Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Future is Here: Millennials in the library (a session I went to)

I went to a program the other day about millennials in the library. When I signed up for this session, I was very excited. Finally, someone is going to talk to me about how to get millennials in the library, get them to check out our books and attend my programs. Unfortunately I was rather disappointed.

It was a two hour session, 3 speaks, each speaker given a half hour to speak. During the final half hour, it was opened to the floor discussion/panel style. The first speaker started off giving us plenty of statistics on millennials, stereotypes, etc. She then began speaking about her time volunteering on the Obama campaign and how there were so many millennials there also volunteering. Long story short, we learned a lot about millennials and their politics.

The second speaker spoke about getting millennials into the library to volunteer. She told us that we needed to bring them in and inspire them so that they would volunteer their time and money. She told us the key to doing that was to have a facebook, to have a website, to have a donation page on our website and to make sure that we thank them for their time. There was no mention on how to go about doing so. She then spent the rest of the time telling us about how she was a millennial and went to different companies to help out and how they loved her. Once again, I had nothing to take back with me.

Finally, we had a speaker who talked to us about redesigning our space to appeal to millennials. In order to redesign our space, we needed to redesign our libraries. He showed us projects he was working on, mostly Philadelphia libraries that were going under construction. How, they would now have more natural light, more group seating, more outlets. Because this is what millennials want. But what about those of us who dont have the funding to put our library under construction. What are we to do? Find funding. Okay. Thanks. Where can I find that funding? Lets ask someone in the crowd, maybe they have ideas. Okayyyyy.

Overall, it was a horrible session from my point of view. I went there hoping to steal peoples ideas, create programs, get book titles, get tried and true ways to get this crowd in my library. I went back to my library having learned nothing but having enjoyed the best scones I've ever tasted. There is a bright side to every situation. You just have to find it. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Post-Election: What is this

So many emotions. SO, SO many emotions.

To be honest, I wasn't planning on voting. I didn't much like either candidate. And I voiced my opinion about this. But come Tuesday night, as I sat on my couch watching 'Sons of Anarchy' I couldn't do it. At around 7;30 p.m. I got up, got dressed, and headed out to vote. Along my walk, I saw two deers on someones lawn that froze when they saw me, then went galloping away. It put the biggest smile on my face. I don't get to see deer often. As I continued along my walk, I saw a sign that said 'Smile and Be Kind!', and smile I did.

I continued on my way, I got to the voting place, and I voted. And I prayed that Hilary would prove me wrong when she became president. However, that did not happen. I remember staying up, constantly messaging with friends on our group chat, posting status after status on FB hoping what I was witnessing wasn't true. When I woke up the next morning, everyone I knew was filled with anxiety, they were scared, they were angry, they were restless. Me? I was numb. I was bombarded with emotions on social media with no idea how to comprehend my own. I thought of my life long dream of backpacking through Europe. The next four years would be perfect for that. I came across an article that said that the president of Egypt was the first to call and congratulate our president elect. And the Egyptian blood in me curdled. Ashamed to be an American. Ashamed to be an Egyptian. Top feeling? Remained numb. How was it possible. I am CONSTANTLY surrounded by amazing people. At work, in stores and the many I met online. SO much love and support. SO much unity! And I reminded myself I was still surrounded by these people. That our relationships are about to get stronger as well all stand together. Speak up together. Support each other. We have to remind ourselves that Hilary did win that majority vote. That there are more of us standing together than against us. We have to remember to not let the hate shine through. To not bring us down. We are not alone.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Millennial Programming

It was 4 years ago that I approached my Director and asked her if I could run a book group for 18-29 year old individuals. I remember her telling me that if it was a success I could go ahead and plan other programs for that age group. I did some research and started calling it 'Generation Next Programming'. Shortly after, I applied for my MLIS and completed it in 2015. As I became more aware of the library world around me, I began calling my group Millennials. Fast forward some more, and now I am having a conversation about whether Millennials is the correct term to use for my programming.

It 2012 the answer was yes, but as time passes, these millennials are getting older and the new generation is coming in. But there is no term for this age group. Whether programs are provided for 18-29 year olds or 18-34 year olds.

So what should we call this age group? Young Adults? The name is used synonymous with Teen so that wouldn't work. Adult? Not everyone in this age group feels like they are quite there yet. Should we give them their own name? Their own space? Should we really group together 18 year olds and 29 year olds and 34 year olds? Where do we draw the line? Do we draw a line? Do we offer programming and just hope for the best? See what age ranges attend these programs.

Does your library offer programming for this age group? If so, what is the targeted age that you focus on? What kind of programming have you offered? Has it been a success?

