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.


Paul Newman, RIP

I've long been an admirer of Paul Newman, but not a huge fan, so I was a little taken aback at just how touched I am by the news of his death yesterday at age 83. Maybe it's because I am so used to seeing his handsome, cheery face on bottles of salad dressing & cookies at the grocery store every week. Maybe it's because in every one of the 5 or 6 movies I've seen him in, his work consistently struck me as both charming and authentic. Maybe it's because of the Adam Sandler lyric from his first Chanukkah Song: "Paul Newman's half-Jewish; Goldie Hawn's half, too / Put 'em both together: what a fine-lookin' Jew!" Whatever the reason, I am tearing up over here, and I'm indulging my very mild dose of grief by reading & viewing the following:

Paul Newman, A Magnetic Titan of Hollywood, is Dead at 83 (NY Times)
A Late, Great Movie Star (slide show w/Manohla Dargis from the NY Times)
RIP, Paul Newman (The AV Club, including a priceless clip from Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid)
Paul Newman & James Dean screentest footage (YouTube -- there's TONS of this stuff there, if you just search "paul newman")

Now's the time to showcase Paul Newman's work at your library -- maybe an impromptu week of his films, with snacks from his Newman's Own line? -- so go through your DVD collection & generate some flyers!


Friday Fun: All Kinds of Fun Time-Spenders

Note how I don't call any of these sites "time-wasters". All of us here at PGTL would never advocate that you spend some time on this Friday looking at frivolous websites!

[removes her tongue from her cheek]

Woot!: This site is for all of you who don't want the tension of eBay, who'd rather have a relative bird in the hand. Each day, Woot posts a new product, one that is available at typically substantially reduced prices. And once they're gone, they're gone! Although most items are electronics or appliances, there's certainly some whimsical choices. How about a toilet paper dispenser with a built-in FM radio?

Fine Lines: Reminiscing about those books you read when you were a teen? So is Jezebel, in their weekly feature where, in their own words, they "give a sentimental, sometimes-critical, far more wizened look at the children's and YA books we loved in our youth." I particularly liked the recent look at Cheaper by the Dozen/Belles on Their Toes, by noted mystery author Laura Lippman.

Firefox News: No, this has nothing to do with the browser--although they'd certainly recommend it to you. Firefox News is a site for tv discussion, articles about fandom topics, and even info about technology and the paranormal. It's a nice little niche site, and is mostly free from the frenzied politics of fandom at large. I really like their coverage of Supernatural.



Fun Friday: Trailer Park

My husband Marcus & I are mad for movie trailers, so much so that we sometimes decide to forgo an evening out in favor of queuing up 90 minutes or so of trailers at Apple. We started this little habit of gorging ourselves on 90-second mini-movies back when we couldn't afford to go out, and we just never gave it up, because it was so much fun. Turns out, it's also a handy & super-cheap way to keep up to date with what's coming to the multiplex & local arthouse cinema.

Here are some of my most recent favorites, with contextual notes for fun, reader's & viewer's advisory, and displays!

Cthulhu -- I am not a fan of horror by any means, but I have a soft spot for Cthulhu. Maybe it's because I fell in love with Michael Chabon's Lovecraftian ghost, August van Zorn, in Wonder Boys (another very fine film adaptation). Maybe it's the exuberant, extravagant creepiness of putting a cephalopodic head on a quasi-human body. Whatever, it's awesome. Plus, this film co-stars Tori Spelling, which...well, that's just classic, isn't it? Teen soap queen-turned-low-rent reality star & sometime horror princess. Bust out the Lovecraft for all those Darren Shan fans who have torn through every book in his Cirque du Freak and Demonata series!

