Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.


Still More on DVDs in the Library

This nice little piece on libraries stocking DVDs and patrons loving them for it comes via the PLA Blog. Keep up the good work, folks! And for those libraries without a DVD collection -- print out copies of this article and circulate them among your board members. Start your popular materials advocacy today!


Lords of Dogtown & Skating In General

So, there's been lots of buzz about Lords of Dogtown, which tells the stories of Jay Adams, Stacy Peralta, and Tony Alva, three of the Z-Boys who, in the early 1980s, basically invented skateboarding as we know it today. Without these guys, we'd live in a world with no X-Games, no Tony Hawk, no Tony Hawk's Underground or Underground 2, and no Viva La Bam (I know there are those who would argue that a lack of Bam would be a good thing, but I have a soft spot for Bam. Probably because I've only witnessed his brand of hijinks from the safe remove of my TV.) I've seen the preview for this movie four or five times -- in theaters, on TV, and online -- and every time I see it I think the same thing: This movie is going to be huge.

Not box office huge, but sleeper huge. Huge with the audience that needs & wants to see it -- the audience that has probably seen and loved and dissected every frame of the truly excellent documentary Dogtown & Z-Boys, which basically tells the same story. And it provides a perfect opportunity to do a little outreach to an underserved audience: skater kids & the people who love them.

Now, maybe you don't want to install a half-pipe in your library's parking lot, but chances are you see these kids, mostly boys, practicing tricks, taking bone-crunching falls, and executing seemingly impossible maneuvers in mall parking lots, parks, and anywhere with stair railings.

Now, the movie comes out on June 3. Don't you think a nice incentive for your Teen Summer Reading Program would be free passes to the film for the first 6 kids who sign up? Wouldn't it be smart to put together a prominent display of skating related materials that you may have in the library next week? Wouldn't it be fun to ask a local skateshop owner to come host a program on All Things Skating, as Theresa Wordelmann did for Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library's Skate-a-Palooza on May 14th? I think it would be pretty darn nice, and smart, and fun.

Related links: An interview with Stacy Peralta, and a feature on Lords of Dogtown director Catherine Hardwicke.

More On DVDs In The Library

There's been a recent flurry of entertainment press coverage attempting to answer the question of why people aren't going to the movies anymore. There's no real consensus, just a host of reasons: movies kind of stink lately, movies are expensive, movies are competing for leisure time market share with video games, the Internet, and most importantly, a host of affordable & convenient alternative services such as TiVo, video on demand, and DVDs by mail services like Netflix.

Today's entry on the subject, courtesy of the NY Times Movie section, covers each of the reasons in some detail, but the experiences of Brian Goble should have particular resonance for libraries:

But what could well have the greatest impact on theater attendance is the growing interest in digital home entertainment centers, which deliver something much closer to a movie-style experience than conventional television sets.


Mr. Goble rarely watches video-on-demand ("The quality is poor," he said.) Instead he has an account with Netflix and orders his movies online. When the Nicholas Cage movie National Treasure was released last November, for instance, he added it to his Netflix list so he would be sent a copy when it came out on DVD.

If libraries are making multiple copies of popular DVDs available to their patrons (mine is, through a nifty Grab & Go program -- patrons are limited to two G&G DVDs per visit, the lending period is 3 days, and no holds are allowed. You see it at your branch, you grab it, and you go. Hence the name!) as soon as they're released, and if they're allowing patrons to put holds on slightly less popular DVDs and other items as soon as a record is available in their OPAC, and if they're providing this service for free, then aren't we providing a similar service to Netflix?

Let's see:

    Netflix has a queue, or holds list, just like a library.
    Netflix makes multiple copies of its items available, just like a library.
    Netflix allows users to place holds on items before they become available, just like a library.

The resemblances do end -- most libraries don't offer postage-paid returns for their items, and most libraries can't possibly offer the hundreds of copies of the most popular DVD titles that Netflix provides -- but shouldn't libraries be doing a better job of marketing the ways in which our services, which our patrons have already paid for with their tax dollars, resemble more expensive services?

Shouldn't we be doing more to make it easy for our users to manage their queues of desired materials from home?

Shouldn't we be doing more to enhance the depth & breadth of such a popular collection?

What are you doing at your library with DVDs? For more ideas, read Liz's excellent post on how libraries can use TV shows on DVD to reach patrons.


Fanfiction @ The Library

Fanfiction is deserving of multiple entries. For a detailed look at fanfiction, take a peek at a recent article in Voya called All Shapes of Hunger: Teens and Fanfiction. Fanfiction is fiction written by fans that takes place using the characters/ world of a book, movie, TV show, graphic novel, song, etc. I promise – at some future date, I'll go into more details about what it is and what you can do at the library.

In the meanwhile, here's something that is very cool: an author that is encouraging fanfiction, rather than threatening lawsuits for copyrightviolationss.

Baker & Taylor and Penguin Young Readers Group are sponsoring a contest based on Laurie Halse Anderson's latest book, Prom.

Prom is about the Prom, and about one teen -- Ashley Hannigan -- who could care less about it. She's more concerned with graduating from high school, her part time job, life after high school, her family, her friends, and her boyfriend. Ashley's best friend, on the other hand, is Prom obsessed. Then the high school advisor for the Prom committee steals all the Prom money and it looks like Prom will not happen. Ashley finds herself pulled into the "let's put on a Prom in less than a month with no money" solution out of loyalty to her best friend.