Here are some of the programming I have offered over the past four years:

  • Monthly book group -> Better Than Therapy Book Group
  • 3rd Thursday Movie Night -> Featuring a new movie every month
  • Color Me Calm -> Classical music and lots of coloring pages
  • Cupcake Decorating Program -> I provided the materials, the instructor instructed
  • Multicultural Food Night -> A big hit each time
  • Pumpkin Carving -> Who doesn't love Halloween?
  • Financial Literacy Program -> credit vs debit cards/ insurance policies
  • Among many others

Friday, September 16, 2016

Getting Back Into Reading

I used to read so much. So, so much. From a very young age. I could finish 1-2 books a day. I remember that two things happened at bed time when I had an unfinished book. The book would get tucked in my pants, I'd say I needed to use the bathroom, and finish the book either sitting on the toilet or lay in an (empty) tub. OR I'd pull out the mini flashlight I kept under my pillow and read under my covers. My mom worried so much about me because all I did was read. I rarely watched TV, I rarely went out to play. I went to the library, filled a bag with books and that was the good life.

As I got older I no longer needed to worry about taking such drastic measures. I continued reading all through high school but then I got to college. My reading for pleasure decreased significantly. I was reading way too many articles and textbooks. I still read releases for my favorites authors and books people raved to me about. Then college ended, shortly after I began graduate school. The amount of articles I read for class left my eye sight a bit on the worse side. Because I read so much for school, all I wanted to do when I got home was watch TV to give my eyes a break. And so my love for reading turned into a love for shows.

Its been hard to break the cycle, I've been forcing myself to read more. But for every book I read, I've watched a season or two. I've gone from reading half a book a month to reading 2-3, and I think its horrible. I want to read more. Have you ever been stuck in this rut? Are you still in it? If not, how did you get out of it?

Friday, September 9, 2016

My IFLA First Timer Experience

What is IFLA?

IFLA is the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. They are the leading international body that globally represents users whose interests are in library and information services.

Why am I writing about it?

Because I went! For the first time! Let me back track. 

A couple of months ago I received an email from my ALA Emerging Leaders Coordinator suggesting we look into a grant that was being offered by IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services) to attend IFLA. After a little research, I applied. A couple of weeks later I received the grant and found myself scouring their web page looking for what to expect. I attended an online webinar that talked about IFLA taking place in Columbus hoping to gain more perspective and still was unsure. Shortly after, a Facebook group popped up that consisted of other grant recipients. As people began introducing themselves on the group, it became even clearer what it is that IFLA was. These were librarians from across the globe. Countries that I had never heard of (I've never been good with geography) and countries I could only dream of visiting but sat on my bucket list still unattainable. 

Before I knew it, I was driving up to Columbus, Ohio to meet new people and attend a new conference. 

As someone who is new to attending conferences within the library world, this conference had me turning in circles and grinning from ear to ear. I've always been interested in the working of others. As I walked the halls of the conference center, I found myself catching bits and pieces of conversations. Some in English, some with heavy English accents and many in different languages. And I loved every second of it. This is what IFLA is about. Bringing the world together through our love for the written word. This was solidified when I went from session to session listening to ideas and actions taken to bringing literacy to libraries, bringing programming to better the community, events to add to our culture, to add to our experiences as humans living together. 

(a session on literacy)

But it wasn't all about the sessions, there were many opportunities to network through the events that IFLA had hosted. Whether it was going to the COSI (which was amazing, if you ever get a chance, you need to go), to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, to the Columbus Library itself. Admittedly, I felt an extreme sense of longing and jealously upon seeing their library. 

(View of downtown from COSI)

(One of my favs from the Billy Ireland Library) 

 (Columbus Library, they have their own underground parking!)

However, nothing was quite like meeting my fellow grant recipients. These were the people who I attended sessions with. People who I went to eat with. People who I walked around with. People who, to be honest, I felt like I knew for years rather than days. I met so many good souls who I still stay in touch with. People I hope to one day be able to visit their country and take the tour as they have taken it here. Some of the kindest, most accepting souls I have ever met. I heard stories about their homelands, I was given trinkets to remember them by, and memories that I constantly talk about whether at work or in my personal life.

(Some of the other grant recipients and myself posing for a group picture!)

Thank you, IFLA for an amazing experience.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Ain't this beautiful

Once a year, one of the blocks in our community closes for a block party. A few days later we receive an art gift from the kids of said block. This year, I fell absolutely in love with their art piece.

Each hand is either a representation of where they come from, or a beautiful design they created. Every hand is overlapping and circling the earth. Every hand is growing from the same tree. A tree whose roots are watered with Love, Hope, Passion and Commitment.

These hands that are attached to young souls who are growing to love those around them, no matter where they come from. These hands that are found around the world because no one is born with hate inside them. These hands that came together to create something beautiful. These are the hands that hold our communities together.

Monday, August 29, 2016

When patrons form their opinion based on research

A couple of months ago, I had a patron come into the library looking for books on Islam. She asked me a couple of questions, came back the next day and took the books I offered her from my personal collection. About a little less than a week after that, handed them back with a smile and a thank you.

