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.


Post this next to your television

I don't know about the rest of you, but if I didn't watch TV I'd never know what day of the week it was. I watched House last night? Then today must be Wednesday. Of course, with so many shows it's sometimes hard to remember what's on at what time on which night. Thankfully one of my favorite entertainment sites, BuzzSugar, has a handy grid with the Fall 2007 TV schedule. It's available in PDF, so think about printing it and keeping it in your quick reference folder. You never know when a patron will ask you when Numb3rs will be on.



Robert Jordan 1948 - 2007

Robert Jordan, author of the wildly popular Wheel of Time fantasy series, passed away this weekend at his home in South Carolina. How popular are these books? What do they mean to their readers? I think this quote sums it up nicely:
[A]n article published on Forbes.com summed it up best in describing fans' support of Jordan during his illness: "There are readers, and then there are fans. Readers offer condolences when a favorite author falls ill. Fans offer bone marrow."
The series had its eleventh book published in 2005, and Jordan was working on what was to be the twelth and final volume of the series. When I worked at Tor, one constant was that we received letters from fans insisting that we had new Robert Jordan books hidden in the office that we weren't publishing.

While we're not talking JK Rowling numbers here, there are still millions of people who read these books. And for these millions of fans, Robert Jordan will sorely be missed. In my experience, these books didn't stay in the library very much in general, and I suspect with Jordan's passing, you won't see them for months.



Those Days and Friday Nights at the Presidential Libraries

I am a people person and enjoy my work as a librarian at a public library. But working with the public has its frustrations and challenges too. It could be one of those days. One of those days when someone has spilled sticky soda on the carpet and ground popcorn into it for special effect. One of those days when the printer keeps jamming and someone has messed-up the restroom. One of those days when I have had a plethora of reference questions that consist of looking up phone numbers in the yellow pages to the point where I feel like a Bell Telephone operator in the old monopoly days. On those days, I daydream about working in an archive. Ah, the quietude and acid-free cardboard boxes and papers custom-made to fit! Oh, the clean white gloves to handle the very important papers, films and memorabilia of very important people! The pure intellectual stimulation of historical artifacts and events.

Now I get my archival fix on Friday nights with C-Span's Presidential Libraries Uncovered from 8P -- 10P (LIVE) done in cooperation with the National Archives. Last week I watched the episode on Herbert Hoover's Library. Tonight it was Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Library in New Hyde Park. I saw Albert Einstein's letter to FDR warning him about the dangers of Germany's experiments with uranium which led to the Manhattan Project, and Eleanor Roosevelt's resignation letter to the DAR when they barred the renowned singer Marian Anderson from using Constitution Hall because she was African-American, and listened to the radio broadcasts of FDR's fireside chats and secret oval office recordings, and much more. I thoroughly enjoyed my presidential library evening all snuggled on my big, yellow comfy couch with a bowl of chocolate ice cream and hot fudge sauce while briefly chatting on the phone with a friend...

... Hmmmm.

Chocolate ice cream is probably not allowed in an archive. Nor is it likely that chatting on the phone is allowed either. On the other hand, I have seen chocolate ice cream at my public library's programs and chatting on the phone, quietly and politely, is generally allowed.

I guess watching C-Span's Presidential Libraries Uncovered on television is a little bit like having the best of both worlds.

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New uses for your cell phone

I have to say, it seems more and more that using your cell phone just to make phone calls is so 2001. Because clearly, you should be reading comic books on your cell phone.

Admittedly, I don't think this is going to catch on in a big way, at least not any time soon. But it is intriguing to see how there's this push to make you have one device that you can't leave the house with, so that device has to be able to do anything and everything you want it to do.

After all, wouldn't it be interesting to get a text message that's not full of IM-speak, because it's a book excerpt? Perhaps that's an opportunity for libraries in the future. And the future is closer than you think.

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Teen Read Week is coming up in October; many of you have read about the inspired teaming up of Readergirlz and YALSA, with their 31 Flavorites. And I want to blog a bit more about TRW and Readergirlz and YALSA, but first, I wanted to explain a bit more about Teen Read Week. It's sponsored by YALSA (the YA Section of ALA); it's October 14 to 20, 2007.

Why Teen Read Week? Well, as the YALSA website says, "Teen Read Week is a national literacy initiative aimed at teens, their parents, librarians, educators, booksellers and other concerned adults. It began in 1998 and is celebrated the third week in October."

Here's the thing; as you can see by the Readergirlz initiative, it's not just YALSA saying "Teen Read Week." YALSA does a ton of stuff connected with this; they get sponsors and collaborate with organizations; they promote teens, reading, and YA lit to the world at large, using TRW as a focal point; they put together a ton of resources, including a wiki with book lists and program ideas, sample press releases and a ton of other goodies).

While TRW is the third week of October, registration for TRW is NOW and ends September 17th. And the reason I'm posting about TRW is as a reminder to go and register! (And yes, I'm usually so bad at remembering these dates that it wasn't until I heard from Stephanie Kuenn at YALSA, reminding me that the registration deadline was fast approaching, that I registered.)

