Marlene Harris

I'm a librarian with experience all over the map, both figuratively and literally.  I like to solve puzzles, so most of my working life has been spent in the back of the library house, in technical services; in cataloging, acquisitions, or collection development, or some combination, usually as a manager.
For the past two years, I pushed downloadable collection development at the Alachua County Library District in Gainesville, Florida as the Support Services Division Director.  That meant not just doing collection development for both ebooks and audio, but also looking for sources, watching trends, monitoring the market, and mining the statistics.  The ebook revolution fascinates me, both from the user perspective (I am one) and from the usage perspective (growing geometrically if you manage it right), and because ebooks can either be our future--or our downfall.
At the Chicago Public Library, one of the largest public libraries in the U.S., I served as the Division Chief for Technical Services, where I supervised a division that successfully handled the outsourced cataloging and quality control for all of CPL's shelf-ready materials, as well as in-house cataloging and processing. Meanwhile, CPL was in the midst of a major system migration and upgrade, and the ramp up of a new digitization effort that was handled in Technical Services.
I also have experience from the academic side, having spent three years as Head of Technical Services at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Yes, Anchorage. While I was there, in addition to the usual technical services activities, UAA was part of a grant funded project with the Alaska State Library and the University of Alaska Fairbanks to begin the digitization of images relating to the history of Alaska. I was UAA's coordinator for that project, now known as Alaska's Digital Archives. It is still going strong, and now has over 10,000 images, documents, video and audio clips, and has participating institutions all over the state. Being part of the team for the first two years of that project is something that I will always be proud of.
So, I have worked in middle-sized public libraries in Illinois (Evanston and Oak Park) and Florida (Alachua County), one of the largest public libraries in the U.S (Chicago Public)., a medium-sized academic library in Alaska (University of Alaska Anchorage), and an ARL in Florida (Florida State University).
And I also worked in implementations for two systems vendors (Endeavor and Ex Libris) which is where I met Galen.
I've always loved to read for the fun of it.  Class assignments interested me less, since they were usually things I didn't like, although I remember a few turning out to be pleasant surprises.  I read what I love.  I've never pretended not to love genre fiction.  And almost all of it.
Last, but certainly not least, I am co-owned by 4 cats, one of whom has a terrible Electra complex.
And that makes a good story, too.

Considering What Unites Us

While I read Alex George's A Good American I thought a lot about what it means to belong -- to a church, a town, a country, a family. Frederick didn't belong to Jette's social strata, so they had to leave their homeland in order to be together. When they reach America, they do not end up in the town they intended to settle in, but they put down roots there....more
We've moved a lot (6 times in 12 years) back and forth across the country, and we've been ...more

The Redemptive Power of Song

We've discussed how music plays a big role in Alex George's A Good American when we talked about how he described Jette's life as an opera. It's more than that the family just liked music, it was woven into the fabric of their lives. It was what they used to learn about themselves and about life. ...more
When I'm happy, I sing. If I'm down, I choke up. Certain songs make me think of times, or ...more

Is Your Life an Opera?

In Alex George's A Good American music is important to the lives of the characters and is integral to the plot. Jette and Frederick meet when he serenades her in a park. They find help in New Orleans from someone that Frederick met through music. This same man will come back into their lives and greatly impact their future. Frederick and Jette's sons and grandsons are all singers....more
I don't know what kind of art it is as long as it's not finished yet! Most people who know me ...more

Gastronomic Mosaics & Culinary Road Maps

Food quickly becomes important to the story in Alex George's A Good American. Before the Meisenheimers ever open the restaurant, Jette finds herself homesick. She turns to the meals she ate in her homeland for comfort. She didn't have recipes passed down from her mother or even a cookbook to turn to. Through a process of trial and error, she made her way through the food in memories until they existed on her table. ...more
Sunday Lunch at my grandmother's after Sunday school. Homemade Chicken noodle soup with the ...more

The Magical Post-Breakup Makeover

After a breakup, particularly one you did not initiate, your self confidence can take a bit of a beating. During this time my friends and I frequently turned to the magical healing powers of a post-breakup makeover. We would change our hair or buy a new outfit and they became our new armour against the hurt....more
I'm starting a new job after 18 months of writing at home, and I'm going through the whole fresh ...more

How Soon Is Too Soon For Couples Therapy?

Since I had not read Bared to You, the first book in Sylvia Day's Crossfire series, I was surprised to find that Eva and Gideon were in couple's counseling. Based on what I had read to that point in Reflected in You, their relationship still seemed young and new. By Eva's own admission, they hadn't been together that long:...more
In the book it seemed like the couples therapy was a way to get Gideon into counseling, any ...more

What Does Independence Mean To You?

At some point, we all strive for a little independence in our lives. We want to make our own decisions -- call the shots. We want to control our own destiny. Eva, the main character in Sylvia Day's Reflected in You, craved independence from an early age, in large part due to the fact that in many ways her mother was dependent on the men in her life. ...more
Thinking for yourself, acting for yourself, doing for yourself, making your own decisions and ...more

How Do You Recharge?

Sometimes, we all need a little time to recharge. We each have our own way of doing that. Sometimes we do it alone. Other times we call upon our friends and loved ones to help us recharge our batteries. In Sylvia Day's Reflected in You, Eva recharges with her best friend, Cary. ...more
I play video games! Not shoot-em-ups, but the role playing games. The kind where you really get ...more

What Would You Do If You Couldn't Fail?

Brene Brown's Daring Greatly made me think a lot about failure. When we make ourselves vulnerable we open ourselves to a lot of things, some good and some positive. One of the things that we make possible when we do this is something many people, myself included, fear -- failure. When we make ourselves vulnerable we risk failure and that is a heady, wonderful, terrifying thing. ...more
I would write a novel instead of just reviewing them. I've always wanted to write fantasy. Or ...more

Plan B Parenting

In no other area of my life have I found myself as deeply vulnerable than as a parent. And that's why -- when my daughter was very young -- if you judged my parenting, I would jump down your throat. Then I would go home and cry and Google parenting websites and hold myself accountable for my daughter's milestone progress, her sleep habits, my mood, her nutrition and the state of foreign wars....more
I found the parenting chapter fascinating. and also terribly saddening. I was still thinking ...more