Monday, 5 November 2012

The Land of Stories

Ever feel this way?

Sometimes I wonder if there is anything worse than a bad book; one that doesn't have a happy ending (those are synonymous in my book).  The other day I decided "Yes".  And it's suffering through an "eh" book.

I was excited to get a new book called The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer.  The summary sounded like a lot of fun:  What would it be like if all the fairy tale lands were connected and went on living after "happily ever after"?  And even through the entire book, I kept saying that the premise of the book was great.  Unfortunately, the writing never made it up to the promise of the storyline.  As a reader, I was upset to be told how to feel, what to think, and what moral I should get from the story.

Not satisfying.  Not satisfying at all.

A good book presents the story, setting, plot and characters and lets you feel, think, and judge based on what you experience through the tale.  This has all the early elements of a great story but seems like the rough draft of an amateur.  So, I wonder, how did this get published?  Well, there were no advertising quotes on the book of publishers, reviewers, or other authors endorsing the author or the story.  That might say something.  And the rest I found on the back cover with the picture and author's bio.  He is a star from the show Glee

I sure wish that publishers and editors would stick to their own standards and would help the author succeed in finishing a great book instead of pushing through an incomplete project due to unrelated fame.  Instead, I inflicted the blandness of the book in its entirety upon myself because it's just too hard to put a book down and walk away.  Sigh, maybe the next book I read will be better.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Jack of all Trades

Many of us have heard the phrase "A jack of all trades is a master of none".  I beg to differ.  In my ever-expanding experience, a Master of Library Science is a master of all trades, with more than the passing knowledge of any average jack.

For instance, for the renovation this summer, I and my staff needed to become project managers for a medium-scale project.  This included:

  • Accurate measurements and the creation of a scale drawing of the facility and existing furniture.
  • Fundraising
  • Interior design concerned with spacing, appearance, color, and furniture.
  • Painting
  • Carpet removal
  • Concrete preparation
  • Bookshelf moves
  • Book moves and re-moves

All before we could even put the books back in order.  By the way, for the uninitiated, librarians do more than "just putting books on shelves."

Then there are the manifold issues of day-to-day operations.
  • Employee management
  • Student worker management
  • Scheduling
  • Programs
  • Patron interaction
  • Budgeting
  • Administrative responsibility
  • Collection development
  • Faculty interaction
  • Building maintenance

I also have taken on some of the duties of our faculty and teach in the classroom about every other semester.  That includes:
  • Content review
  • Lesson plans
  • Actual class time
  • Grading

The thing is, schooling for the library degree really does prepare you for almost all of these situations.  I was exposed to the possibility of these duties and many other things within the academic rigors of my classes.  It's the ultimate vo-tech school because I was preparing for a vocation with all of the technical training I would need.  I definitely didn't feel this prepared when I finished my Bachelor's in Biology, practical skills were in short supply.  Now I am thankful that The Lord guided my steps to the job I love and prepared me for it well!

Maybe I can consider myself a "jack of all trades and master of many."

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Dipping a toe in the whirlpool of philosophy

At the school several of us have begun a book swapping circle, passing books of all genres. The most recent that has made the rounds between four of us is I Told Me So:  Self-Deception and the Christian Life by Gregg A. Ten Elshof.  Before even reading the book, I was fascinated by the "one degree of separation" as Mike Owen (PIU's Teacher of the Year and all around good-guy) had Mr. Ten Elshof as a professor at Talbot seminary.  First hand accounts of the teacher makes the subject of the book even more powerful.

Now, for those who are leery of the subject of philosophy this book offers a great introduction to the genre without overwhelming with existential round-robin discussion.  Beyond the philosophical framework, though, the content of I Told Me So is wonderful!  As we mature in our Christian lives, we are exhorted to be "imitators" of Christ.  We should always be actively moving toward a lifestyle that reflects our beliefs in the power and sanctity of Christ and his relationship to the Father.  The difficulty is that, even though we desire to be moving in this direction, we are still hampered by the effects of sin in our lives.  And the devil is a crafty one, he can manipulate circumstances to influence our perspective if we don't take notice. 

