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.


Friday Fun: The Olympics for Non-Sports Fans

Admittedly, I'm a big fan of the Olympics. I don't think I've gotten to bed before midnight this week, because I've been up watching the coverage from Beijing. Thank goodness the weekend is finally here!

But, if you're not a sports fan, you might think the Olympics doesn't offer you anything. But . . . how about some pretty awesome commercials?

Nike's commercial, which is more about honoring the twentieth anniversary of the Just Do It slogan, features a huge number of athletes, all set to a song by the Killers. If you go to the Nike site to view the commercial, you get the benefit of an animation at the bottom of the screen, indicating who most of the athletes are.

Visa's commercials are incredibly distinctive, done in a golden sepia tone and highlighting various athletes and stories. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, they're very simple, but gorgeously filmed and very moving. My favorite is the one featuring Derek Redmond.

What commercials have gotten you interested in something you normally could care less about?

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What a Day for Sports! Are Libraries Ready for the NeXt Generation?

What a day yesterday was in the world of sports. I spent a good portion of my Sunday watching Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer play in the Wimbledon tennis championship on television in a nearly 5 hour tennis match that was the longest men’s final in history and probably the greatest ever. Nadal finally bested 5 time Wimbledon Champ Federer to win 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7(8), 9-7. It was the best tennis match that I, personally, have ever seen. Both players were courting history. Nadal sought to win both the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year which had not been done in 28 years since Bjorn Borg and his wooden racquet in 1980. Federer, was playing for a 6th consecutive Wimbledon win which had not occurred in over a century.

To continue the sports Wow!-dom, I then watched Dara Torres set a new American record in the 50 meter freestyle at the age of 41 in the Olympic qualifying trials. Yes, you read right. Torres, the former Olympic Champion and mom qualified for the Beijing Olympics in both the 50 meter and 25 meter freestyle events. Quite an accomplishment in a sport that favors swimmers in their teens and twenties. Why did Torres start swimming again? To get in shape after having a baby. Then Torres discovered that she was beating everyone in the pool. And the rest is history, literally.

Then there is also World Series pitching champ Curt Schilling of the Boston Red Sox who won his last world series game at age 40 and surfing champ Laird Hamilton who still rides the big waves at 44.

So, what does all this have to do with libraries? Well, it leads me to wonder what libraries are doing to support a new generation of readers and library users with programs and services?

By “new generation” I do not mean the teens and tweeners, but rather the Baby Boomers and Generation X’ers who are shattering preconceptions of what middle-age and retirement should be. Many are taking up sports they once played as kids and teens, such as tennis and jogging/running. Others are onto second or third careers, or are using their professional skills to volunteer at local non-profit organizations—perhaps including your Friends of the Library group.

So the question for libraries may well become not “Are libraries ready for teens?”, but rather “Are libraries ready for the teens’ parents and grandparents?”

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My Personal Sports Journey

One of the things that I am proud of at the recent ALA Conference in Washington DC, besides being a presenter with a team from my library, was that I kept up with my exercise program and managed to eat sensibly. This meant getting up at 6AM to hit the gym in my hotel for 30 minutes before a full day of presentations, meetings, classes and networking. My exercise habit began several months earlier and just because I was traveling did not mean I was about to break it.

When I was younger I had the kind of metabolism that meant I could eat anything I wanted without gaining an ounce. Today if I look at a candy bar it will go straight to my hips. Sigh. And since I no longer work in Manhattan, where everyone walks everywhere at the average racewalker’s pace, my lack of daily walking came with a creeping weight gain. Sigh. So, at my annual physical I talked things over with my doc and got the OK to start an exercise program. The following day I went out and bought a recumbent bike. With a bike I could exercise indoors. I didn't have to worry about the weather, or the fact that it is dark outside at 6:00AM before work and dark outside at 5:00P after work in the winter, or that I couldn't make it to the gym because of (insert excuse here).

It wasn’t easy. Despite my good intentions, my recumbent bike started life as a clothing rack. Until the day I saw Morgan Spurlock’s movie “Supersize Me.” After the movie I threw everything on the floor, got on the bike and realized, via the bike’s calorie counter, how much effort it took to work off one 270 calorie candy bar. I also started eating better, watching portion size, and shunning fast-food. Today I exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, and sometimes I even work-out twice a day. My sports of choice are the recumbent bike, tennis, swimming, walking and free weights. I am now down one dress size. It all happened gradually over 6 months of moderate exercise and eating a healthier diet. I also have a pal who is on the same journey. It helps me to have a buddy to keep me on track and honest.

Importantly, I have come to the realization that I am a recreational sports kind-of-gal. Once I found the kind of exercise I like to do it was easier to stick to it. A friend of mine likes to train for marathons. Another loves competitive biking and spin classes. Every person is different. Exercise is now a habit for me and I enjoy it. Not every day, but most days. I am not competing with anyone. I am doing it just for me.

I find books, CD’s and DVD’s on health and fitness at my library. Free with my library card. Some websites that I use on my fitness journey: United States Tennis Association, Runners World, United States Masters Swimming, The Self Challenge .

As for television, last week I watched Shaq’s Big Challenge, Tuesday’s 9P Eastern Time on ABC Television in which NBA star Shaquille O’Neal tackles the issue of childhood obesity. The website has some cool tips and links under “Get on Shaq’s Team.” In last week’s show Shaq and his team of experts approached a school principal about getting physical education classes back into the curriculum. The principal told the team to find her a way to do it within the budget. I was stunned. What? Some schools today have no PE?!! Hey, if I had to endure ugly gym shorts for my entire elementary, middle-school, and high school years then so does everyone else! Why do school budget cuts always hit sports, the arts, and the music programs? Sigh.

Time to turn off the computer and go play tennis…for the second time today! Watching the Wimbledon Championship has inspired me. Venus Williams captured her 4th Wimbledon Championship and Roger Federer equaled Bjorn Borg’s 5 consecutive Wimbledon Championships. P.S. I can’t wait for more tennis matches between Switzerland's Federer and Spain’s incredible Rafael Nadal. What a match-up!

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