Over the next couple of months, whenever I saw her, I was greeted with a genuine smile and a 'how are you'? Neither of us mentioning the books.

She came in last week looking for me, asking if she could talk to me for a couple of minutes. She had many questions about Islam, and she came ready for answers about various aspects of it. I answered her questions as best I could. As she asked her questions, I saw that they've changed from the first time she asked them. This time, there was a real passion, wonderment, and a need to know.

So I asked if I could ask her a question in return. A question that, to be honest, I wondered about after our first conversation a couple months back. I asked her what got her interested.

She smiled and says, "I've been feeling lost for a while. And it's because I NEED religion in my life. I am Christian, but something doesn't feel right to me. The first time I asked you, I'd been looking deeper into Christianity, I studied Judaism, and I looked into Islam. And what I found about Islam is that it did not add up with what I was seeing in the media. It's all about good. How to live a good life. How to be a good person. How to give. How to be kind. And the more I read, the more I found peace here (she points at the center of her chest). I stopped feeling lost and I wanted to know more. I feel like I'm finally home because I'm not lost".

In that last line. "I feel like I'm finally home because I'm not lost". I definitely teared up. I felt my heart ache. Many of us had/have our obstacles with religion. Obstacles we generally don't talk about. Where we fall off the path a little. We stop praying. We get angry. We blame the world. We blame God. And we move further and further away from him. And then someone says something in passing that rings a bell. Or you watch someone on TV and something strikes a cord. Or out of nowhere, it's almost like God himself is say it's time, and you find yourself praying. Or you find yourself breaking down and the only words you repeat is "oh God" over and over again.

And in that first millisecond of your intention to do it, to go back to Him, you feel everything fall into place. The world stops spinning. The weight lifts off your shoulder. You're "home".

And isn't that all we ever want? May she and anyone else looking to feel "home" find their way. Amen.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

When patrons want your help then dont listen to you

I had an elderly woman come in requesting help with her tablet through a book-a-librarian appointment (an uninterrupted hour of one on one help with a librarian). I sat with her to see what she needed. She wanted to access her email, her Facebook, the news and to look up obituaries of people she knew.

As I was taking her across different platforms we ended up on American Action News. In the top right hand corner there was a survey that was titled "DO YOU SUPPORT TRUMP" (yes) or (no). She turns to me eagerly, "yes, yes I support him, how do I support him?". Me, being the hijabi librarian that I am , who is probably going to get deported or forced to wear a label if Trump becomes president. Even though (and this might be mind boggling for him) I was born here, smiles and says "you can click here and fill out the form" (because of course, job comes first).

As she fills out the form she turns to me again and says "I really like Trump". I smile and nod pointing out what she needs to fill. "even though I am a Democrat, I support Trump and want him to know". I smile and nod, encourages her to continue in order not to get into a political debate. "Now Trump will know and my vote will count". I smile and nod... no wait.

Me: "This is not actually voting, you need to go to the polls during the election for that"
Her: "No, no. I am voting now, this is what it is."
Me: "No... this is just an online survey, you need to go to the polls for that during the election for it to count".
Her: "No, they do everything online now, this is where I vote".

*continues attempting to tell her how voting works*

Me: *attempts to correct her again, sees the determination in her eyes, and stops* "okay, since you're done, hit submit"

As an information professional, it is my job to pass on CORRECT information. However, if you choose not to believe me, that's on you. Here is to many more Trump supporters who support him online and don't actually go to the polls.

As Dewey says, "I don't have to like you to help you".

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child book review!


Cursed Child spoilers that aren't really spoilers.

When I first heard
that an 8th book was happening I was beyond elated. Reading that "19 years later" at the end of Deathly Hallows left me angry. Because I wanted more. I remember thinking "she should have written another book, what is this epilogue crap". And more I got, although not in the way I wanted. The rumors that weren't really rumors aretrue. The book is a script of the play that was performed in London. It is not an actual novel, that was the most disappointing part for me. Once I got past that, once I was able to go back to visualizing the characters, I found myself speeding through the book. Whatever J. K. Rowling touches, it is spun gold. Following the trio 19 years later, meeting the cursed child, my eyes flew across the page and transported me back to the days I would curl up on the couch and not move until the book was done. My have I missed those days. The hardest part for me was realizing that this is actually the end. That anything else, should it happen, that is Rowlings Magic related, will be in the form of a spinoff. And it's left me as heartbroken as the day I finished Deathly Hallows. However, every and all spinoffs that should happen shall be consumed eagerly by me. The magic will always live on. Always. 

If you were apprehensive
about reading it because you aren't sure if it'll ruin the series for you, read it anyway. No one will do you justice like the form of Rowlings writing style. And you REALLY don't want to know what happens when you accidentally read spoilers. Read it. Read it. Read it. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Orlando Adventures and #ALAAC (2/3)

ALA '16 was a very important conference for me.