The Duchess -- Let me tell you, Britney? Paris? Lindsay & Samantha? Ladies, you have nothing, nothing! on Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. Great-great-supergreat ancestor of Princess Diana (Georgiana's maiden name was Spencer -- she grew up at Althorp, too), the Duchess was the It Girl of the 18th century, a fashion icon, political heavyweight, and object of endless gossipy scrutiny. I kind of hate that they've rebranded her as The Duchess (what, like there are no other duchesses?), because that reminds me of the willful mis-speller Fergie, and I just don't want those streams crossed in my mind. I hate it even more that Amanda Forman's thoroughly engrossing biography, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, has also been rebranded with Keira Knightley's lovely, if too svelte for the 1700s, face on the cover. I'm kind of surprised at how grouchy I am over this, but you know I'll be seeing that movie as soon as it comes out. Hello, fabulous period costumes! Forbidden romance! Intrigue! This is a no-brainer for your Gossip Girl fans.

A Quantum of Solace -- When I first heard Daniel Craig would be replacing the ultra-suave Pierce Brosnan as Bond, I made my face of ultimate skepticism. I am very happy to admit how wrong I was. Having never been saddled with the "pretty" label, he's developed his chops as a character actor, and he brings an emotional depth to Bond that I think we've never seen before. He's also far scrappier, physically -- he's got more in common with Matt Damon's Jason Bourne than any previous Bond, who has never seemed like an action hero who ever actually got his clothes mussed while fighting off five thugs at once. Craig rules, basically, and I love the new, emotionally tortured Bond. Cross-market with the Bourne franchise, and for those readers too young to see a potentially R-rated film, the new Young Bond series by Charlie Higson.

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist
-- Of course! Quirky, music-loving teens find true love in one crazy night in New York. There's not much in this world better than that.

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Princeton Children's Book Festival

What are you doing this weekend?

Are you near Princeton?

If so, you may want to check out the Princeton Public Library's Third Annual Princeton Children's Book Festival on Saturday, September 13, from 12 to 5.

Allison Santos of the Princeton Public Library took some time to answer some questions, for those of you who may be thinking, "looks cool...but what is it?" or "that is so cool, how can my library do it"?

Liz B: I've never been to the Princeton Children's Book Festival. What can I expect at the Book Festival?

Allison: The Princeton Children's Book Festival is an afternoon event that showcases the talents of well know and not so well authors and illustrators. Under tents on the Library Plaza children and their families can meet their favorite authors, ask questions, hear them discuss or read from their works, buy their books and have them autographed or have a photo taken with them. The day is rounded out by lots of fun live entertainment for people of all ages. This year we'll have musicians, unicyclists, jugglers, a magician and face painting.

Liz B: Who will be there?

Allison: Here are some of the more well known participants; Peter Brown, Michael Buckley, Margery Cuyler, Dan Gutman, Amy Hest, Daniel Kirk, Wendy Mass and Donna Jo Napoli. For a full list of authors and illustrators and other details please visit our website at www.princetonlibrary.org/children/festival/index.html

Liz B: What will be happening?

Allison: Author readings, illustrator presentations, podcasting of the event, books for sale and for autographs, live entertainment and lots of great fun.

Liz B: How did the Princeton Children's Book Festival start?

Allison: Our first Book Festival was three years ago. It was a small event that was primarily focused on showcasing local, Princeton area authors and illustrators. Word spread about the event and by the second year authors and illustrators were contacting me to be a part of this growing annual Book Festival.

Liz B: From a library perspective, what is entailed in planning the Book Festival?

Allison: First, the support from your department is the most important. I spend approximately 8-9 months planning the Princeton Children's Book Festival on top of regular duties in the Youth Services department and my other responsibilities with NJLA, ALA and CSLP. It also doesn't hurt to know where your financial support is coming from, so developing strong partnerships is imperative. Also, you need a thick skin, don't take anything personally if an author or illustrator turns your offer down. Lastly, you need to get organized and stay organized. There are lots of little details that can sneak up on you, so as I like to say "I anticipate everything going wrong and then I am thrilled when all goes right!"

Liz B: Thanks so much, Allison!

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Football: The New Fall Line-Up

A harbinger of fall for many people is children going back to school, the changing colors of the leaves, sweaters and coats appearing in shop windows, the September 22 date that marks the autumnal equinox, or the new 2008 Fall TV line-up. For the rest of us it was the return of the NFL to our television screens on Thursday, September 4. There were as many predictable hits, surprises, dramas and twists-and-turns in the new NFL season to rival those of the upcoming sitcoms and dramas in the new television viewing season.

