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.


Ocean County Library's Diversity Cookbook

As some readers may know, I work for Ocean County Library and every now and then I just have to share something they are doing. OCL has a Ocean County Library's Diversity Plan, and part of that plan is, of course, programming.

Which leads to two questions: Getting ideas for an awesome, successful program; and not reinventing the wheel. Personally, I'm a big one for not reinventing the wheel; so I'll go thru old calendars, take a look at other libraries Google things, and find ideas that I then tweak for my library. (Other times I get great inspiration for a program, like this one. But even with being knowledgeable about what other libraries do, there are still unanswered questions like "how long did that take" and "what was really involved" and the like.

OCL's answer? The Diversity Cookbook. No, not food (tho honestly, when I first heard about it, that's what I thought.) It's a cookbook of great, tried and true diversity programs. Find a recipe, such as this one about Potato Chips. But here is where OCL adds that something extra; anyone can add a add a programming recipe. It's not limited to OCL staff or to OCL programs. Which means you (yes, you) can go now and add a program. The Diversity Cookbook is a great resource not because of OCL programs, but because it can be a place for all library programs; it's a resource whether you are looking to find a program or looking to share a program.

Just a few quick explanations; going with the "cookbook" theme, the "add a recipe" section is a form that asks for "ingredients" (what you need to make the program happen), directions, etc. And yes, there is a place for your name and your library.

If you want to see the Diversity Cookbook in action, and learn more about how it came into being, OCL will be presenting it at ALA in DC on Saturday at 10:30. It's called Connecting People, Building Bridges: Diversity Knowledge Database (under ALA/ Diversity.) (Right now, it's in the PDF at page 59).

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Poetry Friday: Interview With Alma Fullerton: What If's Are A Writer's Best Friend

Welcome to Pop Goes The Library's interview with Alma Fullerton. Fullerton writes for teens; In the Garage was published in 2006, and Walking On Glass in 2007. Fullerton lives in Canada, blogs, has a MySpace, and agreed to an interview. Fullerton knows what it's like to sit in the interviewer chair, and has several great author interviews at her website.

Liz B: Your books, In The Garage and Walking On Glass, were "born" close together -- practically twins, with one being published late 2006 and one 2007. Which was written first? Could you share a bit of the time frame involved with both of these books, from writing to an agent to publication?

Alma: I started writing Walking on Glass in about 2002. It went through several sets of revisions before I sent it out. I queried one publisher in June 2003, but then heard my acquiring editor at HarperCollins was looking for that type of book at the end of Nov. Not yet hearing back from the other publisher, I e-queried him. He responded within seconds for me to send it.

It was sent snail mail and only 1/2 of it got there so I had to resend it. By this time it was mid - Dec. 2003 . Soon after I heard back from the other editor that she also wanted the full. By the end Jan.2004 I had both houses take it to acquisitions.

At this time I approached an agent, who I was already acquainted with. She loved the book and took me on. My editor at HarperCollins called in Feb. 2004 with an offer. We pulled it from the other publisher.

In June my acquiring editor left and I got an new one. (I really liked her too so all was well). I didn't get a contract until late Sept. 2004.

By this time I was writing In the Garage. That book went to the publisher at RedDeer in October 2005. Within three day he got back to my agent saying he wanted it. I signed a contract in March 2006. The book went through one set of revisions in May and copy edits in July and came out in Nov. 2006.

Walking on Glass didn't come out until Jan. 2007 - almost three years after the contract was signed, so my publishing time line went from extremely slow to extremely fast. Someday I'd like to be able to get a book published in the average time of around 18 months.

Liz B: Both books are about teens facing traumatic events. In The Garage is about BJ and Alex's friendship and betrayals; and Walking On Glass, a act of despair by the narrator's mother. The teenagers in both are dealing with some pretty dark things. What inspired these stories? What attracted you to them?

Alma: Both books were inspired by real life events. I had a friend who committed suicide because he knew his family would never accept the fact that he was gay. Alex is loosely based on him, although I added a few 'what ifs' and changed what happens in the end. In the Garage started out as Alex's story but BJ just wouldn't shut up so I added her in. It became both of their stories and a much richer book because of it.

Walking on Glass was also inspired by real life. My husband had a friend whose husband committed suicide and I always wondered about their son and where it left him. I added a few what ifs to that story. What if the mother didn't die. What if the family knew she never wanted to end up on life support. Things like that.

'What ifs' are a writer's best friend.

