Sunday Lowdown #59

Interesting Notes from Class:

We’re on week 8 and learning about library budgets. This is something I would not have a hand in at work, but it’s better to be informed, as the money tied to a library affects everyone — including library staff — in the community.

“. . . if a town, city, or or county is struggling to fund its community, the school and public libraries’ budgets will be similarly impacted. Libraries usually have unqualified support of a community in principle, but the funding may not follow. It is often necessary for a town to take proactive measures to support library funding.” — Working with Library Collections: An Introduction for Support Staff, “Library Staff Support Handbooks, No. 4.,” 2017, Hali R. Keeler p. 23

“Personnel costs are typically 60-80 percent of library expenditures. . . . Collections take up approximately 20 percent of expenditures.” — Keeler, p. 25

“Some municipalities take the library budget to a referendum, which allows every registered voter to cast a ballot. This type of process gives all residents a say, which can work for or against the library depending on the current economic climate and the esteem in which the library is held.” — Keeler, p. 25

This Week’s Blog Posts:

Those of you who read my review of Girlbomb by Janice Erlbaum said you were intrigued, and I’m so glad! It was an effective memoir that really got me thinking about to whom we should offer assistance, and how early in their journey. I have on my list Erlbaum’s follow-up memoir, Have You Found Her, in which Erlbaum volunteers at the girls’ shelter she occupied and gets attached to one resident, only to discover the girl isn’t all she seems (sounds like thriller fiction!).

If you’re like me and are struggling to focus on reading due to “circumstances,” that’s okay. As a result, Shirley Jackson’s nonfiction book entitled The Witchcraft of Salem Village didn’t get much attention. That’s also okay. Whether it’s a virus or village paranoia, contagious things are scary. Can’t focus? Try doing a jigsaw puzzle online (very soothing!). I’m also happy to text or do some video chatting with you. I’ve already reached out to a few bloggers and would love to meet you. Let me know in the comments if you want my info.

Next Week’s Blog Posts:

I pretty much stopped reading on Monday, but before that was able to finish a lovely memoir about living on a farm and especially about sheep (OMG, sheep 🐑). Catherine Friend’s writing was just what I needed; in fact, no one else’s writing is really knitting my brain fuzz (can your brain manufacture its own Xanax??) into a cohesive patter. 🐑 Check out Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep & Enough Wool to Save the Planet on Tuesday. (Did she say save the planet? What if wool is virus proof??). 🐑

A road trip to see my niece on her 10th birthday (party was cancelled because venues had just been told to consider closing — thanks, Obama stupid virus) meant I had hours to listen to an audiobook. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid was a great choice, and I hope I can convince you to check out this popular novel. Review on Thursday.

Book I’m Reading Aloud to My Spouse:

I actually have no idea how far into My Lady’s Choosing we are because it’s an interactive romance satire written in the style of choose your own adventure books. In a few places, the section has ended and said, “turn to this page.” However, better sections give you wild choices, like decide to discovery the mystery of Sir Benedict’s ousting or go to Egypt and accompany Lady Evangeline while she studies artifacts. Although I had my suspicions that this book was designed to get readers through every plot line no matter what, now I’m not so sure. The other thing is I don’t see an end in sight, whereas the old R.L. Stine “give yourself Goosebumps” books had multiple endings. Every time you died in the haunted amusement park, you could start over and die another way. Not so with My Lady’s Choosing.

Books Added to the TBR Pile:


  1. Sorry I didn’t get to the Salem review. Some of my limited reading was work and some was, as you say, just being overwhelmed as the scale of the disaster acing us became apparent. We all hear about the Salem witch trials but that’s all I know (ie. the name) except for the “witches” in The Scarlet Letter. My mum’s family were all sheep-wheat farmers, so I’ve done my time droving sheep, trucking sheep, crutching sheep, eating sheep. All of which I hope never to do again. Sheep are really stupid creatures, though 50 is such a small number that they might actually be manageable (a good shearer shears 300 sheep a day for weeks at a time).

