Friday, 28 June 2013

Weekly Inspiration ~ 24-28 June

It's been great getting back to work after being sick with the flu but it hasn't all been smooth sailing. While I was sick I was getting a little stir crazy so I worked on quite a few blog posts. When I got to work and wanted to publish one I noticed they were all gone! I'm so gutted as I'm always so careful with saving my work. I've tried to write them again but the inspiration just isn't there. Has anyone had a similar experience? Is there any way to find my posts?

On a brighter note, here are the things that have been inspiring me this week.

The Librarian's nitty-gritty guide to social media: This book is so good! I can't stop raving about it to anyone who will listen. Definitely recommend this :)

Maori Language Week: I look forward to this every year. Our library always hosts lots of school groups performing Waiata and Kapa Haka and they are so cute! Here's a picture of a group from last year performing :)

Seven Sharp's Sharpest Town: Was stoked to find that Oamaru made the cut! I'm looking forward to seeing what parts of town the team have covered and whether it's a true representation of how awesome Oamaru is.

As always, I'd love to hear, read or see anything that you have found inspiring or motivating over the last week. Just leave a comment here on the blog or send me a tweet @JuliadeRuiter

Thursday, 27 June 2013


This post is inspired by Abigail Willemse's post ' #CommentJuly- The Ground Rules'. I thought I would make my own guidelines on here for quick and easy reference. See Abby's blog also for how #CommentJuly came about :)

So, here are my guidelines for #CommentJuly:

1: I will comment on at least one blog every day for the month of July. As I'm going to be away I may comment twice on some days in advance.

2: At the end of every week I will post a link to all the blogs I've commented on and do a quick feature on the blog I found most valuable that week.

3: I will also post to Twitter every time I comment so that other participants have easy access to blogs I've found.

Are you going to be participating in #CommentJuly? If so, post a comment and your blog URL in the comments section & I'll make sure I check your blog out :)

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Book Review: Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt

This is another book that I'd been meaning to read for ages and because I got a nasty case of the flu I (finally) had nothing to do but sit in bed, reading and sleeping ( the one perk of being sick).

The book follows Jenna, a 14 year old girl whose face has been badly disfigured from a car accident.She has been practically housebound for a year after the accident, wearing a mask to help her face heal and dealing with the trauma from the accident.

Soon after she plucks up courage to go outside into the 'real world', she runs into a gypsy boy Ryan, who strangely, doesn't judge her for her terrible burns. Ryan also has something he is ashamed of and I think this helps cement their connection.
This is the beginning of a strong friendship that eventually turns into a romantic relationship.

Ryan lives with his Mum, who makes and sells jewellery, on a river boat. Ryan just wants to have an ordinary life and stay in one place long enough to make meaningful friendships. Jenna's family are trying to live a quiet life, but find it difficult continually seeing the boy who caused the accident.

What sets it apart from other YA novels is the subject matter. Jarratt deals with some pretty sensitive issues -alcohol abuse, mental health and even murder. Jarratt navigates these areas with class. She delves into the characters emotions and lets us feel the anger, sadness and fear that they feel. For me, this made what could have been a typical YA novel into a really special one.

For her debut novel, I think Laura Jarratt has done a really good job of crafting a relatable and satisfying read.

I'd love to hear your recommendations for any books you've enjoyed, just leave a comment here on the blog or send me a tweet @JuliadeRuiter

Friday, 21 June 2013

Weekly inspiration ~ 17-21 June

Due to flooding, snow and a nasty case of the flu, this instalment of 'Weekly Inspiration' has been cancelled. Hope everyone is keeping safe and warm!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Movie Review: Song for Marion

Song for Marion: with Terence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Eccleston, Gemma Arterton.

What a fantastic film! When I Googled it, it had really bad reviews which strangely enough, just made me want to go and see for myself. After reading the synopsis I thought it sounded like something only people over 60 would watch ( no offence anyone!) but still an interesting movie. While the majority of the people in the cinema were over 60, at least from what I could tell (!), I loved this film so much. I went with my friend and we both couldn't believe how much we enjoyed it.