Not only was it my first ALA annual conference, it was also where I would be part of my first panel called "No Room at the Library: The Ethics of  Diversity"

The key-note speaker was Loida Garcia-Febo, and my fellow panelists were Anastasia Chiu and Jeff Sowder. After Loida gave her speech, there were 3 skits each followed with discussion between the panel and those sitting in the audience.

The first skit targeted Islamophobia in the library.
The second skit targeted the LGBTQ community in the library.
The third skit targeted Race in the library.

(The three skits can be found here under the attachment in the middle of the page)

 I have to admit. I was EXTREMELY nervous going in. Public speaking is NOT my forte and is something I normally avoid at all cost. So how did I find myself on a panel in the middle of a library conference with over a 100 people in attendance?

A couple of months before the conference, I was approached by a fellow library colleague I met on Facebook. She asked if I would be willing to look over/add to a anti-Islamophobia Resolution that her and other members of the ALA Council were looking to propose at mid-winter (this was also my first time seeing a resolution being done). I happily partook in this opportunity.

I was contacted sometime after to see if I would like to be part of something another group was putting together for Annual. Jumping at another opportunity, I said yes, and did not realize until much later that it would involve me speaking in front of a large group of people. By that point I was so far in that I really WANTED to be a part of it and needed to work to keep my nerves at bay.

(seeing my name up there quenched my nerves for 2 minutes)

While I felt that the panel went extremely well because of the amount of discussion that went on. I also felt a little lacking on my end. I was so nervous that I did not speak as much as I would have liked. I went in with all these great ideas and things to say in my head and yet found myself freezing. Other times I would force my mouth to start moving because that was the only way to get through my fear.

(the room was packed, all seats were filled, and there will people standing/sitting in the aisles and along the back, it was amazing)

Some of the points that were made and discussed:
  • As long as you are being respectful and depending on the vibes of the person in front of you, it is okay to ask Muslim people questions about their religion.
  • People will have issues with Muslim Librarians and Muslim patrons, knowledge is power, please share books and other materials to educate people.
  • Please do not make assumptions about a persons' gender.
  • People will have issues with members of the LGBTQ community especially in the debate about bathrooms, listen to their concerns as politely as possible, it might be time to take a look at your policy and make some changes in favor of including everyone.
  • A Black Lives Matter group and a White Supremacist group are NOT the same thing.
  • Be aware of what is happening in your library, what flyers are going up, be prepared for backlash, on popular topics of discussion. Be prepared to handle it.
  • There is a 75% chance (I just made that number up) that someone will have a problem with how things are run at your library especially if it is made to include EVERYONE. Especially if it is something they do not understand. Work with your staff/coworkers, be united, be patient, be educated, and find help when needed. You are not alone

This entire experience held so many firsts for me. First time seeing how a resolution was formed. Attending an Annual conference. Meeting so many new people. Visiting Florida. Being on a Panel. Talking in front of what I would consider, a large group of people.

Yet somehow, I managed to do it, and I was/am VERY proud of myself. I learned so much and it opened my eyes to the world of possibilities one can do being part of a library.

I graduated with my MSLIS 11 months ago. While I have been part of my current library for 10+ years, there is so much to learn. So much difference that can and will be made if we all stick together and move as one.

Dont get me started on the exhibits and the authors. Every book lovers' dream. I met so many amazing authors including some of my favorites and obtained such a haul that I had a bit of difficulty getting my luggage across at the airport.

My favorite though, was meeting Gayle Foreman for the second time and Laurie Halse Anderson for the first time. I completely teared up when I met Laurie, she was SO sweet (we even semi match(!), it was meant to be). Her book "The Impossible Knife of Memory" has left the biggest impression on me and I recommend it to everyone who asks for a book recommendation.

(can you tell how excited I am?)

I was also VERY excited for the children books I got. Some of them were absolutely beautiful in illustration and some really filled me with joy. 

One of my favorites was "Beautiful" by Stacy McAnulty. It gives such a POSITIVE and EMPOWERING lesson to little girls that I believe every little girl and grown woman should have one. 

I read the story to my niece who turns 3 on Halloween and she LOVED it. She would NOT let go of the book. She kept saying "Sara, she's dootyful" (beautiful) and would point at a girl covered in mud, then she would point at herself and say "I'm dootyful!" She then took the book, placed in her tote, and said "mine" and so it was.

(The cover, as found on Google)

All in all, I had such an amazing time in Florida and I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity. I truly hope that there are many conferences in my future. 

(I'll leave you with a picture of my haul after sorting it when I got home. Not everything is pictured since I found another tote filled with things after taking this one)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Review - The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith aka J. K. Rowling

When this book came out 3 years ago, I intended to read it. Even though I was a bit disappointed (okay, very disappointed) by The Casual Vacancy. It was J. K. Rowling, and no matter what, I would always read (or should I say, attempt to read) all of her books.

However, as weeks turned into months into years after the release followed by two other releases, I still had not read it. Until we decided at my 20 something book group that it was time.