Liz B: Poetry is important in both books. In In The Garage, Alex's part is told in verse; and Walking On Glass is told entirely in poetry. Was it always your intent to use verse to tell these stories, or did that happen further on in the creative process?

Alma: I don't think it was my intention, no. Walking on Glass just came out that way. I couldn't get a voice when I tried writing it in prose, it was just flat. I went for a long walk with my dog and the first poem popped into my head and then the second and so on. That's when I knew it had to be verse.

In the Garage started out all in verse but BJ's and Alex's voices came out too similar and the book didn't have any dips of happy and sad that it needed. It wasn't until I changed BJ's voice to prose that I got those little bits of sarcastic humor and a new voice.

Liz B: What are you working on now?

Alma: Right now I'm working on a young adult novel which I won an Ontario grant for titled Canary in a Coalmine, and a couple of chapter book series aimed towards boys and girls age 7-11.

Liz B: Since this will also be posted over at Pop Goes the Library, I'm going to include my standard Pop question: What is your Pop Culture area of expertise?

Alma: My area of expertise would probably have to be music or literature. I love both, and combine them constantly using different musicians - or types of music to write different books to.

Liz B: Thank you!

Cross Posted at Tea Cozy (a Poetry Friday post)

Jen Robinson's Book Page reviews In the Garage
Bildungsroman (Little Willow) reviews In the Garage

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I'm Sorry, OPAC

I came to the stunning realization that I may not hate the OPAC after all.

I read Peter's post at Library Garden about the OPAC, and saw my response was more about the content of the OPAC, not the OPAC itself. And then I saw this OPAC Survey that asked questions about what your OPAC has and doesn't have, what you would want in an OPAC and not want.

And I realized... I may not hate the OPAC after all. That my issues are with the content of the records in the OPAC.

It's like this: imagine if I kept saying "I hate TV" and was thinking about game shows or other programs, and all the "I hate TV" posts were about high definition TV, better clickers, TiVo, and new ways to adjust the volume so that the background music isn't louder than the dialogue.

In other words -- all the solutions were about the actual television set. When what I'd really been saying is "these shows that are on TV, they aren't good, they could be better." And the question is more about the quality of the TV shows being shown. A new clicker doesn't change that the TV shows are the same old, same old.

So that's what I want: not a better techie OPAC (tho dude, that would be cool!) but better content in existing OPACs.

Better cataloging; more terms being used that are user friendly; more information about items (how sad is a book whose record is solely "women--fiction"). I realized that the OPACs I like are the ones that via tagging and comments allow users (staff and patrons) to work around existing cataloging. Seriously, why should we wait for users to tag entries "manga" instead of "graphic novels -- Japanese"?

And I'm not saying getting rid of Dewey or LOC; in part because I think a core group of defined words and subjects is important. If anything, I'm saying we should have more catalogers, and catalogers who know how patrons think. But these can be used better than they are being used now; and can be combined with more customer-friendly tags and full descriptions of text. The content of the record should be such that when an average user puts in a search, they find what they are looking for because the item has been catalogued (and tagged etc.). In other words, they find what they want because the content is there to be found.



A Great Idea

Book Club in a Bag

I had never seen this before (probably many of you have), but it was first brought to my attention by science fiction writer and all-around great guy, Robert Sawyer. The Kitchener Public Library has started offering book clubs in a bag, where you get a set of ten copies of the same book, plus a book-club discussion guide and everything checks out as one item.

When I read Robert's post, I thought that's a great idea! Then, when I finally got a library card at my local library, guess what they have? Yep! DIBs or Discussions In Boxes. From their website:
A selection of challenging and entertaining discussion books plus a binder full of reviews and information about the authors is available for a checkout period of 6 weeks.
And here's a PDF explaining the service at Bettendorf.

How cool is that? Is this something your library could do?

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Welcome, Margo Rabb!

Step right up to the latest stop in the Margo Rabb blog tour. Margo is the author of Cures for Heartbreak; you can find out more about Margo and her writing at her website, and at her MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/margorabb

The drawbacks of a blog tour: I cannot offer you a chair, or tea, or cookies.

On the positive, you can pick your own comfy chair, have the tea and cookies of your own choice (or not,) and read this in your PJs and smile happily as you think about the traffic you avoided by going to the blog tour.

And now, with drumroll, I give you: Margo Rabb!