This book suggests ways that this is done, both with the devil's help and by our own sinful nature.  Ten Elshof makes a case that self-deception is part of our created make-up that can be used for positive things.  It's when this self-deception becomes out of hand and self-serving that it becomes a weakness to be addressed.  While it sounds simple, diagnose the symptom and treat the problem, it becomes much more complex when you can't or won't see your own trap of self-deception or when a trusted group of people participate in the attitude with you.

Whew, wait a minute... that sounds awful and like we are all in a conspiracy to fool ourselves and each other into doing and thinking what we want, when we want.  Well, yes, that's what sinful nature is: self-deception is just another face of that sinful nature that we can identify and address with God's help.  Awareness is the first step.

The last thing that I really like about this book is not that it just presents the "problem" and leaves us to drown in conviction, Ten Elshof also hands us the life saver in the form of suggested ways to identify and combat the tendency toward self-deception.  And, even better, he offers up warnings of what can happen if we over-identify and over-correct in reaction to the problem.  This is a tidy package of presentation, exhortation, and caution in a book that is easy to read and (for those with a busy life) short.

To recap:  This is a very insightful book that will either open your eyes to a particular aspect of your sinful nature you were unaware of or reinforce the knowledge that you already have of it and offer tools to address it.  Irrespective of content this is also a great introduction into the subject of philosophy that will give you a feel for the type of thinking involved without pulling you down to the depths.

If you have read it, please leave comments.  If not, consider it for yourself or even a discussion group.

And, if you have any suggestions of books for me to read and review, please email me at:

Monday, 6 August 2012

Still going strong...

Just in case you thought the library renovation had fallen off the radar, let me bring you up to date.


We have had more volunteers from the military come out, Home Depot has donated paint and is helping with the carpet, we have painted 1/2 of the library building, have re-located several hundred pounds of books and shelves to a temporary location in the classroom and held a Flea Market to help raise funds to cover the rest of the renovation costs.

Whew, it's been a long couple of weeks.  I would like to share the blessings the Lord has provided for us on this project so far:

  • Safety: there have been no injuries worse than a few bruises.  Considering the amount of heavy lifting we are doing and the awkwardness of the shelving, this is huge blessing!
  • Donations: we have had so many people donating quality items for the Flea Market, it's almost like sorting through the store rack!
  • Volunteers:  PIU personnel, students (some for work study but many more just for support), military, church members.
  • Attitude:  the attitude of the volunteers has made the work days almost seem like a party!
  • Provision:  we have only had to pay about $300 so far for the entire renovation.  Amazing!
  • Timing:  the project is following a timeline that allows for enough rest in between long, hard days.
  • Stress:  I have been given a large amount of grace so that, even when I get tired, my stress level stays within tolerable bounds.  Which means, my family can still live with me!

Thank you, Lord.  Amen!

Oh, did I forget to mention we were in the Liberation Day Parade?

Some of my most faithful helpers!

I do actually work and not just order everyone around... sometimes!

Sorting or pre-shopping?  I think we crossed the line a couple of times but we got all the work done, fellowshipped, and got good deals all at the same time!  Now that's multi-tasking.

And this was just the stuff on the court, the rest of the clothes were in a classroom!

Now, this is ingenuity!  Did you know that books are heavy?

Monday, 16 July 2012

Maudlin Moment

While I am not normally given to sharing moments of introspection, I'll make an exception today.

 Yesterday was a wonderful rest day with church in the morning and naps and light housework in the afternoon. This came after a hectic week from the first phase of library renovations at the PIU campus. One of the things I made sure we did yesterday was to stop by the beach to wade into the water--it was low tide so we needed to go out a bit to even find the water!

Why was it so important to get to the water?

Just over a week ago, my sister posted on my Facebook wall: "Hey Lisa! Did you know that next week I will be in Irvine, CA? I will go to the beach in my I Love Guam t-shirt and et in the water, then next week you can go to the beach in Guam and touch the same water. It will be almost like visiting, except not exactly. I love you and miss you!"

