Friday, June 25, 2010

Meredith Attends Her First ALA Conference

So as a recent graduate, the only thing on my mind is getting a job, therefore, I decided to attend the American Library Association’s National Conference in Washington DC, hoping to make the contacts to land me that job.

On arrival at the Washington Convention Center at around 3pm today, I was amazed just how many librarians were already wandering around with nametags fastened to button-down shirts. I was wearing my ‘I love my public library’ t-shirt with black leggings, Panama Jack hat cocked to the side, and in no time one of my fellow librarians said how much she loved my outfit. Thank God, since I was actually concerned with being a bit too over-the-top in the skintight lycra, but the weather in DC was brutal and I wanted to be comfortable when walking blocks to and from the Metro. I had brought more professional attire for the rest of the weekend but wanted to scout the territory first and get my bearings incognito, which now as I think about it, I probably wasn’t.

I attended ‘Conference 101’ hosted by NMRT (New Members Round Table) and I have to admit that I was slightly bored with all the jargon about why we should be a member of this or that. Listen, I get that the speakers want to prepare the new librarians for what to expect at the conference when it comes to all the workshops and meetings but I need a job, okay? And until that time comes, this librarian needs you to speak about the things that really matter - where’s the free food? And how can one carry so much swag in a cheaply-made book bag with straps that couldn’t hold one of Meyer’s Twilight books, let alone the twenty no-name authors I will insist on picking up because they are free?

And that is exactly what happened. At 5:15pm on the dot, 5,000 librarians (most with jobs who don’t need free stuff to make their trip to the conference mean something) were all waiting for the exhibit hall to open to consume any and all that was free. Never have I seen such chaos. Well, maybe at that Jimmy Choo sample sale in NYC but this was pretty close to that. Librarians were like linebackers pulling luggage on wheels, all racing towards Random House or Scholastic displays where books were stacked in towers, free for the taking if you could get close enough to get a hand on one.

At first I was reserved. I held back. I was afraid. Very afraid. I knew how heavy my luggage was in trying to get it to DC, so did I really want to add more weight with a few books that I would probably never read? YES!

At first I just took some teen titles since that will probably be my area of librarianship. Tom Sawyer and Zombies – heck yeah! Che Guevara manga? Bring it on! I was getting excited. These titles were pretty cool. Next thing I knew I was picking up a book about finding love in your 50’s. And as a fan of The Wonder Years, I just had to have Winnie Cooper’s new math book (Danica McKellar’s Hot Algebra Exposed!) STOP. What are you doing? You still have to take this load of freebies on the Metro and walk up a hill. Slow down. You have been at the conference a whole three hours. Relax. There are four days to go. You have Toni Morrison. Amy Sedaris. John Grisham.

I guess this is the reason I am a librarian. I do love books. Free books. And you could too, if you want to help me carry these home. Or just go to your local public library. Although, maybe next year I’ll bring one of those wheelie things…

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Meredith Smells Teen Spirit at the Palm Harbor Library

When I think back to my days of being a teen, I think of Nirvana. It was 1991 and they had just come on the scene with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and everybody who was anybody had this CD. I would walk around high school with my black leather motorcycle jacket from Contempo Casuals trying to put up the front that I was a real badass, when in reality I was on the honor roll and played the French horn in the school marching band.

When you are a teen, there are many things that you want to be with no idea how to be them, so the library can act as a sanctuary and experimental space for many teens looking to discover who they are in an environment without judgment from parents, teachers or other adult figures. However, while most libraries have designated children’s and adult sections, often teenagers are left without a space to call their own.

At the Palm Harbor Library, Library Director Gene Coppola helped renovate an older section of the library to build a glass-enclosed retro-style area called The Teen Place, where teens can enjoy everything from computers to manga to playing games on the Wii, all while relaxing on a custom-made booth. As if that wasn’t enough, they can also graffiti the walls or play Guitar Hero, but the coolest part? No adults allowed!

So "Come As You Are" and join me as Gene takes us on a private tour of The Teen Space - no ID required!

For more information about The Teen Place at Palm Harbor Library, please visit

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Book Slot is to the Left

It has been a whole week since our big Memorial Day Blow Out at the library and I am still exhausted at the thought of it. No, there wasn’t a gigantic book sale consumed with endless donated copies of “Twilight” (who hasn't read this thing?) But get this - we had an actual shooting...with guns…at the library! Thank Dewey it was Memorial Day and the library was closed so no patrons or book carts were harmed. But for Carnegie’s sake, who in the Harry Potter thinks it’s cool to celebrate a holiday remembering war heroes by then shooting out the glass doors of the local public library?

Dear Idiot that shot my library,

Oh I get it, my display table of Memorial Day materials was taunting you through the locked doors and you just had to get that copy of “Widow of the South” before your friend’s barbeque. Or maybe you just had to return that “Blades of Glory” DVD before you were charged a late fee of 35 cents. Listen tough guy, the book slot is located on the left, and while times might be tough right now, there’s no Civil War happening out here in this quiet retirement community, so you going all gangster on a branch library with like four slow computers and a broken air conditioner in the conference room, isn’t going to make anybody think you are some version of John Dillinger.

