25 Books by 25 Update

Hey everyone – I know I haven’t posted much. Life has been crazy with grad school and work and such. Just wanted to post a quick update of my 25 books by 25.

I have finished Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides and LOVED it and On the Road by Jack Kerouac (not a fan).

I am currently working on Gone With the Wind and Les Miserables.

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25 Books by 25

So I turned 24 a few days ago. No big deal really. Until I realized that in turning 24, I am now living the 25th year of my life. I will have been on this planet for a quarter of a century in a year. Crazy right? Well, it is to me.

Anyway,  in honor of my twenty fifth year on the planet, I’m making it my goal to read 25 carefully selected books over the course of the next year. In all honesty, I’ll read more, since reading is what I do. But I want to make sure to read the following 25:

 

25 Books by 25 (in no particular order)

  1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
  2. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  3. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  4. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  5. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  7. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  8. Middlesex by Jefferey Eugenides
  9. A Room with a View by E.M. Forrester
  10. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  11. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
  12. The Republic by Plato
  13. Sold by Patricia McCormick
  14. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  15. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  16. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
  17. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
  18. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  19. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  20. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  21. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  22. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
  23. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  24. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  25. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Wish me luck!  I’ll post as I read them and keep you updated.

Also, what would you recommend? Anything on here you strongly agree or disagree with?

Love Your (Future) Librarians

For those of you who don’t know (which, for all I know is all of you, since I haven’t written in a year) I will be starting my fourth semester (of five) of graduate school. I am studying library and information science.

That’s right – I want to be a librarian. A children’s or teen librarian, to be specific.

You can stop laughing now. Because yes, I’m aware that many people think libraries are dying out as printed media begins to be pushed aside in favor of electronic media. And I’m aware that Forbes recently (well, in June) named Library Science as the worst Masters degree for a job in this article. Sure, they list a low growth rate of the profession and a low median salary as their evidence, but do they stop to consider the range of options someone with an MLIS has as they seek employment?

Forbes listed school librarian, reference librarian, and library director as common jobs for people holding this degree. While these are jobs someone with an MLIS may hold, they are a very limited selection. My school alone offers graduate certificates in Arts and Museum librarianship, Records and Information Management, and Archival Administration to name a few. Students can also specialize based on their courses (Digital Content Management, Organization of Information, Law Librarianship, Health and E-Science to name a few), or follow a more general course of study. All of these options open up a myriad of doors and possibilities.

But my big issue with articles like this is that people throw them in the faces of those of us studying for this degree. Lower pay or limited job growth doesn’t mean we don’t work hard and put in a ton of time to get the degree. It doesn’t mean that the jobs we seek are less difficult or not as necessary as jobs that other Masters degree holders are seeking. It means that many of our jobs are being cut due to lack of funding and misunderstanding of what we do. Maybe it means Forbes didn’t consider all the options we have, but only those that a.re obvious. It means people flaunt these articles as evidence that we, their friends or family, or complete strangers are wasting our time and tuition.

Here’s the problem with that logic – I know I didn’t pursue this course of study to make boatloads of money. I may never be obscenely wealthy, and I’m okay with that. I’m aware that the starting salary of the job I want is well below the average for someone with a Masters. I want to be a youth services librarian and the job requires a Masters. I want the job so I can put stories in the hands of children and teens. I believe in the power of stories to teach, to be therapeutic, and – above all else – to entertain. Stories are necessary and libraries make access easier and inexpensive. If I can help one child find the book they need at the right time, I will have made a difference. I know the power those books (or movies, stories, poems, etc) can have because they’ve affected me and changed me and made me who I am. Everyone should have access to that chance.

This is why I study, work like crazy so I can manage to survive grad school, and why I picked my degree. So please, stop throwing articles like the Forbes article in my face and telling me it’s worthless. Because to me, it’s not. And I’m betting that many of my fellow MLIS students feel the same. It’s frustrating when people don’t even try to understand that it’s not about the money – we love what we do and what we want to do. So instead of saying we’re wasting our time (or that those who came before us did), love your librarians and your future librarians. If you haven’t needed one at some point in your life already (you might’ve without even knowing it!), chances are you will someday.

