Thursday, April 22, 2004

Feelin' mo' professional

Yesterday I did something that is a big deal in any young librarian's life. I gave my first booktalk. That thing I did last month was a book discussion. We had all read the book and sat down and discussed it. Yesterday I went to an old-folks home and gave a gathering of 16 octogenarians a short talk on three books. I'm a big wuss when it comes to public speaking and I was a little disappointed when I got into my car to head out to the retirement community and it started. My stomach was full of butterflies as I headed into the senior citizen ghetto. Once I exited the elevator I took to the third floor and walked into their modest library and was greeted by a couple of early arrivers and the activities cooridinator I calmed down a lot. Heck the coordinator even went and got me a glass of water after I asked where the drinking fountain was. Next time I am taking a bottle of water, I needed that water a couple of times.

The first book I discussed was "A Hero's Daughter" by Andrei Makine. I rushed through that one a little bit but I didn't screw it up. The second book was "Shooting the Sun" by Max Byrd. I was more composed with that book and I think I spoke confidently about it. Although I did get lost at one point. I took a sip of water and gathered my thoughts back up. The last book I nailed. It's called "The Mammoth Cheese" by Sheri Holman and it's one of the best books I've read in the last year. It's full of wonderfully realistic characters that all interact with one another. I really enjoyed describing how the characters all intertwined. I even fielded several questions from the ladies. They were actually paying attention. That felt really good.

My talk lasted about half an hour. I have never talked that long before. The longest presentation I ever gave in my schooling was ten minutes. I guess it's easier to talk about three good novels than any school assignment. When I wrapped up the ladies started grilling me. Wow, it was fortunate that I was prepared. They wanted details that I was able to provide. I think that is why it went so well because I was ready. It's amazing how much easier things are when you don't go about them half-assed. I answered questions for about fifteen minutes.

After I finished the press conference portion of the talk I spent a few minutes visiting with the ladies. I was pleased to see a few come up and write down the titles of the books for future reference. They were all so sweet and gave me really good feedback. Mostly to talk a little slower and louder since most of them are half deaf. I thought I was talking plenty loud. Any louder and I would have been shouting. I'll have to work on that. They have a small sound system there and there is no way in hell I am going to use that. They are very proud of their library. They showed me the new arrivals that the public library's group services department had just dropped off. On the shelf I saw the book "Empress Orchid" by Anchee Min. I was going to discuss that book yesterday but there is a large hold list on it and I couldn't get a copy. There it was right in front of me. I wish I had seen it before I started because I would have recommended it. Next time I'll peruse their library and check for books I am familiar with and wing a short discussion about one.

As I was walking out to my car in my post-presentation glow I remembered that I had forgotten to mention all the strong themes like family, faith, love and country that permeates "The Mammoth Cheese." Ah well, I'll do even better next time.

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