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.


Dear Diary...

One of my extracurricular activities is performing in and now helping to cast the Boston branch of Mortified. This stage show was developed in Los Angeles a few years ago by David Nadelberg and has expanded to include branches in Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, with Portland, OR, Austin, and Washington, DC chapters launching soon. It has been featured in several newspapers and magazines, both the radio and television versions of "This American Life," and, um, an episode of the Hallmark Channel’s morning show, New Morning, which featured me and my “dual identity” as a “mild-mannered librarian by day” [?!] and...someone who reads her diary on stage at a club by night.

The show is, to quote the website, “a comic excavation of adolescent artifacts (journals, letters, poems, lyrics, home movies, stories and more) as shared by their original authors before total strangers.” It’s not held as an open mike; participants attend extremely informal casting sessions at which they present their best/worst childhood and adolescent journals, letters, school assignments, poems, etc. for the producer and casting associates. What follows is a frank, hilarious, occasionally agonizing but always entertaining discussion about who this person was, what they wanted to be, and how it relates to the person are now. One of the staff works with the performer to craft a good story using the original material. Nothing is added to these raw materials; the final product is 100% comprised of the author’s childhood/teenaged musings. Check out the site for some examples of how this comes together, and hey, why not submit your own stuff? You don’t even need to live near one of the cities with a show; there’s a “Woe & Tell” section in which you may post your own shameful writings, under your own name or anonymously.

There are several possibilities for library programming using the idea of people’s “raw materials” as well as the idea of lifelong journaling and letter-writing. Mortified is trademarked, so don’t go stealing their thunder, but here are two of my related ideas:

* My Favorites: A History: This is something the staff could do as a display on their own or you could invite patrons to submit their own histories. What were your favorite books/recordings/magazines/movies when you were nine? Thirteen? Twenty-five? Forty? Maybe you were a big fan of NKOTB in 1989, but for some reason you also couldn’t get enough of your father’s Frankie Valli records! What was that all about? [This is a real question for my sister—Emily, answer at your leisure!] Maybe you sneaked Judy Blume’s Wifey out of your parent’s bookcase and instantly began suspecting that every married couple you knew were having torrid affairs with their friends and neighbors! [Ahem.] Maybe you read Michael Korda’s Another Life: A Memoir of Other People when you started your first publishing job and just knew you’d have a similarly successful and rewarding career, guiding writers through their paces and unleashing wildly important and entertaining literature upon the world. [Ahem.] Not only is this just plain funny, it’s a good way to introduce under-circulated books back into the public eye. There might be more than one people who also loved Misty of Chincotegue when they were nine and would love to re-find and re-read it and perhaps recommend it to some young horse fiends. [Horse fiends are timeless, right?]

* Not-So-Secret-Diaries: There are many, many books, fiction and non-fiction alike, that are written in the form of a diary or letters. I still remember reading Beverly Cleary’s Dear Mr. Henshaw for the first time and being flabbergasted and thrilled that someone could write a book in the form of letters! Why not put together a display of these types of books? You could even organize them in ascending order of the main character’s age to give the entire life span its due. Here are just some of the books written in the form of a diary or letters; please add your own in the comments!


Dear Diary – Lesley Arfin

Reach for the Sun: Selected Letters, 1978-1994 – Charles Bukowski (and many more volumes!)

The Basketball Diaries and its sequel Forced Entries – Jim Carroll

urnals – Kurt Cobain

My New York Diary – Julie Doucet (graphic, as in illustrated, but also as in "Wow, that is VERY graphic!”)

The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

Diary of LaToya Hunter: My First Year of Junior High – LaToya Hunter

The Diary of Anais Nin – Anais Nin (six volumes!)

Persepolis and Persepolis 2 – Marjane Satrapi (graphic! with sequels!)

Blankets – Craig Thompson (graphic)

The Andy Warhol Diaries – Andy Warhol


Griffin & Sabine – Nick Bantock (graphic! with sequels!)

Cruddy – Lynda Barry (graphic! both kinds!)

Dear Dumb Diary – Jim Benton

The Princess Diaries – Meg Cabot (and sequels!)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

Ella Minnow Pea – Mark Dunn

Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

Diary of a Teenage Girl – Phoebe Gloeckner (graphic! both kinds!)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Jeff Kinney (graphic)

The Last Days of Summer – Steve Kluger

Amelia’s Notebook – Marissa Moss (and sequels!)