Liz B: "Don't judge a book by it's cover" is one of those lies people tell. Covers do matter; and "Cures for Heartbreak" has a fabulous cover. How excited were you when you saw it? Did you have any input into the creative process or the selection? I know I've spent way too much time looking at all the images to figure out how they fit into the story.

Margo: Actually, the current cover isn’t the original one—neither my agent nor I felt the first cover design was right for the book. My editor came up with the idea for the current cover, and when I saw it I absolutely loved it. I’ve heard that lot of authors don’t get any say in their covers—I was lucky.

Liz B: Parts of Cures for Heartbreak appeared as short stories in various magazines. And your Afterword to the book said that this book was several years in the making. I'm curious; did the short stories come first, and then the book? What was the writing process that led to both the book and the stories?

Margo: The stories came first, though I revised them all heavily over many years so that they’d fit together as a novel. Five chapters were written within the space of a few years, from 1996-1999. I revised them and then I put the draft of the book aside for a number of years (I talk about why on my website here: http://www.margorabb.com/about_cures.html ) I also wrote a number of other stories featuring Mia, Alex and their father, which I decided weren’t very good and so I threw them out. I wrote The Healthy Heart and the Cures for Heartbreak chapters last.

Liz B: Cures for Heartbreak is based on your own personal story; but it's a work of fiction, not a memoir. What led you to tell your story as a work of fiction?

Margo: There’s a Tuscan proverb I have pinned above my desk: “A tale is not beautiful if nothing is added to it.” Writing nonfiction doesn’t usually give me anywhere near as much pleasure as writing fiction, because it’s the creative process of writing fiction that’s magical for me--imagining people, places, and conversations, letting the story take over with its revelations and surprises--which makes writing really enjoyable. Also, I feel like I can be more truthful in fiction—to get at the real heart and meaning of an experience is easier when I don’t have to stick to the facts.

Liz B: I totally didn't know you were also M.E. Rabb, author of YA mysteries (the "missing persons" series.) I love that series! What led you to decide to publish under different names?

Margo: I wrote the Missing Persons series during the break that I took from Cures for Heartbreak, in 2001-2004. Those books sold on proposal—just a sample chapter and synopsis of the series. Since they were sold unwritten, and since they were going to be more commercial books, I wanted to separate them from Cures, which is more literary (and which, at the time, I hoped I would soon finish.) I’d planned to use a pseudonym, but my editor wanted me to use my own name so that my previous story publications could be used in the publicity materials. So using the initials was a compromise. I had to write the Missing Persons series under really tight deadlines—I was only given three months to write the first draft of each book—which was extremely difficult for me, since Cures for Heartbreak went through about a thousand drafts. (And I honestly think that’s an accurate estimate!)

Liz B: And since this is also going to be posted at Pop Goes the Library (the library blog where I contribute posts) I have to ask: what is your pop culture area of expertise? (Mine, for the record, is Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Margo: Gilmore Girls! I’ve been a huge fan of Gilmore Girls since its first season—in fact I have a secret fantasy (well, not so secret anymore) of living in Stars Hollow and hanging out at Luke’s diner every day. My husband of course reminds me that Stars Hollow is located in a lot at the CW network in Burbank, California. Still…I keep dreaming.

Liz B: Thank you so much! And I would move to Stars Hollow in a New York Minute (Sunnydale...not so much. I'd live longer hanging out at Luke's diner than I would at the Bronze.)

Cross Posted at Tea Cozy.

The other stops in Margo Rabb's blog tour:

3/20: Lizzie Skurnick at theoldhag
3/21: Jen Robinson at Jen’s book page
3/22: Betsy Bird at Fuse #8
3/23: Kelly Herold at Big A Little A
3/26: Liz Burns at A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy
3/27: Jackie Parker at Interactive Reader
3/28: Little Willow at bildungsroman
3/29: Leila Roy at Bookshelves of Doom
3/30: Mindy at propernoun

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5 Non Library Blogs I Read. Plus Books.

I'm very excited to see Janie Hermann from Library Garden tag me with the latest library-blog meme. First, because hey, we Jersey Girls have to stick together! And second, because I'd noticed the meme going around and had been thinking about doing it anyway, but wanted to do it with a twist. And Janie also did it with a twist! Yay, Garden State.

So technically, the meme is "5 non-library blogs that we read," in part a reaction to that American Libraries story. So it's like cool, Liz, put your money where your mouth is!

