things.

I am a  relative newbie when it comes to “smart” phones and mobile technology. My sons gave me a Kindle 4 years ago and then upgraded me to a Kindle Fire a year ago, but I’ve only ever used them for reading.  I got my first smartphone, a Galaxy S4, in July 2013 and while I have figured out a few things there is so much for me to learn about apps and how to determine which are the most useful and the most versatile. So the the first thing I expect to get out of 23 Mobile Things is a better understanding of what my device is capable of and how to get more use out of it.

A second factor is that our community and local library is in an area with an older population, many of whom are like me and just now getting into their first “smart” devices. The second thing I expect to get out of 23 Mobile Things is the ability to help our patrons when they come in with their devices and have questions about how and where to best use their devices.

So my objectives:

  • To discover what apps are available for my Android (Galaxy S4) device
  • To learn how to use those apps more effectively
  • To become comfortable enough about the apps to be able to teach others where to find them and how to use them

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Starting 23 Mobile Things MN

October 2013 saw the start of a new phase of my life, fulfillment of a life long dream.

Beginning in 5th grade, I would volunteer  in whatever library would let me. From the classroom bookshelf, to the grammar school, junior high, and high school libraries I spent any free time and study halls I had helping shelve books and doing whatever the professionals would allow me to do to help. After I married and had my kids I was fortunate enough to work first at B. Dalton and then spend 23 years as the buyer for an independent bookseller. As time and various local librarians allowed I would volunteer. The marriage ended and the bookstore closed and I found solace shelving books at my library. Our is small town so the library staff consisted of our  head librarian, MaryBeth, and 2 library technicians, Debbie and Cindy. Last year Debbie retired and I was invited to apply for her position. After an extensive hiring process I officially became a librarian in October.

One of the things I love the most about working in the library is that I am constantly learning new things and that is what 23 Mobile Things is all about. It is a self-paced learning program that will identify 23 types of apps for me to discover and learn how to use on my chosen mobile device, which in my case is the Galaxy S4 phone I got earlier this year. This learning program is giving librarians and our support, be it Boards, Friends, or Advisory groups, the opportunity of expanding our knowledge and using popular technology to be more effective for our patrons.

So the next adventure has begun. And as I travel through the 23 Mobile Things portion of it I will be sharing what I am learning here with anyone who wants to hear about it. The journey through 23 Mobile Things is to be completed by June 15th with lots to learn along the way. Thing 1 was registering and sharing a blog post about 23 Mobile Things and what we hope to get out of the program.

So stay tuned! The adventure is just beginning!

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David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

I so appreciate anyone who can look at a topic or story that we think we know and bring us to a new perspective of that story. Perhaps it is something that was cultivated in me. Learning the odd factoids and sharing them brought positive attention from my parents and teachers when I was young. I would eagerly await the late Paul Harvey’s daily sharing of “The Rest of the Story” to find out what really was behind so many things we took for granted.

Throughout David and Goliath Malcolm Gladwell gives us the rest of the story behind a number of people, incidents, and events we think we know. And it is so hard for me not to spill the beans and talk about what we have wrong perceptions of – who were actually soldiers and what were actual weapons, how the media is more about creating a sensation than getting the participants right, how people with the best of intentions can do more damage than good when their “good intentions” are translated into real life and carried to their full extent rather than the ideals that their originators intended. Malcolm exposes how so often the sociological models used by “authorities” don’t take into account the human factor – where individuals and individual actions can radically change the outcomes in directions the intellectual planners never saw coming.

Malcolm Gladwell takes on the issues of how basketball is played, classroom sizes, choosing a college, dyslexia, the early years of childhood leukemia research, the civil rights movement, Northern Ireland, Three Strikes, and Le Chambon during World War II. Each section starts with an introduction of an individual who highlights each of these aspect in their role as an Underdog or Misfit and how they exemplified The Art of Battling Giants.

In each section we are  introduced to the background story of an individual and how their situation highlights an aspect of being an underdog or misfit. Malcolm then breaks up their story within the section, using the portion of the overarching story that was shared to springboard into a discussion of what is working, or more often not working,  in the situation presented. For me, this was where thing could get bogged down. Not because the information wasn’t pertinent, but because I am a casual reader of the subject and wanted to know the rest of the story for the individual originally introduced. Most chapters conclude celebrating how they conquered the giant they were battling. In the case of any exceptions, winning strategies for battling that specific  giant are put forth.