    Lou’s home, making his way through a bottle of cheap wine (I’m helping). So all’s well in this corner of the opposite side of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When our local city council was considering closing the two smallest library branches, there was such an uproar in the community that they quickly backtracked and found another way to save the money. We do love our libraries around here!


    • Sometimes the smaller branches seem to work almost like an outpost. They frequently request books from their main branch and through inter-library loan, but the books still come and people still get them, thus those small branches are important. I think in this day and age, some people except to get a book at any library just because they want it, but library’s aren’t book warehouses. Think about the old style of library — you had to wait for the good women on horseback! All this is to say, I’m glad the smaller branches were saved, as all branches that serve a community are important!


      • Exactly! We have a great library system here, and they’re constantly shuffling books from one branch to another. They also have a bookmobile for the small towns nearby that don’t have libraries of their own. Even though I don’t use those branches, I’m glad they stayed open.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Your bookmobile sounds cool. I know the library where I work has a homebound patron service. A designated librarian chooses books based on patron preference in genre and delivers them on a schedule.


    • I mean, lambs are super tasty, but Bill is a vegetarian, so I think he doesn’t want to do that anymore than he wants to herd sheep! The sheep book was absolutely what I needed right now: short chapters, funny, smart, and emotional. I kept trying to read fiction books after I finished the sheep book, and it wasn’t working. Now I’m reading a memoir about horses and prison. I’m speeding right through. Apparently, I just need real-life stories about animals?


  3. Ooh, “Sheepish” sounds good and I loved “Such a Fun Age” so will look for your review with eager anticipation!

    “If you’re like me and are struggling to focus on reading due to “circumstances,” that’s okay. ” – thank you for that slightly opaque comment. I have been reading Easy books although must finish a Hard one to review it for the online review magazine I do stuff for. I have pulled back from writing about my running, and reading running posts, as obviously running is being impacted by circumstances, but continuing book blogging and reading book blogs. Much love to you.


    • The writing style of Sheepish, and the brevity of each chapter, were really perfect for me. I’m now reading another memoir, this one about horses. For some reason, I’m connecting more with writers on animals than I am in trying to hold a fictitious world together in my head, even if that world is realistic.

      This all seems like such poor timing given your recent anxiety issues! I hope that you have a good support system with you within your home. I’ve been trying to write more posts as an alternative to reading, and while the ideas are fine, the typing is atrocious. I’m spelling everything wrong or using the wrong word (like “seem” instead of “seen”) because my fingers just are not cooperating.

      I’m sending thoughts and love to you across the globe as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much for remembering I’ve been through that anxiety stuff, I so appreciate that. And yes, I dragged myself most of the way up and I’m not so bad but I am having to take steps to keep myself OK. Husband understands anxiety better now, esp the physical effects, which is useful, I have to say. And I am still working full time, which helps.


  4. You’re so right about how libraries are supported by the community in theory but that doesn’t always translate into funds. Also, I didn’t even know on-line puzzles were a thing until the narrator in Ducks, Newburyport was doing them. My goal this week is to spend less time on-line but I might have to try that link and see what the fuss is about!


    • The puzzles are honestly a lot like doing a jigsaw puzzle at home, except you don’t have to set up a card table that resides in your living room for ages. For me, any real jigsaw puzzle I do is also the most interesting thing ever to the cat. Basically, you choose an image, how many pieces, and the size of the pieces. You only need to set up an account if you want to save a puzzle and come back to it later. Otherwise, it’s free and open. All the pieces are already facing the correct direction (no rotating), and when the pieces go together, they make a click sound. I literally just finished one and feel much more focused on the day!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Haha ok like Karissa I learned about online jigsaw puzzles through the book Ducks, Newburyport!!! So funny. I’ve never tried one myself but I’m quite busy with the kids at home so I’m not looking to add to my hobby list at the moment. Although, I have a huge puzzle that I’d love to do waiting for me in the basement, I just don’t know where/when I would get to it.

    Can’t wait to see your review of Such a Fun Age!!!


  6. I donate money to my local library, but otherwise, I have no idea how the system is funded. I imagine it’s going to suffer in our current/future economy at a time when we will need libraries more (whenever we’re allowed to be in public spaces again!). It sounds like you had a pretty nice weekend. I’m glad you were able to see your niece!