Youth in Revolt: The Journals of Nick Twisp – C.D. Payne (and sequels!)

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging – Louise Rennison (and sequels!)

I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith

Love, Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli

The Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 ¾ -- Sue Townsend (and sequels!)

The Color Purple – Alice Walker


Hi, I'm New Here

Hi! I’m Karen Corday and I can’t quite believe I’m here. I’ve been a huge fan of Pop Goes the Library since the day it began, and an enormous fan of Sophie’s since we met back in, oh, 1999 on the bust.com lounge. (Erm, “hellsbelle” here, for any fellow ex-Busties!) In 1999, I had just begun my short-lived career in publishing and was already dreaming of escaping to the library, which has been a common theme throughout my life. I went back to school on a part time basis in 2002. Over the next three years, I completed my MSLIS at Simmons College while working on various projects at Harvard’s Weisman Preservation Center, including the Women Working, 1800-1930 collection. This piqued my interest in online library collections as well as multidisciplinary and multi-format collection building and development, which is one of my very favorite uses of technology. [Well, besides VH1’s VSpot—gotta have those Rock of Love behind the scenes extras!] I graduated from Simmons in 2005 and almost immediately started working at the Sloan Work and Family Research Network of Boston College. Here, as the Information Services Specialist, I am responsible for aggregating and updating all of the site’s content, which, as you might have guessed, is focused on research in the area of work-family studies. We've also just begun a massive redesign effort, and I'm currently developing some usability studies with a co-worker. It’s challenging, as it’s a multidisciplinary, ever-changing, occasionally controversial field, but that’s what keeps me coming back every day.

I live in Somerville, MA with my husband, Brendan Murray, and our two cats, Joey and Dee Dee. [Named for the dead Ramones; Johnny was still alive when we got them!] My interests beyond Bret Michaels’s love life include old music, old movies, old books, old home and garden decor, old arts and crafts, and old clothes—like many of us, I was a big user and fan of the Long Tail before I even knew what it was. I’m also pretty obsessed with diaries and journals, found objects, found sound, thrift stores, flea markets, and so forth. I’m really happy to be here and look forward to having to write down and discuss my thoughts on libraries and/or pop culture rather than just blathering on to anyone who will listen!


It's Been a While, Let's Talk Science Fiction

Got any science fiction books in your collection? Got any patrons who like science fiction? Ever heard of the Hugo awards?

From this point on, I'm assuming you've answered yes to the above questions. This time of year always gets me thinking about science fiction (ok, I'm thinking about nearly ever day) and particularly the Hugo Awards. The awards are presented at the World Science Fiction convention (AKA Worldcon) and are voted on by the people are attending the convention as well as the people who attended the previous year's convention.

Every year, the Worldcon is held in a different city. Last year it was in Los Angeles, the year before in Glasgow, the year before that in Boston, and so on. (you can go here if you want to see a list of bids for upcoming locations; they also decide future locations of the Worldcon at the current Worldcon) Follow me so far?

I try to go every year if I can, however this year I am not attending. That's because starting tomorrow (actually, perhaps right now) this year's Worldcon is in Yokohama, Japan. It's the first time the Worldcon has ever been in Japan. It was a little outside my budget for this year; next year is in Denver so I should be there.

In a few days, we will know the winner's of the Hugo awards. While no writer I know would turn down any award, the thing that makes the Hugo special for the recipient is that the Hugo is voted on by fans (sure, some of the voters are professional writers, artists, and editors, but a lot of the people who go to the convention are just fans of the genre) so it represents what the people like.

I'm going to replicate a few parts of this year's nominees. What a nice instant display for your science fiction fans!