Registration is here. It's free; it's easy; and no, you don't have to be a member of ALA or YALSA in order to register. And you don't have to be a librarian : "Teen Read Week is a national literacy initiative aimed at teens, their parents, librarians, educators, booksellers and other concerned adults. If you would like to participate, just register."

So can nonlibrarians register? YES! When you go to register, title and library are optional; but, to show YALSA blogger involvement, why not put down "blogger" as title and your blog & URL in the library box?

Why register? I mean, it's not like you have to in order to participate or to use the resources for TRW that are at the YALSA site.

To quote from the YALSA website again, "YALSA is a non profit organization that depends on its members for support. By registering, you are letting us know that teen literacy is a concern and you are willing to do something about it! By registering, you are telling YALSA that this program is worthwhile, and we will continue to sponsor the week."

In other words, YALSA (like any other organization) cannot just say "we had TRW"; they need numbers and feedback to say, "it was a success." So, unless you officially register, you're not in the headcount, as it were, so you may as well be invisible. Too many invisible participants and suddenly TRW doesn't look successful, even if it is. So please; register!

Cross posted at Tea Cozy.



Fall Listings

Wondering when the new shows will start? When old favorites return? Whether it's to make sure you are on the sofa watching in real time or to program your DVR, here are some resources for yourselves and your customers:

TV Guide's Premiere Calendar, also available in an easily printed PDF

The Futon Critic's listings for September

TV Squad's 2007/2008 Premiere Dates

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Adapting to New Technology

Now, I'm not technoAmish, but in the same breath, I usually have to feel like a new gadget is actually useful to me before I'll plunk down my hard-earned money for it. I have a first-generation iPod shuffle, but that was the first iPod I bought; it took me another year to commit to a video iPod. I have both a laptop and a desktop, but they're both on the old side and I'm definitely hoping to replace them soon. And I have no intention of ever getting an iPhone, although I already know that when my Verizon Wireless New Every Two option comes up early next year, I'm getting this smartphone.

With all that being said? My DVR is fantastic. :-) When I got my cable set up for my new apartment, I added the DVR as a bit of a whim; I've always been perfectly capable of setting up my VCR, but after three years of having two shows I watched scheduled opposite each other, I was getting tired of dealing with time shifting. So, I went for the DVR, and even though the fall TV season hasn't started yet, I'm already in love. I've been able to see plenty of the U.S. Open, even though I work during the day, because I've been DVRing the coverage on USA and CBS. When I get home, I can fast-forward through boring matches and commericals, and rewind to see that unbelievable shot. Plus, I can DVR the night matches while I'm still watching the day coverage.

In addition, I can record programs to watch later, without feeling this burden of having to watch it right away or having tapes clutter up my very small entertainment center. I have High School Musical 2 sitting on my DVR, and now that I've gotten the first HSM from Netflix, I have plans for a little marathon of singing & dancing teens.

And speaking of Netflix, it's awesome, too! I had never needed it before, because the library systems I worked for collected all sorts of DVDs. But at my new library, they don't believe in competing with Blockbuster, so they don't collect feature films made in the last five years. So I've started using Netflix for those films, but they have so much more! I'm particularly loving the chance to see tons of British television shows that I could only hear about before.

So ever so slowly, I'm getting introduced to new technology and gadgets. How about y'all? Will you immediately jump on the bandwagon, or do you take some convincing? And if you need a reason, what works and what doesn't?

How does this connect to libraries, you ask? So many patrons feel bombarded by new technology; it's important that we're aware of what's out there, even if you're not using it yourself and will never use it. And these new technologies can have effects on library services; after all, no one would have expected libraries, amongst groups and individuals, to be podcasting when the iPod was introduced. So keep your eyes open for new gadgets and gizmos, and you just might find something that will change your library.

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Hugo Winners 2007

And here are the winners of this year's Hugo Awards:

  • Best Novel: Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge [Tor, 2006]
  • Best Novella: “A Billion Eves” by Robert Reed [Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2006]
  • Best Novelette: “The Djinn’s Wife” by Ian McDonald [Asimov’s July 2006]
  • Best Short Story: “Impossible Dreams” by Tim Pratt [Asimov’s July 2006]
  • Best Related Non-Fiction Book: James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B Sheldon by Julie Phillips [St. Martin’s Press, 2006]
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro. Directed by Guillermo del Toro [Picturehouse]
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Who - “Girl in the Fireplace” (2006) Written by Steven Moffat. Directed by Euros Lyn [BBC Wales/BBC1]
  • Best Editor, Long Form: Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • Best Editor, Short Form: Gordon Van Gelder
  • Best Professional Artist: Donato Giancola
  • Best Semiprozine: Locus ed. by Charles N. Brown, Kirsten Gong-Wong and Liza Groen Trombi
  • Best Fanzine: Science-Fiction Five-Yearly ed. by Lee Hoffman, Geri Sullivan, and Randy Byers
  • Best Fan Writer: Dave Langford
  • Best Fan Artist: Frank Wu

Wish I could have been there. :)

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