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.


Playlist: The 1970s

Every once and a while it is fun to revisit the pop culture of another decade via books and music. This week I picked the 1970s. Now, the books and music don't necessarily need to be written or produced in the 1970s but they must pay tribute to that time. For my trip back to the '70s I picked the book We Were The Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates. While reading this family tragedy my imagination skipped to the thought, "What 1970s pop songs might the characters have been listening to on their car radios?" To answer that question I turned to the new Donny Osmond Love Songs of the '70s. I really like this album and so does the U.K. since it has gone gold over the pond. The other album on my playlist is Mika's Life in Cartoon Motion. Although none of the songs are from the 1970s when listening to Mika I am reminded of the happy pop music of the '70s and on some tracks, such as Grace Kelly, of Freddie Mercury and Queen. So, what's on your playlist this week?

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Pop Culture On The Spectrum

Television, the internet, video and blogs are big parts of today’s pop culture. However, when Sophie B. created Pop Goes the Library she put on the masthead the subtitle, “Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.” This got me thinking about the ways pop culture can not only make libraries better, but also life better. Today I got an answer. While I was watching television and aimlessly channel surfing I came upon “The View” on ABC featuring popular singer Toni Braxton describing her experiences as the mother of a 3-1/2 year old son with autism. The show also interviewed medical experts on autism and families and individuals living with autism. The statistics are mind-boggling. Today 1 out of every 166 children in the United States is born with autism. After the show, I logged onto a terrific blog called “On the Spectrum” which is a clearinghouse of information on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) run by Chris, a brilliant librarian who is also the mother of a child “on the spectrum.” Chris’s most recent post, "Learning Social Skills by Watching" discusses how research at Indiana University shows that using video may help children and teens with autism. Therefore, I nominate Chris as today’s Pop Princess. Eat your hearts out Jessica Simpson, Hilary Duff and Miley Cyrus!

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Sports Matter Again

To follow-up on Susan'searlier post, I wanted to make mention of last weekend's sporting event. To back up Susan's point that sports are important to your patron's, Superbowl XLI was the third-most-watched television show in US history.

Note that I didn't say third-most-watched Superbowl or sports program, it's television show. It ranked behind the 1996 Superbowl between Dallas and Pittsburgh and the M.A.S.H. series finale (#1 watched show of all time). Yikes. That's a lot of people watching one thing. You could probably figure that a number of people who didn't watch the game were working, but I bet a lot of them did what I did and listened to the game on the radio. I've only been in Iowa for a week, but this game was huge for people out here. Iowa has no professional sports teams, and many people are Chicagao Bears (less than 3 hours away!) or even Indianapolis Colts fans (only 5 hours away!). The results of the game have been all over the media, the grocery stores, even in the stacks. I suspect people will be talking about the game through the weekend.

What does this mean for your library? Could you feasibly host a Superbowl event and show the game at your library? I'm not sure if there's licensing to worry about for the game, but you could do something like Princeton Public did with the World Cup this last year. Would people want to leave their homes to come out to the library to watch the game? Maybe. If you offered food (the YA librarians are nodding their heads) and drink (soft drinks people, be realistic) that would be a start. You could also offer 'gambling' by having prizes--such as free movie rentals if you charge, or gift certificates, or no late fees for a month, or something--for final score (you could make one of those popular Superbowl grids) and other things related to the game. You could have football computer games in the library pre-show as a warm-up for the crowd. There are football throwing games that I've seen in sports bars that I'm sure could be rented for a half-time competition.

What about the rest of you? Anyone want to throw a Superbowl party at their library?

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Thank You, OLA SuperConference!

I'm here in Toronto, my favorite city in the world, attending the Ontario Library Association's Super Conference (believe me, it is super in every sense of the word -- super-sized, superlatively organized and super-interesting) and have finally come down from the amazing high of presenting to over 160 people at my morning session on pop culture, called (natch) Pop Goes The Library. This was a teen-centric presentation, but as I was putting together the slides (to be uploaded to www.popgoesthelibrary.com/talks/ola2007.pdf as soon as I get home & get my hands on Acrobat Distiller) for it, I realized that as much as I love focusing on teens & pop culture, that's a really easy sell. I almost prefer the challenge of selling my more traditionally-minded colleagues on pop culture's importance to library service. Maybe next year! Anyway, this was a wonderful experience, and I want to thank my Convenor, Kate Morrison, and my OPLA liaison, Maria Politano, for making the whole process of being a speaker move so smoothly.

UPDATE: I uploaded the handout. It's available here.

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