I am part of a kickass library group on Facebook. Discussion topics run the gamut from dealing with difficult boards/government committees, to bizarre patron interactions, to what we’re drinking.

And tonight, one librarian walked into her local Wal-Mart and saw a huge display selling Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. Those of you following along are probably calling shenanigans right about now. The release date for Go Set a Watchman is Tuesday, July 14. There are some insane embargoes on this book. Copies come in boxes with labels stating that books cannot be sold/checked out before the release date. Taking/posting pictures of the book or even the box it came in violates the agreements that libraries and bookstores make with publishers.

So the fact that this HUGE book is on the sales floor days before its release date is a big deal. When the librarian said something to the store manager, the response was “what are you going to do about it?” Now, I’m not going to say that that was the store’s first mistake, but it was definitely a big one.

After a post on the group’s page, what I will now call the librarian mafia (in the most loving of ways) took action. They contacted Harper Collins with the store information and even though it was already kind of late on a Friday night, HC was ON. THEIR. SHIT. and the librarian crusaders received very prompt responses that HC would be contacting the store in question.

If you’re out shopping at a store (not just Wal-Mart, though based on previous incidents they appear to think these kinds of rules don’t apply to them) and see a book displayed before its release date, you can usually find a phone number or email address for reporting issues to the publisher.

The email address and phone number to report violations to Harper Collins are below. If you see displays of Go Set a Watchman before Tuesday, I encourage you to report it.

onsaleviolations@harpercollins.com

1-800-242-7737

In conclusion, if you ever thought about pissing off a librarian, you might want to reconsider that course of action. That guy at Wal-Mart who naively asked “what are you going to do about it” had no idea what he started. It’s a lesson everyone should learn: don’t screw with the librarians.

Advertisements

WorldCat and Google Books

February 21, 2013

I don’t actually spend that much time on Google Books, which is kind of silly since it’s a great resource, but there you go — deep, dark secret #?. Since I don’t use it that often, I have no idea how long this has been the case, but it was a revelation for me.

In any case, I was playing the other day, and I discovered that it links to WorldCat. Can we all just agree that that is the bomb-diggity? You know I only break out my 90s slang when I’m excited and I’m really excited about this.

If you aren’t familiar with WorldCat, just think about your regular library catalog — you can search for a book and if your library has it, you’ll see the records for everything that matches your search in the library’s collection. When you search WorldCat it searches all the libraries.

So maybe your library doesn’t have that book. That’s a bummer. But hey, a quick search in WorldCat shows that the University library right down the street has it, and they’ll let you use it! And if their copy is out, the library the next town over has two copies! This is the magic of WorldCat.

So the fact that Google Books now links to WorldCat is amazing. Now, people can look at a book they’re interested in on Google Books and click on the WorldCat link to see which libraries near them have copies.

Lobbying for Libraries

February 20, 2013

Last week social media was all a-twitter after the Guardian ran a story about Terry Deary, a best-selling author in the UK, and his view on libraries. Deary argues that libraries are no longer relevant

“I’m not attacking libraries, I’m attacking the concept behind libraries, which is no longer relevant,” Deary told the Guardian, pointing out that the original Public Libraries Act, which gave rise to the first free public libraries in the UK, was passed in 1850. “Because it’s been 150 years, we’ve got this idea that we’ve got an entitlement to read books for free, at the expense of authors, publishers and council tax payers. This is not the Victorian age, when we wanted to allow the impoverished access to literature. We pay for compulsory schooling to do that…”

Deary seems to have never set foot in a library or read a mission statement if he thinks that the “compulsory education” taxes provide meet the full range of community needs that libraries routinely do.

Many of Deary’s complaints about libraries make him seem like the prototypical rich entitled author, but I’m trying really hard not to criticize him (that’s why I’ve tried to wait and let my feelings cool before writing this).

The thing is— libraries and librarians are constantly having to justify our existence to everyone (the communities we serve, the government, even our own boards). Not only is it a matter of funding in an economic climate where every penny counts, the role of libraries in the community (I’m speaking mostly about public libraries here, but private and academic libraries face many of these challenges as well) is changing and librarians are expected to do more with less. Libraries are expected to increase productivity and serve more community members while also working toward innovation and progress. Many libraries are also making a more concerted effort to draw new people into the library through more programs. With the services they provide and the atmosphere they strive to create, many libraries are turning into de facto community centers.

Libraries do so much and we are constantly evolving to meet new needs

It’s heartening to see that the response to this— people all over social media, along with countless prominent authors have stepped up and voiced their support for libraries. It’s good to know that there are still plenty of people fighting for us.

If you want to read the full Guardian article, you can read it here.

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?

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.

O lovely readers, I promise I have not forsaken thee! I’ve just been easing (read: sinking) into my graduate studies. I know it hasn’t been that long, but I’m still working on re-learning how to be a student again… weird.

I’m in an Information Technologies class, and while my professor is beyond amazing, our most recent assignment involved designing a (albeit incredibly simple) webpage using HTML and CSS. In case you cannot accurately call to mind my fear of all things Technology, I will direct you back to this post.

And now I must dive back into my reading. Here’s a tidbit: antelopes are documents. But only some of them (the antelopes), and only in certain situations. Gotta love information theorists.

I do have things to review, but for now I leave you with an old one recycled from my now-defunct previous blog. Enjoy?

The Night Circus

     Most of the people I’ve spoken to about this book have very strong feelings about it. Love it or hate it, there are no feelings in the middle. I can kind of understand how it inspires those feelings, yet I am irrevocably indecisive, so I still find myself mostly in the middle of the road.
     I enjoyed reading the book. It held my interest and I didn’t really feel that the story lagged or the plot fell apart. That being said, I do take issue with some aspects of the book.
     Most of the story is supposed to be set in the late 1800s/early 1900s. Other than women wearing gowns instead of dresses and the characters speaking with fewer contractions there is really no sense of this whatsoever. I understand that this is a different side of that era and Morgenstern is trying to show us a bit of the fantastic, but if you’re going to go through the trouble to set that sort of scene, there needs to be more follow-through.
     The challenge concept was a good idea, but there wasn’t really the right balance of conflict throughout. At times there was so much focus on the challenge that there was a complete halt to the rest of the story, at others, the challenge seemed entirely forgotten. There was just a bit of a balance issue.
     I also wanted to know more about Poppet, Widget, and Bailey and more about Marco’s charms. These were the most interesting parts for me and I wish they had been developed more. It just felt like Poppet, Widget, and Bailey should have been played much bigger parts in the story. They were interesting and I wanted to know more. I wanted to know what it was like for Poppet and Widget growing up in the circus. And the magic: Celia’s is innate, but Marco’s is learned. I understood this to be at least partially the basis of the challenge, so I wanted to know more about Marco’s magic. I also wanted to learn more about the magic that held the circus together: what magic belonged to whom?
     All in all, Morgenstern has a flair for description, I’ll give her that, but at times I wondered at the things she chose to describe. It almost seems like everything I wanted might have been in there at some point, and then someone told her to edit for length and she took out all the wrong parts.

My first week back at school was uneventful in the way that every first week back at school always is: introductions to syllabi, professors insisting that we go around the room and introduce ourselves, trying to figure out what the professor prefers to be called, etc. It was also entirely different because it’s grad school. Not only is this grad school, this is library school. Everyone in that classroom wants to be a librarian. Sure, there are different specialties and concentrations, but at the center of it all is information. Every person in that room wants to learn how to take that information and make it more accessible.

Classes have technically started, but now that this first week of introductions is over, I’m excited for classes to really begin. I’m also still kind of terrified.