Eli Manning led the Super Bowl Champion Giants to victory over the Redskins in the Thursday night season opener. However, Tom Brady of the New England Patriots was injured in the first quarter against the KC Chiefs and teammates and fans soon learned the heartbreaking news that Brady would be out for the season with a knee injury. The Indianapolis Colts, with Peyton Manning initially a “maybe” for the start of the game, lost in a rematch of Super Bowl XLI against the Chicago Bears. How about Brett Favre’s wearing of the green, not in Green Bay, but for the Jets in the Meadowlands--while Aaron Rodgers plays QB in the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field? Where is last year’s Jets QB Chad Pennington? Miami. Who did Pennington and Miami play in the season opener? Favre and The Jets. How about that game winning pass by Jake Delhomme to Dante Rosario that gave the Carolina Panthers a 26 to 24 win over the San Diego Chargers in the final seconds of the game? My fantasy football team line-up rocked too thanks to an amazing game by RB Willie Parker of the Pittsburgh Steelers who had 3 touchdowns against the Houston Texans.

NBC has quite a line-up of sportscasters this season as well. Not only does NBC have Al Michaels and John Madden calling the game with Andrea Kremer on the sidelines, but now they have “Football Night in America” on Sundays at 7P (Eastern Standard Time) featuring an outstanding line-up of sportscasters including Bob Costas, Peter King, Chris Collinsworth, Tiki Barber, Jerome Bettis, Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick. Yes, that Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick. Olbermann and Patrick, formerly a team for most of the 1990s on “The Big Show” on ESPN’s SportsCenter are reunited again at NBC. Olbermann quipped on last night’s show that they considered calling their segment “Sporty Center” but decided against it. Yes, the boys are back in town.

That reminds me…time to put the football books on display in the library soon.

J.K. Rowling wins lawsuit

J.K. Rowling has just won her lawsuit against RDR Books. From Reuters:

Judge Robert Patterson in U.S. District Court in Manhattan wrote an opinion that said independent U.S. book publisher RDR Books "had failed to establish an affirmative defense of fair use" and that publication of "The Harry Potter Lexicon" should not proceed.

The Wall Street Journal has a PDF of the full ruling.

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My Infinite Playlist

Welcome to new media: I'm posting a music widget that's in support of a movie based on a book, but using music that's inspired by a TV show.

In case you hadn't heard, a movie based on Rachel Cohn and David Levithan's Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist will be in theaters in October. Checking out the official site, I saw that you can design a playlist widget, which I thought was a great idea to promote your movie. (Even though I picked music that's from Supernatural.)

Considering how much music matters in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, the book, this widget would also be a great way to advertise the book, not just the movie. Have you tried this yet in your library? If you're curious, head to the official Nick & Norah site to check it out. You'll need to sign up with imeem to participate.

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Happy 20th Birthday, ...And Justice for All

The setting: Southern California, 2001.

The characters: Your heroine, Carlie, and her coworker, Jane.

The scene: Two librarians are in a car driving from central Orange County to Glendale for a workshop, with Jane at the wheel because your heroine hates to drive. Takes an hour or so, depending on the traffic.

Jane: (hands Carlie a case of CDs) Here, you can pick anything you want to listen to out of these, or we can put the radio on. What kind of music do you like, anyway?

Carlie: Mostly classic rock and hard rock. You know, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Yes, Nirvana, the Stones, Metallica, AC/DC, the Chili Peppers...

(incredulous) YOU? And your blonde hair? Listen to classic rock? You are the last person I would have ever expected to listen to classic rock.

(incredulous at Jane's incredulity) Of course I listen to classic rock. What else would I listen to?

It's true. I might be blonde and love my sweaters but look through my CD collection and you'll find many bands that haven't made music since 1994. When I was in junior high I stayed up late on Saturday nights, glued to MTV, watching the Headbangers Ball and singing along (much to my father's dismay). My sister occasionally watched with me and lit a torch for Alice Cooper that she still carries to this day. It was through Headbanger's Ball that I discovered bands like the Scorpions and as I continued my percussion studies my teachers and fellow musicians introduced me to Dream Theater, Led Zeppelin, and more. Back to the original topic, Headbanger's Ball was I first heard my all-time favorite Metallica song, "One," from their September 6, 1988 multiplatinum release ...And Justice for All.

