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My Library Career

My Library Career

When I talk to people about my career as a librarian, a surprising number say “I always wanted to be a librarian.” I’m not sure they have a realistic concept of what a librarian does.

It’s helpful to love books. It’s good to have a passion for helping people and uniting them with books and information.

Most likely, they would find library work similar to other jobs, except you do your work in a library setting. I worked in libraries for 30 years. My first teen job was shelving books which gets rather tedious over time.

After getting my master’s degree in library science, I became a children’s librarian. Getting children excited about books kept me enthused about going to work each day.

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Virginia Martin with the storytime kids at the Chardon Library back in the 1970s. Ohio

Later as a reference librarian, then a department head and finally a library director, my job changed. In the final years, I spent more time preparing budgets, dealing with staffing issues, writing grant applications and other managerial chores. That meant less time actually spent with people or books which is what first attracted me to library service.

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Virginia Martin Lord during my 15 years at the Baltimore County Public Library.

Shut up in my ivory tower (otherwise known as the Director’s Office), I slaved away at my desk. It was isolating. Still, I loved that my work made a difference in people’s lives through services the library provided. I’m glad that I had the opportunity to be a librarian.

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The Weslaco Public Library in South Texas.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2016 in Libraries

 

Thanksgiving and Politics – Difficult Decisions

Thanksgiving and Politics – Difficult Decisions

It’s hard to tamp down the overheated rhetoric of this ever-so-divisive election. Suddenly, the holidays are upon us and we aren’t even sure if we can bear to spend a whole day with certain family members. I see some online friends struggling with this. Here are some of the concerns and some solutions they’re going to try.

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Online meme about Native Americans and undocumented immigrants.

M.L. has a great idea for Thanksgiving: “A tasty protest. If you feel obligated to have Trump supporting family members over for Thanksgiving. Do what I’m going to: have a Global Thanksgiving. No turkey here, just delicious food from all the countries and ethnicities that make up my community and my circle of friends.”

Another friend said, “This is great because you can feel good about it either way: if they like it, you’ve taught them the value of understanding people who are not the same as them. If they don’t like it, you get to smirk into your napkin as they shift uncomfortably in their seats and muddle through the meal.”

S.B.K. added an idea to expand on this, “I suggest that you play a soundtrack of world music while everyone is eating. Putumayo World Music puts out some fabulous albums.”

Someone suggested posting a sign at the door, “Politics not spoken here.”

B.H. had this perspective, “We have two options for dealing with Trump supporters in our family during the holidays:

A) Have the difficult conversations.

Don’t make it easy. Don’t fear making them uncomfortable. Part of the reason Trump was elected was because many white people, myself included, have not been having the difficult conversations with other white people. The old mantra of not bringing up politics or religion is dead. Bring it up. Make them squirm. Look up resources for having productive difficult conversations and practice as a family what you will say. If you’re thinking “I don’t want to ruin Thanksgiving” think about the LGBTQ youth who have been kicked out of their homes and might be without shelter in Trump’s America. Think about the undocumented people currently in detention centers. We need to sacrifice our own comfort to make the world a better place for them.

B) Don’t go/Don’t welcome.

We didn’t uninvite my in-laws to Thanksgiving, but we told them that we were deeply unhappy with them and didn’t really want to break bread with Trump supporters right now, so they uninvited themselves. These people voted for Trump because the bad stuff doesn’t affect them. Make them recognize actions have consequences. Make it affect them. A vote for Trump was a hateful act. The price should be your company and affection.

I recognize if you’re married to a Trump supporter these suggestions might not be possible, but I hope they are useful for confronting parents/siblings/cousins etc. Strength to you all as we navigate a difficult time together.”

V.B. is bypassing Thanksgiving with relatives, “I hope to go to the soup kitchen and serve. I want to give this year. I have a lot and more than enough to be thankful.”

A.L.B. has used these instructions in the past and it certainly seems appropriate for this election year Thanksgiving. “I actually post the ‘annual house rules’ when I invite everyone, since I do have friends of all types. It includes a ‘rule’ as follows: 3- My friends are diverse. They come in all colors, sizes, ages, ethnic groups, religious beliefs, political affiliations, orientations and with all kinds of hobbies/interests/passions. Negative energy or negative/inflammatory conversations of any kind are forbidden. I will toss out offenders. It’s my party, my favorite holiday and my house. Deal with it.

