Enjoying the Olympics? Check out Some South Korean Books!

I love, love, love watching the Olympics – especially the Winter Olympics!! It’s all so exciting, so many cool new things I’ve never seen and don’t know. (I’ll never understand curling – but I will watch it for hours!)

And it’s fun to learn some things about each country. Check out this article from The Guardian, by Mary Lynn Bracht with some suggested books about South Korea, and how incredibly fast-paced and dynamic this country really is.

“Historically known as the Hermit Kingdom for turning away western envoys, as well as the Land of the Morning Calm for its regal mountain ranges and tranquil valleys, South Korea has become a nation famous for its cutting-edge technology and pop-star mania, and continuously features in news headlines for its tense relations with its neighbour, North Korea. At the end of the Korean war in 1953, South Korea was one of the poorest nations in the world. Its people were starving and its cities were in ruins. Following a succession of civilian governments overtaken by military regimes and autocrats, South Korea’s Sixth Republic has finally established a liberal democracy that has seen its nation flourish. Today, many South Koreans are looking back at their nation’s past to make sense of the world they now find themselves in. The stark differences make the stories we read about this fascinating country all the more appealing.

While researching Korean history for my novel White Chrysanthemum, I was interested in both modern and historical material for the dual timelines. I came across many books that quickly became favourites – fiction and non-fiction. Each of them takes the reader into the South Korean psyche, often exploring the past and the present country. The country has a strong literary tradition, and with increasing interest in the country, translations of Korean works into other languages have given the rest of the world the chance to view it through the eyes and words of its own people.

1. Please Look After Mother by Kyung-Sook Shin (2011), translated by Chi-Young Kim
An elderly woman, visiting her family in Seoul, is separated from them on a metro platform. When the train pulls away, her family are mortified to realise she has been left behind. Shin reveals the relationships between the mother, her husband and their life in the countryside, as well as with each of her children as they all search for their missing matriarch. It reveals the lives of young and old, while asking big questions about the bonds of family and the struggles with the passage of time. It was a bestseller in South Korea and won the 2012 Man Asian literary prize.

2. The Guest by Hwang Sok-Yong (2005), translated by Kyung-Ja Chun and Maya West
Hwang’s fascinating life reads like a novel. Born in Chinese Manchuria, his family moved to South Korea at the end of the Korean war. He reluctantly fought for the US in Vietnam, and later became a writer and political activist. He was jailed twice for his political beliefs, all the while writing and publishing novels, short stories, and plays. The Guest tells the story of a preacher visiting his childhood village in North Korea, and powerfully reveals that a massacre historically attributed to American soldiers was in fact perpetrated by Korean Christians from his village.

3. The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-Mi Hwang (2014), translated by Chi-Young Kim
A quirky book that has been compared to Animal Farm and Charlottes’s Web. It follows a hen forced to lay eggs that will never hatch because they are destined to be sold at market, but she dreams of having a chick of her own. She escapes from her pen and sets out in search of her dream. This story explores notions of freedom, motherhood, diversity and sacrifice, and has been adapted into a successful cartoon film, play, musical and comic book.

4. I Have the Right to Destroy Myself by Young-Ha Kim (2007), translated by Chi-Young Kim
This is Kim’s first novel and has been translated into 10 languages. The story follows a man who is both a would-be novelist and “suicide assistant” – a serial killer who stalks potential victims who have nothing to look forward to in life, so that he can offer to facilitate their suicide for a fee. He then writes their stories down in a manuscript he plans to submit anonymously to publishers. We meet his victims as well as those whose paths they cross. Kim’s dark yet beautifully written novel reveals a modern Seoul, full of intriguing characters often tied up in failed love affairs.

10. The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture by Euny Hong (2014)
Born in the US to South Korean parents, Hong moved with her family to their homeland when she was 12. She grew up in Seoul’s Gangnam district and was privy to the rapid cultural and economic changes occurring in the late 80s and early 90s. Hong is a cosmopolitan writer with a sharp wit. Her book is an entertaining look at how the country has wilfully modernised to become the 15th-largest economy in the world. The Hermit Kingdom is no more.”

Read the rest of this article, and get all the book suggestions!

Learning About Library Associations: Catholic Library Association

Library science is an enormous field, home to every interest you could imagine! This means that there are many organizations out there for you to join, in order to connect with other people who share your professional interests.

So even if you work alone in your library, there are other people out there doing work similar to yours! Each week we will highlight a different library association for you to learn more about, and depending on your work, potentially join! You can also check out our page dedicated to Library Associations.

This week we will learn about the Catholic Library Association (CLA). This association provides professional development, support, networking, and fellowship.

According to their website, the CLA:

  • Provides leadership for professional development
  • Coordinates the exchange of ideas
  • Offers spiritual support
  • Promotes Catholic and ecumenical literature
  • Fosters community among those who seek, serve, preserve, and share the word in all its forms

CLA has an annual convention which will be held virtually this year on April 18th. They also have regional chapters for members to join.

Definitely visit their website for more information, but check out a few more of the resources CLA has to offer:

You can check out current CLA news, browse Job Postings, apply for a scholarship or grant, or shop resources like The Handbook for Church Librarians.

Learn more about benefits of becoming a member of CLA and sign up on their membership page.

Minnesota Institute for Early Career Librarians from Traditionally Underrepresented Groups

University of Minnesota entrance sign 1
This looks like a great program!!! If you would qualify: check it out!! If you know someone else who might qualify: please let them know about this institute! CMLE members: we will give you a scholarship of up to $300 to attend this training!

