Screwy DecimalScrewy Decimal, subtitled “Tales from an Urban Librarian,” chronicles the experiences of Rita Meade, who delights in finding quirky, weird, amusing, and unusual things in her library. Her posts are typically short, have pictures, and should only be read in places where it’s OK to laugh out loud. If you’re a librarian, you’ll identify with many of her experiences. If you’re not a librarian, she’ll make you wish you were.
Bio: “I am a public librarian. I have a Master’s Degree in Library Science and another Master’s degree in Secondary English Education. I experience strange and wonderful things in my line of work. I like to share them. I (and/or my writing) have appeared in various places, including American Libraries Magazine, Huffington Post, The Village Voice, The Atlantic Wire, the NY Daily News, Book Riot, School Library Journal, The Hairpin, and more. This blog won the 2012 Salem Press Library Blog Award in the ‘Quirky’ category.” (She’s @ScrewyDecimal on Twitter.)
Blogging Beginnings: The blog archive goes back to October 2010, with the entry “She Blinded Me With Library Science.”.
Why She Blogs: “When I first started blogging about my experiences working as a public librarian, it was to show people (you know, the ones who might not have a full understanding of what libraries do) that libraries are still very much being used and are still relevant and essential to their communities,” says Meade. “I also wanted to share some of the fun and interesting things I encountered in order to put rest that old, tired ‘libraries are boring’ stereotype. Plus, I just really enjoy my job and wanted to talk about the good parts of it. I’m glad it’s gotten a good response and that I’m able to use it as a tool for library advocacy, education, and even entertainment.”
Typical Topics: In 2014, Meade shared conversations she’d had with her patrons about topics such as chauvinism, constructive ways to express anger, the joy of reading, and pomology. Other recent posts include “Domo Arigato, Ms. Roboto,” “Another Summer, Another Case of Summer Reading List Drama,” and “Library List.” Her first post of 2015 was “Who Is Paul McCartney? (Library Kid Edition),” in which she asked young patrons in her library if they knew of Paul McCartney.
Sample Post: “When Literary Tattoos Go Wrong”
“Yesterday I was doing some organizing in my apartment (you know how librarians like to have fun) and I came across a book of ‘Illustrated Librarian’ temporary tattoos that I had received in grad school. Since I graduated approximately eight million years ago, I wanted to see if they still worked—and they did! …
I’ve never seriously considered getting a real tattoo … not because I don’t like them or because I’m afraid of the pain, but because I’m scared that I’ll change my mind about whatever it is I choose as a design. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting something literary because, you know, BOOKS … I don’t know if I’ll ever be brave enough to get Michael’s design actually tattooed on my person, but I do love it. Or maybe I’ll come up with another idea altogether that I’ll actually decide is worthy of becoming a permanent ‘living’ art exhibit. For now, I’ll just stick with the temporary tattoo. (Maybe I’ll trick the kids at the library into thinking it’s real. Again, we librarians like to have our fun.)”
Expert Advice: “Ideally, every blog should have a different scope and purpose. My main piece of advice would be: don’t try to emulate something else or force yourself to blog about something in which you’re not really interested. Develop your own true voice and decide WHY you are blogging—do you want to share story time tips? Do you want to talk about academic libraries? Are you more interested in reviewing books? Find a unique angle and have fun with it! Also, don’t be discouraged if you have a slow start—sometimes it takes a while for an idea to find traction,” she says.
The Last Word: “When I’m not ‘librarianing,’ I write for BookRiot.com and also host a podcast called Dear Book Nerd where me and a guest co-host answer bookish advice questions from listeners,” says Meade. “I also review for School Library Journal and sing in a librarian band called Lost in the Stacks. It seems that even when I’m not at the library, I’m involved with something bookish!”