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.


A Challenge To Readers

MotherReader has issued a challenge; the 48 hour book challenge.

In a given 48 hour period, how many books can you read and blog about?

Complete details are here; basically, pick any 48 hours during the weekend of June 16–18th, 2006 and the books have to be at least a 4th grade level. Sign up here.


Interview With Ally Carter

Ally Carter is the author of Cheating at Solitaire and I'd Tell You I'd Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You. Cheating at Solitaire is about self-help guru Julia James, who has written a book about not needing a man to be happy. So all the gossip linking her her to an actor isn't going to help book sales. I'd Tell You I'd Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You is a book for teens about a school for spies pretending to be a snooty boarding school, The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women. (My Tea Cozy review of the YA book is here.)

Liz B.: You write books for adults (Cheating at Solitaire) and teens (I'd Tell You I'd Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You.) What are some of the differences (or similarities) writing for two different types of audiences?

Ally: First and foremost I want to tell an interesting story about interesting people--no matter their age. Initially, I thought it would be different targeting younger readers, but the more I do it, the more I realize that good writing is just good writing. People respond to that and crave it, and that's what I try to do. I love YA fiction. I think it's one area where writers can't afford to be lazy. You've got to tell stories with great characters; stuff has to actually happen in the story; and you have to do it in fewer pages--no wasting words; what's the harm in doing that for older readers? The only difference I can see so far is that with YA you can go farther--push the envelope a little more--and I love that.

Liz B: Love You Kill You (which, I found out from your website, is the cool, in the know way to refer to the teen book) has been optioned by Disney. How cool! Can you tell us a little about that?

Ally: Absolutely! LYKY (the ultra-cool, in the know way to refer to the book) has been optioned by Disney and Debra Martin Chase who produced The Princess Diaries and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants--pretty cool company to be in if you ask me. They're working on the script right now, and everyone seems very excited about the project. Of course, anything can happen in Hollywood, so I'm not picking out a dress to wear to the Oscars just yet, but all the signs are good.

Liz B.: You're working on sequels for both your books. LYKK works as a stand alone book but it does end with some very interesting unanswered questions. Had you always planned on LYKK having a sequel? I don't want to give spoilers for those who haven't read the first book, but will all our questions be answered?

Ally: Yes. We sold it as a two-book deal with a planned sequel. In book two, some questions get answered, some more get asked. The Gallagher Girls are spies, so thier lives are always going to have a few unanswered questions. I just hope readers want to tag along to see where a few of those adventures take them.

Liz B: What are you working on now?

Ally: I'm (quite literally) working on the next book in the Gallagher Girls series. In fact, I should have a rough draft finished by the end of the day.

Liz B: And finally, Pop Goes the Library is all about pop culture. What is your pop culture area of expertise?

Ally: TV. Absolutely the answer to that question is TV. Some network should totally have me on retainer I'm such a junkie.

Liz B: What do you do for summer TV viewing? With all my shows over I tend to watch a lot of DVDs and wish more shows did summer eps. Remember how 90210 did summer shows?

Ally: In the summer I'm always very relieved for cable, because they are smart enough to do new original programming (why the big networks can't figure this out I'll never know!). I love The Closer with Kyra Sedgwick, and last year I really got into Rescue Me. Oh, and I'm a shameless Celebrity Poker junkie. Shameless. It's one of my goals to be a major enough minor celebrity to be on Celebrity Poker. And then I'll also pray that they start some of the really good shows over in reruns--like Veronica Mars--because so many people need to give it a shot, and maybe they will if they can catch reruns over the summer.

Liz B.: Thank you!


L2 Friendly

L2 Friendly
Originally uploaded by freerangelibrarian.
Oh, hell to the yes, we certainly are. Thanks, Karen Schneider!


Ancillary Huzzah!

(That's my imaginary band's name, by the way.)

So, quite a few of you probably know about Library 2.0 Boot Camp. Michael Stephens, Jenny Levine, El Tuo Manifesto, wash, rinse, repeat repeat repeat for mind-expanding ideas of what libraries can be.