It follows an elderly couple Arthur ( Stamp) and Marion ( Redgrave), who has cancer. Marion is a member of  the OAPz ( Old age pensioners, z for the 'hip' factor) choir led by the vivacious Elizabeth (Arterton). She faithfully attends even though she is quite ill.

Arthur is an extremely grumpy and pessimistic man while Marion is the opposite and lives her life with happiness and a sunny outlook. When she takes a turn for the worse and dies, Arthur resigns himself to the fact that he will be sad and alone until he too dies. But, with some encouragement from Elizabeth he rediscovers his love of singing and joins the OAPz.

The movie continues with the OAPz entering a prestigious choir competition and some problems between Arthur and his son. It is resolved in the end, in a very realistic way which some critics have cited as being anti-climactic, which I completely disagree with. I thought the end was very moving ( if you've seen this film, let me know what you thought).

I don't know if the people who reviewed this saw the same film as me because I thought it was so moving and poignant. It really brought home to me the importance of family, how precious life is and making the most of your situation.

I would highly recommend this film, if you're in the mood for a well acted, moving and life affirming movie experience.

Have you seen this film? Let me know what your thoughts, just leave a comment here on the blog or send me a tweet @JuliadeRuiter

Friday, 14 June 2013

Weekly inspiration ~ 10-14 June

Oliver Jeffers books: I've only recently discovered these picture books and they are so cool! I particularly like Stuck- the illustrations are brilliant!

Discretion: how far is too far?: A topic that comes up frequently in discussions with other librarians is that of discretion when wiping overdue fees etc. Some people think that older patrons should have their fines wiped automatically, other feel that rules should never be broken. I'm a fence sitter on this one- see my previous blog post for more thoughts.

Books on Prescription: Waitaki District Libraries recently launched this great scheme. You can check out an article about it here. Basically, the Southern Primary Health Organisation donates a range of mental health and well being books to the library, which people can then check out 'on prescription'. They may get their referral from a doctor, psychiatrist or mental health specialist. I think the library is the perfect place for these books to be accessed, as the library is seen as a safe place for many people. 

What has been inspiring or thought provoking to you this week? Just leave a comment here on the blog or send me a tweet @JuliadeRuiter

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Discretion: how far is too far?

'Use your discretion' is a phrase that comes up frequently at our weekly staff meetings. It is normally the conclusion we come to after discussing issues like whether to wipe overdue fees for older patrons and whether or not patrons should be given access to our front desk telephone.

While I agree in theory with this view, sometimes it doesn't work in a library's favour. For example, if some librarians are extremely lenient with writing off overdue fees and others fastidiously stick to the rule book what does that say about the library? That it doesn't have clear rules and policies? That it is prepared to be flexible in order to please patrons? That a bit of give and take is acceptable? My personal solution to problems like a large amount of overdue fees that a patron is questioning is to halve them ( if reasonable). That way, the patron (theoretically) goes away happy and the library has reinforced their overdue books policy while also showing some goodwill towards the patron.

I, for one, am all for the freedom to make professional decisions whilst at the circulation desk but I also like to know where the boundaries are. I think if we give free reign of discretion as a quick 'fix it' solution it can do the library a disservice. Patrons may not know where they stand and would also have the right to question why some librarians follow the rules to the letter and why some seem to disregard the rules altogether. Also, if you are regularly discussing issues like this, maybe some policy changes need to happen. I think it's important for all staff to be aware of what the preferred policy is for any tricky situations, but also to feel confident that they can use their own judgement if necessary.