A lot of people are dreading Thanksgiving next week. If you find yourself with your stomach in knots,  then perhaps you need a new version of the holiday and not the same old family gathering.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2016 in Elections, holidays

 

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Don’t Take Bernie’s Voters for Granted

Don’t Take Bernie’s Voters for Granted

One of the reasons that this election has me on tenterhooks is not knowing how the vote will split among the 4 candidates. The media focuses mainly on the two traditional parties, Democratic and Republican. I worry that a significant portion of the voters are disillusioned enough to vote 3rd party.

How the Libertarian and the Green Party votes play out is a scary part of the equation. The mainstream media seems to look at the two major candidates and assume that when it comes to the crunch the errant voters will return to voting Republican or Democratic.

I think media has underestimated the disillusionment of Bernie’s voters with the Democratic Party. This is not something that Bernie fostered, but it exists. Hillary Clinton hasn’t made much effort to woo them back into the flock.

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Formerly, the Berners in the Facebook groups cheered each other on in making phone calls and donating to Bernie’s campaign. They flocked to his rallies. They shared stories of converting family and friends to Bernie and took pride in how long they stood in line to vote in the primary.

Now, the tone is rancorous with comments like this: “You green party/libertarian f—-rs just need to stop. There is NO WAY in hell Johnson or Stein will win. All you will do is make yourself feel warm and fuzzy at the polls, but not change anything. COME BACK TO REALITY!! Pick one, Trump or Clinton!!!”

Such interactions on Facebook and other social media aren’t creating any unified voting blocks. Trolls haunt the groups sowing doubts and being contentious. Bernie’s followers feel abandoned and most remain dubious about Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of Hillary and uncertain about what they should do.

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I’ve shared these screenshots and comments so you can see for yourself that much of this election is up-in-the-air. Don’t take Hillary’s lead in the polls for granted. There is much work to be done for anyone to win on November 8th.

I’m scared.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2016 in Elections, Politics

 

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Escaping to LaChance

Escaping to LaChance

If you’re in Missouri in the autumn, take the chance to tour some wineries. It makes a lovely outing with friends as you drive the country roads enjoying the colorful scenery.

We were slightly south of Saint Louis, so we visited the Wild Sun Winery near Hillsboro and enjoyed it so much, that we went on to the LaChance Winery near DeSoto.

Both sites had patio areas where you could enjoy their great views while you sip your wine. You could get a sampler or buy a glass or bottle of wine. They had food as well but we were saving our appetites for a special dinner that evening.

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A red wine, the sangria and a white wine at LaChance Vinyards in Missouri.

My husband tried the Special Reserve, a cabernet sauvignon, and liked it so well that he bought a bottle to take with us. The friend who was showing us around opted for a white and I chose a glass of the sangria to try.

All were quite satisfactory and gave us an excuse to loiter in the autumn sunshine, telling stories and relaxing. It was a treat to escape the hustle and bustle for these moments in the country.

Later that evening, we shared the bottle of cabernet while eating tender venison. Hours of slow-cooking resulted in the most savory, lean meat with potatoes and its own gravy. The LaChance wine was a perfect accompaniment for the tasty meal.

Both wineries had glasses that you could buy for souvenirs. Whenever we use our LaChance glasses, we’ll think of that perfect autumn afternoon on the patio and the lovely dinner later that evening.

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Grass plumes by the deck of the winery.

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2016 in Travel

 

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Facebook + Amazon = $$$

Facebook + Amazon = $$$

Free ebooks seldom paid off in sales, as I wrote about in yesterday’s post. I then tried featuring some that weren’t free by presenting them to special interest groups I belong to on Facebook. The Civil War and genealogy group members had liked my free postings and were willing to buy a few books on their topic.

Books just didn’t give enough commission to be worth the time, but I’ll still share them on Facebook as a service to my friends and fellow enthusiasts.

Next, I tried sharing more expensive products. To avoid being a spammer, I coordinated these to times a friend mentioned a specific product. I’d simply comment, “I see they have these on Amazon” and post the link. No one took offense since they were already talking about it.

Here’s where you get the link to post (if you are an Amazon affiliate). Also, notice the SHARE option in the stripe below. That gives you the ability to post on your Facebook timeline, to a friend, or in a group and also to Twitter. It includes your affiliate link.
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Sometimes, I’d feature a product on my status if I bought a new garden wagon or other product. If I was already sharing about my activity and included the link, it fit in fairly well.

Still, my friends and family were not large enough numbers to result in many sales. They weren’t a targeted audience, and it was merely by chance that a product would hit the spot and result in a sale.

