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.


ASL Story Hour and Dogs

Follow this link to a MTV report on an American Sign Language story hour at the NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped. Check out the dogs!


Mr. Nostalgia and Little Miss Back Again

OF COURSE you remember Mr. Men. And Little Miss. Tiny, square paperbacks on a rack in the grocery store's impulse zone. You had to have one every single time you went to that grocery store, too. And maybe your mom started taking you to Price Chopper instead because they didn't have a Mr. Men rack for you to whine about, so you never got that copy of Mr. Muddle until years later, when chasing your other lost childhood dreams on eBay, when you thought to look for Mr. Muddle, but eBay only had cookie cutters, because of course the damn things are still in print after all these years! So you remember Mr. Men.

The 43 Mr. Men books and the 30 Little Miss books haven't actually been continuously in print since they were first published starting in 1971, but they have come back several times in support of various television treatments over the years. The second to last time this happened was in the late 90's, when a pretty lousy Mr. Men and Little Miss show was produced by French children's animation studio Dargaud-Marina, shown on Britain's Milkshake! kid's show block, and then localized for the US and brought into local syndication in the US in 1997. That show wasn't very widely aired in the US, but it was enough to bring the books back into print, just in time for the new parents of the oughts who loved the books as kids in the 70's to see them on impulse racks and buy them for their own kids, finally achieving closure on those old price chopper wounds.

It appears that the closure market has been enough to keep the books in print for the past 10 years. In the meantime, Adam Hargreaves, the son of original author Roger Hargreaves, has kept the series going a bit, creating 6 new Mr. Men and 7 Little Misses, many of them odd promotional tie-ins, such as Mr. and Little Miss Birthday, created for the 35-year anniversary of the first Mr. Men book, which Adam was also responsible for as a little kid when he asked his dad what a tickle looked like.

And now, another new cartoon based in the Mr. Men and Little Miss universe has arrived, and this time, it's really great. The Mr. Men show is produced by Renegade Animation, producers of the quite wonderful and underappreciated Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, which attempted to introduce the completely awesome japanese girl rock band PUFFY to US audiences with some success. Renegade also developed the very strange live action / animation hybrid telefilm Re-animated, which spun off the not-exactly-beloved Out of Jimmy's Head. Renegade does a lot of work in Flash, which allows them to cut out overseas tweening studios and produce whole shows in house. Their New Mr. Men show is vibrant, stylish, well-written and fun, and while they may be playing just a little fast and loose with the canon, they've added some fun new ideas into the show. For example, each character now comes complete with a catchphrase ready to infiltrate elementary school conversations; Mr. Bump's expletive of choice is 'Poopity-poop!', and Mr. Rude's catchprase is "You want X? I'll give you X! *loud fart*." The new show also features an awesome title song, which is reminiscent of the awesome theme song from Lauren Child's wonderful Charlie & Lola, written by Søren Munk and Tom Dyson of Northwood.

The new show's sketch comedy format and clever expansion of the already-strong property make for a very funny cartoon, and the show's official blog shows why; the team is taking the property and the funny very seriously, and it's clear that they are engaged in putting out a great product. They're also soliciting ideas from fans in the comments of their blog, and with the perennial appeal of these characters, a Mr. Men and Little Miss character design contest could be a pretty cool library craft program for kids and a hearty does of nostalgia for gen X parents.

As Mr. Nervous says, I think this is the end.

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Publisher's Link to Pop Book

Our awesome publishers, Info Today, have put up a special direct-order page for Pop Goes the Library: Using Pop Culture to Connect With Your Whole Community. We have a new, slightly later pub date -- we're looking at July or early August -- so while we won't be able to sign copies for you at ALA, we will be happy to send you personalized autographs in one of two ways:

  • We can create signatures/dedications on paper, then scan them & send them to you as PDFs, or;
  • You can send us an SASE and we'll send you back a signed/dedicated bookplate to put in your copy.
Send your requests to the comments!

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Wednesday Night Lights: Essential Man's Library

I'm a sucker for lists. Best ofs, essential, top ten, must-reads, etc. For me, the fun is first seeing how much of the list I know, and then second tearing it apart for how stupid it is for not including something.

So imagine how happy I was to see the list The Essential Man's Library online a few weeks ago. It's been very busy here, but I knew when I got a moment that I needed to write about it here.