What are your thoughts on discretion? I'd love to hear them/discuss any tricky situations you've had- just leave a comment here or send me a tweet @JuliadeRuiter

Top five 'Coffee Table' books

Here's a list of books I've read that I would love to stack on my coffee table. I own one of them ( Cupcakes and Cashmere) and plan to to own the others one day :)

1. Cupcakes and Cashmere by Emily Schuman: This is a great book to flick through and get tips for decorating your home, packing for trips and how to achieve that perfect smoky eye. Beautifully photographed and designed. Her blog is also well worth checking out.

2. Hers: design with a feminine touch by Jacqueline de Montravel: This book has tons of great ideas to spice up different areas of your home. A very glamorous book with achievable ideas. Be warned: this book will make you want to go and revamp every nook and cranny of your home! 

3. Shabby Chic Interiors by Rachel Ashwell: I love Shabby Chic style! Enough said.

4. At my French table by Jane Webster: I haven't actually read the text in this book through properly but it is so pretty and filled with gorgeous photos, I had to include it.

5. My Amalfi Coast by Amanda Tabberer: This book single handedly started my obsession with Italy! Love this glimpse into rural/local Italian life. Stunning photographs and just an all around gorgeous book.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Book Review: The Last Quarter of the Moon by Chi Zijian

This book is written by award winning Chinese novelist Chi Zijian.The book follows the Evenki tribe who roam the remote forests of China, raising reindeer to trade for supplies.

The story begins with the tribe voting whether to settle in a village nearby or whether to continue their nomadic lifestyle.
We never find out the main characters age, but know that she is an elderly woman telling her story. She has a peaceful childhood which ends in the 1930's when the Japanese army invades China. Her tribe cannot avoid being involved in the war which forces them to take steps to becoming less isolated. I really enjoy historical books so this was a major seller for me when deciding to pick this up.

 This book began beautifully. Here's an excerpt:

'A long time confidante of the rain and snow, I am ninety years old. The rain and snow have weathered me, and I too have weathered them. Nowadays the summer rains are more and more sporadic, the winter snows lighter by the year. They're like my roe-deerskin under-bedding, which has shed it's hairs from constant rubbing. It's thick undercoat has vanished with the wind, leaving behind scars accumulated over many moons. Seated on the deerskin, I'm like a hunter watching over a salt lick, but rather than deer with their beautiful erect horns, fierce winds swirling with sand awaits me.'

 I loved the narrative- it made me feel as if I was sitting around a campfire listening to old stories. The way Chi describes nature is so beautiful and calming. She has a way of capturing what we feel and putting it into words.

This novel had a slightly tragic feel to it while also reminding us of the beauty of the simple things in life. I can't fault anything about this book. It is a eye-opening read and one which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Weekly inspiration ~ 3-7 June

Hope everyone had a safe and relaxing Queen's Birthday weekend- I heard there were no deaths on the road so that is awesome news. I headed up to Christchurch to catch up with my sister and had a great time. We went to Lyttleton, the mall ( if you know me, that's no surprise!) and the Botanical Gardens which was gorgeous. Here's a crazy photo I took in the really, really strong wind in Lyttleton- literally thought I was going to get blown away!

Here are the things that have been inspiring me this week:

LIS discoveries:That awesome moment when you realise that you can use the search box  in circulation history, instead of scrolling through tons of pages to find out if a patron has had a book! Brilliant.

New ways of searching: My current assignment focuses on the finer points of searching on catalogues and databases- truncation, wildcards, Boolean logic etc. While I'm very familiar with these I don't tend to use them. But, after working on this assignment I'm determined to try and incorporate them more into my searching skills. Do you have any tips and tricks for better searching?

Currently Reading: The last quarter of the moon. I'm loving this book by Chinese author Zijian Chi. It is beautifully written and her descriptions of the Chinese landscape are amazing. Full book review to come soon.

Three things libraries need to do to survive: I thought this blog post had some really great ideas, especially the one about libraries needing to get a new definition of who we are and what we do.

I'd love to hear what you've found interesting or motivating this week, just leave a comment here on the blog or send me a tweet @JuliadeRuiter