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.


test: greasemonkey, that funky monkey

Just testing a new greasemonkey script. Not much to see here, folks. Full ALA updates forthcoming.


A new pop culture destination

Those of us here at PGTL are getting ready for ALA (at least, I know I have been!) and thus the radio silence. But I wanted to take a moment to link to Geppi's Entertainment Museum Imagine, "an exciting trip through more than 200 years of American pop culture"!

You can read more about the museum here.

All I can say is, I wish this place would hurry up and open! I'm sensing a PGTL field trip.

Technorati tags: Geppi, pop culture, museums


EW's Top Online Sites

Entertainment Weekly just made it easier to stay on top of all things entertainment related, with a list of its top online entertainment sites.

I'll be adding these sites to my favorites and my bloglines; part of what I like best about the list is that EW went to their favorite sites and asked, "what are YOUR favorite sites?" There's everything from books to music to film.

The only drawback: for some reason, Pop Goes the Library does not appear on this list.

Not-So-Fluffy Idea Friday

Genius blog of the week: Librarians' Most Wanted. Brainchild of Chris Rodas & our very own Liz Burns, this is a blog all about what we're planning to read, view, and listen to. What's in your holds list at your library (or in your Netflix queue, or even in your Amazon wishlist)? Write to librariansmostwanted [at] gmail [dot] com and share. It's Reader's Advisory on a whole new level!


DVD Discussion Group

I just found out that the Stafford Branch of the Ocean County Library (aka MPOW) has started a DVD Discussion Group. My friend Jill is running it, so I called her up to learn more about it.

On Monday, June 5th, Jill and I sat down to lunch and to chat about DVDs, movies, and blogs. This isn’t a Vanity Fair interview; we didn’t eat in some trendy restaurant. We ate in the staff room. There's no detailed description of the oh-so-fashionable clothes we wore; I was wearing a summer reading T shirt. Johnny Depp was discussed, but he wasn’t at the next table over.

Liz B.: What was the inspiration for the DVD Discussion Group?

Jill: I was at the Gay Pride Month diversity programming meeting (pdf) for OCL. One of the things we discussed was the recent local case of a transgendered substitute teacher in Eagleswood, and the community responses. We wanted to have a program that would discuss the issues of the transgendered community without being heavy-handed. And as we spoke, I realized, hey! There have been a number of new movies that were critically acclaimed that were about transgendered people and GLBTQI people. Why not have discussions around these movies, like we do books? And since with book discussions people can check out the book, read it, and then come to the discussion – why not do the same thing with movies? I know at the branch, customers love talking about the movies they watch. So why not have something at the library where they can come in, sit down, and talk about movies?

Liz B: And the Blog aspect?

Jill: Blogging as a general idea has been mentioned at OCL, and I saw this as a way that we could start a blog at OCL, advertise the DVD discussion group, and include in the discussion people who are interested in movies but unable to get into the library to attend a discussion group. When I brought the idea to OCL, they were very enthusiastic.

Liz B: How does it work with the DVDs?

Jill: We needed to have enough DVDs so that people can check them out in preparation for the discussion. A special collection was bought – similar to how books are bought just for book discussion. The DVDs are available for check out when someone signs up for the discussion group. This way, a person can be part of the discussion group without worrying about holds. The borrowing time is longer than the usual three day DVD borrowing time, so that the customer can watch it a few times before the discussion, but also go home and watch it again after the discussion. There are ten copies of each DVD in the collection. After our series is done, if another branch wants to do it, they can take the special collection and have their own discussion groups.

Liz B: When will the discussion be taking place?

Jill: Brokeback Mountain on June 8th; Transamerica, June 15th; Capote, June 22nd; and The Dying Gaul, June 29th.

Liz B: How has the community feedback been so far?

Jill: We’ve gotten a nice reception. Staff have been very excited about it, also, and want to participate. We already have about a half dozen signed up for the first DVD discussion.

Liz B.: The Blog has introductory information about each movie in the series. What will be added to the blog?

Jill: I’ll post some of the actual discussion, but will be protecting the privacy of those who are participating in the actual discussion. Given the subject matter, they may be sensitive about what gets posted. Plus, the post will be there for anyone who couldn’t get in to make comments and join in the discussion that way. The online discussion part is open to everyone.