What you may not know is that Jenny Levine asked NJLA's IT Section (official motto: Making IT Simple!) to record a podcast about the podcasting booth they put together for our recent conference, and she asked me to record a podcast about the NJLA blog's genesis, purpose & goals for the future. After many giddily typed e-mails and IMs flew threw the ether, we sat down, recorded our podcasts, and now you, too, can listen to them (and many, many others) at the official L2 Bootcamp podcast blog.

Sophie's podcast about the blog is here. Jessica Unger & Sara Hansen's podcast about the podcasting booth (ooh, meta!) is here.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Pop Culture + Libraries = Crazy Deliciousness. I may have consumed too much sugar and caffeine today. Possibly. Maybe.

Hate Mail!

Pop Goes The Librarian
Originally uploaded by sophiebiblio.
So, I was featured in Library Journal's wonderful Movers & Shakers supplement in March. It's a huge honor, I was thrilled to be in such wonderful company, and I was particularly delighted with the photo they chose. I thought it was a sassy (which I am), cute (which my husband assures me I am, though I harbor the occasional doubt), and playful reference to my lifelong obsession with pop culture and in particular my long history of going to concerts. (Thanks to my awesome Dad, that history began when I was just 12 years old. I dragged him as my chaperone to my first concert in 1989 -- we saw The Replacements at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby. It was not a great show, as the band were all wasted, but it was quite the experience, and I was hooked.)

And now, hate mail (scroll down to where it says "No Smoking!"). Clearly, my work here is very far from done.


A Little Lost?

In view of tomorrow night's season finale of Lost, I'm wondering if any libraries out there are doing something to mark the occasion. Anyone hosting a viewing party? How about a Thursday night post-mortem discussion group of the sure-to-thrill (and vex) two-hour finale, and its impact on your patrons' theories of the show?

In addition or alternatively, how about putting together a display of books referred to by the series? I'm thinking of titles by Locke & Rousseau, the fictional Gary Troup's book Bad Twin (which references both the show and The Hanso Foundation -- hey, my library has this book on order!), Watership Down and Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret (all three of which have been read by Sawyer), and so on. You could pair it with your library's DVDs of the first season of the show, plus a bookmark featuring links to sites used in ABC's Alternate Reality Game show tie-in, and the show's official podcast.


Meeting Ever-Changing User Expectations

In a recent post at Techessence.info, Thomas Dowling writes:

[M]eeting user expectations, no matter how quickly they change, is not only a Good Thing, but an absolute necessity. [emphasis mine.]

Now, he's writing about meeting user expectations with regard to technology, but clearly, there are Pop Culture applications to this statement, as well. It's been my experience that it's not hard for most public libraries to exceed user expectations in this area, actually.

Every time I go to a middle school or high school and ask the students what they want in the way of music, DVDs, and books, they are flabbergasted when they ask for artists like My Chemical Romance, or O.C. Mixes, or Season One of Grey's Anatomy or The Clique or the latest book by Sarah Dessen, and I tell them "yeah, we've got that, and that, and that, and that, too!" This is not run-of-the-mill pleasant surprise: their socks are well and truly knocked off.

The same goes for the many parents who stand before me in delighted astonishment when I cheerfully say, "all our programs are free!" Likewise for the senior citizens who register in droves for our computing classes. In many cases, for many age groups, many of us are already exceeding user expectations, but we can't be self-congratulatory about this, because we are doing such a terrible job of marketing and promoting these collections.

Blogs like Library Marketing, Creating Passionate Users, and The M Word help shift the discussion in the direction in needs to go (hey, Stephen Abram just blogged about these three, too -- spooky! In a good way!), but there's more work to be done. It's not just the work, it's the profession-wide shifting of mentality towards a model whereby it's not enough simply to have the materials people want (and to listen to them when they say they want something else) but it's essential to know how to make sure people know about what we have, and to get them talking about it. I'm hoping to get some more ideas from a book I'm reading, called Grapevine: The New Art of Word-of-Mouth Marketing. Review + summary to follow!

