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.


As mentioned earlier, Melissa Rabey, who contributes to Tea Cozy and Pop Goes the Library and the YALSA blog, as well as has her own blog, Librarian by Day, is running for the 2011 Printz. Melissa is a teen librarian at the C. Burr Artz branch of the Frederick Co. (MD) Public Library and will be sharing her expertise in historical fiction to the YALSA Genre Galaxy preconference in Chicago this June. And, she has YALSA experience on several committees, including Popular Paperbacks and Organization & Bylaws.

Liz B: Tell us something about yourself.

Melissa Rabey: In some ways, I think I'm more interesting because of the things I can't do. I'm unable to snap my fingers, and I can hardly whistle. To hear me sing is to wish for me to stop--quickly.

Yet I think this lack of ability has actually helped me. I spend a lot of time contemplating ideas and talking them over with others, so I don't make snap judgments.

I'm determined to help other people get a chance to sing their own song--just like the Mama Cass song says.

And although I can't whistle while I work, I do try to stay positive and proactive, and not just at work.

Liz B: Name one YA title, published pre-1998, that would have made an excellent Printz Award winner.

Melissa Rabey: I know that there's lots of people who would support either Rats Saw Godby Rob Thomas or Weetzie Batby Francesca Lia Block as the best answer to this question. And both of those books are fantastic examples of the quality of young adult literature.

But there's another book, one which has stuck with me ever since I read it: Eva by Peter Dickinson. I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it, but the plot twist in this novel still gives me the willies, five years after I read it. In addition, the language and characterization in this novel are rich and compelling; without this, an interesting idea would fall flat.

I think the best books have two aspects: what they're saying and how they're saying it. I feel Eva succeeds on both counts, and therefore would have been my pick for a Printz Award, if this award had existed in 1989.

Liz B: What has prepared you to read for the Printz?

Melissa Rabey: Over the last nine months, I've been consciously preparing for the Printz Committee. I started a blog to review teen literature and have started posting at Liz Burns' Tea Cozy blog. At my blog, I evaluated the Morris Award shortlist as a way to practice my analytical skills. I served on the Maryland Author Award committee, reviewing the works of young adult authors with Maryland ties in order to select a winner. In this period, I've strived to read more books in general, and to read these books in a more critical manner.

Yet I've also been preparing for the Printz committee ever since I became a teen librarian. I've always sought to be aware of the important and/or popular books published for teens, and to read as many as I could. Through my service on Popular Paperbacks, I learned how to manage a reading workload and discuss books with my colleagues.

I feel that this mix of conscious and unconscious planning has me as ready as possible for the Printz committee. I don't know if anyone is really prepared for the amount of work that's involved in the Printz committee, but I think I can do a good job. I hope you believe that, too.

Liz B: What's your area of pop culture expertise?

Melissa Rabey: I seem to be an expert at nitpicking historical inaccuracies in movies and TV shows. I understand why history gets changed to create or enhance drama--or at least, what's seen as drama. I feel that if you can't see the tragedy, the humor, the entertainment in historical fact, you've got an unusual definition of drama. It's for this reason I haven't watched any of The Tudors : it's a marvelous time period, full of sex and fights and political wranglings, yet all that isn't interesting enough on its own, apparently. But if, in the end, a show like the Tudors gets people more interested in history, then I can't really complain all that much.

Liz B: I guess I should confess now that I've never read Eva. Oh, well, I better start reading! Thanks, Melissa!

As a reminder to all YALSA members:

Here's the official YALSA slate

And video interviews with the candidates, including Melissa

The Election category on the blog with all Election information

Cross-posted at Tea Cozy.

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Congratulations All Around

So much joy & excitement in the world of Pop!

First, Carlie Webber: Mover & Shaker. Great write-up, awesome photo, so, so proud to know her. Please go congratulate her at her other blog, Librarilly Blonde!

Second, welcome, welcome to John & Shai Klima's second baby, Mr. Easton Cade Klima! I'm not sure if John would want me posting a photo of the young man here (though there is one at the blog post linked above), but I can tell you he is cute, and everyone is healthy. Yay for the growing Pop Family!

Third, our very own Melissa Rabey is on the ballot for the 2011 Printz Committee. If you are a member of YALSA, please consider voting for her, because she is made out of awesome. Seriously: unflappable, passionate, knowledgeable, kind, and thoughtful. I am telling you, Melissa is what you're looking for in a Printz Committee member, but you don't have to take my word for it. Read her blog, Librarian By Day, and see for yourself!

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Liz Burns on the Printz Process

Our very own Liz Burns is guest-blogging at ForeWard Magazine's blog, ShelfSpace, this month. Her first post is a typically insightful look at her experiences being a member of the 2009 Michael L. Printz Award Committee. Since I'm on YALSA's Nominating Committee again this year, I will be using Liz's entry as a "here's a glimpse of what you can expect" point of reference for potential Printz candidates.



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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Carlie Webber for Printz 2010!

We are delighted to endorse Carlie Webber, fellow Pop Goes the Library-an, friend, esteemed colleague, and genius of the supremely catchy catchphrase, for the Michael L. Printz Committee for 2010.

Carlie is a smart, sharp reader who can not only articulate her vision of literary quality; she can sniff out a lack of it at twenty pages.

Carlie is passionate about the need for the Printz Award winners and honor books to be more than mere vehicles for shiny labels.

Carlie is a seasoned book reviewer and Mock Printz contest moderator. She cuts through BS with her Ginsu knife-like wit, leaps tall ARCs in a single bound, and has read and reviewed more books than you've had hot dinners. The woman knows her stuff and doesn't mince words.

