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's the Big Idea! How Starbuck's Saved My Life

A few nights ago I was watching one of my favorite TV shows on the cable business channel CNBC: The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch. Donny is engaging, charming, witty and is a self-made businessman and millionaire himself in the advertising business. Now an ad man knows pop culture! I enjoy listening to Donny question entrepreneurs on how they made their millions by starting with just an idea and passion--and perhaps a little luck. We learn how these folks achieve success despite enduring failures and setbacks.

One night Donny had another ad man, Michael Gates Gill, as a guest on his show. The difference between Gill and Donny's other guests is that Gill started life as a millionaire leading a charmed life. Until the day he lost everything and found his passion through a big idea. Gill's big idea was to accept a job offer as a barista at Starbuck's.

How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else by Michael Gates Gill is the true story of a man who had it all, then lost it all, and in the process found himself. Each chapter starts with a quote published on the side of a Starbucks coffee cup and opens with a catchy title that reveals the advertising copywriting roots of the author.

Gill, son of famed New Yorker writer Brendan Gill, grew up in a brownstone on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and a mansion in Bronxville, NY, a suburb of New York City. Later Gill graduated from Yale University where his membership in the Skull & Bones led to a job at the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency. Gill spent over 35 years with JWT rising from copywriter to creative director and along the journey he married, had four children, a house in Connecticut, and a six-figure salary.

That is until the day Gill was let go from JWT at the age of 53 for being what he surmises as too old for the advertising business.During the next 10 years Gill loses it all. His consulting business fails. An affair leads to another child, a divorce and the loss of his home. He loses his health insurance. To make matters even worse Gill is diagnosed with a slow-growing brain tumor.

With no means of paying for the operation he needs, Gill finds himself sitting in a Starbucks in his old Upper East Side neighborhood. He is 63 years old, dressed in an expensive suit, with a cell phone, a designer briefcase, drinking a latte—and completely broke.

At that moment, at possibly the lowest point in his life, a dynamic young African-American woman, Crystal, a Starbucks manager, asks Gill a question. “Would you like a job?” Crystal describes the job and benefits at Starbuck's which includes health insurance. Surprising both of them, Gill says, “Yes.” Thus “Mike” begins a new life journey as a Starbucks barista.

Mike begins by sweeping the floors and cleaning the bathrooms. He is terrified of working the cash register and is the most mature employee (in years that is) at the store. Crystal coaches Mike to excellence in his role as a Starbuck's barista, which he describes as the best job he has ever had. Mike honestly admits in the book that if their roles had been reversed, and he was the one interviewing Crystal for a job at his ad agency, he doubts that he would have hired her without her having previous industry experience.

That is why I find the most intriguing person in Gill's book to be Crystal. Crystal meets all of Donny's entrepreneurial criteria: 1) she had a big idea, 2) she had confidence in her own abilities as a businesswoman and manager, 3) she took a big chance on an unknown: Mike.

Donny noted that Tom Hanks will be playing Michael Gates Gill in the movie version of the book by Universal Pictures. But what I really want to know is who will be playing Crystal?


Heath Ledger

Dead at age 28.


Team Rowling Goes to Midwinter

Team Rowling Girls
Originally uploaded by sophiebiblio
Full Midwinter report to come later, but here you have our giddiest moment: attending the Youth Media Awards Press Conference, decked out in our "Team Rowling" shirts, which Carlie, genius that she is, had made for us so we could show our support for HP7, which we thought might take home a Printz Honor. Alas, it was not to be.

In case you're worried about why otherwise mild-mannered librarians are throwing a gang sign, be not alarmed: that's the Nerdfighter Salute.

You can juuuust about see the awesome "We Heart Our Dead Gay Headmaster Button" festooning my conference badge. Another Carlie brainchild, these Heathers-Dumbledore mashup buttons were so popular that we are thinking of selling more of them (via CafePress or similar) & donating the profits to a gay rights organization. Would you buy one? If so, please comment!

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Blatant Self Promotion: Mortified: Love is a Battlefield

While we wait to hear all about Midwinter, which I did not attend this year, I'd like to take a moment to blatantly promote the new Mortified book, Mortified: Love is a Battlefield, featuring actual childhood and adolescent diary entries, letters, and poems [oh the poems!], all on the subject of, yes, love. As the Amazon description says, "the now older (and allegedly wiser) authors of these letters, lyrics, and journals bravely share their shame in stories that range from sweetly hopeful to borderline psychotic." Yes, we do; I am one of the authors! I know my twelve-year-old self would be absolutely baffled and, naturally, mortified to know that her little ice-skating/ motorcycling/ smooching fantasy featuring an older man of fourteen would be published for the whole world to see, but I am pretty excited.

There will be book release parties in several cities; I'll be reading at the Boston one on February 6th at the Paradise Lounge. Please come on out if you're in the area!

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Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

One of the latest Weekend in New York stories, found in the New York Times Travel section, caught my eye today: A Bookworm's Holiday. Author Seth Kugel gives some sight-seeing suggestions, including the current Jack Kerouac exhibit at the NYPL Humanities and Social Science Library [or, as I call it, "the big one with the lions"] and the Morgan Library & Museum, featuring "amazing illuminated manuscripts, a 1240 pocket Bible and even an original print of the Declaration of Independence," not to mention two, count 'em, TWO Gutenberg Bibles!

Personally, I'd like to sit quietly in Pierpont Morgan's
personal library for a little while. Do you think it has wi-fi?

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ALA Awards by Text Message

File under: Awesome, Made Out of Five Different Kinds of

Text the word "ALA 5" to 32075 in the U.S. and Canada to receive notification of the winners of the following five awards, one text message per award:
  • Newbery Medal
  • Caldecott Medal
  • Coretta Scott King Awards
  • Michael L. Printz Award
  • Pura Belpré Award

You will receive 5 text messages for this subscription, winners only.

For complete results, text the word "ALA 13" to 32075 in the U.S. and Canada to receive notification of the winners of all 13 Youth Media Awards, including the five previously mentioned and the following, one text message per award:

  • Alex Awards
  • Margaret A. Edwards Award
  • Odyssey Award
  • Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award
  • Andrew Carnegie Medal
  • Mildred L. Batchelder Award
  • Schneider Family Book Award
  • Theodor Seuss Geisel Award

You will receive 13 text messages for this subscription, winners only.

Learn more here:

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Commentary on Graphic Novels & Reluctant Readers

From John Shableski, who works for Diamond Comics Distributors. John & I have struck up an e-mail friendship over the past few months, and we've got something interesting cooking for the Fall. In the meantime, here's his excellent guest-entry at Buzz, Balls & Hype!