Won’t Somebody Think of the Children?!

October 6, 2007

Did you try and ban a book last week? I hope so! It was banned books week!

Stupid jokes aside, the American Library Association sets aside one week at the beginning of October to highlight issues of censorship and to celebrate our freedom to read.

Are there issues with banned books week? Sure. The ALA counts anything that’s been challenged as banned. A challenge can be anything from requesting a book not be required reading to requesting a book be taken out of the library. Nothing in America is truly banned in the sense we tend to think about. If a book is removed from the school library, it’s still at the public library. If it’s taken out of the public library, it’s still at the bookstore. But… it’s a slippery slope, and the ALA knows it.

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Library Closings

August 24, 2007

The Vatican Library recently announced that it would be closing for repairs, and that it will not reopen until September 2010. Read the BBC News article for more detailed information.

The announcement has caused some outrage in the academic community, because the Vatican Library is one of the foremost research institutions in the world, holding rare materials that cannot be accessed anywhere else. Professors and scholars from around the world plan their sabbaticals and submit grants specifically to be able to work there. The BBC News article does a good job showing what a loss this resource is to scholars, but neglects a few points.

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Harry Potter and the BIG FAT SECRET, part 3

July 17, 2007

Harry Potter, with his arm outstretched, reaching for something (we’ll find out soon enough), is about five feet tall. There’s a tear off calendar, counting down the days until Saturday, in his armpit. He’s hanging out next to a much larger Cat in the Hat.

But the Dr. Suess favorite only has 1 window cling in the department. Harry has 5. Harry also has book marks, a smaller desk sized cut out and calendar, some posters and a bunch of flyers for an upcoming party. I also have a fun listening game and some temporary tatoos to hand out at said party. Plus, a lovely CD of Harry Potter activities to use at said party. All provided by Scholastic or Listening Library. Except for the flyers. I made those.

I’m not complaining. It makes my job a heck of a lot easier and fun. (Did I mention the tatoos?!) But, back in May I started blogging about the marketing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In my original post, I made the comment:

I would think that “Hey! Harry Potter 7!” would be all the marketing they need– we already know it’s going to break every record for number of copies sold etc. Why market at all?

But Scholastic is marketing this bad boy, and heavily. I eagerly opened up each new bookmark envelope on the designated day. I eagerly open each new box that comes in too see what fun things we now have. And I love tearing off those count down calendars.

So, imagine my surprise when I read how much money the British publisher, Bloomsbury, has spent on marketing.

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Librarians: the Next Generation

July 10, 2007

Sunday’s New York Times Style section featured an article on hip librarians. A nice, little fluffy piece about the next generation of hip librarians who can handle a swanky mixed drink with their pink hair, various facial piercings and tattoos. As the article says, “Librarians? Aren’t they supposed to be bespectacled women with a love of classic books and a perpetual annoyance with talkative patrons — the ultimate humorless shushers?”

Yep, that’s us! Humorless book worms with outdated tastes telling people to be quiet. Seriously, thank you New York Times, for stating the blindingly obvious.

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Introducing Classics to the Romper Room Set

June 27, 2007

We recently received a graphic novel version of Beowulf. We’re debating which section it should go in because, well, some of the panels are pretty… graphic. The first time I picked it up, and opened it, I turned to a page of someone (I assume Beowulf himself) emerging from a pool of blood. I wasn’t surprised though, because it’s Beowulf. It’s not a story about sunshine and lollipops.

Now, graphic novelizations of the classics are nothing new–we had them back when we called them comic books. Children’s sections are filled with retellings of the classics at a child’s reading comprehension level. Personally, I don’t think any version of Beowulf worth its salt would be age-appropriate fro the under 13 crowd.

But this brings up the larger question–should we be “dumbing down” the classics at all?

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Fire raises questions about library equality…

May 5, 2007

If you don’t know, DC had two heartbreaking fires on Monday. Historic Eastern Market was gutted, and the Georgetown Branch of the DC public libraries burned.

The Georgetown branch was home to a treasure trove of neighborhood history, as well as art. These items are irreplaceable and the Georgetown neighborhood lost a lot of history and memory on Monday afternoon. (Recent assessments state that the damage to these collections is not as bad as it could have been, or was initially feared, but still, any damage is a tragedy.)

Mayor Adrian Fenty has pledged to fund the reconstruction, which could potentially cost up to twenty million dollars.

That’s great news for Georgetown, but there’s another side to this story that no one’s covering, that I haven’t heard anyone mention.

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Libraries in Books

April 6, 2007

As a librarian, I am always interested in how the public perceives libraries and librarians, especially since so many libraries are publicly funded institutions. I get tired of seeing libraries constantly referred to as “dusty” and “musty”, and don’t get me started on librarian stereotypes.

Seattle librarian Nancy Pearl thinks we should have more of a sense of humor about our public image, and served as the model for the librarian action figure, complete with shushing action. The action figure irritates me no end, not least because if you’re going to have a librarian action figure, at the very least she should get a cape! Librarians are super-heroes, after all.

Ann Seidl has done some thinking about librarians in the public image as well, and June 22 will see the world premier of her documentary, The Hollywood Librarian. The film looks at the work and lives of librarians by interweaving interviews of actual librarians with film clips of librarians in American movies which will “serve as transitions between the themes of censorship, intellectual freedom, children and librarians, pay equity and funding issues, and the value of reading.”

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