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.


What Does "Indie" Mean, Anyway?

Great introductory article on the evolution of the label "indie", which used to refer exclusively to DIY (do it yourself) music, movies, and zines, but now refers to a slew of entertainment products, including movies and music made outside the major studio & label systems (but on smaller labels), a generally idealistic ethos of making art for art's sake, and a certain navel-gazing attitude towards one's artistic endeavors. Note that I am not entirely against said worldview -- it makes for some lovely, jewel-like songs, movies, and books. The article outlines a bit of how the Internet has changed what it is to be indie, and how indie things can also be wildly popular things (hint: the Long Tail plays a role in that phenomenon).

See also: emo and punk, two labels whose meanings have changed dramatically over the years.

MySpace Voter Registration Drive

Wow. MySpace is holding a voter registration drive. This is huge. Not only will it improve MySpace's public image with grown-ups (aka people who think DOPA is a good idea), but I think it could have a great impact in terms of registering young people to vote. Way to harness your power for good, MySpace!


I Want My MP3

How much do I love that the headline for J. Marin Younker's recent musings on how to age gracefully in teen librarianship is a riff on the old timey "I Want My MTV" tagline? So much.

It should come as no surprise that I love Younker's suggestions, too, many of which echo the exhortations you often read at this very blog -- strike up casual conversations with teens, keep up with sports, learn about video games, read teen-friendly music magazines like Rolling Stone, SPIN, and VIBE, know what movies & TV shows teens like, read Ypulse to stay on top of trends, and my favorite, Think Like A Correspondent for Entertainment Weekly!

I feel a congratulatory Letter to the Editor coming on.


Self-Promotion: LJ NextGen Column

I've been thinking quite a bit about parenthood and how it fits into my career (or doesn't, in some cases), and about my career and how it fits into my parenting (or doesn't, in other cases). I then thought, hey, why not see if Library Journal would be willing to publish some of these thoughts I've been mulling over, and maybe start a conversation among my colleagues in my generation and the ones ahead of and behind mine? Hey, guess what? They were! Thanks, LJ. The column, titled Priorities & Professionalism, runs in the current issue, published the day after Nell's birthday.


My Baby is 1 Year Old

best. photo. ever.
Originally uploaded by sophiebiblio.
Happy birthday, Nell. Every day has been an adventure, and every day we love you more. You're the bestest baby that ever was, and we're lucky to have you in our lives.

On a more pop-y note, you share a birthday with Sean Preston Federline, and your Daddy & I hope that's all you'll ever share with him. You can listen to and enjoy his mother's music, but for the love of all that's holy, stay away from his father's "music". More lessons in music appreciation will follow -- you're already a fan of Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Saint Etienne, The Postal Service, and Jenny Lewis, so I know you're headed in the right direction.

Millions upon millions of hugs & kisses,


Tupac Shakur, 10 Years Later

Rapper Tupac Shakur, whose murder has never been solved, died 10 years ago today. To many fans, Shakur is the hip-hop equivalent of John Lennon or Kurt Cobain (though some might argue he shares that role with The Notorious B.I.G., who followed him in death several months later), a brilliant lyricist and lightning rod for controversy who died too young.

Amazingly prolific, Tupac continues to be a successful recording artist a decade after his death. His mother and executor of his estate, Afeni Shakur, has overseen the release of 5 albums since Tupac's death. Recent years have also seen the release of several documentaries about Tupac's life and death, including Biggie & Tupac and Tupac: Resurrection, which is narrated by Tupac himself.

Tupac was also a poet, and the posthumously published The Rose That Grew From Concrete (MTV Books, 1999) is a very popular title, particularly among teens.

Consider including Tupac Shakur in displays of artists who died young, of urban or street lit, or of notable African Americans. Consider, too, purchasing some of the music of this seminal, if controversial, artist.

Tupac Discography
Tupac-related Books & Movies

Joss Whedon to Take Over Runaways!

The super-knowledgeable Katharine Kan posted the following to YALSA-BK this morning:

If you're not on GNLIB-L, you've missed some interesting comics news. For those librarians who love Runaways, Marvel's newest super hero team that just happens to be all teens, the creative team (headed by writer Brian K. Vaughan) will be leaving the comic. Taking over writing chores will be Joss Whedon. Buffy and Firefly/Serenity fans can cheer, as well as those who love Astonishing X-Men.


