Belle da Costa Greene, the first-ever director of the Morgan Library (and total badass, not to mention my library idol) famously said “Just because I’m a librarian doesn’t mean I have to dress like one.”

Truer words were never spoken, Belle.

And in this age when tattoos and piercings are becoming more socially acceptable, society will soon need to reevaluate just what they think a librarian looks like.

Rewinding a few months back to orientation, I approached the 6th floor of our Manhattan building — the floor dedicated to library science classes — with excitement and some trepidation. How would I find my future classmates? I need not have worried.

It’s possible that being in New York has somewhat skewed this data, but a large cross-section of my program is tattooed and/or pierced. We have discarded the prim and proper visage of the librarians of yesteryear in favor of self-expression. I believe some of this has to do with society’s growing acceptance of tattoos and piercings, but I’m curious about how those within the profession view the change in appearance.

Libraries are funny when it comes to change. By virtue of our purpose we must be some of the first to adopt it, but historically the underlying structure is incredibly resistant to change. Would older librarians, those that fit the stereotype, be scandalized by my and my classmates’ appearances? Or could this be a good thing– a way to further connect to those whom we serve?

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I’m not dead (yet)

October 16, 2012

My dearest readers, I have not forsaken you! I’m still here. I’ve just been drowning under a tidal wave of schoolwork and — for reasons that I’ll go into when I have more time — I’m looking for a new apartment. New York real estate is insane and makes me question my will to live, but I think my search might soon be over, so keep your fingers and toes crossed for me.

My program doesn’t have midterms, but I am in the midst of a bunch of projects, all of which seem to be due now or in the very near future, so working on those has taken up much of my time.

I am still reading though! And you will (eventually) have reviews. I finished In One Person and am reading 11/22/63 right now.

Once I move and get settled and clean you might even get pictures of my new place!

I have some planned posts that are in various stages, so they might appear at some point as well. In short: I haven’t forgotten about you, I’ve just been busy.

I’d say follow me on Twitter, but I’m often too busy even for that (though you should follow me —shamelessplug shamelessplug), so in order to truly get the effect you’d probably just have to stalk me for a day and see how much time I spend on the train/doing schoolwork… I probably wouldn’t be that interesting of a stalkee (yes, that’s a word now, I just made it up).

YA and Feminism

October 4, 2012

I was on the subway this morning and happened to see a young girl reading Twilight. Though I cringed inwardly, I did think, “well, at least she’s reading.”

But then I stopped and thought about that. The “at least they’re reading” argument is a good one, but if ‘reluctant readers’ are reading less to begin with, they aren’t being exposed to as wide a variety of characterizations, so wouldn’t we want them to be exposed to more positive messages?

I don’t know if this girl actually is a ‘reluctant reader,’ but if she is then she’s being exposed to a female protagonist who lets herself be entirely defined and controlled by a man. The “team Edward” or “team Jacob” phenomena is baffling to me as both characters attempt to control Bella and she lets her entire being get swallowed up by their worlds. Even were she given the opportunity to think for herself, she wouldn’t take it.

Look at this in contrast with Hermione in Harry Potter. I’m not trying to make Hermione out to be the feminist model in modern YA literature, but to prove a point, she thinks for herself (and often for others) and isn’t afraid to hide who or what she is. She even ends up with a date — with a celebrity no less (remember Krum?) — because she’s smart, not despite the fact.

Today’s girls need empowering reminders that it’s OK to be smart and know and be who you are.

It’s also OK to want to feel pretty though. Putting aside any issues I might have with the beauty and fashion industries, a tube of lipstick or a pair of heels can also be fun as long as they’re not dictated by someone else’s expectations.

Yes. This is what I think about on my way to school.

Dear readers, despite my long silence I have not actually disappeared. I have simply been attempting to be a good student and intern and have continued to read 8 books at once and have therefore not finished any recently.

And then Where’d You Go, Bernadette? came to the library. Or, rather, it came back to the library and it was finally my turn to read it. Given my love for epistolary novels, I pretty much knew I was going to blaze through this, so I let myself go and read with wild abandon. It was delightful.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? has something for everyone. A precocious teen, a dysfunctional marriage, a misanthrope, a family trip to Antarctica, a missing family member…. What’s not to like?!

Did I mention it’s an epistolary novel? I know they’re not for everyone, but I really like them. If they’re for you and you haven’t yet read Ella Minnow Pea, do that immediately. That book may very well have begun my love affair with language. I may have to find and re-read it now that I’ve begun thinking about it. Epistolary novels allow readers an interesting view into characters’ worlds. There’s an air of performativity to them in some cases, for example some of Audrey’s emails to various Galer Street parents and faculty, and yet some letters provide windows into the psyche like the letter Bernadette writes to her old colleague.

Now I return to my schoolwork and the other million books I’m reading. I need to just focus and read one or two of them until I finish, but I just get so excited and want to read all of them. Yes, I know that’s impractical.