Author Archives: Andrea Levandowski

About Andrea Levandowski

I am the Project Manager for Small Business Development and Technology at the New Jersey State Library. Formerly, I worked as the Reference Librarian for Instruction and Fundraising Information.

Construction Industry Career Day

Construction signs and front end loader in the background

Construction signs and front end loader in the backgroundConstruction Industry Career Day is an event for career seekers to learn about the rewarding opportunities in the construction industry.  This year, Construction Industry Career Day will be held on May 30 and 31 at the New Jersey Convention and Expo Center in Edison off the NJ Turnpike exit 10.  Tuesday night from 4-8pm, the program is open to the public, and Wednesday from 8am-1pm is for school groups of current students.  The event is free and will provide learning and networking opportunities as well as hands-on exhibits and craftworker demonstrations.  Seasoned professionals and new apprentices will be available to answer questions.

If you think this event will be of interest to your patrons, there is a flyer for you to print or share and a cover letter with details.  In addition, transportation assistance is available for Tuesday’s program for groups of 10 or more.  If you would like full-size posters for your facilities or more information about arranging transportation for groups, please contact me and I will assist you.

To learn more, visit the Construction Industry Career Day website.

Welcome to The Business Blog!

Andrea Levandowski - Project Manager for Small Business Development and Technology
Project Manager for Small Business Development and Technology

Welcome to The Business Blog!  This will be a spot for updates on business resources, events, and current topics librarians to share with their business patrons.  Occasionally, I will also share some tips or ideas for business programming and services.  We’ll see where this goes!

For existing website content about business, visit Small Business Services or Business Services for Librarians.

You can also follow @NJGrowsBiz for articles, library events, and more.

If you have suggestions for posts or anything you would like to share, email Andrea Levandowski.

 

The Art of Waiting by Belle Boggs

“There are no clear norms for grieving the loss of a dream.”
–Marni Rosner

The Art of Waiting by Belle Boggs is a memoir of her personal struggle with infertility and her decision to pursue IVF.  It is also a selective history of motherhood and fertility in culture, a medical explanation of fertility treatments, and a policy analysis of how the financial expense of treatments affect how couples choose to build their families.

Boggs approaches her infertility with deep contemplation.  Through her writing and the organization of the book, with her personal experiences paired with medical, scientific, cultural, or literary topics, she takes the reader through her personal journey while also pointing out that the story is much bigger.  For instance, she pairs an explanation of her infertility and its effects on her marriage with a story about chaperoning a field trip to see Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Individuals facing certain medical conditions that are not clearly visible to others tread difficult paths.  “I may look fine, but I’m not well,” they may say to themselves.  Infertility is a physical medical condition, but many of side effects are psychological and emotional.  For infertile couples, these feelings are compounded by the fact that no one wants to talk about them.

As Boggs writes, “Fear of having one’s loss diminished and the desire not to offend or upset those with children reinforce the silence that is a manifestation of what writer and grief counseling expert Kenneth Doka called ‘disenfranchised grief’: ‘the grief that persons experience when they incur a loss that is not or cannot be openly acknowledged, publicly mourned, or socially supported.’”

There are moments in The Art of Waiting where Boggs puts into words the truths that are part of infertility.  It may make the reader say, “Yes! I thought I was alone!”  For example, “It is not just the takeover of your body that makes IVF so challenging, but the takeover of your schedule, your life.  Every-other-morning appointments, waiting by the phone for news about the results of blood draws, timing injections precisely, ordering more medication or procuring discounted or free leftovers from women finished with their cycles: it all takes time.”

Sometimes it is therapeutic to simply hear that others have been through it and know those difficult feelings that accompany infertility.  She provides examples from other couples who have faced different journeys, and though their decisions and the outcomes vary, there many elements of their stories unify them.

The Art of Waiting is a fast read and may be a sort-of support book for individuals facing infertility, but it is worth noting that Boggs’ first IVF cycle resulted in the birth of her daughter.  It is a story told after coming out of the darkness of infertility and the result of the treatments was successful.  For individuals who are still in the midst of their own stories, it may not be as much of a comfort.  Portions may be difficult to read, and Boggs’ discussion of her pregnancy, though told with sensitivity, may dredge up painful feelings.  Additionally, Boggs never experienced a pregnancy loss, and so she does not offer as much on those experiences.

For those hoping to understand infertility or wishing to support friends or loved ones experiencing it, The Art of Waiting opens the window to a very private world.  One fascinating chapter, appropriately titled, “Just Adopt,” explores both domestic and international adoption (also adapted into an article for Slate).  Most infertile couples have heard at one time or another, “Why don’t you just adopt?” and this chapter tackles this topic adeptly and fairly.  Adoption has its own set of complications and ethical questions, which Boggs explores skillfully without passing judgement on the couples regardless of the choices they make.  For some infertile couples, there is a point in their journey when there are no easy answers—when all of the decisions may bring about their own unique joy or sorrow.

