It’s about Time

Early morning here.  Plans are made for the day which will have me cleaning out the old and bringing in the new with a new concoction for black-eyed pea soup. As usual, my day begins on the Internet while catching morning news shows. I’m realizing that if I were still in Taiwan, the New Year would be just a couple of hours away. And, I’m also remembering that although there is a spectacular fireworks show from 101 in Taipei, the real New Year’s Celebration is in January when the Chinese celebrate New Year. Making things even trickier, was the fact that many who live there still follow a lunar calendar. The current year is 98 and the date would be written 98/12/31.

Saudi Arabia also uses a lunar calendar and the year is 1431AH. The Islamic (hijri) calendar was set forth in the Koran. The weekend is on Thursday and Friday!

These are not the only places with a calendar different from ours, they are just the ones I know best. There are others.Before Saudi Arabia,  I hadn’t really realized that the way we divide time is a function of religion. I mean, why would a country where people don’t celebrate Jesus as The Son of God begin a calendar on the year they assume he lived? Then, you begin to realize how arbitrary calendars are when none of them actually begin from Earth Day One. They start on an event that defines that culture.  By the way, who changed the calendar in the year 93AH? Or what if the Calendar Keepers had their nose stuck to the grindstone in 141AD and forgot to change the page? Who would have known?? Remember that song, “Does anybody know what time it is? Does anybody care?” Time begins to look like Carleen’s river, fluid, rapid difficult to grab and impossible to hold. (I can’t get that post out of my head!)

You begin to see that having CNN look at New Years around the world is much like teaching  Christmas around the world: it’s imposing one’s culture on others.

Whether you’re moving on to a New Year or a New Day, here’s wishing you the most peaceful of days!


I”ve decided to participate in two (2) book challenges this year. Here’s what I’ll be up to!

First, there’s the Black Classic Reading Challenge. The challenge here is to read  African American books published prior to 1920. This date, this date! That alone made me not want to do this, to not have to struggle with the language and literary styles that existed then! I unshelved my copy of Masterpieces of African American Literature and began to find the essays, poems and fictions from that time. Oh, too many stories revolve around young mulatto women who did or didn’t choose to pass!  But then, there are those social criticisms, not only about race but about women’s rights, segregation, employment and other issues, written often by people who experienced the ending of slavery in this country. There are the essays of DuBois and the poems of Wheatley. There’s way too much I should have read and now, three that I will.

This time limitation also forces me to research and learn some history.

I’ve also pulled out Free Within Ourselves: The  development of African American children’s literature which relates that  the first novel published in the US by an African American woman was Clarence and Corinne; or God’s Way [Google book preview] by Ameilia Etta Hall Johnson in1890. Other Black women publishing books for children prior to the end of the 19th century were Victoria Earle Matthews and Josephine Henderson Heard.  An oral tradition which included songs, folktales and rhymes had begun to evolve into magazines and novels for Black children.

I hope to find just one of these early pieces for the challenge. My other two pieces, I think will be:

These selections are based purely upon the description in Masterpieces and I am open to recommendations from readers. I’d love to have you join me on this challenge, officially or otherwise.

Now I’m wondering about classics from around the world. We know the British, Greek, Roman and French I know some of the Japanese, Brasilian, Kenyan, Nigerian and Cameroonian. What about the Egyptian? Indian? Chinese? Mexican? Given the historic impact these cultures have had (will have!) we should know the traditions and values and the writings that transmit them.

I’m also doing the Social Justice challenge. Each month has a theme, with books to read and activities. I like that: don’t just read, do something!!  The first challenge is Religious Freedom. I think I’m going to read Many Windows: Six Kids, Five Faiths, One Community byRukhsana Khan, with Uma Krishnaswami and Elisa Carbone; Napoleon & Company, 2008. Thanks to PaperTigers for leading me to this selection.

Season Thanks!

Thanks so much to Ari/Ms. Attitude/Reading in Color for adding sparkle to the holidays by co ordinating the Reading in Color Book Exchange.  Lucky me received He forgot to Say Goodbye by Benjamin Alire Saenz. My giftor??  Susan/ColorOnline/organizer of the Christmas card exchange.Triple thanks Susan for the wonderful book, warm card exchange and for the special gift of friendship.

If you didn’t sign up this year, consider doing it next year, they’re both great ways to bring a little holiday cheer to even the most pessimistic Scrooge of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and any and all other festivals of light.

And a special thanks to the readers and friends who brought the little bucket that much closer to its goal. I didn’t make it to the goal, but it was worth the effort. Um, the bell is still ringing —————————->

Tuesday Thinkings

Time off from work resulting in indulgent, comforting days at home give me time to reflect and consider possibilities. These days, many of my considerations are provoked by what I find on the Internet.So, not because we’re all moving into a new year, but because I can actually be mentally creative, I’m exploring new thoughts.

I was recently led to a very provoking blog which gave me two great posts. First, there was a nice little moral tale about two wolves.

Second was a list of 50 Ways to Build a Culture of Innovation. While meant for corporate leaders, the beauty of this list is that it is so well done that can be be applied to individuals in small school libraries as well as small business owners, executives or anyone who can define in anyway define their own workspace. I’ve taken the top 11 items from the list because I’ve noticed that some of the items are actually restated in different ways and some simply don’t apply to me.  Perhaps you can find them useful in some way as well. The full list can be found on the Heart of Innovation Blog.

1. Remember that innovation requires no fixed rules or templates — only guiding principles. Creating a more innovative culture is an organic and creative act.

2. Wherever you can, whenever you can, always drive fear out of the workplace. Fear is “Public Enemy #1” of an innovative culture.