What’s Earned

DISCLAIMER: The opinions represented in this post are my own as an alumna of Central Michigan University. I do not claim to speak for current students, faculty, or other alumni unless otherwise state

The Faculty Association at Central Michigan University (my Alma Mater) began a strike this morning after being without a contract since the end of June. Bargaining between the union and the university’s administration failed to result in a new contract, and here we are. The FA is made up of tenured and tenure-track professors who do far more than teach classes and hold office hours. These men and women also serve on committees that make the colleges within the university run, advise undergraduate and graduate students, grade papers and tests, and do research and/or get published as part of their job at the university. All of this amounts to many more hours of work each week than those spent in the classroom teaching classes. Is a livable wage really a lot to ask for all this work?

Outside of the Friends of CMU Faculty group on Facebook, I’ve been seeing a lot of students bashing the FACULTY for their “greediness” in seeking to maintain a livable wage. They may seek a raise now because the administration rejected their offer to take no pay increase if tuition remained at the same rates as during the 2010-2011 school year, but they did make that offer so that STUDENTS would not have to pay more. The administration’s offer is basically a 20% DECREASE in pay because the faculty will have to pay more into their health care.

Now, a lot of comments have been made about how districts all over the state and country are requiring employees to pay more of their health care costs. Believe me, I know. My mom is a teacher consultant and my dad is a retired teacher. I am well aware of what goes on in education. I am also well aware that cuts are most commonly made among teachers and other employees rather than among administration. My mom is dealing with figuring out how to support her family without knowing what her take home pay will look like this year, but knowing she’s paying more into health care. It’s a legitimate concern – it’s not a small amount of money, and the cost of living keeps rising. These circumstances affect CMU’s faculty as well.

The vast majority of complaints I’ve seen are about the lack of classes due to the strike. People are worried about graduating and feeling like they’re paying a lot of money for classes that aren’t happening. While I can understand these views, I’d like to point out that people don’t complain when classes are cancelled because of a teacher’s illness, snow, a power outage, etc. Most rejoice at the day off. Now, this is a slightly different circumstance. It’s on a bigger scale than illness and is a choice made by the faculty. However, it’s a choice that the faculty has made in order to stand up for what they – and I – believe is right. I don’t think it’s fair for students or community members to expect the faculty  to let the administration walk all over them simply because classes were supposed to start today. Those voicing a wish for the faculty to go back to work before a fair contract is even being negotiated should take a look in a mirror. While they’re busy spouting off nonsense about greedy faculty, who’s really being selfish? I sincerely hope these students are simply flinging these accusations about as a result of misinformation rather than voicing an educated opinion.

 

Want to help? Email or call President George Ross, Provost Gary Shapiro, and the CMU Board of Trustees. Contact info can be found in the Facebook group Friends of CMU Faculty

No Choice Without Access

When I was twenty, after years of ridiculously unpredictable periods, painful and debilitating cramps that left me curled up in a ball around a heating pad, and mood swings that scared me and everyone else I interacted with (all of which had started out as almost nothing and gotten worse as I got older), I realized I didn’t have to deal with these issues that sometimes forced me to skip classes so and stay in bed for a day or two at least.  While I was home for a weekend, I visited the local Planned Parenthood and left with a prescription for the Pill. I had never had sex – I didn’t even actually have a boyfriend. Now, a little over two years later, that’s not the case. You know what is? I have a Bachelor’s degree, will be starting grad school in August, and I couldn’t have done either one if I had wound up with a kid I didn’t want and couldn’t care for.

The Institute of Medicine recently recommended to the Department of Health and Human Services that insurance companies be required to cover contraception – with no co-pay. My instantaneous reaction to this discovery was an overwhelming sense of relief, but as I considered the actual implications of this recommendation and the opposition to it, my optimism began to fade.

That’s not to say I don’t support this method of increasing access to birth control. I do. All women should have access to understandable and accurate information about any form of birth control they are interested in. That’s the thing about birth control – while hormonal birth control might work for one woman, it may cause side effects that another can’t or doesn’t want to deal with. Another woman may choose to avoid any chemical form of birth control based on personal beliefs. All three of these women deserve ACCESS to fact-based information regarding all the options available to them. Without access to accurate information, these women are already being denied a choice.

