Monthly Archives: January 2010

Language rant

This morning on public radio, I heard our representative to the United States Congress use the word “irregardless.”  He was a teacher before he became a Congressional Representative. In either case, he should know better.

For once and for all, there is no such word.  The word is regardless.  Or irrespective, if you’re feeling the need to use a prefix. But irregardless is not a word.

Yesterday, I was in a chat with a Librarian at a Big University.  At the end of the chat, the librarian responded to my thanks with, “your welcome.”

In both cases, these are educated people.

What on earth has happened to our language? There is a difference between your and you’re.  Learn it.  If you don’t, you sound like an uneducated person.  Sorry to be harsh, people, but if a grammar and language nut like me reads something you’ve written and you’re misusing simple words, I will assume you’re not too bright. Or very educated.

Their, there, and they’re.

Your and you’re.

Its and it’s.

Were and we’re.

We’re going to use written communication more and more often, in instant messages and text messages. We’re supposed to be the educated ones. We should be using correct grammar and spelling.  I don’t mean the occasional misspelled word – I mean the intentional misuse of the language, as cited in the examples above.

Drives me nuts, it does.  Is it laziness? Are people simply not being taught correct grammar and spelling anymore?

Where are the nuns when you need them?

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Seriously??!!??

I mean, really.  Seriously???

After a parent complained about an elementary school student stumbling across “oral sex” in a classroom dictionary, Menifee Union School District officials decided to pull Merriam Webster’s 10th edition from all school shelves earlier this week.

School officials will review the dictionary to decide if it should be permanently banned because of the “sexually graphic” entry, said district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus. The dictionaries were initially purchased a few years ago for fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms districtwide, according to a memo to the superintendent.

Only politically correct, inoffensive dictionaries need apply. We don’t need to build our children’s vocabularies, apparently, as much as we need to indoctrinate them appropriately.

Unfreakingbelievable.

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Good move.

It’s about time!

For years, I’ve been opining about the decision to refer to school librarians as “media specialists.” To my middle-aged ears, this sounds like the A/V guy, not a librarian.  Since most of the school boards these days are middle-aged guys (using the term generically) this presents a problem; suggesting the position of “media specialist” be discontinued is, I’m guessing, not taken with the horror that would result if it was suggested that the school remove the librarian position.

The AASL apparently agrees:

Forget media specialist or teacher-librarian. As far as the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) is concerned, the official title for the profession is now school librarian.

The AASL board of directors voted in favor of the move on Saturday during theAmerican Librarian Association’s midwinter meeting in Boston. And that means “school librarian” will be used in all of the profession’s advocacy efforts and publications, including reports and press releases.

The article goes on to mention how this might be a problem for some schools that now have retitled their libraries “Learning Commons” or for those districts that call their librarians “media center specialists.” Bah.  We’re librarians, regardless of what building we’re in.

Well done AASL.

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Chemistry meets poetry

Here at MPOW, the faculty is designing the curriculum to be, as much as possible, interdisciplinary. One shining recent example was an assignment given to the chemistry students to write a haiku on an article in the periodic table.  Brilliant.  A number of the faculty and staff were roped in….er….allowed to participate.

We each drew an element out of a jar.  Mine was Astatine.  Never heard of it.  In preparing to write, I had to research the element – which, of course, was the point.  I now know that astatine is the rarest of the naturally occurring elements, is highly radioactive, and is very dark.  They think.  Apparently this element hangs around for such a short period of time that no one really knows much about it.

The Periodic Table of Haiku has now been published.  Wander over and take a look.  It’s pretty cool stuff.

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Ummmm….What???

Apparently, the New York City library workers union reps are working hard to maintain comfortable working conditions for the librarians. Back in the good ol’ days of union organizing, this meant that exit doors couldn’t be locked, lest hundreds of people die in a fire.  These days, however, the stakes are a bit…lower.

Under a little-known contract provision titled “Extreme Temperature Procedures,” unionized workers at branches of the New York Public Library can accrue compensatory time when the temperature inside dips below 68 degrees for a couple of hours. Similar clauses exist for libraries across the city.

I’m sorry….would you repeat that?  68 degrees???

Angela Montefinise, a spokeswoman for the New York Public Library, said the temperature clause had been around for decades. “The goal of this clause, which has been amended over the years, is to ensure safe working conditions for our staff but also to continue to provide an essential service to our public,” she said.

But such a temperature provision does seem rare, if not unique. City firefighters were excused from performing inspections during “inclement weather,” which included when the wind-chill factor dropped to 20 degrees and below. But the city won elimination of that restriction in 1988.

OK. If firefighters have to do inspections even when it’s below freezing, surely a librarian can throw on a cardigan and muddle through at 67 degrees.  Right?

At the Soundview branch, the wall thermometer near the circulation desk read 77 degrees. Wanda Luzon, a 25-year-old librarian there, said that in nine years with the library system, she had only once received compensation time related to temperature issues, when the air-conditioner was broken for several days.

I don’t know about you, but I’d be whining when the indoor temp was 77, not 67!

This seems completely ridiculous to me.  Having worked at a rural public library where the furnace was a bit temperamental,  I can’t imagine what the reaction would have been had we marched over to the city to complain about the library being a bit chilly.

We’re all facing budget issues. We’re looking to see how we can save money, keep our jobs, and keep our libraries open for our communities.  Surely eliminating this sort of nonsense from a union contract would be a good place to start.

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Reflections

It has been an eventful decade, and it has taken me a few days to wrap my head around the way my life has changed since 1999.  Most of the events have been wonderful; a few have been complete surprises.

  • I met and subsequently married my husband.  Very good thing.  DH is the gift I thank God for every day.
  • I moved to Sidney, Nebraska.  Also a very good thing.  The people were lovely and generous, the history of the area was fun to explore, and I ended up with a terrific job as the Director of the Sidney Public Library.  Which led to…
  • I went to school and earned a Master in Library Science.  Becoming a librarian was a complete surprise to me; apparently, the fact that I would love working in a place surrounded by books answering reference questions was a surprise only to me.  My friends and family responded to my wonder at loving the job with a resounding, “Duh.”
  • My husband gifted me with a Goldendoodle for my birthday.  Casey is the other love of my life.  What a joy.
  • I discovered the world of blogs and such.  This has been a fun development, though it’s one of the things that can rob time from “real life.”  I enjoy the interactions and connections that happen online, though, and have loved being in touch and reconnecting with people.
  • We moved to Rochester, Minnesota.  Another very good thing.  We have a lovely house, have made some lovely friends, and have enjoyed our respective jobs.  It’s also much closer to Milwaukee, which is home to both DH and me, so that’s another bonus.
  • We became grandparents.  I highly recommend it.
  • I accepted a job as the librarian at UMR.  Yes, another very good thing.  I’m loving being with the students and faculty and staff.  It’s a bit odd that it was the love of books that drew me to librarianship, and now I’m in a virtual library.  But I’m loving it.

There were many other wonderful things that happened in the past ten years, and there were, of course, some horrible things that happened.  On the whole, however, I was blessed with a wonderful husband, loving and supportive friends, jobs that I enjoyed, and beautiful and warm homes in which to live. Not bad.  Not bad at all.

I’m looking forward to this decade and the wonders it will bring.

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