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.


Library Blogs I'm Reading

My current "must read" library blogs includes blogs from Caestecker Public Library.

Sites and Soundbytes highlights websites that are interesting and helpful for both library customers and those of us who are trying to answer customer questions.

Kids Lit is about books (and more) for kids and teens. There is also a blog for new books at their library.

All blogs are updated daily with short, concise entries.

In looking at the library site I learned that Caestecker Public Library serves a population of about 3000 and that the library has had these blogs since 2003. Very cool!!


The New TV Season

It's a bit odd to say the fall is the new TV season, given that networks begin seasons at times other than the fall. Still, it's tradition, and it's when the major networks start most of their new seasons and new shows.

A quick round up of resources to plan your viewing and recording; and to answer reference questions about when a show starts, the network it's on, etc.

The Futon Critic
A great primetime TV resource, including this handy 2005 - 2006 schedule, which has start dates.

Contains information such as episode summaries, cast, and crew. Great if you missed the first few episodes of Prison Break and want to get up to speed. (Added bonus: contains information about every show ever made. And you thought you were the only one who remembered Dusty's Trail.)

Television Without Pity: spare the snark, spoil the network.
Incredibly detailed recaps of 30-odd current shows. Can be quite snarky, always full of personality and one liners. A fun way to catch up on shows you missed; even more fun to read if you've seen the show. Plus, very cool message boards.

Entertainment Weekly.
The Fall TV Preview has information on new and returning TV shows.

What new shows will I be watching? I'm undecided about what to add to my TV schedule, so any and all suggestions are appreciated!


The Paradox of Choice

The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less by Barry Schwartz

Schwartz's premise is that too many options leads to unhappiness; and that our modern world is one with too many choices, therefore, modern unhappiness and depression to the point where people cannot make decisions and spend too much time mourning lost opportunities. "More" is "less" because of the amount of time and emotion wasted on so many choices.

This is a fascinating book, even though I don't agree with everything he says. Schwartz begins with examples that are supposed to illustrate his "there really are too many choices" argument – and points at jeans and food. As he talks about the 80-odd choices for crackers, he does so in a tone to provoke laughter – but I found it an uncomfortable surface laugh. Who would decide which of those 80 odd ones we don't need -- do we get rid of the low or no sodium? Whole wheat? Your favorite? It seems like this type of argument is only good if you're laughing at someone else. In addition, with Hurricane Katrina illustrating the poverty in this country and its affects – well, TPOC is a book about middle and upper middle class America. It's about those with the luxury of choice.

This is an extremely interesting book with some fascinating illustrations and arguments. I was particularly intrigued by the experiments that showed consumers reacting more favorably to a display with only 6 choices instead of 30 choices, and wonder if that would prove true with library book displays.

Schwartz offers solutions – and thankfully, he's not arguing that there should only be one style of jeans in the store; despite the tone of the "too many crackers" argument, he's not arguing that there should be less crackers on the shelf. Rather, it is mostly common sense advice about how to deal with making decisions and living with those decisions. "Choose when to choose," which simply means once you have found that brand and size and style of jeans that fits well, why go looking elsewhere? Some of the advice may be a bit controversial, for example, "accept good enough instead of best." What he means is chasing after the impossible ideal or what the neighbor has leads to unhappiness; but I was a bit uncomfortable with the idea of settling. Others are simple suggestions on how to life live: "regret less."

While you may not agree with everything in Schwartz's book, it is an intriguing look at modern life.

An online excerpt is available here.


Katrina & YALSA: Helping Teens & Kids Cope

Courtesy of Beth Yoke, Executive Director of YALSA

YALSA: Dealing with Tragedy & Terror

Coping with Disaster: Tips for Young Adults

NAEP: Disaster, Helping Children Cope

AAP Offers Advice on Communicating with Children about Disasters

Children, Stress and Natural Disasters (resources for educators)

David Baldwin’s Trauma Information: Disaster Handouts and Links

Disaster Recovery: Children’s Needs

Helping Children After a Disaster

Helping Children Handle Disaster Related Anxiety

NIMH: Helping Children Cope with Violence and Disasters

PrepareRespondRecover.com: Children’s Needs

NASP: Coping in Unsettling Times

Natural Disasters: Relief Efforts, eThemes (resources for educators)


Additional YALSA Resources for Dealing with Tragedy and Terror


Hurricane Katrina

The Louisiana Library Association has set up a Disaster Relief Fund for monetary donations to assist school, public, and academic library restoration efforts in southeastern Louisiana. Make checks payable to: LLA-Disaster Relief and mail to:
421 South 4th St
Eunice, LA 70535.

The State Library of Louisiana has a Louisiana Library Foundation, and is accepting funds to help Louisiana public libraries devastated by hurricane Katrina. They will forward the money to the appropriate library or community. If you want to donate to a specific library, indicate that. At present, they are unable to assess actual damage or needs for materials because of power and phone outages. When they have a better idea of the actual needs, they may try to coordinate some donations of materials. Make checks payable to:
Louisiana Library Foundation
PO Box 2583
Baton Rouge, LA 70821

If anyone knows the address(es) for donations for Mississippi libraries, let me know and I'll add that information.

Statement from ALA President Michael Gorman on impact of Hurricane Katrina

American Libraries coverage on affected libraries and update today with additional information

The Internet is full of various postings on how you can help, so I'll just point out FEMA

Finding loved ones in the disaster area

The Harris County Public Library blog. Many evacuees are in Harris County, including those who will be housed at the AstroDome.