Then, I noticed the paid ads that littered my timeline on Facebook. There were ads for hair products, suitcases, massagers, scanners and other pricey products. I looked at the comment section where hundreds of people said they really needed and wanted these items. BINGO!

I checked on Amazon for a product just like the one in the Facebook ad. When I found an exact match, I put the link with a comment on the Facebook advertisement. My comment usually is “I see some very positive reviews on this on Amazon.” People saw the comment and click on the link to read the reviews. A few went ahead and bought the product while they were there, possibly because they trusted Amazon more than the Facebook vendor or because they had a Prime membership or because the price was better.

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The green bars are Amazon sales. The red line shows the number of clicks and the yellow line shows orders.

Now those annoying Facebook ads don’t bother me anymore. Instead, I see them as opportunities. I look forward each day to checking my Amazon sales to see what luggage or overpriced product people couldn’t resist. It has boosted my commissions quite nicely.

A friend sent me some of the fine print from the Amazon Affiliate guidelines. Now, I’m trying to puzzle out how to post my affiliate disclosure information with each link so the FCC doesn’t get upset with me.

Here’s what I’m currently doing:

screenshot-amazon-facebook

 

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2016 in Internet Earning

 

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Sharing Amazon Books on Facebook

Sharing Amazon Books on Facebook

My online writing friends and I share anecdotes on how tough it is to make sales on various websites. Most of us are Amazon affiliates and a variety of other affiliates as well. Sites like Squidoo (now defunct) and Hubpages don’t have the earning power that we would like.

Some months ago, I started sharing Amazon links for free ebooks. I posted these on my Facebook status and my friends and family told me they liked hearing about these. When I put the link, I always included my affiliate code.

That may seem a waste since the ebooks were free. Now and then, someone would click-through for the free ebook but then go on to shop for additional items. In those cases, I earned a commission from Amazon.

Even when they bought another book at $2.99 or even $8.99, the commission was pretty low. Now and then, someone would go on a shopping spree after clicking through on my free ebook link. I really appreciated it when someone bought a big batch of Christmas gifts for their kids after clicking through on my link.

Then, I had an epiphany and changed my pattern of Facebook posting of products. My earnings went up from $10 or $20 a month from Amazon/Facebook links to 10 times as much. I’ll do a follow-up post on this one with steps so you can try it too.

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Increasing my Amazon affiliate earnings (photo by Virginia Allain)

 

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2016 in Internet Earning, online earnings

 

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Self-Publishing a Book with Blurb

Self-Publishing a Book with Blurb

Blurb.com – A Way for Authors to Self-Publish

What is Blurb? It’s a wonderful discovery for an aspiring author or someone who just wants a few books for a special occasion or to share with their family. When a writer chooses to self-publish their content, there are a number of Print-On-Demand sites like Lulu.com or Create Space, but let’s focus on Blurb.com here. I’ve used it a number of times with varied books and found it quite versatile.

Made using Blurb.com

Gail Lee Martin shows off her books with family memories. I used Blurb to publish both of these books for Mom and Dad.

The wonderful thing about Print-On-Demand (also called POD) is the author doesn’t have to buy hundreds of dollars worth of books to get the book published by a traditional printer or face rejection over and over from a traditional publisher. The way that POD works at Blurb is the author uploads the book content to the Blurb website. At that point, the only obligation is to buy one copy of the book. Anyone else wanting the book can order it directly from Blurb’s online bookstore. The author sets the price and keeps any income above the printing cost set by Blurb.

How To Do It

  1. Sign up with Blurb. It’s free and you put the usual information (username and password).
  2. Click on DOWNLOAD THE BOOKWRIGHT SOFTWARE at the Blurb site. This downloads Blurb’s software to your own computer. You work offline at your own pace. Use the Blurb BookWright Guide to learn more about it.
  3. Start a new book using the software. Choose a title, paste in the text and get the pictures from your own computer files.
  4. Rearrange the text and photos until you are satisfied with the book.
  5. Edit, edit, edit… run the spell check and review the text and photos one more time. It’s best to actually print out the pages and review it that way. Somehow one sees the errors more clearly in a printed copy.
  6. Once you have it perfect, upload the book to Blurb.
  7. Now you have 15 days to order the book or they will remove it from their site. Don’t worry, it’s still saved on your own computer.
  8. Start promoting the book. Potential buyers go to Blurb’s online bookstore to preview a part of the book and to order copies.

You can preview the various books I’ve published using Blurb. My sample books are featured in my online bookstore. Click on a book cover to read more about it and to PREVIEW a portion of the book.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2016 in Books, Self-publishing

 

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