Category Archives: Life

Grad School Jitters

I’m looking at starting graduate school in January of 2014. I’ve pretty much decided on San Jose State’s Master of Library Science program. It seems to be a great program, and doesn’t cost much more than the more traditional program offered by my state university. Still, I hesitate…

It’s a lot of money. Will it really be worth it? Will I be able to pay off the student loans before I retire?

Even though I really enjoy library work, will I be able to handle graduate school? SJSU seems to have a curriculum that fits me better. But is it what I should really be doing? Maybe I’d be better of focusing on web site development and marketing.

I’ll be almost 58 when I finish the program! Should I really be doing this at my age? I’ll have at least ten more years of professional life before I retire, but really…is this the best time to start this?

I know. It’s just pre-grad school jitters. But it’s still something I’ve got to face before I begin the application process in August. Wish me luck!


Great Resources for Social Statistics

Pie Chart
Pie Chart

Do you get asked to find social and cultural statistics a lot in your work? Maybe you’re like me, and you just really enjoy browsing through data and seeing what’s there (there’s a reason my undergraduate degree’s in sociology). Well, just for you, here’s some of my favorite online resources for social and cultural statistics.

  1. United States Census Bureau – The mother lode of statistics for the United States. Of course, the decennial census is the big draw, but there’s all kinds of things on this site. Be sure to check out the American FactFinder and the American Community Survey.
  2. The Association of Religion Data Archives – Do you need information about religion and religious groups in the US? This is the place you’re most likely to find what you want. Like the census, the primary update is every ten years, but in between there’s all kinds of survey information added to the site. If you’re a visual kind of person, be sure to check out the GIS maps.
  3. Need to know how people voted in the last (or any!) US presidential election? Check out Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. He’s got election returns down to the county level for free, going all the way back to 1960, state level returns to 1824, and national returns all the way back to our first presidential election in 1789.
  4. For Canadian information, you can’t do any better than Statistics Canada. It’s kind of like the US Census Bureau site, but it has data from more than just the Canadian census. There’s questionnaires, surveys, economic data, and more.
  5. Want a more global reach? Try the United Nations statistical databases. They’re not as comprehensive as some of the national sites, but there’s information you’ll have a hard time finding for some countries here.
  6. Everybody loves a survey. And the grandfather of all surveying organizations in the US is Gallup. Whether it’s election polls, opinion surveys, or economic opinions, you’ll find it here. A nice touch is that if you’re interested in a particular topic, you can subscribe to be notified when a new report is available on that topic.
  7. Another major polling organization is the Pew Research Center. In addition to their general polling, they have special ongoing topics, such as the Pew Internet & American Life Project and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. They issue important (and fascinating) reports on a regular basis on a wide variety of topics.

I’m sure I’ve missed some, especially ones outside the US. If you have a favorite site I forgot to mention, let us know in the comments!

Share now The Unexpected Librarian

My job title at work has changed, and now I suddenly find myself to be a librarian (although without the MLS yet). So to reflect that, and give a little more focus to the site, I’m renaming the site to The Unexpected Librarian. It will still be accessible under the old domain (, but going forward will be found at There will also be some additional changes, such as more of a focus on librarianship. There will still be some personal things on here, since I need a place for longer personal articles that don’t fit well on Facebook or Google+, but they’ll be tagged as such. I’m sure there’s a way to move personal articles to their own page and exclude them from the general feed, so I plan to work on doing that.

Things you can expect to find here that aren’t personal:

  • Book reviews, especially genre fiction, religion (DDC 200’s), and languages (DDC 400’s)
  • News and events from New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
  • General articles about libraries and librarianship
  • More specific articles about being an “accidental” librarian and my experiences studying Library Science

It goes without saying, but needs to be said anyway, that all views and opinions expressed on this site are mine. They in no way are intended to reflect or be interpreted as the views of other staff, administration, or the board of the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library. I’ve got a few articles I’m working on, including library funding issues and the place of knowledge in religious tradition, so expect them within the next few days.


An “Accidental” Librarian

Well, due to some changes at work, I’m now officially a “librarian.” I’ve worked in libraries most of my life, mostly on the technology side, but I’ve never really actively pursued a “librarian” position. Can someone with no formal library training or education even be a librarian? According to my library and the Indiana state public librarian certification standards, someone can. I can get a temporary state certification, but for the “real” certification, I’ll need to take at least 9 hours of library education from an ALA-certified Library Science program. Fortunately for me, Indiana University (IUPUI campus) has what I need online. I could even get the entire MLS program online if I choose to.

So, I’m now in the Reference Services department. My duties, in addition to the usual public service desk, include: ebook acquisitions and collection development; developing the website for, and assisting in developing the program for, our library’s Job Center; book reviewing; and some marketing duties. I’ve also volunteered to help with weeding and collection development in the religion and languages sections, since those are the areas I’m most familiar with. I’m going to have to pretty much give up on all my personal reading for a wile. I’m going to be very busy with professional reading and keeping up with my book group reading and following new material in the languages and religion subjects. I’ll continue to have reviews here, and I’ll probably be posting here more often (since this has been my “professional” weblog). Right now, I’m reading The Accidental Librarian, by Pamela H. MacKellar. I’m hoping it’ll give me some insight into my current position.

Until next time, thanks for reading!


Computers in Libraries 2012

In case you don’t know, the 2012 Computers in Libraries conference starts today. It’s probably the biggest non-ALA conference on the use of technology in libraries of all types. Lots of good information. I won’t be there (next year?), but I’ve added a page (CIL 2012 Blog Aggregation) where I’ll be tracking the attendees who are blogging about the conference. If anyone knows of a blogger who should be included but isn’t, let me know through the contact form at the bottom of the page.


Library Training Resources

On Brain Dump (see sidebar) I’ve started collecting links to training materials for librarians. It’s mostly archived webinars and handouts on topics that are interesting, like writing a blog, using social networking, and other things. My plan is to add more things, especially content I create for work such as FAQs, screencasts, and handouts for staff training. Keep an eye on it, especially if you work in a library. You might find something useful. And if there’s something you’d like to see included, drop me a line through the contact form at the bottom of the page.


Downtown New Albany, Indiana

These are some photos of downtown New Albany that I took a couple of summers ago. Black and White, mostly buildings and street scenes. As you can see, I’ve modified some of them for my header images.

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    An old tree along the street

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    The tower bells from Holy Trinity Catholic Church, destroyed by fire in 1975

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    A view of the site of Holy Trinity Church, destroyed by fire in 1975.

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    Another view of the site of Holy Trinity Church, destroyed by fire in 1975.

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    A house on Market Street

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    The Sanctuary of Eternal Truth. It's been extensively renovated since I took this picture.

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    The tower facade of St. Paul's Episcopal Church

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    A view of the side of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

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    The front entrance to St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

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    Another view of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, from the south.

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    Stone wall and flowers.

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    A view of the Culbertson Mansion state historic site.

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    A brick sidewalk downtown.

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    Another house downtown.

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    Sunflowers in a downtown garden.

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    Just a cat.

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    Glass brick wall.

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    The old state bank on Main Street.

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    Main Street storefronts.

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    Just an attractive building on Main Street. No longer exists.

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    The Old Odd Fellows building downtown.

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    View of State Street towards the river.

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    New Albany-Floyd County Public Library featuring Barney Bright's statue, "The Search."