Best Novel
  • Eifelheim by Michael Flynn (Tor)
  • His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
  • Glasshouse by Charles Stross (Ace)
  • Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge (Tor)
  • Blindsight by Peter Watts (Tor)
Best Related Book
  • About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, and Five Interviews by Samuel R Delany (Wesleyan University Press)
  • Heinlein's Children: The Juveniles by Joseph T Major (Advent: Publishing)
  • James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B Sheldon by Julie Phillips (St. Martin's)
  • Cover Story: The Art of John Picacio by John Picacio (MonkeyBrain Books)
  • Worldcon Guest of Honor Speeches by Mike Resnick and Joe Siclari, eds. (ISFiC Press)
And for non-readers:

Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form
  • Children of Men
  • Pan's Labyrinth
  • The Prestige
  • A Scanner Darkly
  • V for Vendetta
Best Dramatic Presentation - Short Form
  • "Battlestar Galactica" Downloaded
  • "Doctor Who" Army of Ghosts and Doomsday
  • "Doctor Who" Girl in the Fireplace
  • "Doctor Who" School Reunion
  • "Stargate SG-1" 200
It may be that your science fiction patrons will know the winners before you do (but not before I do) but that's ok. Make your display anyway. Perhaps someone won't mind reading an award-winning novel even if it is science fiction. I mean, a lot of people read award-winning novels that they don't know are science fiction, right?

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Under the Radar Recommendations

A bit of blatant self promotion:

Over at my book/movie/TV blog, A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy, I'm participating in a multiblog extravaganza: Under the Radar Recommendations, in which a number of us lit bloggers write about old and new books and authors who have fallen "under the radar" and who we think deserve attention. It was organized by Colleen Mondor of Chasing Ray.

So if you're looking for a book to read, check it out.

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We all use Numb3rs every day

This morning on YALSA-BK, a member asked the collective brain for help in finding YA fiction involving math. Since I've been planning a Numb3rs post for a while anyway, I thought this would be the perfect time to write it.

When forced to balance my checkbook or calculate how much that purse is when it's marked "33% off," you can find me quoting Melissa: "I became a librarian because I was told there was no math." And day to day, most of that's true, at least as far as my job is concerned. The Dewey Decimal Classification system is about labels, not sums. Most of the math I use goes into figuring which books have the best chance at the Printz based on their number of starred reviews and the number of starred reviews past winners and honor books have received. I may not be good with numbers but I do love police procedural television dramas (much of the father-daughter bonding at my parents' home involved episodes of Law & Order) and the promise of a smart, interesting police procedural led by a talented cast hooked me. On Friday nights at 10, you can now find me watching
Numb3rs on CBS.

The show's main characters are Don Eppes
(Rob Morrow), an FBI agent, and his younger brother Charlie (David Krumholtz), a mathematician. They often work together to solve crimes. The best thing about the show, plot and writing wise, is the writers' ability to distill incredibly complex math into terms people like me who can barely add and subtract can understand. And to keep those of us that can't add or subtract watching the show, there's a wonderful ongoing storyline about the brothers' relationship and how their incredibly dissimilar and often estranged past affects their work in the present. Other regular cast members include Diane Farr as Megan Reeves, an FBI profiler and behavioral specialist, Alimi Ballard as David Sinclair, an FBI agent, Navi Rawat as math professor Amita Ramanujan, Judd Hirsch as retired architect and city planner Alan Eppes and Peter MacNicol as physics professor Larry Fleinhardt, who is Charlie's mentor. Every week the team solves crimes, often with the assistance of Charlie's math but while they usually catch the bad guy, math can't always account for human nature. Three seasons in, viewers have seen the team solve crimes using combinatorics, sabremetrics, probability, game theory, and many other higher math disciplines.

We All Use Math Every Day is a Numb3rs spinoff project of Texas Instruments and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. For every episode of Numb3rs, they devise a math lesson plan. As an example, the episode "Money for Nothing" involves the hijacking of a truck carrying 50 million dollars in medical supplies and relief. Don's team is able to apprehend two of the hijackers, but they don't know anything about the people who were transporting the supplies or the location of the truck. Don also doesn't know if the robbers will tell him the truth about what happened. Charlie advises Don to employ strategies that people use to solve logic puzzles. Teachers can download the Money for Nothing activities (available in English and Spanish) and apply the techniques Charlie talks about to different logic puzzles.

Some of the books people are recommending on YALSA-BK that fit with the math theme include:

Currently, seasons one and two of Numb3rs are available on DVD and season 3 is due for DVD release on September 25th. The fourth season begins September 28th. If you have patrons who love shows like NCIS, CSI, or Without A Trace, recommend this series. The evidence shows a 95% probability they'll enjoy it.