...And Justice for All is still considered one of Metallica's best, if not their most ambitious, albums. It was the last album they made with bassist Cliff Burton before he was killed in a bus accident (editing: This is not the case; Burton died in 1986 and I had the dates mixed up), and the first album from which they made a video. "One" is based on Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun and the video is spliced with scenes and dialogue from the movie of the same name. In my rock obsession, I even supplied my tenth-grade history teacher with a tape of "One" as part of an assignment on WWI. (I think I got an A on the project, too.) My fascination with "One" led to my buying and listening to more Metallica through my high school years. In fact, I remember dating a fellow Metallica fan and spending a date watching the live footage in their box set. I fell out of love for them for a while around the time of the release of St. Anger in 2003, but when I started watching Supernatural I went back to them. I'm rediscovering the virtues of blasting "Enter Sandman" during my evening commute and I just bought tickets to see them in February at the Prudential Center. I've ordered their September 12 release, Death Magnetic, and am looking forward to it. The songs they've released, "The Day That Never Comes" and "Cyanide," are pretty good. Or at least I think so.

In celebration of this anniversary, the front page of YouTube today is all Metallica-related. Featured videos include a string quartet playing Nothing Else Matters and Whiplash as performed by Legos. Check it out.

Metallica never made a video for my second-favorite song of theirs, "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" from their 1986 release Master of Puppets, but as my contribution to the YouTube celebration, here's a video made by user Leadheadclone, which mixes evocative still images with shots of Metallica playing live.

Honestly, I think if the guys in Metallica ever see this entry they'll be completely mortified. Librarians who drive little Japanese cars and shop at J. Crew are not supposed to be Metallica fans. I won't tell if you don't, though.

Links to read:

Metallica: Still Heavy After All These Years
Mozart and Metallica fans kindred spirts: research (personally, I'm outgoing, but I don't like Mozart, either)
Review of Death Magnetic


Wednesday Night Lights: Fall Television

If it's September, it must be time to look forward to a new schedule of Fall television. My wife and I have been big NBC fans for a long time, so we're looking forward to new episodes of My Name is Earl and The Office. I was pleasantly surprised by Chuck and am looking forward to that, too. We feel like we should be watching 30 Rock, but for whatever reason, we're not. The rest of NBC's lineup? We're thinking: not so good.

There's the truly dreadful-looking Kath & Kim, which I think is not as over-the-top as it needs to be, or likely was in Australia. I envision craziness at an Ab Fab level to make this show work. Right now, the characters just look mean or stupid, not funny.

I wince every time I see an ad for Crusoe. I mean, it's not an interesting book to begin with, and it just looks...bad. I'm sick of Deal Or No Deal, I never wanted a new Knight Rider, I've lost my interest in ER, and I was never able to get into the Law & Order shows. Life looks kind of interesting (and I think Sarah Shahi is hawt), but I feel like I've missed too much at this point to step into a new season. That's not really an excuse, since NBC makes a TON of episodes available online.

So, we've been forced to look outside NBC. We were extremely surprised with:

We feel like we should be watching House, but haven't started that yet.

As I said above, most of the networks make shows available to watch online. It's becoming easier and easier to catch up with shows if you miss something. This year, Hulu (founded by NBC Universal and News Corp to provide free online access to television shows and movies) is going to show the premieres for Bones, Prison Break, Kitchen Nightmares, and Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?

I'm curious, how does online access for television and movies affect your collection development?


Interview with Heidi Tandy: Fair use, copyright, and what it means

I've mentioned my friend Heidi Tandy before, she who makes very adorable Supernatural fanvids and owns more pink clothing than anyone I know. What I haven't mentioned is that Heidi works as an intellectual property lawyer and has been involved in the administrative side of one of the largest Harry Potter fan sites on the web, FictionAlley.org, for many years. Recently, Heidi posted in her blog her happiness in the ruling of Lenz vs. Universal Music, which states that the Fair Use doctrine "permits limited use of copyright materials without the owner's permission."