Some complained that the book started off slow, not realizing that was J. K. Rowlings writing style. She starts off by building the setting, the plot, the introduction of the characters before finally taking off and you find yourself soaring across her words. Her sentences playing in your head filled with images like a movie.

Whenever I stepped away from the book and found myself thinking about it, it was always in the image of a screen playing in my head. The characters were alive, filled with detail and color. I could see them in my minds eye.

I found myself racing to finish the book making guesses of who the murderer was. And of course by the end of the novel I saw how very wrong I was throughout the novel.

If you are looking for a high speed, detail oriented, murder mystery novel. Pick this up, but do it when you have time, because its going to be so hard for you to put it back down!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Orlando adventures and #ALAAC16 (1/3)

Two weeks later and I am finally writing about my Orlando experience. I have so many stories to share that I am pretty sure that they will not all fit in one post. So I will probably be breaking it down.

To be honest, after the #Orlando hate shooting at the #Pulse nightclub a week and half before the conference, going to a place where the grief was fresh left me a bit apprehensive. My FB feed was filled with stories shared of Muslims being targeted throughout the U.S. outside of Mosques (Muslim place of worship), in stores, and for no reason whatsoever. Being an obvious Muslim covered in Hijab, I wondered how I would be perceived. 

Words cannot express how grateful and humbled I am by the people there. Filled with smiles, kind words, and jokes. They were able to distinguish between two people who had nothing to do with each other, a lesson that so many Americans need to learn. 

A close friend and fellow book addict joined me on this trip. Leaving every moment of every day one for the books. To be repeated as stories to our families, friends, coworkers and especially to each other. 


Our first day upon arrival was spent having a quick lunch at Cracker Barrel, we then headed out and toured Chocolate Kingdom where we each designed our own chocolate bar. Mine was milk chocolate with rice krispies, m&m's and cashews. SO GOOD!

(chocolate shoes!)

Shortly after we found a Groupon for World of Chocolate Museum and Cafe, so we headed there and tasted some amazingly flavored chocolates. We also had the best caramel hot chocolate in 98 degree whether with 90% humidity that was worth EVERY sip. (I highly recommend this place)

(solid chocolate sculpture of the Taj Mahal)

I highly recommend searching through Groupon for things to do and places to eat when going somewhere new!

We then headed over to the WonderWorks Museum (the upside down museum) and had an absolute BLAST. If you havent been, GO! So much fun and just a way to de-stress after a long day.

(look how awesome it looks)

To wind down, we decided that it was time for dinner and headed over to CiCi's Pizza after seeing coupons for them all over place. I HIGHLY recommend that you NEVER set foot into this pizzeria styled buffet. The food was absolutely DISGUSTING. Truly the worst food, the place looked gross. We spent 20 bucks and walked out hungry because we were too grossed out to eat anything.


The memory I have been waiting to create for YEARS finally happened. And by years, I mean since 2007 when my brother promised to take me to Harry Potter world for my high school graduation present when it first opened and didnt. Nine years later I went with a fellow obsessive Potter Head and it was the experience of a lifetime. The entire time I was there I felt like I was in a trance. It felt both surreal and exhilarating. I was on cloud nine. 


I rode roller coasters (well, the indoor ones) even though I am TERRIFIED of heights. By obsession with the Potter World pushed aside that fear as I squeezed the life out of my friends' hand while riding broomsticks at Hogwarts Castle and had fire breathed on us at Gringotts bank. I screamed and laughed hysterically and I am super grateful that she, and others in the line, encouraged me not to chicken out and get on the rides. 

(this was me when I realized I was standing in front of the castle)

I was kept in a trance as I watched a puppet show from the Tales of Beedle the Bard 'the Fountain of Fair Fortune'.  I was filled with joy as I had my butterbeer ice cream and drink. I was overwhelmed with wonder as I walked through shops and made my purchases.

(super excited to be riding the Hogwarts Express)

But nothing, NOTHING stuck with me more than Mr. Ollivanders wand shop. I had heard stories of demonstrations. Lights flickering. Books falling. Mr. Ollivander himself. I was beyond ready to witness the magic. And I did.

After being ushered into the darkened shop, I found my friend and I standing next to a family of 3 adults and 2 children. I found myself enraptured as Mr. Ollivander began talking. He walked up to one of the kids and asked

Mr. Ollivander: How old are you?

Child: 11

Mr. Ollivander: The perfect age for Hogwarts. What house do you hope to get into?

Child: Slytherin

Me: Yessssssssss

Mr. Ollivander turned slowly to look at me and says: Sooo, Slytherin?

Me as my heart rate picked up to an incredible speed: Oh, yes!

Mr. Ollivander continues talking then says it is time for a demonstration. He walks to the front of the room and calls up the little boy. Then he slowly turned to me and goes: you come up as well.

(I can honestly say I almost passed out? Lost it? Was on cloud 9? All of the above?)