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Next Big Thing: Kate Nash

Once again, my husband calls it: Kate Nash is The Next Big Thing among fans of musicians like Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse, and The Pipettes. How does Marcus know these things? Because he is always following Michael Stephens' third trend/rule: Scan The Horizon. He listens to the BBC's digital radio station, 6 Music, and finds great stuff. In the last year alone, he's introduced me to the four artists previously mentioned, plus Peter Bjorn & John, The Fratellis, Kaiser Chiefs, Mark Ronson, and Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip. Whew! I have then gone on to order music by most of these artists for my library system, where they are -- surprise! -- quite popular. These are artists who get very, very little airplay on American radio stations, and yet their CDs are circulating like mad. How do you Scan The Horizon? I have Marcus Slade (that'd be my husband. Call for rates if you desire his consulting services.), WXPN, NME, Pitchfork, and the surprisingly forward-thinking musical guest choices on shows like Conan & Jimmy Kimmel.

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Kid Nation: Will It Ever Air?

Kid Nation has fascinated me from the start; will it be all Lord of the Flies? Or a kinder version of The Girl Who Owned a City, with everything perfect because kids are perfect? (I say that last bit with a "no I don't believe that kids are inherently perfect and wonderful" look on my face, having spent a week with my much loved, but extremely real, niece and nephew.)

I also wondered at the parents -- and the more I read about the contracts that adults signed on behalf of minors, the more I think that the parents should be investigated, as well as CBS.

Seriously, these parents waived any rights on behalf of their children not just for the standard injury, dismemberment, and hurt feelings but also for STDs and pregnancy (link to New York Times article.). I'm so not kidding. Plus, agreed to not have any contact with their children for the 40 days of filming. Anything to be on TV, right?

Newsweek speaks to the culture of "anything to be famous" . While I dislike kids being exploited (and feel that is the source of two thirds of Britney Spears' current problems), I disagree with their point that the responsibility for these children and these shows is not just with CBS / the entertainment issue and "not just the parents whose kids are on the show, but all parents who fuel an industry that has no respect for what it means to be a kid." (emphasis added). When I watch a show that uses children, whether movie or TV series, I watch with the assumption that the laws are being followed and the kids are not being mistreated.

Kids have been acting, since, well, forever. And some parents are responsible about it, and some not so much.

I watch reality TV; the good (The Amazing Race) and the I - can't - believe - I'm - admitting - it (Flavor of Love); the "we are adults so we are turning the genre around" (the Two Coreys.)

It's not unusual to have grown up participants of reality shows cry foul and "it's not me, it's how I'm edited" (along with other accusations of plotted stories, deceptive editing, spoon fed dialogue, and on set psychologists who feed information to producers at the expense of the participants). I tell myself: these people are grown ups. Their choice. They knew what they were getting themselves into; and sometimes, even turn the tables on the show.

These kids... not so much. Seriously, can a kid truly comprehend that they are about to live the rest of their life with the label "bully," with footage of them shown over and over forever? I have this image of a 10 year old kid, forever marked as "the crier" or "the whiner" because, hello, it's reality TV by a network who wants ratings.

They want conflict; and the conflict will come from the kids. And now this kid -- when they are old enough to realize what they were involved in -- has to live with the consequences. With no recourse. Because of the waiver. At least child actors who play unpopular people can say, "acting!" These kids? "It's how they really are!" Or, at least, as a network interested only in ratings defines "real."

As more and more information comes to light about the filming of this show (kids working for 40 days, on call 24/7, for, um, free) I wonder: will this spell the end of cheap reality shows?

It's one thing for adults to say, hey, I know what I'm getting into, it's not work, etc. To say, it's just cameras following me as I live my life (The Real World) or, like The Amazing Race or Survivor, I agreed to play a game and now it's being televised. Heck, there have been game shows just with kids before.

But this... this is something different.

Because, these kids aren't living their regular life; they have been put into a very scripted arena. It's similar to Frontier House, I guess; but still, it seems like there is a big difference between something involving parents and something where the kids are following what the production company says to do. For example, in Frontier House, one of the families basically let their kids off the hook in terms of working the homestead. The family didn't let the show dictate how they would parent or what their kids would, or would not, do.

Here, the parents were not involved. Instead, it was only kids, and kids whose parents said, bye bye for 40 days.

I wonder, what if the courts or powers that be rule that these children ARE working; how will that impact other reality shows?