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Another BEA post: YA ARCs

As Liz already mentioned, Book Expo America was a great way to spend a weekend. I became a librarian because I love to read and I love talking about books, so BEA is a way to get a lot of information, not to mention tons of books!

Some of the books I'm most looking forward to reading, once I take care of some of my Popular Paperbacks obligations:

The Mislaid Magician: Or Ten Years After by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

How To Be Popular by Meg Cabot

The Loud Silence of Francine Green by Karen Cushman

Haters by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

Wide Awake by David Levithan

River Secrets by Shannon Hale

Add in new books coming soon from Jean Ferris, Avi, Kate Brian, Edward Bloor and Joyce Carol Oates, and you've got an embarrassment of riches.

I know I'm forgetting books, too, which, when you think about it, is both amazing and scary.

If you're interested in any of these books, let me know and I'll be happy to send them out to you right away, unless I want to read them first. :-) Some of these books might also end up on YA ARC, so keep your eyes open there.

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Book Expo America (BEA)

I went to my first Book Expo this weekend, along with Book Expo pros Melissa Rabey and Carlie Webber.

I didn't attend any of the programs or events; I didn't attend any of the cool parties. I didn't even attend any uncool parties. I spent two days in the Exhibition Halls.

This was my first Book Expo; and part of the reason I went is because Melissa and Carlie have been raving about how wonderful it is, plus Melissa made going easy by not only letting Carlie and I stay at her house, but also doing the driving into DC.

Book Expo was amazing because it is all about books. Tons of publishers, of all shapes and formats and sizes. It was great to see what new books were coming out and what books were being highlighted. If part of the reason you are a librarian is because you like books, you would love Book Expo.

There were also many authors, which was great fun. Meeting authors is always cool.

The giveaways were great! Who doesn't like free stuff, especially when the free stuff includes ARCs of books, fun stuff connected to the books such as magnets and tote bags and T shirts, and even free books? Because at Book Expo, when an author is autographing books, the books are free.

Will I be able to read all the ARCs and books I got? I doubt it. (I picked up almost 70 books; but admittedly, some of them are getting passed along to family and friends.)

Whether or not I read them, I am now more aware of those books than I would have been otherwise, whether it's because I picked up the ARC, saw the book displayed at the publisher's booth or chatted briefly with the author. Which means, I'll be more aware of it when it comes time to purchase books or do a display; the title will be familiar when I'm engaged in readers advisory or planning booktalks.

I already am looking forward to going again next year.

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TV Series Finale Round-Up

A tart, comprehensive chaser to Melissa's post about what's to come next season on TV may be found here.

A rant about our present conception of a television "season": When, oh, when will American TV switch to the much saner, viewer-friendly, rerun-free year-round endless season of BBC-style programming? We keep getting little tasty teasers of such a world via HBO, which will roll out new seasons of shows like Entourage and Deadwood when the current one of The Sopranos ends in June. The BBC does the same thing -- as the final series of Little Britain winds down, a new series of The Thick Of It winds up. It's brilliant.

I love this model, because:
  • There's always something new and interesting to see;
  • By producing seasons in 13-episode (or fewer!) blocks, a show's creative team can focus almost exclusively on story and character development (i.e., overall show quality), rather than on padding the story arc out over 22 episodes (and why is that the industry standard? Anyone? Comment below, please, if you know why);
  • No reruns, and no self-pitying moans about waiting for months and months for the next season of, say, Lost to start, because I'd be moving on to the next excellent show ABC is broadcasting.

CBS experimented, to wild successs, with this model when they debuted Survivor in June, 2000, and they smartly roll out new seasons of The Amazing Race throughout the year. Fox also had some success when it began airing my #1 guilty pleasure (and excellent source of music collection development ideas), The O.C., well before the typical mid-September rollout of shows.

This is one area, at least, where libraries are better than TV: we are constantly rolling out new items for our patrons to read, watch, and listen to, whether it's weekly, biweekly, and monthly titles in our magazine areas or multiple copies of the latest James Patterson thriller.

