Saturday, July 31, 2010

"Librarians get in fights"

Love this story from NPR (via my sister)! It's all about why libraries are capturing the imaginations of the cool kids. Let's carpe diem before we're perceived as charmingly old fashioned again. Although I like being charmingly old fashioned, too.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Memories of Ramona

I read all the Ramona books, but the only specific scene I remember from any of them is when Ramona upchucked out the car window. I specifically remember this because I was often carsick, and because I preferred the word upchuck to vomit or throw up.

As a child, I actually found the Ramona books a little stressful, because something was always about to go wrong. You know that feeling? So I blocked a lot of the books out. Other people have rosier memories of Ramona, but I like this article from WSJ, which (naturally) looks at the economics of the Quimby family and confirms that there was a bit of doom to the books.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hearsay evidence re: digital comics

Have you tried reading comics on an ebook reader yet? I would like to, but alas, my ebook reader is giving me an error message. This may or may not be related to my forays into downloading illegal copies of ebooks for research purposes.

So although ebook comics are now available on Overdrive, I cannot partake of them. But here's what I'm hearing from other people:

The most helpful thing on the internet this month

has got to be the Good Comics for Kids blog's core title list. I, for one, plan to buy everything on the list. Seriously. Maybe not all at once. But I just ran the numbers, and in the past 5 months, graphic novels have gone from 4% of our circulation to 8%. That's significant considering the tiny-ness of the GN collections.

And while we're on the subject of lists, I just found a new graphic novel list through a very long chain of emails on the GN listserv: Texas Maverick Graphic Novels. Add that to the Cybils and my beloved GGNFT, and I don't understand why some librarians still lament the lack of tools for GN collection development.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Finding Local Authors and Illustrators

The Friends of the Library received a grant a while back to bring some authors and illustrators to the library, so I have been on a quest to find authors who live close enough that I don't have to pay for their hotel rooms. That sounds cheap, which I don't mean to be, so maybe I should just say something about supporting local authors.

Anyway, how do you search for authors and illustrators by geographic location? I thought I'd share some of the most helpful strategies:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"Librarians are looking forward to spending less time with books and more time with people."

Isn't that a beautiful quote? It's from an article about how Stanford's engineering library went digital. They built a new library building and reduced the size of the physical collection by 85%. That's huge, right? Downloadable content is the future, people.

The article also pointed me toward this interesting story about how Arizona State University tried to use the Kindle DX instead of text books. The program never got past the pilot because the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the American Council of the Blind (ACB) pointed out that Kindles are not accessible to blind students.

And just today, an article I wrote about ebooks appeared in the RILA bulletin! I was predicting that ebooks would be come viable in public libraries sooner than some people thought. (Notice how I don't give an actual timeline. Clever, no?) I mentioned DRM as an obstacle to providing ebooks to patrons, but the ASU story also raises the issue of the accessibility for people with disabilities. Guess we better put on our thinking caps!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Air conditioning, anarchy, and makeshift summer camps

Two interesting news articles have been sent to me by other librarians this past week. Some context for the first one: the Smith Hill and Knight Memorial Libraries have been closed more than they've been open the last two weeks, because they're not air conditioned. When it gets too hot inside, union rules dictate that the building must be closed. Meanwhile, ABC6 is telling people to got to their public libraries to cool down, so the libraries that are open are overflowing (and so are my programs). Is this what it means to be a third space?*

Let me be clear: I'm very grateful for the AC in my building. Not only does it make me comfortable, but it allows us to be consistently accessible to patrons. However, I did enjoy this anti-air conditioning article from the Washington Post.

I did not enjoy this article, which has been circulating among librarians as well: Public Libraries Serving as Makeshift Summer Camps for Some Children in Chicagoland.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

On turning people away

I always knew dealing with rejection was hard, but I never realized how difficult it could be to reject people. This is the second week of the summer reading program, and for the first time, my colleague and I have had to turn people away from programs. Well, maybe we didn't have to, but we decided our programs would run better if we were more strict about the age ranges.

Just last year, we would have been thrilled to have too many people for a program. Last year, there was no such thing as too many people! People were the measure of our program's excellence! But this year, we have enough people coming that we're getting picky. We're also running out of supplies, so we're requiring sign ups. But we've always been so loosey-goosey that a lot of our regulars are coming without signing up, because there's no precedent for it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Trends in teen lit: Swindlers are the new vampires

So obviously, the beginning of summer reading has completely bowled me over. But I'm back on my feet and in a fighting stance, so hello again! I'm here to announce a new trend: classy, old fashioned criminality. Actually, I'm not sure "young criminals" is as popular a theme as I would like it to be, but just today Cat Burglar Black, White Cat, and Heist Society all passed across my desk, putting me in mind of the ragtimey soundtrack to The Sting with Robert Redford.

Cat Burglar Black, by Richard Sala, is arguably part of a genre-within-a-genre: the education of young criminals. It's a graphic novel in which a sticky-fingered, white-blond orphan is rescued from a Dickensian orphanage by a strange relative. Then she's promptly deposited in a mysterious school for girls that only has 4 pupils, where it seems she is expected to play an important role using the extralegal skills she developed at the orphanage.

It has an odd sense of humor to it. It's sort of a parody of all those novels about con artist orphans (Do those novels really exist, or am I just thinking of the movie Candleshoe?), but it's more awkward than funny. I had to keep checking to make sure it wasn't by Joann Sfar. It also reminded me of the movie St. Trinians, which is also about an English girls school where the girls learn the criminal arts. Sidenote: St. Trinians is based on a series of drawings by cartoonist Robert Searle. Obviously, Robert Searle isn't part of the current trend in YA books that I am attempting to posit, but the movie based on his work is evidence. So is Catherine Jink's Evil Genius.

White Cat, but Holly Black, imagines a world like ours, except with "curse workers," or people who can have a magical affect on you by touching you with their hands. In this world, everyone wears gloves and those with magical abilities are called "curse workers." Because curse work--all kinds, even nice kinds, like luck work--are illegal, most curse workers are associated with organized crime. Cassel's family is no exception, although he's an exception in the sense that, unlike the rest of his kin, he has no magical abilities. What he does have is a crush on the heiress to a crime family throne, a guilty conscience, and a sleep disorder that might just get him killed--or at least kicked out of boarding school. Cassel is also a bit of a con artist, and the book teaches you a few tricks of the trade. At the end, Black references books like Games Criminals Play and The Big Con, which was also reviewed on Guys Lit Wire, and which is cataloged under the subject heading "Swindlers and Swindling," which is adorable.