From their website:

The University of Minnesota Libraries will offer its 11th week-long Institute for 26 early career college and university librarians who are from traditionally underrepresented groups and are in the first three years of their professional careers.  The program will run from July 16 through July 20, 2018.


The Institute focuses on the development of library leaders from diverse backgrounds. Participants will develop specific leadership abilities proven to be necessary for organizational success.

The necessary starting point in any leadership development journey is personal awareness. The Institute intensely focuses on enhancing personal awareness — creating unique opportunities for participants to reflect on personal leadership styles and preferences, explore strengths and areas for continued development, and connect unique cultural insights and experiences to one’s professional journey.

Because early career librarians are often asked to give shape, definition, and leadership to whole new areas of work (data curation, publishing, e-learning, and multi-institutional collaborations to name a few), the Institute enhances the personal leadership content with explorations of topical case studies and rich engagement in understanding and building leadership skills.

Learning Objectives

The Minnesota Institute for Early Career Librarians will:

  • Expose career professionals to a variety of topics relevant to current and changing realities of academic librarianship
  • Introduce participants to experts representing diverse backgrounds, perspectives and contributions to the library, higher education, technology, and archival communities
  • Learn about and explore the leadership challenges related to the increasing interdependencies of institutions and potential for collaboration
  • Facilitate participants’ identification of personal leadership behaviors and goals
  • Create a platform for participants to reflect on how their diverse identities are and will be leveraged in the service of their leadership goals, their organizations and the profession
  • Create a plan for immediate development and long-term professional growth

Continue reading Minnesota Institute for Early Career Librarians from Traditionally Underrepresented Groups

304: Motivation and Coaching


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This season, we are working on building a toolbox of leadership skills and ideas. By the end of this season, you will have fifteen specific skills that will make you a stronger leader and manager in your organization.

This week we are looking at strategies motivating people at work.

Although working in libraries is a wonderful job most of the time, the repetitive nature of the work, the service focus on people’s needs, and just working at the same job for years, can start to wear people down. Keeping staff motivated is an important part of that job as a leader. It is also one of the most difficult parts of the job.

Ideally people will enjoy their jobs, but may need work in expanding their horizons so they don’t get stale. Many things librarian staff do in a day or a week are pretty repetitive. You can only show people to the bathroom so many times, or set up a new library card account, before you have the whole procedure and all its nuances completely understood. And then what? This is where motivation comes in – helping staff to see how their small daily actions add up to a larger effort, in support of the library’s mission and strategic plan.

Most leaders – the good ones anyway – want to help staff to be as successful as possible. But knowing how to do this is tricky; your employees (rightly) insist on being unique individuals, each with their own set of motivators, which you may or may not know. And you need to help push all of them to be their best at work, doing that without a lot of the information that would be very useful. Keeping people going is much more complex than a quick pat on the back, or an occasional “good job!” But it does not have to involve a huge amount of work – just consistency.

Think back to our first episode on theories; there are all sorts of ways to deal with motivating and directing people. You can try yelling and screaming, you can try being everyone’s friend and letting them do what they want, or you can find something in between.

One management study looked at ways to motivate people who were working on an assembly line. Researchers tried everything: they sped up the line and they slowed it down. They changed around break times. They turned up the lights to be very bright, and then turned them way down. What do you think happened? Every single thing they did increased productivity, and decreased absenteeism. The staff were so happy that people were paying attention to the work they did, and that the researchers were taking the time to talk with them about their jobs, that they responded by working harder. The group as a whole worked together to make everyone’s individual performance stronger. This is called the Hawthorne Effect, after the Hawthorne Western Electric factory.

Regardless of your management style, it is not likely that all people will respond the same way to the same motivators. It will be your job to figure out different motivators for different people (or departments), while trying not to let anyone feel others are getting preferential treatment. Being a good leader is tough!

Motivating and coaching can be challenges for everyone involved – it is hard to maintain a generally positive attitude toward work all the time. When people work for your library for several decades, every needs to stay focused on providing great service. Taking some positive steps to motivate yourself and the people around you can help to build a good organizational culture!

Thanks to everyone for joining us this week! And check back in with us next week to discuss our next topic: Discipline and Termination.

Check out our full information page for all the details, including Self-motivation, Motivating Others, Gamification, and links to the books we are reading this week!

Do you need more books in your life? Sure you do! Subscribe to our Books and Beverages book group podcast. Each week we look at a different genre, chat with our guests about their book suggestions, and sip our beverages. It is always good to find a new book!

Good news for Sting, the formerly lonely reading dog!

It’s no secret that we love both animals and reading at CMLE! We think it’s great that so many libraries offer therapy dogs (or bunnies or chickens) as non-judgmental reading companions for students working to build their reading confidence, or for older students stressed out about finals.

We also have a special place in our hearts for greyhounds, due to our Office Dog Lady Grey.

So when this post about the therapy dog Sting not having any kids to read to him went viral, of course we were interested (and sad for poor Sting! Just look at his disappointed face!)

But thankfully the story didn’t end there! I was so pleased to stumble upon this article from Today sharing that due to the popularity of Sting’s sad viral post, the White Bear Lake Minnesota library where he visits has seen a surge in sign-ups for reading slots with both Sting and their other visiting therapy dog. Sting is now booked through April!

Check out the full article here, and read more about library therapy dogs in our previous blog post.

And of course you can visit Lady Grey in person on Tuesdays in February (Wednesdays in March) at CMLE HQ during Office Hours! Reading to her is optional, although she is always happy to listen to your library ideas and challenges. 🙂

We support libraries!