One lesson we could learn from the Up-fronts and from TV and movie previews, though? Letting our users know what's coming next. Ours is an accelerated culture, as Douglas Coupland once put it, and one thing we can do to help our users keep up is let them know when the latest titles from their favorite authors will be forthcoming. We can mine this information from Publisher's Weekly, and other review periodicals, or from bulletins we receive from publishing houses, movie studios, and record labels, and then repackage it in a Coming Soon bulletin.

This doesn't have to be fancy -- just copy & paste the information into a blog entry, create a quick Publisher file and post it at your main service points, and create a briefer version (say, the Top 5 titles in books, DVDs, and CDs) as a bookmark to hand patrons when they check out their materials. This is one way we can use our skills as information hounds to ease the burden on our users, saving them time (Oh, how Ranganathan would love it!) and improving access to materials.


TV Upfronts

As most of us here at PGTL wait anxiously to see if "Veronica Mars" will be picked up by the new CW, I stumbled across the Upfronts Blog of Virginia Heffernan, the TV critic of the New York Times. It's interesting to see what someone at a Big Important Newspaper (TM) is saying about that dirty habit of television.

[tries not to bite off her fingernails wondering about "Veronica Mars"]

Career Fair!

The good news is I was invited to the Career Fair at a local school.

The bad news is I was invited to a Career Fair at a local school.

Good because it was great to be the face of the library. And I went with a colleague, A, and we had a great time with the teens. I ran into one teen who was at the Harry and the Potters concert; and there were others from TAB. And there was the chance to talk about libraries and being a librarian. Because while there are non-librarian jobs at the library, the main focus of my presence at the Career Fair was about librarianship.

The bad news? The kids had a scavenger hunt; and many came to our table for the answer to the clue, no formal school training needed.

I don't want to do a librarian v. non-librarian post; I will say that library assistants and other non-librarian library workers are valuable, contribute a lot, and should have respect.

But I have a problem with the library being viewed as a place where no formal school training [is] needed. Because it's wrong; because these teens will become taxpayers and voters who don't understand why the budget for library salaries is so high; and because it undervalues something that is valuable to me, my MLS degree. (Tho to be fair? When I was a lawyer, I did have someone ask me if I had to go to college for that.) Why are people so shocked to learn that being a librarian requires a masters degree?

Libraries, and librarians, need to let people know that yes, we do have formal school training. And to let them know about the MLS, and why it brings value to the library.

How do we go about that? I'll be honest; I'm not sure. But one place I'll be looking to for answers is Nancy Dowd's new blog, The "M" Word: a blog designed to bring the wonderful world of marketing to librarians. (Nancy has a blog and a myspace; and I used to work with her. She's very cool and smart.)

For those interested, here is the rest of the Scavenger Hunt. A and I had fun deciding how these could be applied to librarians. What are your thoughts?

Works Outdoors Yes! Outdoor story times; participating in local fairs and parades for outreach
Uses an X Ray Machine No, we don't use one, tho there are many types of machines to be found at work
Takes photographs of others Yes! Anytime we have a cool program, out comes the camera
Handles money A and I were going to say "no" until a student reminded us about fines. And then I realized, duh, budgets!
Has an assistant at work Yes, if we're lucky there are people at work who can assist us with things, even if they aren't technically an assistant.
Requires a doctorate degree Nope; tho there are people at work who have them (I have a JD)
Can make their own working hours Not really, because of things like desk coverage and building coverage; tho with those constraints in mind, we do schedule and go on outreach events
Works with cars We certainly drive cars from place to place to do our work. And we have Chiltons online!
Fixes things We fix books; and do minor computer fixes; and people who have problems? Who need help looking things ups? Getting information? Well, we fix that!

Another question was other jobs that could prepare me for this are? We said anything, including customer service; teaching; being a lawyer; working in a book store; working with computers; being a hotel manager; waitress; be a student assistant.