The link will take you to the list on four different pages, replete with books covers and semi-snarky commentary. For those of you who do not wish to click on through to the other side, here is the list in its entirety. Even better, I will bold the titles I've read and italicize the titles I own (bolded and italicized I've read AND own):

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
1984 by George Orwell
The Republic by Plato (I have a B.A. in philosophy)
Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Call of the Wild by Jack London
The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris
Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
The Iliad and Odyssey of Homer
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Master and Margarita by by Mikhail Bulgakov
Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins
White Noise by Don Delillo
Ulysses by James Joyce (I own Finnegan's Wake, and I've read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, does that count?)
The Young Man’s Guide by William Alcott
Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy
Seek: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond by Denis Johnson
Crime And Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse (in English and German)
The Book of Deeds of Arms and of Chivalry by Christine De Pizan
The Art of Warfare by Sun Tzu
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (sort of, I've read The Inferno, and pieces of the others)
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
The Rough Riders by Theodore Roosevelt
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes (this is a book I want to read)
The Thin Red Line by James Jones
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Politics by Aristotle
First Edition of the The Boy Scout Handbook
Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
The Crisis by Winston Churchill
The Naked and The Dead by Norman Mailer
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Beyond Good and Evil by Freidrich Nietzsche
The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Essential Manners for Men by Peter Post
Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly (this is one of my favorite books, ever)
Hamlet by Shakespeare
The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway
The Stranger by Albert Camus
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Dafoe
The Pearl by John Steinbeck
On the Road by Jack Kerouac (I've started this, but not finished)
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole (I have started this, and I want to own, but it always slips my mind when I'm bookshopping)
Foucault’s Pendulum - Umberto Eco
The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux
Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard (I would love to read this)
Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose
Paradise Lost by John Milton
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
American Boys’ Handy Book
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard
The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
A River Runs Through It by Norman F. Maclean
The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
Malcolm X: The Autobiography
Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
All Quiet on The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarq
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans by Plutarch
The Strenuous Life by Theodore Roosevelt
The Bible (I've read enough of it to say I've read it)
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn and Hal Iggulden
The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
The Histories by Herodotus
From Here to Eternity by James Jones
The Frontier in American History by Frederick Jackson Turner
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Anything surprising from the list? Well, I've only ever read The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway (we used it for a speed reading class in High School), nothing else. I don't own nor have I read any Dostoevsky. I've never read any Vonnegut either. And somehow, unlike nearly everyone else that I know, I've never read any Homer. So what on this list should I read next?



Positive Article about YA Literature in Newsweek

I know! Shocking to have something positive.

Generation R (Is For Reader), published in Newsweek, includes such made of amazing quotes as:
"Contrary to the depressing proclamations that American teens aren't reading, the surprising truth is they are reading novels in unprecedented numbers. Young-adult fiction (ages 12-18) is enjoying a bona fide boom with sales up more than 25 percent in the past few years, according to a Children's Book Council sales survey."

"[M]ost of these books, even the darkest ones, cling to some semblance of hope. And most are smart, well written and do not pander or talk down to their audience. That's a welcome change, because for more than a decade, the common knock on young-adult books has been that there were too many so-called problem novels that self-righteously told kids how to behave in a "just say no" fashion."

While those of us who read YA books and read about books are familiar with most of what is in the article, what is refreshing is that this isn't an article in VOYA or School Library Journal -- in other words, this is an article that regular folks will read. Parents, teens, teachers. And it doesn't contain the "oh no the sky is falling because teen books are crap" panic found in past mainstream media articles.

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Wednesday Night Lights: Taken Advantage Of

Last night, my wife turned to me and said, "Do you think we would be able to find Andy [last name redacted] online somwhere?" Now Andy has a pretty common last name, so searching for him was going to be a challenge. But hey, a reference question at home, and a challenging one at that? Awesome!

"You know, does the library have some sort of database that you could look at that a regular search engine wouldn't be able to see?" she continued. My wife's one smart cookie. She taught high school English for a long time, she has a Master's degree in English Education, and she currently teaches undergraduate and Master's level college courses, so she knows about searching online.

She also knows how to hit all the right spots to pique my little librarian brain. We went to college with Andy. He was in our wedding. We knew essentially the field of work he was in, but weren't sure he was still in the Midwest or not. Using Google was not going to be an option as his common last name would result in too many hits. Plus, who knows what sort of online presence this guy has?

You search for me "John Klima" and you get me or an artist in Brooklyn (we 'met' online and had a laugh about wondering who the other John Klima was that was messing up our Google hits). And you still get 25,700 hits on my name in quotes (almost 2 million without).*

So I tried Reference USA first. The numbers weren't bad: using Andrew, 146 in the US and 21 in WI; using Andy, 49 in the US and 7 in WI. That wasn't a terrible amount; you could certainly check all of those. But you'd have to call them to get any information. And what if he has an unlisted number?