Mr. Ollivander: How old are you?

Me: uhh, 26..

Mr. Ollivander: ................ 26? *stares* *continues on with demonstration*

At this point I am making these weird noises and squealing because I am filled with such an intense and overwhelming feeling that I have never felt before. 

Mr Ollivander handed me a wand and told me with a swish and a flick to say lumos. Which I did and promptly started bawling. Big fat tears streaking my face racing to get out of my eyes. I honestly, in that moment, felt like I was truly in Mr. Ollivanders wand shop, that I was honestly on my way to Hogwarts. 

I am part of the Harry Potter generation. I remember buying my first copy from a library book sale for 5 cents at the age of 11. I grew up with the Potter gang. I waited year after year as book after book came out. They were my childhood. So standing there was something that took my breath away. I had also heard stories that Mr. Ollivander only called up children, and I knew I surprised him with my age but I didnt get sent back with the group thank God. Rather, he fed into my excitement, talking with me as Mr. Ollivander talked with Harry. I was then handed a wand that I was told would do great things in which I quickly purchased because I knew that it would forever be a token of my experience. 

To the man who played Mr. Ollivander, thank you for giving 11 year old me what was the most important thing to her at that age. 

(My Potter World loot includes my precious wand, lemon drops and salt water taffy from Honey Dukes, two butter beer mugs and a maraduders map mug)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

No one likes a bully

I decided to stop at Macy's today as I was heading back home. The Macy's I go to has a super big parking lot since its part of the mall, and for once, I saw an empty spot near the entrance between a cluster of cars. As I pulled into a spot I noticed the face of the lady on my left scrunch up. I thought nothing of it since the sun was out on full blast. I wait till she gets in her car and open my door. As soon as I step out I hear "why'd you have to park here, there are lots of other spots". UHM. 

Well lady, I'll give you a list of reasons. One, I'm fasting, so the least amount of walking I have to do in the sun between getting to my car and my place of destination is much preferable. Two, I can park wherever I wanna park in this lot. Three, I parked perfectly, you had no issue getting into your car, what exactly is your issue here. Four, I'm not in the mood for you. 

I guess subconsciously after seeing her scrunched up face my guard went up. Rather than be frozen in the moment, I was responsive in it. So I stopped and said "is there a problem?" To which she responds "no, no problem" as she stared dead ahead and didn't look at me. Well that's great, then why did you feel the need to say something to me?

I can probably tell you why. Because often times people are baffled by something someone says that they don't respond. This allows the person who said something think that they are right/allowed to say things that are mean/rude/unnecessary to people who've they've never met before. Another reason they feel it's okay to do this is because they've done it before in front of other people and no one spoke up. I know with the craziness in the world it's hard to stand up for someone because of fear for your own safety. This is completely understandable. But it's also important to remember that if we aren't part of the solution then we are part of the problem. Often times these people who spit venom from their lips need a reminder that they can't say what they want. And that reminder is as simple as saying, "hey, that's unacceptable". And hopefully when that happens, they will crawl back under the rock from which they came. 

I wasnt tooting my own horn when I said I parked perfectly between my lines.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Hey Orlando! Here I come!

I am making the trip to Orlando for ALA Annual and I am SUPER excited! This will be the first Annual conference that I am able to attend and I truly look forward to it. I have attended mid-winter twice before, once in Philadelphia and once in Chicago. Both times left lasting memories that I look back on fondly.

I have to admit, I am a bit nervous. About one part of the conference in particular. The part where I have to speak, in front of people. I've always been a nervous public speaker but I am hoping that I can get through this without everyone hearing my voice shake and my eyes darting all over the place. I am grateful that a friend of mine will be attending the session with me. It'll be nice to see a familiar face in the crowd.

SO. Which session am I speaking at?

Committee on Professional Ethics Presents "No Room at the Library: The Ethics of Diversity"

The link of which can be found HERE.
The session will take place on Sunday, June 26th from 1-2:30 p.m.

The country will live in is becoming more and more diverse. Some places more than others. And it is important to be able to continue offering our services without discrimination. Something which can happen unintentionally, especially when we are unaware of the patrons wants/needs. And what better way to serve our patrons than to learn more about them.

Will you be attending Annual? Is this session on your to-visit list?

If so, come say hi! We dont bite :)

*Time from writing this post.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Hijab: Scarf or Dress

Although the word Hijab is more commonly (about 95% of the time) referred to the wearers head-wear, it can also mean the persons outfit. This would depend on what context the word was used in.

The covering of a female is stated in the Qu'ran, however, each female interprets it differently depending on how she was raised/her culture.

There are females who choose not to wear a hijab at all.

There are females who wear loose long clothing, but do not wear the hijab.

There are females who wear tight clothing, and wear the hijab.

There are females who wear loose long clothing and the hijab.

There are females who wear solid black and cover their hands and faces.

It all comes down to the female, her culture, her family upbringing and her personal preference.

