Saturday, March 29, 2008

Shojo Crush!

I've got my first crush on a shojo title and all atwitter over it. The book is Love Roma and it is middle school puppy love at it's toothachingly sweet finest. I picked up the first issue as part of my subway/collection development reading and so far it is just too cute and honest to not adore it.

This has me thinking that I need to read some of the "hot pink" titles I am so leery of in my collection. "Hot pink" is a term we came up with in our YA room for the current batch of semi-steamy teen romance books out there. Your usual "girl book" have been known around librarians as "pink books" for a while. Adding the Hot to the term differentiates these from you run of the mill teen heartache texts.

Gossip Girls, Seven Deadly Sins, The A-List, these books circulate like mad out of my YA room. They certainly have the girls reading and they are crazy about getting the next in the series, it is nice to see thier enthusiasm. All the same there is something shallow about these books, something vaguely skeevy about them. There is a vibe that they embrace fairly shallow concepts of relationships and that they are just another place to reinforce the empty values of wealth and beauty over all which make for a disturbing counterpoint to contemporary pop culture.

In a way I suppose they are primers for Zane or Danielle Steele which the girls will eventually grow into. Since they are currently my worst book I've never read I should really just grab a handful and read them.

Romance fiction is, for me, a wonderful collection development excercise. In my case it is col. dev. in a genre which I have absolutely no history in. I don't think I have read a real romance (outside of manga titles) in my life. As a genre it is wildly complicated with easily a dozen subgenres all publishing like mad. It is a great way to keep your librarian cops up to speed to be getting relevant titles when you have nothing other than your professional resources, training, and reader's advisory experience to go on.

Man I cannot wait until someone returns the next volume of Love Roma though...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Great Symposium

I spent Saturday at The Center for Independent Publishing's SPLAT, aGraphic novel symposium. The event was a blast. I met a lot of really great people, made what I hope will be some good contacts, and generally learned a bunch.

The thing happened at the General Society for Mechanics and Tradesmen, this wonderfully old school gorgeous building right by the theatres off Times Square. The place is just a confectionary of stonework and has one of those achingly lovely libraries which are so unlike contemporary library design.

Spent the vast majority of my time in the Track 3 educators sequence. Lots of big brain stuff on applications of the art form to education and how libraries of different types make them work.

Details to follow, I got too much out of this to blaze it all out at once...

Monday, March 17, 2008

blogger travail

after some time off the blog I am now trying to get back into the swing

having seem to have lost both user name and password this may take a moment, the fact that I have recently done some work which is pointing far more people to this site ups the ante considerably.

really need to set this thing up so I can spout off when I am home and not just in the odd two minute burst that my YS desk schedule is affording me...

more to follow

Monday, December 3, 2007

What's In A Name?

While doing some research at the NY Public Library I found myself confronted by something in my profession. I was entranced by the Astor room, a gleaming three story entryway of marble and when I read the dedication I saw that it was named in honor of a philanthropist who had sat on the library board for a number of decades. When I first began my career in public libraries I worked at the LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library. LeRoy Collins had been a major figure in state politics and the library director was vehement about the full name of the library always being used. "Good afternoon, welcome to the LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library, how can I help you" is a mouthful to get out every time you are doing telephone reference.

What I have come to understand is that libraries are not named after librarians. No matter what I accomplish in my career there will never be a Christian Zabriskie Library (unless, as waggish friends have suggested, I quit my job, go out and make a ton of money, then dedicate that to a library). I understand that financiers are crucial to libraries since they provide the cash to do major capital improvements and I also understand that naming a building after someone's mother is a great way of raising cash. It is just a little depressing that if Joe starts a hot dog stand he can call it Joe's Hot Dog Stand and have a sense of ownership over it. I myself grew up in and around my father's business, Zabriskie's Pharmacy, and it made me really proud to have my name up on a sign on mainstreet.

Of course I realize that by the very nature of my profession I cannot OWN the library, it is the public's property not mine and I am a caretaker and facilitator between them and it and will be even when I am a library director. In some cases though this lack of recognition for our profession seems a little ridiculous.

Melvile Dewey is often called the Father of Modern Librarianship. Not only did he invent the Dewey Decimal Classification system which is still used in most American public libraries, he also was one of the founders of the American Library Association, and helped to start Library Journal, to this day the largest professional journal out there. He was one of the great agents of social change in our society as his reinvisioning of the public library made it accessible to people of all classes. He was instrumental in founding the first school of library science at Columbia University and demanded that the school be open to women. He reformed the Library of Congress and made it the national catalogue that it is today. The public library as we know it simply would not exist were it not for this man.

Yet I cannot find a single library anywhere named in his honor...

Friday, November 30, 2007


I've been having some trouble logging in to the blog to add new material. All apologies to anyone who has been checking in. More to follow when I am not heading onto the desk for a two hour afterschool marathon.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Games About Librarianship

While doing a random search for Library newsfeeds I came across these two games developed by Carnagie Mellon University Libraries. One is fair, the other is brilliant.

Within Range is what a lot of people think Librarians do all day, put books back on shelves according to an esoteric classification system. I have used a similar game as part of a training session when I was a library assistant during grad school. It is an OK way to start to understand the mechanics if not the purpose of the Library of Congress classification system. We librarians really don't do all that much of this stuff though, it is usually up to pages and shelvers to handle this kind of book traffic.
I'll Get It though is just brilliant. It creates a nice little flash model of the real life of reference librarianship and public service. If you want to get any sense of what I really do all day (in between class visits, programming, collection development and the like) this is your ticket in. Seriously.

Trading Card

OK, this image tool is pretty fun. I did always want to be on a trading card despite having no skill whatsoever in any sport which would actaully GET me on a trading card. I didn't collect them either, but as a kid you see fame applied in these very tangible ways.

For the record that is me in that suit. I was Libro the Library Lion for the Bermuda National Library. The suit was incredibly hot and impossible to see out of. Having said all that it was pretty fun to get the kids reactions (except for the little bastards who pulled my tail). I do sort of wish that the library could have gotten a tshirt or something made up for me because without the signs I used to carry there is really no way to know that the lion is a LIBRARY lion (except when I made my library RRRRREEEEEAAAAAD roar).

A lot of kids suspected that Mr. Z was Libro. There was a great moment when Mrs. Z wore the suit and the two of us were seen side by side. I liken the looks of shock to those great DC comics moments when Batman would pretend to be Superman so that Supes could be seen with his "good freind" Clark Kent all to throw off the keen witted Lois Lane.

You spend enough time with your head encased in a Lion mask and this is the kind of thing that comes to mind.