Why does this matter to librarians? Because in this field, we get asked a lot of questions about what constitutes copyright and fair use, especially in school libraries. With the fandom presentation that Liz Burns and I are giving at the upcoming YALSA YA Lit Symposium in Nashville, we're talking about an entire set of activities that revolves around fair use and transformative works (works derived from the creations of another person). Because I don't even pretend to speak Lawyerese, I interviewed Heidi, who is very good at translating Lawyerese into English, via email about what this ruling means for fandomers and transformative works everywhere.

Carlie Webber: Tell us what constitutes "fair use" and why it matters to librarians?

Heidi Tandy: Fair use is a lawful use of copyright, as the Northern District of California said in Lenz v. Universal Music. Basically, fair use allows someone who is not the copyright owner, and who is not licensed by the copyright owner, to reproduce a copyrighted work. Generally, fair use exists when a portion of the first work is incorporated into a second work, perhaps in a review, or in educational materials, or in fanfic, or in a parody, or in a transformative work.

CW: How has this ruling changed what we can and cannot do with original works?

HT:That's the nifty thing - it didn't change anything. It clarified things. There was no case that said that it was copyright infringement to upload a video to YouTube that featured a video of a toddler dancing to a Prince song - and the new case affirmatively stated that it may be fair use.

CW: What do teachers, librarians, fan writers, etc. still have to be careful of in terms of how we use another's work for teaching or transformation?

HT:You need to look to the four factors that the US Copyright Office has stated need to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
3. amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

For example, f you're teaching writing or literature or history and have students write a story based on another work, and the student is instructed not to copy extensively from the first story, it's likely that the student's story will be fair use.

CW: Give us some examples of things that are thought to be fair use, but really aren't.

HT: Oh, that's a difficult one. Anything transformative may be fair use, so something isn't fair use if there's nothing transformative about it. Splitting an episode of a TV show into five parts so you can upload it onto YouTube isn't transformative, but using five minutes of clips from a tv show to create a fanvid about that episode may be fair use, because you have taken a small portion of the work, there's no
commercial purpose, and the effect on the potential market is minimal. Photocopying a textbook and sharing it with a class isn't transformative and under the Kinko's case it isn't fair use, either. But putting a quotation from that book on a mural on the wall is probably fair use.

CW: Twitter just suspended account of people who were Twittering as characters from Mad Men. If the author or creator of an original work states that he or she does not want derivative works created from his books/films/TV shows but a fan creates it anyway, does the creator of the original work have any recourse? In the past, writers like Anne Rice and Nora Roberts have requested that people not write fanfic about their characters.

HT: It depends on what's created, but generally, the wishes of the original creator won't impact a court's analysis under copyright or trademark law, although it might make it more likely that the creator
will send his or her fans a cease and desist letter, or even take them to court. The original creator can always take fanwork creators to court - the real question is whether the original creator can win. The court would use the fair use analysis to determine if the fanwork is fair use, because if it is, it is a lawful use of copyright.

It's going to be more difficult for copyright owners to claim that a fan creation should be taken down via a Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice now, at least in California, because of the recent ruling. A copyright holder now has to at least examine whether something is fair use before sending the DMCA notice, and a claim of fair use can be used to fight back against the copyright holder's assertion that something is fair use.

CW: I know there are always questions in the library world about what copyright covers and how long it lasts. Can you give us a crash course in copyright?

HT:The copyright office has an excellent collection of information at http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.pdf - but it primarily talks about works that are created now. For works that were created before the 1970s, the situation can be a little different. If you need to find out whether a work is still protected by copyright, check out the Public Domain Sherpa.

Basically, copyright gives the creator of a work a bundle of rights - including the rights of duplication and distribution. The creator can give those rights away temporarily - that's a license - or permanently
- that's an assignment.

Thanks, Heidi!

this interview also appears at Librarilly Blonde

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