For those who are experiencing their own waiting or who wish to learn more about infertility, The Art of Waiting is an insightful memoir that also educates the reader.  The final pages include a resource list for finding infertility-related organizations and support groups as well.

The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood, by Boggs, Belle
Call # 362.19 Bog Browsing Collection-Level 3

The Dos and Don’ts of Crowdfunding

Picture of hand holding money

Money button on computer keyboardThank you to everyone who attended Crowdfunding: Dos and Don’ts on March 16.  We discussed the basics of crowdfunding, suggestions for getting started, and tips for being successful with your crowdfunding campaigns.  You can find slides, a recording of a previously-held webinar, and links to crowdfunding platforms in my research guide.  You can also find blog entries from other crowdfunding classes here and here.

One of the questions that came up during the session was how to export lists of donors once a campaign is finished.  Depending on whether crowdfunding is a one-time activity or if you would like to get donor information for continued communication, you will want to investigate the data you will be able to download from the platform.  What data is available and how it can be accessed will depend on the platform and should be listed in the help or support section of the platform’s website.  For example, CauseVox, Kickstarter, and Fundly provide instructions on viewing and downloading donor contact information.  Sometimes you have to dig for it, but the information will be there!

Picture of hand holding moneyAnother question from the session was about examples of historical and preservation organizations successfully using crowdfunding.  Once I started poking around, I remembered that in 2013, the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts created a crowdfunding platform to launch a campaign for preserving Pennsylvania’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts.  Although the original website is no longer available, you can read an article about the program here.  There are also old campaigns still viewable on platforms for projects including saving historic structures, preserving archives, and recording oral histories.  Additional campaigns can be found by searching around on the different platforms using relevant keywords.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.  Happy crowdfunding!

WordPress.com Basics

wordpressOn January 22, Meaghan Moody from the NJ Talking Book and Braille Center discussed how to get started with WordPress.com.  Attendees followed along while creating their own WordPress accounts, writing posts, adding images, and exploring different features.  The handouts and slides from the session are included below.  For more information, helpful websites are listed on the last page of the handout.

WordPress.com Basics Presentation

WordPress Basics Handout

Find Your Next Great Read Online

Blog post by Tara Kehoe

Book Discovery!

On January 28, “Find Your Next Great Read Online” was presented by Tara Kehoe, a readers’ services librarian at the Talking Book and Braille Center. If you have any questions or follow up with Tara, please feel free to email: Tara and/or follow Tara on goodreads.com and Twitter @TaraKehoe1. A recording of the webinar is available here.

The purpose of this webinar was to show attendees a variety of quality online resources that can be used to find good books. Many people read books that are popular (“buzzed”) and/or bestsellers. Many people read the book suggestions that pop up from an Amazon search. These are fine ways to find books, but not the only way. Just because a book is popular does not necessary mean that you will love it. We learned that many web sites (like Amazon) bring up book suggestions because they are paid by publishers to do so, in the hopes of making more sales. Here is an article on paid advertisement from Intelliverse.

Strategies for Finding Books

All readers are encouraged to visit their local public library, as it a great way to find books! But, you cannot always make it to the library and sometimes you have to visit remotely. We explored some great examples of online library resources; using a few of our local New Jersey libraries as examples of Catalog exploration, Recommendations, Lists, and Blogs. Attendees are encouraged to visit their local library’s web page to explore, and it is highly recommended to establish an account using your library card. This makes it easy to place books on hold from the library’s online catalog, track checked out books and due dates, etc.

A helpful tool to keep organized is goodreads.com. This is tool wherein it’s possible to maintain lists of books you want to read, books you have read, and you can rate and review. You can read others’ reviews and you can link to friends’ accounts and share book recommendations. The New Jersey State Library Book Café is a group you can join on goodreads. Library Reads is a similar site. To answer a question that came up during the session that I did not have time to address; it is possible to use goodreads to track books that you have loaned out to others. Under the section “my books”, under “bookshelves”, select “add shelf” and name it whatever you like (for example “lent out” or something). You can shelve your books under as many shelves as you like, such as “read, lent out”.

Using NoveList

NoveList Plus is a database available through the New Jersey State Library. From the New Jersey State library page you can access NoveList Plus (under “research tools”, “databases”, then use the alphabetical selection to choose “N” and select NoveList Plus from the list.) NoveList Plus is available for free with your library card remotely by entering your barcode (or from a public computer located in the New Jersey State Library). NoveList Plus is a huge resource! You can use it to find title, author, and series read-alikes. You can explore genres and access book lists. NoveList Plus offers a downloadable guide to their appeal terms, which can help to narrow down reading interests. NoveList K-8 is available as well, which offers similar resources for picture, chapter, and middle-grade books.

Many Great Websites!