Harry And The Potters

As you know, on Saturday I saw Harry and the Potters. My pictures are at my Flickr account.

If you have a chance to see them, go. Their tour dates are at their myspace page. If you have a chance to get them at your library, do it. Also on tour with them is Jason Anderson.

As you all know, I am so not the music girl so confess to not knowing who Jason was prior to the show. But, it's all about the customers, and people who know & like music follow their band and musicians. It's one of the great things about the Internet and myspace. My point: the reason we had a library full of fans to see Jason and HATP is not great advertising and promotion by the library; but rather, a fanbase for these performers, with local kids knowing about them because of the Internet; and coming to see them because of the Internet.

Jason did a great opening performance; HATP put on a tremendous show.

From the pure business end, they were a dream to work with -- on time, knew their stuff, gave an awesome performance, and, what impressed me most, were tremendous with their fans. They had CDs and T-shirts for sale (and yes, I'm so regretting that I only bought their first CD) and signed them, but also signed things fans brought, like well-read copies of the HP books.

The two brothers who are Harry and the Potters, Paul & Joe DeGeorge, are very cool. As you can read in this MTV interview, not only are they about books and music; they are also about school and education. Paul is going to be getting his PhD in chemical engineering. And the reason I find that cool is that sciences are usually not seen as cool; pop culture and coolness are usually all about the "creative" arts, music, books, entertainment. And HATP clearly fall within that pop culture arena, mixing books and music. But to add to that -- to have part of that -- include school, studying, and having an interest in the sciences? Is awesome.

The final great point? Monday I was at a career day at a local high school (more on that later). And one of the students recognized me from the HATP concert at the library, and we had a great conversation about them, the library, and books.


Shattered: John Iliff, RIP

On Monday, I found out that John Iliff, the Library Technology Consultant for Palinet, died over the weekend. John and I co-presented at last month's NJLA Conference, and we became friends as we worked on our presentation together. Indeed, it was impossible not to become friends with John: he was such a lively, friendly force of nature, and so passionately interested in and supportive of other people that you just got carried away on the tide of his genuine goodness and charm. It's a testament to what a powerful, but not overpowering, personality he had, and what a professional he was that even though we collaborated via telephone & e-mail and did not actually meet in person until the day of our co-presentation, that the whole thing went perfectly smoothly. He was a gem of a person, a pleasure to work with, and I am lucky to have known him.

Remembrances of John may be posted here, or submitted via podcast, here.


Libraries are FUN-damental: MLA 2006

Most of you don't know that PGTL is no longer a New Jersey-only affair, at least in terms of its bloggers. I've moved on to a new position, as a children's librarian in the Cecil County (MD) Public Library. I was lucky enough to get to attend the Maryland Library Association's annual conference over the last two days, and it was a great experience!

The highlight for me was the keynote speaker: Steven Johnson, author of Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter, available at better (online) bookstores. You may recall that those of us here at PGTL have posted more than once about Johnson, which, after all, is not surprising. Because, you know, he likes pop culture, we like pop culture; he thinks that it can do a lot of good for people, we think it can do a lot of good for libraries . . .

Johnson's keynote was a great speech: nicely tailored to the librarian crowd, very enlightening for people who don't understand some of the new aspects of today's pop culture, and full of great comments for those of us who think we're in the know.

My favorite part of the speech? Johnson tells a story about going to England, to do publicity for Everything Bad, and he has to get off the plane and do an interview for BBC radio, where he'll be with a moderator and a British cultural critic. The moderator asks Johnson to explain his book, and then turns to the other guy and asks him for his opinion.

The British cultural critic's answer? "Frankly, I'm shocked that Mr. Johnson could spend 230 pages defending popular culture without once mentioning Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

Other interesting events at the conference:
--a preconference on science programs at your library, presented by the Carroll County (MD) Public Library. They wrote a grant for a series of programs called "Aha! Science at your library", which is geared for kids ages 7-10. It was a great preconference, and I can't wait to try science programs of my own.
--an interesting, but too short, program on marketing with the authors of the new ALA Editions book, Blueprint for Your Library Marketing Plan.
--a funny session with Richard Lee, who creates the cartoons that illustrate Will's World in American Libraries.
--"Management By the Book," a program that was inspired by ALSC's conference programs "Pardon Me For Being a Manager." This was a great program, because where else can you see that the Little Red Hen failed as a project manager, Olivia the pig is a great library advocate, and the Brementown Musicians show us how to collaborate?