I moved over to Facebook since I've found some old high school buddies there, but no luck. My wife said that she didn't see Andy as a Facebook kind of guy, but considering the World Wide Web was in its infancy the last time we saw him, who knew what he would be into?

Then it hit me, while Andy wasn't the kind of guy to use Facebook, he was totally the type of guy to use LinkedIn. I logged into LinkedIn and searched. There he was. We sent a request to join my network, and he responded almost immediately. I then saw that one of the people in his network was another college friend we'd fallen out of touch with, so I sent him a message, too.

After I got done, I looked at my wife and said, "You asked me this tonight because you knew I would just take over and find him."

She smiled and said, "Yep. I knew if I asked you wouldn't be able to stand it until you found him."

I feel so used. And yet, it seems strangely fulfilling.
* I never tried Google last night, but I tried tonight. I put Andy's name in quotes and added 'WI.' The first result is actually how I found him, but through a more circuitous route last night.



Oh, My Golly, It's a Galley!

Originally uploaded by Peter Bromberg
So, Liz & I are in the midst of working on the galley of Pop Goes the Library: Using Popular Culture to Connect With Your Whole Community. Actually, it'd be more accurate to say that Liz is done while I am taking my sweet time with it. Um, sorry, Amy & Rachel, Editrix Goddesses!

Congratulations All Elected ALA Candidates (But Most Especially Carlie Webber)!

The results are in, and our dear friend, colleague, and fellow Pop-er (Pop-ian? Pop-ie? What's the best suffix for us?) Carlie Webber has been elected to YALSA's Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She's the second of our crew (Liz Burns was the first) to attain this honor, and we couldn't be more pleased, more proud, or less surprised (I mean that in the best possible way -- anyone who's met or read Carlie knows what a savvy, tough reader she is).  

Congratulations to all of the winners, and, as a member of the 2009 YALSA Nominating Committee, thanks to everyone who ran this year!  

If you're a member of YALSA, please consider running for office next year!  Info on all available positions is at the YALSA Wiki.

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Friday Fun: A Little Horsing Around

It is the first weekend in May and that can only mean one thing in the world of sports and pop culture: Derby Day is here. 2008 marks the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby. The hats. The mint juleps. The red roses. The strains of "My Old Kentucky Home" that fill the air at Churchill Downs. And of course the horses. Always the horses.

When I was a kid I watched Secretariat on TV win the Kentucky Derby (track record), and then the Preakness (track record), and finally the Belmont (world record) winning by 31 lengths in 2:24. I was so taken with this amazing horse that I was inspired to pick up my pen and write a fan letter addresed to "Secretariat, Kentucky, USA." A short while later I received a small post card from Mrs. Penny Tweedy of Meadow Stables and two photographs: one of Secretariat and the other of Secretariat racing with stable mate Riva Ridge. Needless to say I was thrilled. I soon began reading everything I could about Secretariat, which included the sports pages of the New York Times. It also spurred me to go to the library and read a lot of books about horses, which inspired me to write a lot of stories about horses, which sent me back to the library for books about how to draw horses in order that I could illustrate my own stories. You could say it was my love of Secretariat that began my love of reading, writing, and drawing.

Do I owe my literacy and ability to draw today to a childhood interest in Secretariat? Probably. Remember, dear librarian friends, that when a child comes to you with an interest in horses, or dogs, or bugs, or baseball, or any of a myriad of things, that YOU may change their life with a simple, "Why don't you try this book?" My librarian placed the book the "Black Stallion" in my hands. I read the entire Black Stallion series, Misty of Chincoteague, Smoky the Cowhorse, Black Beauty, non-fiction and encyclopedia articles, and anything else I could find about horses.

However, my greatest discovery at the library was the work of writer and illustrator C.W. Anderson. One day I got lucky and bought a set of C.W. Anderson lithographs titled "Turf and Bluegrass" from a garage sale for 50 cents. This was a lot of money for a little kid. I practiced drawing by copying Anderson's drawings which included "Seabiscuit," "Man O' War" and other famous race horses. If you are unfamiliar with C.W. Anderson and love horses you are in for a real treat. His illustrations are gorgeous. Check out Librarything for a glimpse of Anderson's work and also eBay. Hint: include "horse" as a keyword when you search for "C.W. Anderson" or you may find the wrestler by the same name instead.

So put on your best hat, grab a mint julep, and tell me about your favorite horse books or movies from when you were a kid...or perhaps even a grown-up.

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