Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, and John Klima. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.



I've had the idea for this post for a while. In fact, my notes are dated February 22 of this year, although the links seem to indicate that my thoughts stretched into March on this. It all comes from the good people over at Entertainment Weekly's Pop Watch (an essential pop culture site). They found some old videos on YouTube of Sesame Street clips. These are all clips that I remember from my youth, much like the Pop Watcher who posted them. They are:

Making crayons
Girl Takes Llama to the Dentist
That Cantalope who sang Bizet's Carmen

(Ed note: that cantalope always scared me to death as a kid; it still gives me the shivers)

This got me thinking about a quote I say all the time. (quick aside: I constantly pepper my conversation with snippets of dialogue from television, movies, music, etc.; I suspect it's annoying to people who don't know what I'm talking about, but I'm helpless to stop) The line is: "You feed, I'll water."

NO ONE knows where this comes from. It reminds of when I started college and was talking to people about Schoolhouse Rock, and I got back blank stares. Then I went and bought the video tapes (yes, I went to college before there were DVDs, kids) and played them for people, which seemed to help jog their memory.

The line I remember is from a PSA about sharing. Two kids are fighting over feeding a rabbit...well, let's do some research and get the tale better told than I can:

But when kids do watch TV, after school and week-end mornings, they'll soon see some new 30-second spots illustrating nonviolent and positive solutions to conflict situations. Developed by the United Methodist Church, the Disciples of Christ and the Church of the Brethren, the "Children's Growing Spots" are available locally and on the network. "The Rabbit" goes like this:

Two children:
"I'm gonna take care of the rabbit."
"I wanna do it."
"We can't both do it. go!"

"What would you do?"

"I know. You feed, I'll water."

"When two people want to do the same thing, one idea is to divide the job and each do part of it."

"Tomorrow you feed and I'll water." "Deal."

"And that's a good way to share."

This article originally appeared in Media & Values Issue #10 / Winter 1980

Interesting that I found this article that was published nearly 30 years ago. I remember this ad clear as day. (I'll hang myself out to dry here: I always reimagined this ad with my BFF and I in it since it seemed like something we would do) But I've yet to meet someone else who knows this ad. Do any of you remember it?

Do any of you have any books from your childhood that no one else seems to remember? How about a reading club of 'forgotten' books? Or a programming item where people talk about their favorite books that no one else knows? Or perhaps even a display of things from your childhood tied to books in the collection? The ideas are endless.

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Sports Matter

Before I changed careers to become a librarian there was one thing I could count on every Monday morning and Friday afternoon—someone would be talking about weekend sports around the water cooler. But since I became a librarian, first in an academic library and then in a public library, I noticed that my colleagues rarely mentioned the “F” word, by which I mean “Football”. This morning as I was weeding old magazines and journals at home I came across an issue of Booklist from 6/1/06 and 6/15/06 in which columnist Will Manley of The Manley Arts: The Worried Librarian writes, “In my role of chief worrier of the world, it’s important for me to avoid worrying about trivial things. For instance, I don’t care who wins the Super Bowl or the World Series. I will leave the worries of spectator sports to those who have a psychological need to assign some sort of cosmic meaning to games involving balls of various shapes and sizes.”

Fellow Librarians, this kind of attitude is a difficulty. It is especially important to care about sports if you are attempting to attract male readers. According to research from Neilsen Sports “over 60% of American households say that they have a football fan”. When I worked as a youth services librarian I once asked some middle school boys to help me make a book display. They were unenthusiastic until I told them I wanted to do a display about sports. Their eyes lit up and they buzzed about in the stacks selecting books “that kids would like about basketball, football, hockey…” When I was a young adult librarian the books I put on display about sports flew off the shelves. Sports books displays work.

February is Super Bowl time and also the beginning of Black History Month. Yesterday in the NFC and AFC title games history was made as two African-American head coaches go to the Super Bowl for the first time, Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears and Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts (Read more at Superbowl.com). Create a book display. And if you are a night-owl there is some fantastic tennis going on down under at the Australian Open, live on ESPN2 in the wee hours of the morning. Perhaps create a display featuring books about the country of Australia, tennis and Australian writers?

Even if you are a librarian who does not care about sports (and I know there are many librarians who do care about sports) bear in mind that many of your patrons are sports fans.

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