And you know the worst part?

If this makes it to TV... I think I will watch.

I know.

I'll watch to see if my fears are founded... or unfounded. And I'll feel like taking a shower afterwards.



Happy Birthday, John Green

In which I am featured, ever so briefly, in the second of John Green's birthday videos. I'm the one in the turquoise t-shirt eating blenderized chocolate bread pudding. I got so, so sick after eating it, but it was well worth it.

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Survey Shutting Down on Sunday

Y'all. Y'all. Nearly 750 of you have started the survey, and nearly 350 of you have completed it. Thank you so, so much. We never anticipated such an incredible response, and are bowled over by how generous you have been with your time, your thoughtful responses, and your ideas. Again: thank you.

For those of you who have been putting off responding to the survey, or forgot about the survey, or have no idea what I'm talking about, first, read this entry. (Briefly, Liz & I are writing a book on pop culture & libraries. The survey is designed to find out what you're doing to leverage your pop culture collections at your library.) Then, if you are still interested in helping us out, please take the survey. It'll take you 15-30 minutes, tops, and will help us out immeasurably.

Like all good things, however, the survey is coming to a close. I'm shuttering the windows & rolling up the carpets on Sunday evening, around 5 PM EST. So speak -- er, type -- now, or forever hold your peace. At least until the book comes out.

Thank you, once more. We are in your collective debt, and we will do everything we can to ensure the book delivers on the promise of your contributions.

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Other Networks to HBO: Nyah, Nyah!

Although there are parts of this article about HBO's "shocking fall" from supremacy atop the heap of cable networks programming excellent, offbeat shows that make me roll my eyes so hard I fear I may injure them (the parts of the article do that, not the shows -- the shows rock my socks), overall, it's an interesting primer on how much the landscape of cable tv has changed since The Sopranos first bowed in 1999. Every major network -- and even some small ones -- have plunged headfirst into the bracing waters of creating original programming, and TV overall is better for it. Thanks to shows whose seasons start anytime, we no longer suffer through the doldroms of endless summer repeats. And thanks to networks willing to take a chance on offbeat or off-color program ideas, we have successes like Entourage and Rescue Me, neither of which would work as shows on the major non-cable networks (meaning, without the naughty words & the sex), and even interesting-sounding failures like John From Cincinnati. Of course, I am deprived of all of this cable-riffic goodness, because I don't have cable anymore. We got rid of cable nearly 2 years ago, when Nell was born, and it has definitely changed my pop culture consumption. But that's a whole other post!

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The Savvy IT Consumer: An Infopeople Course

Hi, all -- I'll be teaching this course for Infopeople, California's big continuing education cooperative for the library community. If the course description sounds like it's up your alley, I'd love to have you in the class!

Title: The Savvy IT Consumer (online learning course)

Date: September 25, 2007 - October 22, 2007

To register for this workshop: Use the online registration form at

Fee: $75 for those in the California library
community and $150 for those out-of-state.

Description: It's 11 AM, and a frustrated five-year-old asks you to reboot game computer number three for the eighth time today. Every Internet-equipped terminal, including those for staff, is moving at a snail's pace and you don't know why. You've just received a heartrending email plea for assistance from a very nice-sounding gentleman in Nigeria and are unsure how to respond. You don't know the difference between RAM and hard drive space, but your manager expects you to keep an eye on available memory on all of the publi computers. You wish you could get help, but you don't know where to look, and the thought of calling your software and hardware vendors induces a panic attack.

Welcome to being an IT person by default! This is a beginner-level course for library staff working as Jacks & Jills of all trades.

Workshop Description: This four-week online learning course will provide you with the basic technological know-how to understand and use computer jargon, free your library's computers from malicious software, fend off phishing attacks, and develop and maintain good
relationships with vendors. The instructor will provide a comprehensive webliography,
foundational readings, and exercises designed to assess and hone your ability to handle a variety of computer issues.

During the course, you will be doing exercises, taking quizzes, and building your own IT caretaker's toolkit. You will also participate in convivial online discussion forums as part of the online learning process.

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Mad Men

Psst! Tired of watching cartoon characters and reality TV shows that would make Margaret Mead cringe? Want to watch a drama that is well-written and delivered by wonderful actors who have starred on television, film, Broadway, and even Off-Broadway? Then may I suggest my new favorite pop culture television show “Mad Men” on AMC? Check out the trailer.