Liz B.: So you have discussion questions ready?

Jill: I found a variety of resources for putting together movie discussion questions. And a whole range of types of questions – everything from the movie making aspect, to the actors, to broader issues about the themes of the films.

Liz B: And refreshments?

Jill: Of course, we are going to have pop corn for the discussion!

Liz B.: At Pop Goes the Library, we’re all about Pop Culture. What is your pop culture are of expertise?

Jill: Trivia, especially movies and music. It doesn’t matter whether or not I’ve watched the actual movie – I can tell you the actors and what it was about. Probably it’s because I used to work in both a video store and a music store, I just absorbed all this trivia that is only good for Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit.

Liz B.: And the movie stuff comes in handy for DVD Discussion Groups. Thank you!

Disclaimers: Like Jill, I work at OCL. And since we were eating and talking, I did my best to take notes of the discussion. I guess I should invest in some type of digital voice recorder!


Good Patrons Are Worth Their Weight In Gold

You ever have one of those days, where you wish you could have a patron walk into the library, or even better, have a patron stop you in the grocery store, and say how much they like the new service you're providing, the great book you recommended to them, or compliment your last program?

Well, if you can't get that, try checking out these people.

I came across the blog of Edward Vielmetti recently while reading an article in School Library Journal. His blog, Superpatron, provides a great view of how libraries could provide more to patrons, through technology. I loved his recent post on a mashup of LibraryThing and imdb.com.

Thanks to a post on YALSA-BK, I came across the MSN column of Martha Brockenbrough, and what a great discovery it was! Martha writes about a range of subjects, but she has four columns that talk about the great things available in libraries. How often do you tell patrons about one of the 7 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do At the Library, to be greeted with amazement and gratitude? It's nice to see your typical citizen lauding a service that they receive for their tax dollars.

Martha has also written about 7 Things for Teens at the Library (other than books!), Why the Library Rules in Summer, and my personal favorite, Love a Librarian.

(Plus, our own Liz Burns is quoted in each of Martha's library articles!)

If you're having a day where you need an inspiration, check out these resources, and perhaps you'll get some new ideas as well as a mood boost.

Technorati tags: , ,

Fluffy Idea Friday: Brangelina

So, Brangelina. For those of you who avoid the gossip rags, that'd be the contraction of Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie, the sizzling It Couple Du Jour, who've just had their first child together, Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, in Namibia. At a time when many celebrities head for Cedars-Sinai Hospital in LA to have their babies, Namibia might seem, well, a quirky choice. And the name! Shiloh Nouvel? What, Nouvelle wasn't good enough? They have to change the spelling around?

What does this have to do with libraries? Well, for one, celebrity gossip is the sticky, sweet, caramelized center of the bonbon variety of pop culture. Even if people only encounter photos and news of Brangelina in the supermarket check-out line, they're still thinking about Brangelina and their progeny at least once a week. Which means that we should be thinking about Brangelina, too. And what better opportunity for libraries to show a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor than to compile a Brangelina display?

  • Recent copies of People and US Weekly magazines (other gossip magazines, like In Touch and the National Enquirer are good, too);
  • All the baby-naming books you can find on your shelves;
  • Map of Africa, with Namibia highlighted;
  • Many photocopies of a fast-fact sheet on Namibia (use that Facts on File subscription!);
  • Back-issues of National Geographic with feature articles on Namibia;
  • Africa-related travel, history, photography, and arts books;
  • Some space on a table or expanse of slat-wall shelving;
  • A sign bearing the legend, "The Anytown Public Library Presents: Brangelina!", or similar.

Arrange in an attractive manner, fill in as necessary, enjoy comments from the public. If nothing else, it'll be a conversation piece.


Comic Books: A New Kind of Magazine?

By now, most libraries have jumped on the graphic novel bandwagon in some way, shape, or form. Even some of the smallest libraries will have a few mangas and superhero comics in their collections, while some libraries have elaborate, diverse collections of graphic novels.

But having graphic novels is just one way you can have graphical storytelling in your library. Have you thought about having individual comic issues available to your patrons?