The IOM’s recommendation is by no means a guarantee that no-cost birth control will happen. If it does, there will be logistics to figure out – including what counts as “birth control” that is covered. Does this include information about natural forms of birth control? When it comes to reproductive health, the key is choice. Control of a woman’s choices must be hers alone, but without access to information or to birth control, those choices are limited. I sincerely hope HHS will take the IOM’s recommendation seriously and make no-cost birth control a reality. Even a $5 co-pay can prevent some women from being able to make that choice – higher co-pays make it even harder for women to be able to make that choice.

I was and am incredibly lucky. I can easily afford my $5 co-pay, though my insurance coverage is lacking for actual appointments in my area. Many women aren’t so lucky. I will not take my good fortune for granted, and I will fight to make sure all women have the same options I have. Without access, there is no choice. Without choice, there is no freedom. Denying freedom to at least half the population is unacceptable.

Support no-cost birth control? Sign the petition here

See the other posts in the “We’ve Got You Covered” Birth Control Blog Carnival here

Surprised by the Verdict in Casey Anthony’s Trial? I’m Not.

At 2:15pm today, the jury of the Casey Anthony trial re-entered the courtroom and the verdict was delivered. Casey Anthony was found not guilty of First Degree Murder, not guilty of Aggravated Child Abuse, and not guilty of Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child. She was found guilty of four counts of Giving False Information to a Law Enforcement Officer in Reference to a Missing Person (understandable given that they did say, in court, that the story about Caylee being taken by a nanny was a lie).

Within minutes, if not seconds, social media outlets Facebook and Twitter were flooded with posts expressing different opinions about whether the verdict was correct or not.

I will not say whether or not that verdict is correct or not – at least not in terms of whether or not Caylee Anthony was killed by her mother. I don’t know if Casey Anthony killed her daughter, if the girl drowned by accident, or if aliens came down and stole her away, returning her body later. And nobody else who is passing judgement on this does either. The only living person who could know with absolute certainty what happened is Casey herself, and, given the extraordinary lengths the human mind can and will go to in order to cope with things it finds unpleasant or traumatizing, Casey herself may not be entirely sure of what happened. All we are left with now, three years after the tragedy of Caylee’s death, are perceptions and stories.

All that being said, I will say that, in terms of the way the United States Justice System runs, the verdict returned was correct. The burden of proof in a trial does not lie with the defense, but with the prosecution. I challenge any reader (if I manage to get any) to find me hard evidence that proves what happened three years ago. It cannot be denied that the circumstances surrounding the two-year-old’s death were suspicious, nor that Casey’s response to her daughter’s disappearance is difficult to understand or justify. Regardless of the cause of Caylee’s death, her mother certainly did not help the investigation by delaying it with lies and misinformation. However, nothing proves what happened. Physical evidence is sparse in this case, and nothing presented in court undoubtedly names Casey Anthony as her daughter’s murder. That, my friends, is what we call “reasonable doubt,” and, therefore makes the verdict of the jury unsurprising.

While I understand everyone is entitled to their own opinion regarding anything in life, including this case, I have to ask, what information are you basing your opinion on? Unless you’ve been exposed to the massive quantities of potential evidence in this case, or at least following the trial on TV, where does your opinion come from? Most people only know what they know about this case from what has been reported in the media.

News flash: the media has pegged Casey Anthony as guilty for almost as long as this case has been covered, and that causes an extreme amount of  bias – bias that has been repeated over and over and is easy to accept without questioning.

If this is not your only source of information, I apologize for the generalization, but for the majority of America (and the world) the opinions expressed sound like verbatim echoes of the character bashing and accusations of the media rather than researched and well thought out arguments.

I will not profess to be an expert on the case; I am also not out proclaiming Casey Anthony as guilty or innocent. All I ask is that before others do so, they use logic, rationality, and sense in drawing their conclusions. Given the severity of the punishment of this case, it is understandable that the jury wanted to be sure of guilt if they were to give a verdict of guilty, and, given the case I watched, I can’t blame them for doubting the “proof” offered by the state.