Just when I start to feel on an even keel and that we are o.k. so far away from family; Jill drops this bombshell. I loved it and cried over it at the same time. Yes, we give up a lot being so far away from family in the states: regular visits with grandparents, funerals, family reunions and more. But, after a week of so many different Christian volunteers coming together to help with the library it brings home the fact that we are making a difference here. Our immediate family here impacts the lives of our students in visible ways. So that's why I went to the ocean the day after Jill went to the beach in California and touched the water. I waited a day so that the water she touched could reach all the way over here so we could be closer together.

And I prayed:

Lord, you give us the blessing of water to drink and sustain our lives. You also give us water to refresh and renew us in Baptism. And today, You use water to connect my sister and me across the world through your creation and love. Amen

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Phase 1--DONE!

Today was incredible!  We had almost 20 volunteers (to include a few children that were happy to add a hand here and there) and we finished all of the shelves today!  We even set up a canopy on the basketball court to make sure we had space for sanding.

We also received another donation on the Library Wish I made on my Facebook page.  Added to the funds donated on the web and here in person, we have now received $140 toward the renovation.  Wonderful!

Today was a beautiful day to work, the Lord blessed us with an overcast sky to keep the sun at bay but no rain to dodge.  We had plenty to drink and were further blessed by a new volunteer, Mike Pratt, from an Army unit stationed here on Guam.  He worked tirelessly and still seemed to like us at the end of the day.

I am so thankful for the many people who came out today to fellowship and work hard.  The Lord sends affirmation just when I need it most.  I love Him so much!

That's it for today, I've been at work for almost 10 hours now and I think it's time to go home.  Tomorrow is Sunday and a day to rest... nice.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

What a trend!

Needed a shield from the rain
We have had some AWESOME volunteers!  Just our PIU summer crew have been working and we've finished 20 of the shelves and those were the deep and wide ones (yes, you can all start singing "Deep and Wide..."). Next we have the shallower paperback bookshelves to do and some of those need painting rather than staining.  But we have today and tomorrow with a group workday so phase 1 should be finished on time and under budget!  On to moving everything around and getting ready to paint!

We're going with the school colors in a nice, elegant version to provide a calm, meditative but fulfilling scene.  That might be a bit of a stretch in thinking but one of my goals is that people will want to come into the library for more than just the AC.

Flash back:  I am a tactile person so we measured everything (building and shelving) and I made my scale drawing with graph paper.  I like to move the little pieces around and can be quite creative without throwing out my back (or someone else's) moving furniture.  As the project became a reality, I did move everything over to a home design program my husband has so we can move things and take a virtual walk-through to make sure everything will work with minimal, I hope, on-site chaos.

Tomorrow will be fun, we are going to have a family work day to finish up the shelves.  It's B.Y.O.P... "Bring Your Own Picnic".  If you are in the area, stop by for a few minutes to work, chat, fellowship, or just to pray and be thankful for this awesome opportunity God has blessed us with.

'Til next time!

Kevin Graham and Leeman Sebastian (below) have been our afternoon relief

Just as we start to tire out, Leeman and Kevin (above) replenish our strength and keep us going!

Scott Refilong and Janny (below) split their time morning and afternoon

In the morning Janny and Scott (above) pretend they don't have class later and after math, they are ready with some extra energy!

Tyler Mesubed is the genius behind the rain shield.  Simple and functional work every time!

Everly Ngirarikel has been a tireless machine all week!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Day 2--Library renovation

Check this out!  One of the things we (as in, the family) has loved about PIU is that families are welcome and encouraged to join in the fun! 
Joyce supervises as Anne and Zac learn the tools of the trade.

Here, Dave Own (our president) checks out our work!  He approved (especially because that's his wife, Joyce, working harder than anybody!).

The first day:  2 shelves done
The second day:  4 shelves done
The third day:  8 shelves done ???  That would be a good trend...

Background:  The first thing that I noticed about the library here was that it was neat and orderly and well-run (we've always had good staff).  As time went on, though, I saw how many donations of books were given to the library that we couldn't always hold on to due to space limitations.  When we added the Liberal Arts programs to our degree offerings, this need for space became even more noticeable.  This is a small facility; we needed to maximize the space we have. 