Written and produced by Matthew Weiner, who previously wrote and produced for “The Sopranos”, “Mad Men” is set in 1960 in NYC at a Madison Avenue advertising agency called Sterling Cooper. It is the hey-day of the advertising man in the fedora and the grey flannel suit chasing the big business account with such accoutrements as the three martini lunch, an apartment in the city, a wife and children at home in Connecticut, a secretary to chase around the desk in the office, an artsy mistress in Greenwich Village, and a closet for coats and various other things. But this show is so much more, and works on so many levels both subtle and deceptive. Back in 1960 all the cool kids, and cool kid wanna-be’s, wanted to work in the advertising business and create pop culture (today they still do).

When watching the show I noticed how: 1) No one wears a seatbelt in the car, 2) Everyone smokes--in the office, at home, and even while pregnant, 3) Everyone drinks--in the office, at home, and even while pregnant, 4) Sometimes they do all of these things at the same time. Today we know that many of these behaviors are unhealthy. We have the studies to prove it. In 1960 the studies were just coming out that these behaviors were unhealthy. But the truth doesn’t always make good advertising copy, now does it?

Anyone else a fan? Just don’t call me on Thursday nights between 10P –11P when I will be watching “Mad Men.” Shhh!


Thank You, School Library Journal!

And welcome, SLJ readers!

So, there's this really nice article about PGTL: The Book on School Library Journal's website today. Needless to say, Liz & I are beside ourselves with delight. In the immortal words of our patron saint, Flavor Flav, "yeeeeah, boyyy!"

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Vote for One Book BCCLS (even if you don't patronize a BCCLS library)

When the Bergen County Cooperative Library System (BCCLS) started providing downloadable audiobooks in 2006, they established the One Book BCCLS program. One Book BCCLS is a chance for readers (whether or not they live in one of the 73 towns with a BCCLS member library) to vote on a book and attend online chats. Anyone can vote, and anyone can attend the chat, which will occur this year on Thursday, November 8th at 7 p.m. (Last year, the One Book BCCLS title was Pride and Prejudice, and we had online chat attendees from out of state who were members of the Jane Austen Society.)

You can vote here: One Book BCCLS. Personally, I'm voting for The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, which you can get at any BCCLS library or download (in audio) from the website. I don't have anything against The Kite Runner or The Scarlet Letter, but I always vote for the YA book if I can and this is a YA book that even us adults can thoroughly enjoy. The Book Thief was one of my personal favorites from last year; I found it completely absorbing, sad, and wondrous. If you haven't read it, now's the time to expand your reading horizons. You won't be disappointed.


Call for Reviewers: Street Fiction Blog

Daniel Marcou, founder of the Street Fiction book review blog, is looking for a few good reviewers:

Streetfiction. org needs your help.
With too many books and too little time, I am making the call for guest reviewers. Plus what’s one guy’s thoughts compared to wealth of opinions that exist in the blogosphere. You can help to make Streetfiction.org by picking your favorite (or least favorite!) street fiction book and sending a review of it to me to post on this web


  1. Pick a title that hasn’t been reviewed yet.
  2. Share your thoughts, good or bad, about the book in a few paragraphs.
  3. EMAIL
    your review as a Word Document or [paste it] in the body of the email.

I am looking for reviews of adult and teen street fiction as well as urban
erotica books by authors like Zane or Noire.

Thanks to Meg Canada of Hennepin County Library for pointing out this blog!

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John Moe's Pop Song Correspondences

From McSweeney's Internet Tendency. There are no words, only gasping, hiccuping giggles. Current favorites: a letter from "The Power" to Public Enemy, Marvin Gaye explaining what he heard through the grapevine, and a retort to Carly Simon regarding her charges of vanity. Hee!

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My Facebook About-Face

You may remember that I posted some weeks ago about the ill-advisedness of adults using Facebook. Now that I am actually using Facebook, I would like to make known my total & complete retraction of my previous position. Facebook rules, and I plan to speak with my department head, fellow YA librarians in my system, and our tech department about setting one up for my library.