I would strongly recommend Section Three – Carol Sacks “If I’d gone to the University of Maryland, I’d still be in science.” to every person considering where to go for college. Her story is one where she did not win the battle with her giant, but provides a lesson that every parent and college bound teen would be wise to study. Malcolm lays out an excellent argument that I saw played out in my own sons’ journey through their college experiences. The argument is that it is better mentally, emotionally, and even career-wise, to be a Big Fish in a Small Pond than to go to a prestigious school and be a Small Fish in that Big Pond. While going to that name school may look good on a resume, the internal damage could stop you from pursuing your passion.

An overarching theme for the book itself is the fact that these individuals did not look at what others would label “disabilities” or “disadvantages” in their lives and let that be their label, but each turned the lessons learned along the way of living different into advantages to battle the giants. By refusing to be defined by any perceived weakness, they conquered obstacles and have changed the way many of us live. I think this is best summed up in a quote in the book in the section on the London Blitz. Popular sociological models of the time suggested that the people of England would be so panic-stricken when the bombing started that there would be massive deaths, not necessarily from the bombs themselves, but from peoples’ reactions to the bombing. This was not the case, leading to the quote “Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and discovered they aren’t so tough after all.”

Thank you Malcolm for introducing us to some courageous individuals and giving us insights on how they were able to conquer their giants so we have vision and strategies for taking on some of our own.



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Review of The Joy of Intercession: A Happy Intercessor Devotional by Benni Johnson

I recently received an advanced reader copy of Benni Johnson’s Happy Intercessor. It’s subtitle “A 40 Day Encounter” lets you know that this is not a book intended to just entertain or inform a reader about the subject of intercession. The book starts with a dedication to the reader thanking them, not just because they bought the book, but for taking the time to go through the book, seeking to know God, and be changed by our encounters with Him in the process of going through the pages.
As Benni states at the beginning of her introduction this book is designed to be a continuation of the concepts and principles presented in “The Happy Intercessor” but don’t feel that you can’t do this great book without first reading that one. The introduction is an overview of Benni’s view of intercession through a series of questions and answers and then the fun begins.
Each day’s devotion is made up of four parts. It begins with a Scripture verse, then a devotion that is an excerpt from “The Happy Intercessor” which lay the groundwork for the questions in Reflections. These 4-6 questions are designed to help you take a look at your thoughts about yourself and that day’s aspect of intercession. The fourth part is Meditative Action, a second short excerpt from “The Happy Intercessor” where Benni shares her own actions in relationship to the day’s topic and two actions that the reader can pursue.
This book could easily be used as a self guided study for anyone who wants to go deeper in the things of God, particularly as it pertains to intercession. I was challenged in some of my thinking to go beyond not just in prayer, but with God. I would highly recommend this book not just to those interested in prayer and intercession, but for anyone who feels stagnate in their relationship with God and for those who want a deeper, more real, relationship with Him.

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Closing the Bookstore

July 31, 2011 I experienced one of the saddest days of my life. As I was in our local mall, I found that the bookstore I have worked in for more than 20 years had shut its doors permanently without notice. As the buyer for the store I knew we had been struggling for a while, but this was a shock. Later that night my boss called me and let me know how the decision to close was reached. It was also explained why the method of closure was chosen. It was understandable from a business perspective, but very hard from a personal point of view.

This is the second bookstore that I have been at when it closed. Both were tenants in the same mall, although the ownership of that mall has changed several times in between. The first was a B.Dalton back in 1988. B. Dalton’s had been bought out by Barnes & Noble the prior year. The stores were being revamped and local management was allowed a voice in tailoring the inventory to their client-base’s tastes. The lease was up for renewal and the mall owners in their infinite wisdom doubled the rent and would not negotiate on key items. After many attempts to come to terms it was time to close the store.