3. Have more fun. If you’re not having fun (or at least enjoying the process) something is off.

4. Always question authority, especially the authority of your own longstanding beliefs.

5. Make new mistakes.

6. As far as the future is concerned, don’t speculate on what might happen, but imagine what you can make happen.

7. Increase the visual stimuli of your organization’s physical space. Replace gray and white walls with color. Add inspiring photos and art, especially visuals that inspire people to think differently. Reconfigure space whenever possible.

8. Help people broaden their perspective by creating diverse teams and rotating employees into new projects — especially ones they are fascinated by.

9. Ask questions about everything. After asking questions, ask different questions. After asking different questions, ask them in a different way.

10. Ensure a high level of personal freedom and trust. Provide more time for people to pursue new ideas and innovations.

11. Encourage everyone to communicate. Provide user-friendly systems to make this happen.

ALA Extends Deadlines

The deadline has been extended to Feb. 1, 2010 for a number of American Library Association (ALA) awards and grants, including the ALA Information Today Library of the Future Award , the Beta Phi Mu Award, the Equality Award, the Gale Cengage Learning Financial Development Award, the Ken Haycock Award for Promoting Librarianship, the Lippincott Award and the Sullivan Award for Public Library Administrators Supporting Services to Children.

  • ALA Information Today Library of the Future Award honors a library, library consortium, group of librarians or support organization for innovative planning for, applications of or development of patron training programs about information technology in a library setting. The award includes $1,500 and a 24k gold-framed citation, donated by Information Today, Inc.

  • Equality Award honors an individual or group for an outstanding contribution that promotes equality in the library profession.  The award includes $1,000 and a 24k gold-framed citation donated by Scarecrow Press, Inc., a member of the Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group

  • Gale Cengage Learning Financial Development Award is given to a library organization that exhibited meritorious achievement in carrying out a library financial development project to secure new funding resources for a public or academic library.  The award includes $2,500 and a 24k gold-framed citation donated by Gale Cengage, Inc.
  • Ken Haycock Award for Promoting Librarianship honors an individual for contributing significantly to the public recognition and appreciation of librarianship through professional performance, teaching and/or writing.  The award includes $1,000 and a 24k gold-framed citation donated by Ken Haycock, PhD.
  • Joseph W. Lippincott Award is given to a librarian for distinguished service to the profession.  To qualify, the librarian must display outstanding participation in professional library activities, notable published professional writing or other significant activities on behalf of the profession.  The award includes $1,000 and a 24k gold-framed citation, donated by Joseph W. Lippincott, III.

  • Sullivan Award for Public Library Administrators Supporting Services to Children honors an individual who has shown exceptional understanding and support of library service to children while having general management/supervisory/ administrative responsibility that has included public library service to children in its scope.  The recipient will receive a plaque and recognition artifact.  The donor is Peggy Sullivan.

For general information about these and other ALA awards, visit

book review: Fire from the Rock

book review: Fire from the Rock

author: Sharon Draper

publisher: Speak; 2008

main character: Sylvia Patterson

Great fiction comes from powerful realities.” Thus states Sharon Draper as she describes her own past that was woven into Fire from the rock. Draper was a child in 1957, the year this story takes place. One of her best friends at that time was a little Jewish girl and she watched the events in Little Rock on her fuzzy black and white television. Me, I wasn’t born until October of that year.

Sylvia is a smart young lady who works hard in high school, listens to her parents and is experiencing young love.  Like everyone in her school, she’s aware of the plans to integrate the white high school next year. She knows that some of the white city leaders will interview prospective Black students to select those they feel are most appropriate. The Whites on the committee are known for their racist agendas. They want Blacks who work hard in school, can control their temper (because they will be provoked) and who can accept the limitations that will be placed upon them (such as not being allowed to attend school events). Sylvia’s brother, Gary, wants to be among those chosen. Their family is well respected and Gary is also quite responsible.  He feels that the nation is at the brink of change and for him, it can’t change fast enough. He’s a hot head and will not be selected to participate in desegregating the schools. But, Sylvia is.

When we think of this time and the images we’ve seen, we assume that everyone was ready and willing to march in the streets, sit at the counters and do everything they could to change their world. But, Draper gives us a much more real picture which included those who wanted to see a change, but were scared of becoming involved in the process of change, and rightfully so. They’d seen the hangings, faced the retributions and felt these things were all but impossible to fight. Some in the story support Sylvia and hope she’ll decide to attend the all white school while others think she is being a bit to uppity. These feelings give Sylvia a small taste of what she’ll face in the new school.

Should she leave? Should she give up senior year with her boyfriend? There, she won’t be a cheerleader or go to her own prom but she’ll have the finest of facilities and participate in something bigger than herself.  Her father is afraid for her; he’s seen his own father hanged. Yet, he and her mother are willing to let Sylvia make her own decision. I like that this young lady was empowered to make such an important decision on her own, and we were taken on the journey that formulated her decision.

Like Draper, Sylvia also had a Jewish friend, Rachel Zucker. The Zuckers owned the nearby grocery store and had a very good relationship with the Pattersons, but not with the Whites in the town. The Zuckers, like many Jews in the south were discriminated against in the same way Blacks were and the same way Latinos and Asians were in the west.

Draper provides a sobering dose of history. Its message isn’t overpowering but it is svibrant and authentic. She wrote this hoping that students will see how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go. She suggests they simply look at the racial dynamics of their own high school cafeteria. Sylvia is a fictional character, not based on any of the Little Rock Nine.

The author’s website includes a study guide.

disclaimer: I own this book.

themes: desegregation; resilience; civil rights