Why does Facebook rock so hard? A few reasons:

  1. It is way, way easier to use and far less buggy than MySpace. I have a MySpace profile, but I am probably going to delete it because the site is so hard to use (for me, anyway -- this is obviously not a problem for the legions of users who remain devoted to it).
  2. Facebook is so easy to customize -- not so much how it looks, but what it does. There are applications for every conceivable way you might want to customize your experience.
  3. It is easier to find friends (both virtual & IRL ones), because signing up requires you to use your real name (or a close facsimile).
  4. On the other hand, it's easier to remain anonymous, too -- you can set your profile to stay out of search results, and no-one can see your profile unless you agree to be friends with them or send them a message (and even then, you can set your preferences so that certain people can only see portions of your profile).
  5. All in all, Facebook is a very useful way to develop and maintain loose connections with people (a type of relationship Malcolm Gladwell talks about in The Tipping Point) , and a way to nurture real-life relationships in a virtual space.

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52 Influential Photographs

Found via the indispensable Pop Candy, this collection of iconic photos is fascinating. Some of them I knew quite well, and some I'd never seen or even heard of. As much as I love lolcats, I'm not sure that the lolcat photo really qualifies as iconic, though.


MTV VMA 2007 Nominees Announced

Ever the media-buying librarian's friend, MTV has announced the nominees for this year's Video Music Awards, more popularly known as the VMAs.

I love the names of some of these categories: Most Earth-Shattering Collaboration; Quadruple Threat of the Year; Monster Single of the Year. Best of all, though, are the full-length videos nestled right next to the nominees' names and annotations. I may have to watch the "Girlfriend" video 500 more times, and catch my first-ever glimpse of Rihanna's "Umbrella" (ella, ella, ella).

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Hello Kitty: Deterring Wrongdoers since 1975

This story cracks me up: the BBC reports that minor infractions among Thai police officers are now being punished by forcing the offenders to wear bright pink Hello Kitty armbands for a few days. I guess Hello Kitty denigrates their manhood, or something? In any event, I'm glad HK is getting the crime-fighting recognition she so richly deserves. Found via GNLIB-L.

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Pop Goes The Book (AKA, Take This Survey, Please!)

So, Liz and I have been sitting on some fairly big news for a while now: we're writing a book. It's called Pop Goes the Library: Using Pop Culture to Connect With Your Whole Community, and the good folks at ITI are going to publish it, sometime in 2008.

So while we feverishly research, write, and revise the manuscript, we have a request of all of you, dear Readers & Friends of Pop: we have this survey, you see, and it would help us out tremendously if you'd be willing to answer our questions. It's one thing for us to write about what we think makes a great marriage between pop culture & libraries; it's quite another, more powerful thing to quote our experienced colleagues on this topic.

So, if you're willing, our survey is right here.

We apologize in advance if you see e-mail survey-related e-mails on various list-servs. We're trying to gather as many responses as the library community is willing to provide.

Thank you so much for taking the time to participate. We know our book will be that much better for your contributions!

Cross-posted by Liz at Tea Cozy.

ETA: Despite our early testing of the survey, there were some problems. They are now fixed, or should be -- if you have problems, leave a note in the comments or e-mail sophie DOT brookover AT gmail DOT com. Thanks!

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A Few Of The Books, None Of The Rules

This just in from my local paper, The Asbury Park Press: Recycling library a fresh idea in Mantoloking.

Mantoloking (NJ) has a "recycling library." Bring in an old book, take someone else's old book.

Some interesting quotage from the article:

"We put in two bookcases in June, and they were filled in a matter of days," she said. "I know people are using the library, because when I come to borrow a book that I saw on the shelves, it is often not there. And there are always new books."

"But most popular of all seems to be Readers Digest condensed books."

"There are no library cards and there are no rules."

What I find interesting about this article:

What do people want? Books.
What don't they want? Rules.

What is unsaid in the article is that Mantoloking is the wealthiest community in the state of New Jersey. And, it is in Ocean County, home of Ocean County Library. Which has a big collection and a number of branches. Also, Mantoloking has a number of summer residents; I'm not sure how that factors into this.

How does the wealth of the town factor in? If an individual REALLY wants a certain title, they will buy it and won't expect it to be at the recycling library. Plus, they know that other library services (wireless Internet, reference resources, programs, etc.) are just a short ride down Route 35.