That started 10 months of driving 60 miles to have access to a bookstore. Remember this is 1988. No internet at my house. No online bookstores that I would have access to. Yes, there was the typical fare of best sellers and promoted titles at KMart and the grocery store, but the selection was extremely limited. Thank God for the libraries. At least they had selections that went beyond the top selling 25 titles. And in Minnesota if your local library doesn’t have a book on its shelf you can take advantage of inter-library loan, bringing a book in from another library.

I looked into starting a bookstore myself, but I did not have the assets needed to finance it. That August I heard that someone was looking to open an independent bookstore. I approached this person, offering my help if they’d like. Knowing that I had worked for B.Dalton’s, I was asked to look at the ROSI (recommended opening store inventory) that was significantly more than was budgeted for the proposed store. The rest, as they say, was history. From that day until two days before I saw the store closed, I had the supreme pleasure of helping keep new books available in our area.

From the start we were not your typical bookstore. The owner had started as a yarn and needlework shop in1971 and was the last original independent merchant in the mall. From the beginning we had a portion of the store dedicated to knitting and crochet and to work in the store a prospective employee needed to be able to either knit or crochet. After the fabric store left the area and the quilt shop in town closed we also added quilting fabric and supplies to our mix, as well as employees who were quilters.

Deep discounts by others selling books, limitations by the mall owners as to what we were allowed to sell, and a two year period of 14-19% unemployment took its toll. A corner had turned and recovery was happening, just not fast enough for the store to go on.

After 25 selling books I’m keeping the title of bookstoremama. If someone decides to take on opening another bookstore, you can well believe I will be there offering to help in any way I can, if they’ll have me. In the meantime I am working part-time as SEO for a web design company and catching up on my reading and sharing it with you.

Good-bye Woodwards Bookstore (and more) R.I.P.

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Thomas Edison Predicted My Kindle!

I recently came across an interesting link celebrating the 100th anniversary of an article written by Thomas Edison predicting the e-book. My sons had given me a Kindle for Christmas last year along with a $25 gift card. They felt that I needed to be the one to test the waters of ebook technology in our family. To date I’ve managed to restrain myself from spending all of the gift card. I have paid for 3 titles, but at this writing have managed to download 314 titles. Now 1 or 2 are sample chapters for computer books I may need to get for my job as an SEO, but the majority of them are full books.

To acquire this many I have made a commitment to regularly go into Kindle’s free limited time promotions every week or so. Anything that I might even remotely be interested in gets downloaded, because some of them are only free for a few weeks or even just days. I have also invested time looking through the Kindle free classics, as well as just surfing category sections and arranging the selection by price lowest to highest.

Along the way I have managed to find some original Bobbsey Twin titles, a number of church history books that look fascinating, some business and computer titles, assorted romance, mystery, and sci-fi/fantasy titles, some motivational and inspirational titles, a self-help book or two, some cookbooks, fairy tales,  some young adult titles…you get the idea.One of the things I really love about it is that there are so many out-of-print books that are now accessible if one has the time to go digging.

To date I have  only actually read less than a dozen books on my Kindle.  I just don’t grab it the way I do a regular book, although I have started listening to some of the books I have downloaded as I drive. I know and understand the debate raging right now about the audio copyrights, but that debate is for another post. Personally I am not impressed with the computerized voices nor their reading ability (when a character in one story said “Hmmm” the Kindle read each letter individually “H-M-M-M”). The thing is I do have a 35 minute drive so this way I am getting through a few of the books on it.

So thank you Thomas Edison. I appreciate my portable library and the light by which to read it.

Historic Palm Beach – brought to you by the Palm Beach Post » 100 years ago today: Thomas Edison predicted the e-book.

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Summertime reading

Summertime reading is different than reading the rest of the year.We as a people tend to give ourselves permission to take a break from the respectable, responsible grind of reading for work or school or just to learn. Summer is the time to indulge in the “beach read”, those books that let you escape. They let you be somebody else, to go on adventures through time and space. Because of all the different activities to be involved in, we find our attention fragmented. Unless we have extended periods of uninterrupted time, like a long car trip, we need a read that we can pick up and put down to take care of the distractions.

For me, this summer’s reading has had to be be something that if I only have 10 minutes to read right now and I won’t get back to it until tomorrow before bed, it will still be okay. It will be the kind of story that won’t require me to maintain an extended train of thought. If I have time to press on in the story because I am being carried along by the adventure, great! But if I can only read a page or two (at least enough to get a scene finished), well I will still be okay because I at least got a little read time in.