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Manga & Anime Mania!

Last year, the most requested activity for teens at my library was a manga & anime club, so when I returned from maternity leave, that was the first program I scheduled. We meet monthly, but we could easily meet bi-weekly, or even weekly. Kids & teens who are into anime & manga are really into anime and manga, and I've discovered, much to my relief & delight, that I don't have to be an expert, or anything close to an expert, on those formats and all their minutiae.

In fact, it works to my cred-building advantage with the teens in the club to be Not The Expert on manga & anime, because I ask them to be the experts and they love it.

They loved it when I asked them to help me augment our standing order of manga titles, and they loved it even more when I came to the next month's meeting to tell them that their suggestions resulted in the addition of 10 more series titles to our collections.

They think it's hilarious when I don't know the difference between Yu Yu Hakusho and Samurai Champloo, and are impressed when I can recognize manga series by the all-female collective CLAMP. They love to explain their favorite series (i.e., give booktalks on the fly), and they were in competitive stitches over the game we played last month:

I photocopied front covers of 10 issues of different manga series, covering the titles and volume numbers. I then also photocopied, at random, two-page spreads from 8 other manga series. I challenged the manga club members to identify the different series (extra credit for correctly identifying the volume number) from the cover art and from the two-page spreads. Even the teens who got just a handful of the answers correct had a blast, and the proud winner was dubbed kamisama (goddess) of manga trivia and took home a $5 gift card to EB Games. I got the idea for the game from a fellow member of NJLA's YA Section (Kate Warhaftig, I think -- thanks, Kate!), and I bet that the club would be happy to play again in future.

Other fun activities for your anime & manga club to do:
  1. Watch free anime DVDs from Anime Advocates -- you'll need 10 members with viable e-mail addresses, and will need to appoint a club contact from their ranks. The DVDs come with viewing licenses and you can raffle them off after the club meeting is over.
  2. Hold Yu-Gi-Oh! card tournaments.
  3. Organize a DVD & manga swap -- get something new to you for something you're done with.

Anime & manga fans make up a constantly & rapidly growing demographic, particularly among members of Gen Y and younger -- my anime & manga club's members range in age from 12 to 24, and as leery as I was initially about that range, it has not been a problem at all -- so now is a great time to get on the ball. ICv2 News has just reported that their manga market size estimate for 2005 was on the low side, so more people are buying more manga & anime than perviously thought. If you're looking to sink some money into a manga and/or anime collection, that article is a good place to start, because it lists the top ten titles in each category.


Harry And The Potters

A concept so brilliant it's brilliant.

Putting the "fan" in fantastic.

What is it, you ask?

Take a well loved series of books -- Harry Potter.

Add music.

And you've got -- Harry and the Potters.

Listen to a few songs at their MySpace page. My current fave? Saving Ginny Weasley.

The band's schedule is up at their MySpace page. I'll be seeing them on Saturday May 13 at 2 p.m. at the Toms River Branch of the Ocean County Library. "No one can stop the wizard rock."

Best New Magazines

A good, ever-evolving, high-circulating (and I mean circulating the back issues so much that they fall apart) magazine collection is a cornerstone of a great popular materials collection.

Library Journal publishes an annual round-up of the best new magazines, and the most recent iteration of the round-up is available in the current issue. I'm already a fan of some of these titles (like Make) and look forward to delving into others (like knitscene and Cookie).

Now is a good time to start thinking about what magazines you want to keep for next year, what titles you'd like to add, and which ones you want to phase out altogether or replace with a fresher, more appealing title.