Carlie Webber! Passion. Vision. Experience. Savvy. Abundant Charm.

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Interview with Carlie Webber

Carlie Webber is running for the Printz; if you're a YALSA member, you either have (or soon will have) your ballot. Eight people are running for four slots on the committee; the YALSA blog has a Q and Q with all candidates.

Carlie is a contributor here at Pop; and also began contributing to Tea Cozy several months ago. Here's a chance to get to know her a little bit better, with a few questions about Printz type matters.

Liz B: How do you define "Young Adult" literature, as opposed to "children's" or "adult"?

Carlie: YA literature should capture the coming-of-age experience and the independence and identity that a teen character gains through it. To me, what separates a YA novel from an adult novel with a teen main character is the lack of perspective on the part of the main character. A YA novel describes coming-of-age events as they happen, with no sense of looking back and thinking about what could've been.

Regarding the separation of children's literature from YA, I have a few points. The age of the main character is the obvious one. The not-so-obvious one is looking at the coming-of-age events I mentioned before. In a YA novel, the main character has a definite separation from his or her parents, establishing independence. Events will happen that will make the main character reconsider the world he or she knows and s/he'll take the first steps towards establishing a place of his/her own within it. There are some novels that there's an argument for either way, children's versus YA, but the establishment of independence separate from parents is a big litmus test for me.

Liz B: This is cheating a bit, but I liked this question when YALSA Blog asked it last year. Give us one YA title, published in 1998 or before, that you think would have made an excellent Printz Award Winner if the award had been in existence then?

Carlie: I know the popular answers to this question are The Golden Compass and Weetzie Bat, but I'm going to be the maverick here and say Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas.

Half of what makes a book literary is how the author chooses to use language in the context of his or her setting. Thomas used language and first person perspective to emphasize how Steve York's view of himself changed as he wrote the essay. As a result of these language choices the reader saw Steve as raw, simultaneously bewildered and jaded by his relationships with his father and Dub, and Thomas created someone unforgettable. The sort of bitter humor Thomas used is something we've seen in a number of lauded books lately, like The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.

Liz B: What is your pop-culture area of expertise?

Carlie: I have a few of those!

First, classic and hard rock. As I explain to fellow fans of Supernatural, I have Dean Winchester's taste in music. Some of my favorite bands include Led Zeppelin, Rush, Shinedown, AC/DC, Seether, Audioslave, Nirvana, and Velvet Revolver. I even filled out the 92.3 K-Rock March Bracket Brawl...but I lost because I picked Tom Petty to win over Pink Floyd in today's afternoon round.

Second, crime shows. Much of the father-daughter bonding in my parents' home was done over episodes of Law & Order and I've never lost my love of crimesolver shows, both fictional and documentary. My current favorites are Numb3rs and NCIS, and I thought Cynthia Nixon was completely brilliant on Law & Order: SVU earlier this season.

Third, bad reality television. As I've explained to people: I spend the majority of my time reading books, giving the best advice I can to my fellow professionals, looking critically at developments in literature and technology, and generally doing the best I can to make the YA library world a good place. When I come home and watch TV, I want to shut off my brain and I believe in doing things right. So yes, I love House and Numb3rs and all those shows that require cerebral involvement, but I am also completely addicted to America's Next Top Model. I'm hooked on Flavor of Love, Rock of Love (I actually listened to Poison when I was a kid! I know who Bret Michaels is!), Hell's Kitchen, Celebrity Fit Club, The Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious, and even the not-so-bad reality shows like Top Chef and Project Runway.

Liz B: Thanks, Carlie! And hmmm... I haven't been watching NCIS... I guess I better go to Netflix and add it to my queue!

Cross posted at Tea Cozy.

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Congratulations, Liz!

I am beyond delighted to report that the YALSA election results are in, and our very own Liz Burns is a brand-new member of the Printz Committee! I could not be happier, prouder, or more full of squee than I am right now. As everyone who reads Liz's posts here and at Tea Cozy knows, she is brilliant, thoughtful, fair, and funny, which is about as fine a combination of qualities a Printz Committee member can have.

Mazel Tov, Smartie. You earned it.

In other fabulous YALSA/NJ news, Friends of Pop Sarah Cornish Debraski is YALSA President-Elect, and Sharon Rawlins is on the Margaret A. Edwards Committee. A great day for NJ librarians, I'd say.

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No Blogging for Committee Members?

LibrariAnne has a detailed report on a rumor about ALSC and bloggers who are committee members not being allowed to blog. I did hear whispers about this during Midwinter, and a comment to LibrariAnne's blog confirms that ALSC is "grappling" with this issue.

So I ask you: anyone know the deal? The specifics of the guidelines? Is it just ALSC, or is YALSA doing something similar?

Thanks to A Year Of Reading for the link.

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YALSA Elections (and a personal note)

ALA and YALSA elections are coming up; in order to vote for the YALSA part you must be a member of ALA and YALSA by January 31, 2007.

The election opens March 15 and closes April 24.

Go over to the YALSA blog to see the full slate of candidates for different positions.

Please note the candidates for the 2009 Michael L. Printz Award Committee:

Elizabeth Burns (yes, this is me!)
Donna Cook
Stacy Creel-Chavez
Alison Hendon
Celia Holm
Ellen Loughran
Karyn Silverman
J. Marin Younker

Eight candidates are running for four positions. The full policies and procedures for the Printz are here.

Cross posted at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy.

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