    • A typical public library is often funded through taxes, donations of money, and a friends of the library group (volunteers who run the used book sale, for instance). Some public libraries are funded by a donor, like the Carnegie Library. For a library to be effective (this is based on my understanding of the readings in my continuing education course), it doesn’t need to have a ton of books. Many small libraries rely on inter-library loans or sharing books with another branch in their consortium. Assuming patrons are not demanding to have books instantly, this system is effective and makes me think of smaller libraries being more like book depots.


  7. Looking forward to your thoughts on Such a Fun Age, I’ve been curious about that one! Sorry to hear you’ve been somewhat off of reading, though that’s perfectly understandable given the circumstances. I really hope things will start looking up soon, even if it’s just in small ways at first, every glimmer of hope helps.
    I also have been meaning to get in touch with you again about Actress- my copy is supposed to be arriving tomorrow, and I was wondering if you would still want to buddy read it; if the timing is too poor, I totally understand. As long I’m finished by about April 20, I’m flexible on timing, so just thought I’d check in.


    • I have a copy of Actress and have been holding it while I waited to hear back on the status of your copy! When would you ideally like to share your review of the book? Is that the April 20th date? I casually slated my Actress review (to be clear, I haven’t read it yet) on April 21st.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, thanks for waiting! I’m excited to be reading it with you! 🙂
        April 20 is I think the cutoff for me for Women’s Prize reviews I’ll be able to post before the shortlist announcement date, so really any time by or before then would work for me. If you wanted to post on the 21st I would be perfectly fine with planning mine for the 20th! And I do tend to post kind of late in the day so I think we’d be well within 24 hours of each other even if technically not on the same day. If this works for you I’ll mark it down! Otherwise let me know if an adjustment would suit better!


  8. Ohmygosh. A Romance choose your own adventure book?~ This must be absolute GOLD. Who picked this book for your read alouds? Please tell me Nick did. PLEASE.

    I really appreciate that you’re reaching out to chat with other bloggers. I know it made my whole week when we chatted last. ❤ You are a shining spot of joy in this otherwise strangely bleak March. Thank you for being you. I am so grateful you're in my life.


    • I picked out My Lady’s Choosing. It was recommended by Pages Unbound a few years ago, and when I realized it’s published by Quirk Books, I grabbed it.

      So far, no one has reached out but you and Emily, though I have noticed quite a drop in readership, so it’s possible some people haven’t even read this post yet. I think everyone is trying to get used to the new normal, juggle working at home, and what the heck to do with their kids.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s weird, trying to get used to what life is now. I’m struggling to blog and read. It’s just… I’m stuck at home so I don’t want to look at screens as much! So many screens all the time. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers I follow slow down or stop posting entirely. It’s a weird time for blogging.


        • I feel like I want the blogging to pick up so we can all stay connected, but you’re right; everyone’s going away. I’ve seen 1-2 bloggers really pick up the pace who normally don’t blog much at all, so I’m thinking they’re reaching out.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’m glad to see that some people are picking up their blogging! It’s hard to find blog time when I work all day on a computer and I’m always in the same spot to do work where I typically blog. It leaches my energy away. Alas, with our internet situation there isn’t a second place for me to go, really.

            Now that we’re entering week 4, perhaps people will find their stride again? It no longer feels like something odd and different. It’s starting to sink in that this is so much more.


  9. 20% to collections seems low to me, but it also makes sense because I think collections is the one place library patrons are less likely to notice being impacted by budget constraints or reductions. They would notice if half the staff disappeared!


    • The numbers came out in ranges, but ultimately it was about 10% building, 20% collections, 70% for staff. I thought 20% seemed low, too, but it also suggests how small a library budget can be. Some of my cohorts have 3 total employees at their library, and they’re all part-time. Their libraries serve something like 1,600 patrons. So, altogether, the budget must be really small, but if they’re only serving that many people, and those people need help, a big chunk going to staff makes sense. But I’m totally with you. About how many employees are at your library?


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