So, I began to dream.  The most obvious thing was to go up. Our shelving is only 5' high so another 2 shelves to make them 6' or 7' was optimal.  That's the idea I started with when I began to plan.

Check back tomorrow to see if we kept our exponential growth going!

Monday, 9 July 2012

It's starting!!!!!!

     While I would have liked to started with the planning I've put into this ... we've already started the library renovation! Today 2 of us (Joyce Owen and me) spent a portion of the day sanding and staining two new shelves for the library. The difference is incredible! The new shelves are a bit "thirsty" so we're using Danish Oil to give it a drink, refresh the color and add a bit of shine.

     So, how will 2 of us do all this? The answer is: it won't be just 2 of us the whole time. I'm asking for volunteers from the military, local churches, and students from the campus. I've also started a Causes Wish for people to donate for the library renovation. The plan is, every step we take, I'll describe it here with just a tad of the background work that I've done for the past two years.

     It's exciting to see plans that I've had percolating in my brain and through my files start to come to life. I'm just praying it's more like the resurrection of Lazarus and not Frankenstein's monster!

   Looking backward: Just this last week, I brainstormed fundraising ideas that can be implemented with minimal logistics and manning (since it's summertime with few people) and drafted multiple letters to organizations for volunteers. I sent letters to friends who are in the Air Force, Coast Guard, and Army National Guard for help with this community project. I also contacted the Guam Ministerial Association to let the churches know what we are doing.

     My initial fundraising ideas:
  • Table at base BX: face painting for donations 
  • Flea market on campus: donations by church members 
  • Causes Wish: check out my Facebook page (Lisa Collins) 
  • Raffle with good prizes 

     I'll keep you apprised of how the fundraising goes. I'll also post pictures along the way.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Weeding Angst

It’s that time in my library.  Inventory is almost done and it’s time for me to go through and start weeding.  This is a new endeavor for me as I’ve only been here 3 years and have kept the status quo until now.  However, it is time to evaluate the physical condition of the books and take a look at their frequency of use.

The difficulty comes from the touchy shaved-monkey feelings people exhibit when it comes to removing books from a collection.  Many library-goers (or librarians) become attached to the books… or the idea of having the books.  They might be molding, the spines torn, and nothing you would ever keep on your shelf at home but somehow they can’t be removed from the sacred shelves of the collection.  No matter that we have 2 newer editions.  No matter that new research has made the information defunct.  No matter that nobody has checked it out in over 10 years; it must stay!
The opposite side of the spectrum is that just about anything that isn’t new or attractive or user/reader friendly should be tossed out to make sure there is room for engineered books, eye-catching displays, and the newest methodology that may disavow centuries of previous work.  And the organizer’s proposition that “if it hasn’t been looked for or used in 6 months, toss it out.”

How will I perform this balancing act?  Well, I am first defining my limiters. The biggest two of these being: space and accessibility.  We serve a largely ESL student body so there needs to be a tie between simplified texts and bridging material that will enable them to understand the deep theological information that is the highlight of our small library.  We have a limited number of shelves, too, so we need to make sure that what we offer is the best with little “filler” to take up valuable space.

So, as I look at each book in the collection, I will hold it in my hand with a short prayer for wisdom and evaluate its physical condition, quantity of similar texts, past checkouts, and the need to replace rather than remove.  The beauty of this chore is that I will uncover gems in the collection that I can bring to the attention of my patrons when they come looking for what they need.  And I get to immerse myself in the knowledge of centuries and touch objects that can link me to the past as well as to my future with the Lord.  

I don’t know how it sounds to you but to me it is a perk of my job, all I need is a hot cup of tea to go with it!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Confirmed in the Faith

Our son, Zac, was just confirmed as a member in the Lutheran church.  This was a momentous time in our family with my parents coming over for the week to celebrate this event.  Some of you, though, may not know what this is or you may even be thinking "what's the big deal?"  Let me see if I can explain.