"But wait!" you say. "Comic books are so flimsy, they'll fall apart after two circs. And if they don't fall apart, we'll lose them!"

And my answer is, "So?"

Using the wear-and-tear or fear-of-theft as reasons to not carry comic books--well, we can use those same arguments if we wanted to stop carrying magazines, DVDs, CDs, videos, and books. Certainly there are concerns to stocking comic books in your collection, but there are ways to counteract these challenges.

In order to protect the comics and extend their use, clear tape is your best friend. You can use book tape, but plain old clear box tape can work fine, too. First, you apply tape on the outside of the comic, along the spine. This helps prevent the cover from being torn off. Then, on the inside, you place tape at the junction of the front cover and the first page of the comic, and then at the junction of the last page and the back cover. This way, the pages won't separate from the cover, at least not after two circs.

Many libraries treat comic books like magazines, so if back issues of magazines are allowed to circulate, so are comic books. Local comic stores will often offer a library a substantial discount if the library purchases their comics through the store. If that's not an option for you, Ebsco does carry individual comic series as subscriptions--they'll come just like your magazines. You can also work with various online retailers to purchase comics as a standing subscription. A big benefit to your local store, however, is that it's easier to resolve problems that way.

Sadly, comic books will get stolen from your library. But think about it from this perspective: you probably spent about $3 on the issue itself (if you had to pay cover price). Pennies worth of book tape, and a little of your time, and you have an item that can circulate like crazy. And beyond the circulation issue, think of the patrons that you'll be bringing into your library: visual learners, reluctant readers, ESL students, low-literacy adults.

Circulating comic books can also be a great way to dip your toe into the graphic novel waters. If you've got a limited budget, consider dropping a magazine or two and getting some comics to add to your collection. Hopefully, your patrons will notice, and ask you for more!

All in all, considering comic books like magazines is a great way to expand the graphic novel collections in your library. Give it a try!

Many thanks to the people from the GNLIB-L listserv, who responded to my question post with lots of information about comic book practices in their libraries. If you're interested in comics, graphic novels, and libraries, check out the listserv!

Technorati tags: ,


The Edge of the Forest

The Edge of the Forest is an online children's literature journal that is published monthly. They are looking for submissions. As you can see from the current issue and past issues, it has reviews, interviews, articles, etc.

Disclaimer: I'm on the Editorial Board and am a frequent contributor.


Lucha Libre

Today's New York Times includes a warm-up article on Lucha Libre, in anticipation of the June 16th release of the new Jack Black movie, Nacho Libre. Loosely translated as "freestyle fighting", Lucha Libre is Mexican professional wrestling. It's very theatrical, lots of fun, and is a great example of a minority interest gaining widespread fandom. One sign of Lucha Libre's ascendance in mainstream American Pop Culture? Nacho Libre is the second project of Jared Hess, who wrote & directed cult favorite Napoleon Dynamite. Another? The Times went so far as to quote not only the filmmakers, but also a Professor of Chicano Studies at Arizona State University.

If you serve a significant Mexican or Mexican-American population, consider holding a discussion of the film, getting some community input on Lucha Cinema for your DVD collection, or a hold an afternoon of Lucha mask decoration for kids!

Alternatives to Rolling Stone

Lord, do we need them. Rolling Stone will always be my first grown-up magazine love (somehow, I leapt immediately from Ranger Rick and Cricket to RS and Sassy, with no transitional periodicals -- I suspect this won't be the case for my daughter, who is growing up in an era of more magazines than even I can keep up with), but if you're looking for great coverage of music outside the Top 40, it's not the rag to turn to. Add RS's ongoing slide into mediocrity to SPIN 's metamorphosis into a lad mag (warning: accompanying photo of Britney Spears may not be worksafe) with music content thrown in, and you have some disappointed readers.

Thank heavens, then, for USAToday's Pop Candy, engagingly written by Whitney Matheson, who brings us Five Alternatives To Rolling Stone. My favorites of her list of suggestions are Philly's own Magnet and Uncut, from the UK. What music magazines does your library subscribe to? How often do you read them, and how often do you notice changes in coverage & tone? Do your patrons talk to you about your magazines? Do you invite their comments?