Are there countries where women have to wear full covering as is chosen by their country? Absolutely.

Are there countries where women are forced to remove their hijab and become secular in their dress as is chosen by their country? Absolutely.

Are there countries where women are allowed to wear their hijab as they please but have to deal with other peoples distaste towards their dress? Absolutely.

Do people have a right to tell other people what they should wear? Absolutely not.

I have had many patrons ask me about the way I dress. Commenting on certain patterns or styles they see me in, and patterns and styles they see others in. Usually asking what the difference is between my type of dress and anothers. Preference. Sense of taste and style. Upbringing. That is the difference.

I love when they compliment my hijab, or my skirt, or another item that I am wearing. Because it lets me know that the person in front of me is accepting me for who I am. No matter what the media is throwing at them.

Compliments make us feel like we belong. And they make two people feel good. The person giving the compliment and the person receiving it. Is that not what we all want at the end of the day? To feel like we belong? To be happy? To make it through the day?

SO what if we are a little bit different than the next person. It adds more spice to the world!

Have you worn something, or changed your appearance in anyway and received compliments?
How did those compliments make you feel?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

No room for mass shootings

I started to write a status about the white gunman in Florida who targeted the LGBTQa parade. I was confused about why he wasn't labeled. And then I stopped. I had already shared a status about how the first gunman didn't represent Islam. I mean, the guy doesn't pray and he doesn't fast. Does that mean he isn't Muslim? Well, no. Okay, that means that he represents Islam. Well, again, no. Okay, so now we're confused. You have to defend your religion, which is followed by 2 billion people, to condemn the action of a few. Well, no, I don't. Want to know why? Because as we've heard time and time again. The action of the few does NOT define the whole.

Here we go again. 

Let's step back a moment and think about why we are so quick to associate an entire religion because one guy, who doesn't even practice, based on what his parents said, did something atrocious. Want to know what our religion teaches? Ask your Muslim neighbor, coworker, friend. They'll happily tell you. Take a look at their actions. REALIZE THAT WE ARE ALL THE SAME. How? Simple. We are trying to make it to tomorrow by getting through today. Is there a rotten apple in the bunch? Yep. Are there other rotten apples out there? Yep. Should we give these rotten apples lots of fan for the horrible things they've done? Nope.

How about instead of sharing the names of these gunmen and their pictures, how about not giving them fame and letting others know that if they do the same, they too will get their 5 minutes. Maybe we should share the names of those whose lives have been taken. Maybe we should celebrate them by showing their faces instead of their body count. Maybe we should learn about their life stories instead of those who took it. 

What a horrible thing to take from someone. Their life. The lives of those left behind. The lives of those they could have helped. We don't know where good is hiding. How dare someone think that it's okay for them to take away that opportunity. 

My prayers are with all of those who have lost their lives because someone else's was filled with hate. My prayers are with those who have lost someone they love because someone else thought that a human life was theirs to take. 

May God have mercy on us all. Amen. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Muslim Holidays (1/2) Ramadan: Its not just about fasting

As Ramadan draws near, these are some remarks being made by Muslims around you (and the world).

Are you ready for Ramadan?

I can't wait for Ramadan to start!

I'm so excited for Ramadan!

How is it that I have no problem fasting for 30 days during Ramadan, BUT have a problem not eating every two hours any other time?!

What is Ramadan?

  • Ramadan is the month of fasting for Muslims around the world.
  • It is more than just refraining from food.
  • It falls on the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar.
  • It comes 10 days early every year.
  • It can last between 29-30 days depending on the sighting of the moon.
  • It is one of the 5 pillars of Islam.
  • It is a very spiritual month.
  • It is known as the month in which the Quran (the Holy Book) was revealed to Prophet Mohamed (PBUH).


These are questions that I have been asked. Please feel free to ask more!

How do you fast for 30 days? Don't you get hungry?

Technically, its not a straight fast. The fast is kept everyday from sun-up to sundown, for the 30 days of Ramadan. 

Can you drink water?

We are not allowed to drink water between sun-up and sundown.

So, basically you can't eat or drink?

Yes, but its so much more than that. We work on refraining from: smoking, cursing, bad behavior, sex, rudeness, backbiting, etc.

Don't you get hungry?!

The first couple of days CAN be hard. And a particularly hot day can be excruciating, if I haven't had enough water before sun-up/previous day. But overall, I look forward to it and seek the reward of doing it.

I don't know how you do it, I feel so bad for you!

Please do not feel bad for us. We believe the reward we get is much greater than feeling a little hungry/thirsty and/or tired. Also, we believe it brings us closer to God. 

That's not healthy...

False! Studies have shown that fasting is actually very good for your health. It gives your body time to heal and to get rid of toxins that have been sitting there. 

What if you don't feel good?

Simple. Do not fast. Ramadan is for those who are able. Children, elderly people, the sick, the traveling, pregnant/breast feeding and menstruating are not required to fast!