My summertime reading this year has been revisits of old friends mixed in with the discovery of some new authors, who I will share about at another time. Sweeping romances, cozy mysteries, cookbooks, and specialty diets. Oh, and a few motivational business books too. A friend of mine, Randy Dean released his book, Radiance, earlier this year. I had read through the week it came out and have it on my pile of books to re-read. My plan is to do that by the end of September. Notice I am giving myself permission to wait until after serious reading time starts again to accomplish this goal.


So what has been you favorite beach read so far this summer?

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Revisiting an old friend

I finished Julie Garwood’s book “The Gift” earlier today. It is the third of four in the first series she wrote called “The Crown’s Spies” written between 1988 and 1995. It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been 20 years since I read these for the first time. I remember waiting with anticipation each installment of this family of characters. The women were strong and held their own with the men in their lives. They weren’t victims, but were settled in themselves. They knew who they were and had the strength to protect themselves where needed, but also the strength to be vulnerable and trust in the love they had for the men in their lives. And in “The Gift”  Sara, the female lead, was continually doing things that made me laugh.

Now some may complain because they are so formulaic. A romance story generally is. Boy and girl meet – strong feelings arise – adversity tries to sever the connection – love conquers all and they go off to live the best of all possible lives.  For me romance books are like popcorn. They are a treat. Are they real life? For the most part no, and they were never meant to be. But I’ve gleaned alot over the years reading romances. I’ve learned that everyone has foibles. I’ve learned obscure bits of history, what passed for health care in days gone by, and am so glad I don’t have to wear the weight of what was considered necessary clothing from eras past. I do get weary of the bedroom scenes that are often spelled out in too much detail, but will concede that they have backed off from the amount of content devoted to them during the 1990s. Depending on the author and the time at which it was written, I’m at the point where when the scene is presented I start turning pages to get back to the story. I appreciate some authors who will leave that content behind closed doors. I will say this about having sex scenes in a book – because of the number of pages I will skip, I finish a book that much faster.

For me a good romance can be as good as a vacation. They are a break from routines that can sometimes be overwhelming. They are the possibility of things yet undreamed in my life. They are a relief from the news that focuses so much on what’s wrong and seldom what’s right. I will reread old friends because of things I remember from those stories. It could be characters or situations that made me laugh or were called to mind by something. I recently reread Susan Elizabeth Phillips “Natural Born Charmer” which begins with one of the main characters walking down the road in a beaver costume without its head. Who wouldn’t remember a character like that?

So for tonight I will be starting the last of this set of friends, Julie Garwood’s “Castles”. This series I’ve read about every other year since it came out, probably 8-10 times, just because I so enjoy the characters. But before I go I just want to pose a question. Do you have any old friends that you go back and read regularly? What compels you to reread a book? Just wondering….

Now go have a good read and a good night.



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Hello world!

Welcome to bookstoremama’s mental ramblings of a bookaholic. After many years of threatening I am finally going to start writing about my reading. While in school I spent 7 years helping the librarians, being a guinea pig for speed reading curriculums, and having English teachers assign me independent research papers instead of having to learn to diagram sentences.

For almost 25 years I have worked in bookstores, hence the name “bookstoremama”. Initially I was at B.Dalton’s, just after they were acquired by Barnes & Noble. After they were unable to agree on terms in our local shopping mall, our community was without a bookstore for 10 months. Six months after B.Dalton closed, I heard that the yarn store owner was looking to add an independent bookstore to her shop. I stopped in to see let her know that I would be interested in helping any way that I could. She had been sent a Recommended Opening Inventory list that was $30,000.00 more than she could afford to start with and asked if I would be willing to take a look at it. I have had the supreme pleasure of picking the inventory ever since. We are nearing the end of our time together, she and I. She turned 80 this year, although you wouldn’t know her age by looking at her, and she’d like to retire. The store is up for sale. Changes in my life have put the possibility of my buying it out of reach. And I don’t know if I will be at the next version of a bookstore in our community, but after 25 years I think I’ve earned the right to keep the name.


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