Instead, you are going to look like a big moron because you just went all barbaric on your own house. That’s right – the library is your home too. Unlike those trendy clubs that can enforce the whole velvet rope and dress code to keep your childish activities to the local mall, the library is available to everybody so says the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights that states “A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.” Personally, I think they should have also added “…and yes, even those idiots who mistake the library for a scene from the video game Gears of War.” So, did you get that genius? It is actually your right to use the library and the vast amount of materials inside of it…for free…anytime you want, but listen, even librarians need a day off - so deal with it. Go get a snow cone. Or make a video for YouTube that nobody is going to watch. I don’t care. Just leave my library alone.

So again, way to go, jackass! Now money that could have been spent on library materials that would inspire and educate you to actually do something with your life (or to purchase Gears of War 3, which I heard is also pretty cool), now has to go to replacing those doors, which were already open to you in more ways than you realize.


P.S. Please don’t shoot the messenger, the sheriff, or anybody for that matter. Just pick up a book.

The Library Bill of Rights:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Welcome to! is a blog created and operated by me, an out-of-work comedian-librarian looking for my first library job, so there’s bound to be tons of mistakes and lessons learned in this hopefully, hilarious yet heartfelt journey that is known as my complicated and colorful life. Why do it? Well, for some reason, several people seem to think my past stories of heartbreak and failure is funny, so I thought this time I would invite you along for the ride – so get out the popcorn and enjoy!

For a bit of an introduction, the following is a little story to help you get caught up on me, and what I have been doing the past ten years…

Once upon a time, Memorial Day weekend 2000, I moved to NYC without a job or any friends, so I went to the library. When I was told by a drunk guy in a bar that PR would be a good career for me, I went to the library. When I got the job but didn't really know how to do PR, I went to the library. When I needed a new job with “greater challenges” AKA I wasn’t getting along with my co-workers, I went to the library. When I got new PR job and was told by drunk co-worker that I was funny and should do stand-up comedy after seeing my impression of our boss, I went to the library. When I was “let go” from PR job and wanted to do one-woman show yet had no idea how to write one, I went to the library. When I got signed by literary agency to write book based on one-woman show, I went to the library. When book didn't sell and I felt like a complete loser after giving up entire life and career in NYC to be a writer, I went to the library. And it was then that the librarian finally said, "You come here a lot and you read tons and tons of books on everything from PR to comedy to writing to overcoming depression, have you ever thought about being a librarian?" I hadn’t but this time I knew the librarian was someone I should actually listen to, especially since she was sober. I graduated in May.


Yes, I just wrote this stupid story off the cuff - why? Because it is true. I am a firm believer that you can do anything you put your mind to but if you read and utilize your library, you can do it well. I also think it is important not to take career advice from drunk people. My goal in life was always to entertain, which is why even after starting grad school in 2006 to become a librarian, I still moved to Los Angeles to pursue my dream of comedy and acting. While writing thirty-page term papers on the history of libraries in the APA-style, I was also roller skating behind Brad Garrett on “Til’ Death,” serving former PR clients shrimp at the Oscars, and telling jokes to a roomful of LA people not really listening to them. I’ve obviously worked a lot of jobs to make ends meet while pursuing this Masters degree to officially become a librarian so I can then work in a library, and what do you know? The economy is in the crapper and people want to cut library jobs.

Over these past ten years, I have found that the one place I can truly count on to be there for me is the library. It is a place that offers us anything we could possible want or dream of and actually delivers. So it is here on this blog that I will finally admit my truth - making people laugh is simply not enough for me anymore. Maybe it is because I have lost far too many jobs over it, or maybe it is because I don’t think I was ever really that funny. I mean, they say comedy is subjective (especially to those people you are making fun of) but maybe the truth is that as a librarian I can be put to better use. Who really needs another bitter comic? As a librarian, I may not necessarily have all the answers but I do have the means to get the information, and unlike PR, it is free to anyone who wants it.

A few things I should mention...

“Shhhh” won’t be used on this blog - I didn’t become a librarian to shush you people. I get told to shut up by plenty of folks and I don’t listen to them either.

“So if you are a comedian, tell me a joke” – No. The humor books are in the stacks (817 for American satire & humor, 827 for British humor) if you want guaranteed laughs by people who have “made it” AKA had the right agent to get published. Otherwise, go pay a cover charge and a two-drink minimum at your nearest comedy club where you can also enjoy crappy nachos for ten dollars.

Finally, this blog isn’t just for me, it is also for you - this whole librarian stereotype with the old lady wearing the bun and glasses has got to go. I want you to stand up and take action in your own lives to help me share with the world that libraries are a very cool place to be and shouldn’t be cut in city budgets (besides some of us librarians are pretty fabulous, the rest I hope to help at some point, I mean, why is a chain needed on glasses? Put them on the desk. Pick them back up. Repeat.) In return, I promise to entertain you with my mishaps and adventures along the way to wherever I am going. Right now I have no idea. Just think of me as your own personal comedic reference librarian here to serve you with a variety of information and hopefully, plenty of laughs too.

Now go get that library card!

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