You must binge every night!

Some people do, some people don't. Everyone is different :)

So, why do you fast?

To feel what the poor feel. To teach ourselves patience. To be appreciative of what we have. To get closer to God. We all have our reasons (some are different, some are the same).

Here is a display* I created at my library last year to welcome the month of Ramadan.
I included information about this month, as well as, pictures from around the world.
The little paper lanterns you see on the display are something we call a Fanoos (Fa-neow-s). Plastic ones are generally made for children, while more elaborate beautiful ones, are made for decorations around the house. 
You can view elaborate ones on Google here since you cant really see the ones I put INSIDE the display.

Here is a display that I saw when I walked into the children's room. Our Children Librarian had created a display of books for the kids! I remember the feeling of happiness I felt upon seeing the display. I felt even more included than I normally do at my library.
We have a good chunk of our community that is Muslim. I would watch their face light up when they saw the books. The kids would become very excited and grab them for check out.

Finally, I will leave you with some vocabulary.

Ramadan Mubarak: This is what Muslims say to each other to welcome Ramadan, and if you are feeling adventurous, you can say it to your patrons.
Suhoor: The meal eaten before sun-up.
Iftar: The meal eaten after sunset.

If you have ANY questions, please feel free to ask me. I will do my best** to answer. Feedback and comments are always appreciated!

* The Eid greetings and Happy Ramadan banner were given to me by Project Eid Awareness. They sent me a kit at no cost, to help raise awareness at my library. It was very generous of them.
**I am not an expert. I am writing from my own point of view and what I know/experienced. What I cannot answer, I will find resources for you :)

(I did not forget the second part of my Hijab post. That will come soon!)

Thank you L Kristin Jonsson for suggesting I write this!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

When patrons have questions

A regular at the library came in the other day and asked me a question as I was checking out his books.

He asked, "What does the color of your hijab* mean?"

I have to admit, I was thrown off, as I usually am, when people ask me questions or make comments out of nowhere in regards to my religion and the way I dress. Depending on the direction of the conversation will determine how fast I recover.

Confused I said, "I'm not sure what you're asking me?" 

Truly, this was not a question I had been asked before nor knew of anyone who had been asked it. I wasn't sure what he was asking.

"Your hijab color, what does it mean?"

My hijab was black, it went with my outfit. That was all. And I told him so.

"Its what I found at the store that matched my wardrobe and was for a good price."

He responded with a awkward stare, picked up his books, said bye, and walked out. 

As I sit here writing this, I wonder if he thought I was being sarcastic with my response. I wasn't. I got my black hijab (scarf) from H&M, in fact, I took all the black scarfs from H&M that day for two very simple reasons. 1) they were on sale and 2) black is half of my wardrobe.

But it has been weighing on my mind. Is there now a new trend of what your hijab color signifies? Does solid colors mean something important? What about mixed colors, or floral, patterns and shapes and images and everything else you can find on a hijab that females wear. WHAT AM I MISSING OUT ON?!

I went to Google.

And found no such trend. In fact, I found plenty of articles and question/answer posts about how the hijab is worn based on the wearers personal taste and level of devotion. So I did have a right to be confused.

Most Muslim females dress according to their personal taste, comfort and what they feel is their level of devotion. However, there are females who dont wear the Hijab who are more religious than those who do. Now here is where it can get slightly confusing for those who do not have a Muslim friend who can answer these types of questions to the best of their abilities.

I will try to explain this to the best of my abilities and hope that I dont mislead anyone or say something incorrect. However, I will do this in a later post.

For now, I will leave you with an image of my friends and I. Not all of us are Muslim. This is just some of the different style of dress.

I will say one more thing, the word hijab means the scarf that females wear on their head. But it also can mean the full outfit that she is wearing, this depends on the context in which the word is used. I hope I didn't confuse you with this piece of information. But I will elaborate more later.

*Hijab is the correct term in reference to the scarf Muslim females wear on their heads.
*Hijab can also reference the full outfit of a Muslim female.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Adventures of a Hijabi Librarian

Who am I ?

I am so many things and not enough.

I am a Muslim.
An American.
An Egyptian.
A mix of two worlds.

I am a daughter.
I am a sister.
A best friend.
A significant other.
A keeper of secrets.

I am a millennial.
I am a librarian.
I am my past.
Living in the present.
I am who I've yet to become.

I am a book lover.
I am a reader.
I am a poetry enthusiast.
A writer.
A photographer.
Life is a mystery.

I am a foodie.
As long as its good.

I am a show watcher.
A movie watcher.
An entertainment lover.
A critic.

I am a runner.
I am a swimmer.
I am a yogi.
A pilates practitioner.
A sleeper.
Above all, lazy.

I am a talker.
A laugher.
A listener.
But at times,
I am Silence. 

I am a traveler.
I am a trier.
I am steps taken.
And steps planned.
One foot at the ready.