We, as a family and as Lutheran-tradition believers, have had our children baptized as infants.  This not only shows our dedication to God in offering our children into His presence but it allows the Holy Spirit to dwell in the children.  This, I believe, helps to bring understanding as they grow in body, mind, emotion and spirit and lays the groundwork for true wisdom later in life. 

However, we all need to make the conscious decision to follow Christ and acknowledge his sacrifice and God's provision for us through His son.  This is where the "confirmation of faith" becomes important.  The youths first go through an intensive class that takes them through highlights of scripture, Luther's small catechism with explanations, and real-life applications and scenarios.  These are designed to highlight the need for Christ, the way to him and how they can keep that faith throughout their lives.  They then get to make the decision for themselves as to whether or not they want to confess their faith publicly to the congregation and receive full membership into the church body. 

This does not mean that we are no longer active in increasing our child's understanding or faith but it does give him the background to understand and defend his beliefs.  It can also be the net that catches him if he steps off the path; he will always know the web of knowledge and belief is there to catch him if he falls.  I am overjoyed that Zac chose to confirm his faith in Christ in front of the church and I will always be there to guide him, learn from and with him, and walk beside him knowing that we are both children of faith and God's beloved ones.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Fun with building and engineering!

My sister-in-law, Jennifer, gifted us with this book aptly named Steve Caney's Ultimate Building Book.  We were taking a break from life and earth sciences this year and decided to go over structures and building and this book was incredible!  There are explanatory sections dealing with different types of structures written in a moderate-level style accessible to a wide variety of reading levels and each section is followed by an incredible number of projects using some quite unique building systems.  We have explored brick and block structures using sugar cubes with homemade mortar, jell-o and knox ice cube blocks, and even mini marshmallows (although the success of that one was very much in doubt but the mistakes were very tasty!).  Right now we are going over space frame structures and have used straws and string to build with and one of our favorites so far: Sticky Q-sticks.  These are cotton swabs with the ends dipped in rubber cement which makes them quite adhesive but re-positionable.  Here are some of our favorite Sticky Q-stick structures with thanks to summer helpers: Scott and Janny!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Another year... and saying good-bye

Shelby Salvatore, Dave Owen, Hadson Ngirikasau--friends, library workers, president, jokers

It happened again... we had our graduation ceremony and 26 of the students I have gotten to know are now moving onward.  I definitely have mixed feelings about the entire thing.  I get to know these students out of the classroom most of the time; in the library we have a mixture of serious study time and playful interaction.  I see these men and women on campus and they become incorporated into daily life; normalcy.  I love that!

But... things change.  That is not on my list of favorite activities.
Rommel Carino and parents--friend, brother, pain-in-the-neck

Jaynee Sam--friend, babysitter, musical genius
That is the difficult part for me.  While I am conscious of the fact that new students will come and I will be blessed by new friends and new interactions, I savor these last moments.  I know that many of our faculty and staff have been at PIU long enough to see more than a decade worth of students come and go, graduate and leave but I am not used to it, yet.  And I hope I never do become accustomed to it.  No matter how wistful I become, I want to always want to hold on to the moment and savor the brothers and sisters for as long as I can before new ones come to the family.  There is no more precious time than right now, no matter how wonderful the new things that come.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Confessions of an Unfaithful Blogger

I confess.  I am an unfaithful blogger.  It has been a year since my last entry; 2011 graduation and now we're ready for 2012 graduates to walk the line!

The next question you might ask is, why?  "Why, Lisa are you so bad at blogging?"  Let's see...

  1. I have limited myself to library matters.
  2. Very few people want to read about citation styles and the new happenings in the Library of Congress cataloging system.
  3. I get bored reading my own posts.

Well, that's all going to change now!   (I hope)

I am giving myself permission to put entries up about anything I find of interest.  This will not just be about library stuff but a reflection of myself.  Which  means you will find things about homeschooling, crafts, libraries, parenting, churches, spirituality and more.

I am also urging people to write to my new email address:  You can urge me to write more (hopefully not less), suggest topics, and ask questions freely. 

I hope you enjoy the new look and the new focus (or foci as the case may be), I will endeavor to be more faithful in the future.