Melissa enthused about the many charms of Runaways some time ago. Read her summary & analysis here.



Great article on Scrapbooking collection development in the August, 2006 issue of Library Journal. Notable facts: scrapbooking is now a $3 billion (yes, with a "b") industry, "with someone in 25% of U.S. households scrapbooking annually." Three of my co-workers are serious scrapbookers, but before I worked with this library I'd never met a scrapbooker.

Apple announced the launch of its newly retooled iPods. Improvements include all-metal cases (more scratch-proof), brighter screens, and more memory in the standard iPods to accomodate bigger digital downloads. Fancy!

Harvard announces the end of early admissions. This is a very good first step. Early decision allows wealthier, savvier kids to commit to one institution, giving them an edge over & above the advantages they already enjoy in the college admissions game. With a birth cohort as large as Gen Y/Millenials, any leveling of the admissions playing field is A Good Thing. And this move pretty much had to come from Harvard.


Speaking Fees

Rachel Singer Gordon has a survey up about giving conference workshops and presentations and getting paid. Please go over and fill it out; the results should be interesting and informative, and the more people who fill it out the more accurate it will be.


New Magazine Review: Hallmark

Hallmark's new magazine is a first cousin to Blueprint, the new, feistier, hipper, edgier (but still highly aspirational -- the Fall issue recommends $1000+ luggage!) publication from Martha Stewart's publishing empire. We previously reviewed Blueprint here. Like Blueprint (and to a degree, like Rachael Ray's new magazine, Everyday With Rachael Ray), Hallmark attempts to help its readers develop a total life approach. The overall message of this title is, as it says right on the cover, "Celebrating Your Life".

The celebratory spirit is in evidence in the titles and contents of the magazine's five sections: Inspire, Renew, Nest, Conect, and Nourish. Unsurprisingly, the art direction is flawless (the display type used throughout is a very 50s face called Abeejay, which manages to convey simultaneously the warmth of a handwritten letter and a certain playful impishness), the content aimed with laserlike precision at a settled-down (with or without kids) woman with homey taste and a lively sense of friendship and good humor. Impressively, however, the magazine doesn't feel focus-grouped to death. Like the best Hallmark card, it has an unfakeable realness to it that is very appealing.

Among the most appealing features of the premiere issue: a section called Try Something, which includes instructions for throwing a football and tying a scarf like a Frenchwoman; easy, relaxing seasonal crafts; an essay on transforming the TV from conflict lightning rod to a vehicle for family togetherness; tips for a great all-ages Halloween party; and a host of easy, tasty recipes for Fall.

This magazine will appeal to patrons who find Martha Stewart a bit much but who aren't really into Good Housekeeping or Ladies' Home Journal. Definitely one to keep an eye on.


Knowledgeable Guides

Because my definition of a "knowledgeable guide, who has experience or background a particular field" is "college students, retirees and stay-at-home parents" who get paid "$5 to $10 an hour" (but the bigger the customer satisfaction, the bigger the paycheck: "up to $20.")

It's called ChaCha Search. Basically, it's a search engine that utilizes real people to get search results. And the above quotes reflects the people who will hired by the company to create search results.

News articles about this: Rethinking Google's system Human-powered search premieres (source of the quotes, above); One day searchers may quit Googling and start ChaCha-ing (calls this a "librarian" system working on an Anway pay system: "These people are employed at home (or anywhere) by ChaCha in an Amway-like structure. Experts who recruit other experts get a slice of their recruits' earnings.") Humans ChaCha Into Search Dance.

Where shall the ranting begin? Given the people I see in the library every day who need my help, I do wonder how "knowledgeable" these guides will be. And then there's always the low money being paid, showing the lack of respect being given to search professionals; but of course, it's not professionals being trained to do this, right? < sarcasm font>It's not like you need a degree to do a good search.< /sarcasm font> And finally, hey you public libraries... here's a business filling a perceived need. What have you done, or not done, that people think they need to go to ChaCha instead of contacting the library?


Boys And Reading

Boys and reading is a hot topic. Arthur Slade (author of Dust, one of my favorite books of all time) recently blogged about getting boys to read. It's a great round up of tips and links, including SIBYLs (songs inspired by literature) and using YouTube and podcasts.

Cross posted at Tea Cozy.