Teens age 12 to 18 can enter a short story based on Prom – either a prequel, sequel, or alternate ending. Details are at the Baker & Taylor website; the teens can win $500 that can go towards the DJ for their Prom or can win that amount in books. The contest ends in December, so the prize would apply to next year's Prom. Entries are submitted via libraries, so the library may win a visit from Anderson. Go to the website to access a PDF File with all the information and an entry form. Or, you can do what I did: email Baker & Taylor. They sent me bookmarks in the shape of limos, extra entry forms, and an ARC of Prom.

While this contest is asking for fanfic, for some reason that term does not appear on any of the promotional materials.


Read Runaways, gosh darn it!

Lately, I've felt somewhat like a missionary, speaking to the masses, trying to convert people one by one. I haven't got religion, though--I'm trying to get more people to read Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Adrian Alphona.

The basic premise? Every teenager thinks their parents are evil. What if you and five of your friends found out that your parents really were evil?

Alex lives the typical upper-middle-class life of suburban affluence in Los Angeles. Every year, friends of his parents come over for some kind of party, and their kids come too. Alex is expected to entertain Nico, Karolina, Chase, Molly, and Gert, although they're not friends normally. This year, though, the teens get bored and decide to roam about the house a bit, using a secret passage. But this passage leads them to a view of the room their parents are meeting in . . . where it's revealed that their parents are really members of the Pride, a secret group that has a finger in every criminal pie on the West Coast. A violent crime is committed, and the teens decide to make a run for it.

The twists and turns in this story are great fun, as the group tries to stay one step ahead of their parents, learning about what they've inherited from their parents and how they'll use those gifts to not become like their parents. There's action, other superheros, mutants and sorcerers and cutting-edge technology, oh my! Throw in a telepathic velociraptor, and you've got a great story.

What I liked most, though, was the twist at the end, when one of the group betrays them. There's real consequences from that betrayal, too. That's not something you see too often, so that really made this series work for me.

Runaways has followed a slightly unusual publication pattern. The first volume or series ran to 17 issues, and those issues have been collected in three trade paperbacks, which are the same size as most manga books.
Volume One: Pride and Joy
Volume Two: Teenage Wasteland
Volume Three: Only the Good Die Young

However, this isn't the end of the story. The second volume/series has begun publication, and is up to Issue 4.

I haven't really touched upon the art, since I'm not very knowledgeable about art. But I really like the way the characters are drawn; they look very realistic, without any of that beefcake style creeping in. There's a nice mix between bright and dark color, and the style really suits the story.

In short, why aren't you reading Runaways yet?


Meet Your Bloggers: Melissa Rabey

Aaaaand now we have a comics/anime/manga maven on board! Say hello to Melissa Rabey, everyone:

Hi, I'm Melissa. Welcome to the U.S.S. Pop Goes the Library, where I'm your cruise director in charge of comics. Though I'm not a huge drooling fangirl, I certainly enjoy my comic books and graphic novels. My soft spot is for the Marvel universe (Spider-man!!!), but I also enjoy series such as Nightwing, Birds of Prey, Powers, and my new favorite, Ex Machina.

My favorite writers include Brian Michael Bendis, Joss Whedon, Brian K. Vaughan, Andi Watson, and Jenn Van Meter. And I promise that one of these days, I'm going to read all of Sandman . . .

In my real life, I work as a Teen Services Librarian for the Ocean County (NJ) Library. Obviously, I love to read; I also enjoy writing, spending time with my cat and other family members, and spending way too much time on the Internet. I'm looking forward to getting started!


TV @ Your Library

Question: What do the following have in common: Deadwood; Gilmore Girls; Charmed; All in the Family.
Answer: All of these are TV shows available on DVD that are available at my library.

If you're interested in adding TV to your library collection, here are a few hints: break up the multidisc sets; clearly mark and label the sets so that people know they are getting disc 1 of 3; decide on collection guidelines.

Cost: If your library is already buying movies on DVD, why not TV shows? Gilmore Girls retails at $60 for the first season: 22 episodes on six discs, which becomes 6 items for your collection. National Treasure retails at $30.00 for one disc which is 1 item for your collection. Compared to movies, TV shows do not cost more. The difficult decision is not about buying TV shows on DVD; its about which shows to buy. Some "cult" TV shows like Farscape have fans that are so dedicated to their show that that they have Library Projects to supply libraries with free DVDs.

Marketing and Promotion. Our catalog includes an option of seeing what is new in DVD/Video, including new TV shows. Other than that, we haven't had to do any advertising, promoting, or marketing – the titles fly off the shelves, the hold lists are full.

Benefits: In addition to increased circ, you have happy library customers who know you respect their viewing tastes.

Cross Marketing Your Collection: There are, of course, the obvious – the media tie ins for these shows, like music CDs, the Gilmore Girls books, or the Book of Shadows .

With a little creativity and some knowledge of the show, you can do great displays beyond the name tie-ins. If you're not familiar with the shows, someone in the library will be; otherwise, the Internet has a tremendous amount of resources.

For music, find out what songs and artists have been on the show and create a "Music Featured On ...." display that goes beyond the official CD.

For books, try a "read a like" display: "If you like the show Gilmore Girls, you'll love these books" and include novels with mother-daughter relationships or quirky hometowns. For historical shows like Deadwood: "The Truth About Deadwood" can highlight nonfiction books. Pretend you're doing Readers Advisory for a character in the show: "Cookbooks Sookie Would Love"; "Wiccan Books and Novels for the Charmed Sisters."