Run a circ report on your back-issues (and if your back-issues don't circ, for heaven's sake, start pushing for them to do so!) to see how well or how poorly your titles are doing, and look for patterns. If your crafts magazines are circing like crazy, add a title or two. If it's automotive titles that really flip your patrons' lids, bulk up that section. Look for patterns in declining circulation, too. Maybe your community has more seniors than parents, and so titles like Child, Parenting, and Brain, Child (my personal favorite) aren't doing so well any longer. You could pare that collection down to the one essential title of the bunch and dedicate the subscription money to an area that your users can't get enough of.

Some tips for weeding and adding to a magazine collection:

  • Maybe you have to do all of your ordering once annually (at my library, we make changes to our subscriptions in October). In that case, start this process at least 3 months in advance, so you can preview magazines, gather patron input, and make informed decisions about the collection.
  • Before you spend money on a full-year subscription, use some petty cash to preview a few months' worth of issues of prospective titles.
  • Display the preview issues prominently, and put a sticker on the front cover that says something like "We're thinking of subscribing to this magazine -- let us know what you think!"
  • Encourage your users to participate in the process of developing and maintaining the collection -- post a link to an online survey (through Surveymonkey, for example) asking for their opinions about the magazine collection and what titles are their favorites, their least favorites, and what titles they wish you subscribed to.
  • Finally, let your users in on the changes as you make them. Post the survey results at the Circulation Desk, in the magazine area, and on your webpage (or better yet, your blog, where you can file your magazine-related posts under the category of Magazines). Create signs that say things like "You spoke, and we listened! We're stopping subscriptions to X, Y, and Z magazines, and we're going to add titles A, B, and C. Bid adieu to the old and say hello to the new, starting in November."

There's nothing like giving your magazines collection a spruce to make the whole collection seem more appealing.

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Kaavya, The Book, and Teen Lit

I'm sure you all know by now about Kaavya Viswanathan, the copying, the publisher taking the book (How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life) off the market.

At my place of work, as of Friday the book was still on order, and I'm fairly confident that is one order that won't be filled.

But for those of you who have the book on the shelf (or, more likely, checked out with a list of holds), what is the responsible thing for a library to do?

I've heard various thoughts in the blogosphere; including, on non-library blogs, a sense of anger at those libraries that decide not to discard it. (The logic being, the publisher recalled it because of plagiarism; therefore, if a library decides to keep it they are deciding that the plagiarism does not exist. )

So here are my questions: what do you think should be done if the book is on the shelf? How does keeping or discarding the book tie in with your library's mission?

Perhaps the saddest result of this matter is that it's become an opportunity for papers and bloggers to slam teen literature. No, not the old Gossip Girl arguments; rather, that teen literature stinks or that teen literature is incapable of being copied because it's all the same.

The Los Angeles Times says that "most of the stuff published for children and adolescents is abysmal, self-regarding trash", and "some of what results is truly noxious, some is distasteful, most is merely dreary. The majority of books aimed at today's young people fall into this last category." As pointed out by Teen Lit author Cecil Castellucci, the paper fails to even mention a certain award with a young adult category -- the LA Times Book Award.

This blog (by a writer for the New Yorker magazine and author of two non-fiction book) argues that it's impossible to plagiarize from teen literature ("This is teen-literature. It's genre fiction. These are novels based on novels based on novels, in which every convention of character and plot has been trotted out a thousand times before"), showing an ignorance about literature and teen literature that is appalling. (Scroll down the comments for Judith Ridge's wonderful response, asking the blog author whether she has in fact "Read any YA fiction lately?")

The deliberate ignorance is chilling. In trying to be a wee bit positive, let's assume that these "teen lit stinks" authors are willing to read one teen book. Which book is it? Since the LA Times author appears to think all teen lit is grit lit, I'd instead suggest a fantasy like The King of Attolia; for the snobby blog author, I'd go with a book that is clearly not genre, such as Postcards From No Man's Land. And since the LA Times author talks about most/the majority, I'd also be prepared with a list of "also reads" that is five pages long.

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