But bottom line, what do they want? Books. And they want them with little fuss: no cards, no rules, no returns. And, of course, no real funding and, apparently, no real expectations about what will be there. As mentioned in the article, it's about recreational reading: "People have more time to read in the summer, especially if they are going to the beach. This is an easy way to get a book or two to read."

I think what a recycling library also does is provide people with a way to get rid of unwanted books and feel good about it. It's an interesting local option about what to do with books that libraries don't want as donations and that people don't want to hang onto. While library practice can vary from location to location, library to library, often people expect that donated books (whatever the book) will wind up on a library shelf; I've spoken to people who are upset that the library won't put those books on the shelf. This is an answer to those people who feel that their old books can be used by someone else.

It's also interesting that people are willing to give up a wide range of selection in favor of convenience. But, of course, this is a community that has other options (the Ocean County Library, bookstores) if what they really want isn't on the recycling library bookshelf.

Cross Posted at Tea Cozy.



The Benefits of Taking a Break

During the past two years, my professional life has had its share of ups and downs. As part of this, I actually spent ten months not working in a library at all. I got my MLS right out of undergrad and after spending a year looking for my first position, I spent five years working in various library systems. And I enjoyed what I was doing . . . mostly. But I realized that I had lost a lot of my enthusiasm for libraryland. I felt so cynical and burned-out. It was like I could only see the limitations and the disadvantages of whatever project I was working on, could only see the laziness and disrespect of patrons. I didn't want to do something that I used to love.

So I took a break. I tried my hand at writing a teen novel; I spent a lot of time with my family; I took a part-time job at a crafts store. But I slowly grew to realize that I missed working in a library. Now that I've been in a new position for nearly two months, I've realized that my break was truly a good decision on my part. It's given me a new sense of energy and excitement for the library profession. Plus, it's taught me to better handle stress and politics, something that there's plenty of in any job!

If you're feeling like I felt, and wondering if perhaps you should take some time away from libraryland, allow me to offer you the benefit of my wisdom without the burden of my advice.

  • Have a plan. This is one thing that I wished I had done: have some kind of plan for what I was going to do. I drifted from one thing to another, without any clear-cut end in sight, which caused me a lot of anxiety. It ended up all working out, but I could have saved myself some stress.
  • Beware of burning your bridges. I stayed active in ALA, even continuing my committee memberships. I also kept in contact with my librarian friends and became a very good patron of my local library so I could remain aware of what trends were going on in literature and teen services. I even attended ALA Midwinter in Seattle in order to do some networking and apply for jobs. Staying involved indicated that I was still invested in the library profession, something I believe helped me a lot when I was applying for jobs. And it helped me get caught up a lot easier once I started my new position.
  • Keep your friends close. It would be easy to completely cut yourself off while you lick your wounds. But don't ignore your support systems: your family, your friends, your colleagues. When you're going through an experience like this, you'll want to have people to whom you can talk, vent, complain, and discuss issues. Plus, you never know when one of those people might learn about something that will help you, either professionally or personally.
  • Do something. Don't just sit around twiddling your thumbs. Take a class, learn a new skill, volunteer. Make the break be meaningful, so that you can stretch other parts of yourself. Amongst the things I did on my break, I learned how to sew and got interested in creative writing.

    You might not have the option to just up and quit your job. I was lucky in that I was able to get financial support from my family to allow me to do this. I realize that 'taking a break' is easier to say than do. But if you're struggling professionally, I really recommend taking the time for a sabbatical. You might discover that it's time to try something else, or you might get fired up about being a librarian and want to come back. It was a scary time for me, but I'm so thankful that I did it in retrospect. So why not think about it?

    Here are some links to articles that discuss burnout and stress and how to deal with them:
    Job Burnout: Know the Signs and Symptoms

    Running on Empty: Dealing with Burnout in the Library Setting

    Surviving Jobs You Loathe

    Nicole's Burnout Blues

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  • Twin Cities Bridge Collapse

    35W Bridge 9
    Originally uploaded by coolgates
    We usually take a jolly tone here at PGTL, but the bridge collapse in Minneapolis last night is serious stuff. I'm writing only to point out how citizens of the Twin Cities are using Flickr to document this alarming event. You can find more (and more, and more) photos of the bridge collapse by searching the tag "35w" on Flickr. There's powerful, moving stuff here.