So, here's the thing. I'm going to give you 10 blogs, 5 non-library AND non-book, and 5 book blogs. Because between the AL story, and the meme responses not containing many lit blogs, I feel like pimping books. Because libraries may be about outreach, and Web 2.0, and customer service...but the books are still important!

My 5 non-library blogs:

TV Squad. Excellent TV news, including recaps. (Not as snarky or as long as Television Without Pity, which isn't technically a blog, so I'm sneaking it in this way.)

Gawker. Gossip. (It was a tough call between this and Defamer...oops, I snuck in an extra blog? My bad.)

Whedonesque. A Blog about Joss Whedon; and anyone ever connected to the Whedonverse. A minor character starring in a new TV series? Find it out here!

Go Fug Yourself. It is possible to be too thin, and too rich.

Here And There Japan. The author lives and blogs from Japan; it's full of photos and facts about everyday life, geared towards children. Ever since I stumbled across this, I've been fascinated. I cannot wait to be able to travel to Japan.

My 5 book blogs:

GalleyCat. A blog about books and publishing.

Blog of a Bookslut. Jessa Crispin's blog, dedicated to those who love to read; news, reviews, commentary, insight.

Snark Spot. Jennifer Weiner's blog. I enjoy both her "slice of life" episodes and her spirited defense of "chick lit".

A Fuse #8 Production. I wanted to include one and only one kidlit blog; and I'm going with Fuse. She covers so many areas of the kidlitosphere, that if you just go there you'll find the rest of the 'verse quick enough. Plus, librarian! Woo hoo!

Brotherhood 2.0. The world must watch this engaging videoblog by John Green and his brother. Yes, it's that good.

I tag: on my library side, the Rock & Roll Librarian, Dog Ear, Purled Pouches and 2nd Gen Librarian.

On the kidlitosphere side, let's change the Non to "5 Non KidLit Blogs I Read" and tag MotherReader, Big A little a, Chicken Spaghetti, Book Buds and Scholar's Blog. And anyone else who wants to play!

Cross posted at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy.


Good Press for YA Lit

We here at Pop have complained about the "all YA books suck" newspaper stories.

So it's only fair we say, Way to Go Seattle! Cecelia Goodnow of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer had not one, not two, not three, but FOUR articles about teens and books, and not a nary "YA books suck" article amongst them.

For your reading pleasure:

Teens buying books at fastest rate in decades (interviews actual authorities in the field)

If you're looking for tasty teen titles to satisfy, check out this menu (which highlights YALSA's Best Books list)

Is young-adult fare too mature for some of its readers? (respectfully points out that YA may be ages 12 to 18, but not all books are for all readers)

and Top Trends in Teen Literature

And just when I thought it couldn't get any better --

Entertainment Weekly highlights the YALSA Alex Awards in an online column, Kids Corner.

What great coverage!

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What's In Your Future?

If you live on the East Coast, your library cannot miss this conference: The Mid-Atlantic Library Futures Conference: Imagination to Transformation. It is May 7 and 8 in Atlantic City, NJ; full details are here. Also, check out the Conference Blog, which has even more information.

In a nutshell, this forward-thinking conference is looking beyond the "library world." To quote their blog, "We decided to seek out visionaries from all walks of life and bring them together with a small group of colleagues from our field to begin a discussion that will impact libraries well into the next decade. We imagined a morphing of information, inspiration, and imagination that will transform the way we look at our future. With such lofty aspirations, we recognized we also need to build a solid foundation that will serve as a concrete plan with which to move forward."

This conference also has multiple groups and states working together; it is sponsored by Delaware Division of Libraries, New Jersey State Library, PALINET, Pennsylvania Department of Education, Office of Commonwealth Libraries, Maryland State Department of Education, Division of Library Development and Services, and West Virginia Library Commission.

As a note to those of you from out of state: Atlantic City has a great airport.

Sadly, I will be unable to go (even tho I really, really, really, really want to) because of other commitments. Please, let us know if you'll be able to attend and please report back!

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If It's Spring Then It Must Be March Madness

Ah, Spring. How do I tell that thou are near? Is it thy birds singing in the trees? Or perhaps thy new buds that are making me sneeze? Oh, vernal equinox that marks the earth’s tilt toward the sun’s fiery ball you are sweet, but not as sweet as the tilt of the ball in the basket of the sixty-four to the sweet sixteen.