Literature map is a fast and easy way to find similar authors. For help in getting the correct order of a series try Fantastic Fiction. Tip: if you get no results for a fairly popular author or title check your spelling! Many of these sites are unforgiving of misspelled names and titles.

Online professional reviews are a good way to help find books. The New York Times Book Review and Kirkus Reviews are a good start-off point. There is also NPR’s Book Concierge, which uses an alternate format to compiles their picks for the best books of the year.

Social Media

We discussed some tips for using social media to choose books. All sites mentioned are free and easy to sign up for. The most popular social media site for organizations today is Facebook. Almost all public libraries have a Facebook account. If you use Facebook you can follow (“like”) your library and any other library out there that has cool stuff of it! If you do not use Facebook you are not going to be shut out of specific information, Facebook has more to do with the delivery of the message. So, you make it your own. One example we looked at was the Piscataway Public Library Facebook page.

Twitter is another good way to find books. I included a helpful guide to using Twitter. A fun feature of Twitter is that you can follow favorite authors, and sometimes if you send them a tweet, they respond.

Two other social media platforms that are worth exploring for book discovery are Instagram and Pinterest.

Is Social Media information overload? Try some of the meta sites, they will collect what they find on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. and send it all to you in a digest format. Check out Social Media Snapshot from LibraryLinkNJ for a good example.

There are so many resources out there! Do not get overwhelmed—find your favorite resource(s) and explore!

Some other links that we did not have time go over in depth, but may be helpful are below.

Other Resources

Article:

Blog of wonderful Young Adult book recommendations and reviews:

More Book Discovery Tools:

More Book Review Resources:

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell

Cover of Lafayette in the Somewhat United States

Cover of Lafayette in the Somewhat United StatesI will admit that I was drawn to Lafayette in the Somewhat United States because Sarah Vowell is the author and not because of the topic.

After I heard Vowell speak at the New Jersey Library Association Annual Conference in 2008, I picked up Assassination Vacation and it quickly became one of my favorite books. Once I finished that, I had to pick up The Wordy Shipmates, which she had actually been promoting at the conference. A few years later when I went on my honeymoon to Hawaii, she had just published Unfamiliar Fishes and I found that to be fascinating as well. I’m not sure if it would have been a better read before the trip; I certainly would’ve felt more educated, a bit cynical, and slightly depressed as I toured historical locations in Honolulu.

If you’ve never read one of Vowell’s books, those are the best words to describe her approach: they provide a thorough education on each topic she explores with more than a little humor, sarcasm, and cynicism. Because of that in-depth look, it becomes apparent that not all of American history is so rosy and bright, hence feeling slightly depressed. Before you wonder what the appeal of her books would be, I will add that above all, she presents history in a way that is fascinating and enjoyable. How else could books about presidential assassinations, the Puritans, or the history of Hawaii be described as page turners?

In her latest book, Vowell takes on the Revolutionary War through the story of the French aristocrat, Marquis de Lafayette, who played an important role in the United States struggle for independence. Born in 1757, Lafayette was still a teenager when he embarked on a journey to the colonies in 1777 to participate in the American Revolution against the wishes of his family.

When he arrived in Charleston after two months at sea, he was immediately smitten with the colonies (as well as George Washington, for whom he would name his son), and would remain so for the rest of his life. Although the Continental Congress and officers were unsure how Lafayette would fit into the Continental Army, they were careful not to offend their possible allies in France. Securing financing from France as well as additional (trained) soldiers and the support of the French navy were vital. Lafayette became a general relatively quickly after arriving in the colonies and would go on to play a pivotal part in the Americans’ ultimate victory.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Vowell’s writing is how she weaves together many different narratives and viewpoints. This book is a story about Lafayette, but it is also a story about how Vowell comes to a deeper understanding of Lafayette, the Revolutionary War, American history, and the impact of history on Americans today. She has an interesting knack for tying the threads of history together and showing how seemingly isolated events are actually unified. In addition to my usual feelings after reading one of Vowell’s books, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States left me with a new one: wonder.

I would not recommend this book for anyone who doesn’t have an interest in history, but Vowell’s style of writing keeps dry content from getting boring if history is not your favorite topic. There are no chapters, though there are section breaks, making it difficult to find a stopping point (which is to say, it was hard to know when to put it down!). After Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, don’t be surprised if you are inspired to read her other titles, most of which are also available at the New Jersey State Library.

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States. Vowell, Sarah.
Call # 355.009 Vow Browsing Collection – Level 3

Assassination Vacation. Vowell, Sarah.
Call # 373.099 Vow Browsing Collection – Level 3

The Wordy Shipmates. Vowell, Sarah.
Call # 974.088 Vow Browsing Collection – Level 3

Unfamiliar Fishes. Vowell, Sarah.
Call # 996.9 Vow Browsing Collection – Level 3