Tomorrow it begins. March Madness. The first round of the Men’s College Basketball NCAA Tournament where 64 teams play for the chance to be one of the Final Four in Atlanta. Why do I love this tournament? Because anything can happen. A school that is an underdog can take down a school that is a Goliath. It is bound to happen. Who will it be this year? And I don’t have to miss it because my library is showing the first round of the tourney on the big screen in our TeenZone.


American Idol Resources

As an update to my previous AI post, I stopped watching until they whittled the competition down to the Top 24, and am now watching Wednesday night shows, which means I'm missing the guys (though apparently I'm not missing much, according to Randy & Simon). To fill in the blanks, I've discovered the following nifty tools, which you may also find useful, especially if you don't watch the show but want to stay informed about all the goings-on:

  • Idolatry, a weekly webcast with Entertainment Weekly's AI obsessives;
  • The Whole Note's summary of the show's Final 12;
  • Of course, Television Without Pity's recaps.

Happy viewing. Or, you know, not.

And, a public retraction: in my previous post, I rooted for Alaina, but I must have jinxed her because she absolutely stank like several tons of very cute garbage after that accolade. I was relieved when America did not vote for her, and have subsequently thrown my support (like everyone else) behind Melinda. She had me at "My Funny Valentine".


Happy Birthday, Buffy!

Okay, this tidbit, more than anything else I've heard or seen recently, makes me feel a teensy bit old: Buffy The Vampire Slayer (TV iteration) is 10 years old today. TEN. Thanks to PopWatch for pointing it out, and big, big thanks to this excellent article in Flak for laying out Buffy's legacy so well. Buffy is a major cultural touchstone for so many of us in teen librarianship, and not just because of geeky hunk Giles. For me, it's that Buffy was deeply invested in strong girls coming of age, and as a strong girl who was coming of age while it was on the air, I was deeply invested in it. Even though the show had run its course by the time it went off the air, I was really sad to see it go, and it's a great comfort to me to see how many production & writing alumni of Buffy have graduated to many of my current favorite shows: Battlestar Galactica, 24, The O.C. (of blessed memory), Gilmore Girls and Grey's Anatomy. Share your favorite Buffyverse moments, quotes, and reminiscences in the comments!

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More Than A Feeling: RIP, Brad Delp

Boston lead singer Brad Delp has died unexpectedly at age 55. Boston is one of those bands whose sound was ubiquitous during my teen years thanks to classic rock radio stations (they're still mainstays of the one classic rock station left in Philly, actually), and no less a rock god than Kurt Cobain saw fit to rip off the churning riff of "More Than A Feeling" for "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Still, I'm sad to say I never knew Delp's name -- or indeed the names of any member of Boston -- until today. Although I heard them everywhere, all the time, they were not the kind of band that inspired slavish fandom in me, and yet, I know every word to their big singles.

I'm sure there are legions of Boston fans who are really & truly gutted by this news (don't get me wrong, I'm saddened, but not to the degree that tears are welling up), and they are the ones we should cater to. Haul out your Boston CDs and display them with his obituary. While you're at it, why not put together a display of CDs by other critically reviled, sometimes geographically named 70s bands of Boston's ilk? Here's a list to get you started:
  • Asia
  • Europe
  • Journey
  • Foreigner (okay, now I have "I Want To Know What Love Is" stuck in my head. Gah!)
  • Toto
  • Styx
  • Free
  • Yes
  • Rush (a shout-out to my friends Carlie & Patrick, who don't know each other but who are huge Rush fans, for which I mock them without a shred of pity, but they know I love them, right? And hey, if Stephen Malkmus gives Geddy Lee some love, I guess they can't be all totally unlistenable dreck, she said super-graciously)

I'm sure I'm forgetting some. Commenters, fill in the blanks!

Meanwhile, here's Boston's All Music profile.

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Wine and the Library

Even if you're not much of a drinker, you've probably heard the name Gallo, as in Ernest and Julio Gallo, founders of the largest winemaking company in the world. Ernest Gallo, passed away at the age of 97 earlier this week.

SO why mention this here? Well, this quote is the kicker:
Using $5,900 they borrowed and a recipe from the Modesto Public Library, Ernest and Julio rented a ramshackle building, and everybody in the family pitched in to make ordinary wine for 50 cents a gallon -- half the going price. The Gallos made $30,000 the first year.
These two brothers knew nothing about making wine, but used resources available at their local library to start what would become the largest winery in the country. If not for the library, where would these gentlemen have gotten their inspiration?

What will your patrons find this week at your library? Do you have any potential Gallos among your patrons?

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