Banned Books Week 2010

It’s Banned Books Week again where we celebrate intellectual freedom by reading and highlighting books that have been banned, challenged, or otherwise suppressed.  Usually I pick out a banned book or two to read but I’m behind the curve on this one and haven’t even finished reading a book I started a couple of weeks ago and don’t have time to pick out new books to read.  So I decided to go through the ALA list of frequently challenged books and highlights the ones I’ve read.

1 Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2 Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3 The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4 And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5 Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou

7 Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8 His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9 TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Myracle, Lauren
10 The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11 Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12 It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13 Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey (one book in series)
14 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15 The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison

16 Forever, by Judy Blume
17 The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18 Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19 Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20 King and King, by Linda de Haan
21 To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22 Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23 The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24 In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25 Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26 Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27 My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28 Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29 The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
30 We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31 What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32 Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33 Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34 The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35 Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36 Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37 It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38 Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39 Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40 Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41 Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42 The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43 Blubber, by Judy Blume
44 Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45 Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46 Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47 The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, by George Beard
48 Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50 The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

51 Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
52 The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
53 You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
54 The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
55 Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
56 When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
57 Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
58 Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
59 Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
60 Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
61 Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
62 The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
63 The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
64 Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
65 The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
66 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
67 A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
68 Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
69 Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
70 Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
71 Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
72 Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
73 What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
74 The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
75 Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
76 A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
77 Crazy:  A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
78 The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
79 The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
80 A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
81 Black Boy, by Richard Wright
82 Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
83 Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
84 So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
85 Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
86 Cut, by Patricia McCormick
87 Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
88 The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89 Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90 A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
91 Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Graighead George
92 The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
93 Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
94 Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
95 Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
96 Grendel, by John Gardner
97 The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
98 I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
99 Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
100 America: A Novel, by Frank, E.R.

I have to say, of the books left there are not many I want to read.  I guess just because a book is banned doesn’t make it good, but more power to the people who want to read them.

More coverage of Banned Books Week 2010:

Related Posts:

1 Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2 Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3 The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4 And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5 Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7 Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8 His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9 TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Myracle, Lauren
10 The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11 Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12 It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13 Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15 The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16 Forever, by Judy Blume
17 The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18 Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19 Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20 King and King, by Linda de Haan
21 To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22 Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23 The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24 In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25 Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26 Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27 My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28 Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29 The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
30 We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31 What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32 Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33 Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34 The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35 Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36 Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37 It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38 Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39 Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40 Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41 Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42 The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43 Blubber, by Judy Blume
44 Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45 Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46 Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47 The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, by George Beard
48 Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50 The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
51 Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
52 The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
53 You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
54 The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
55 Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
56 When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
57 Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
58 Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
59 Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
60 Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
61 Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
62 The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
63 The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
64 Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
65 The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
66 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
67 A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
68 Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
69 Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
70 Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
71 Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
72 Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
73 What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
74 The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
75 Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
76 A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
77 Crazy:  A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
78 The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
79 The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
80 A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
81 Black Boy, by Richard Wright
82 Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
83 Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
84 So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
85 Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
86 Cut, by Patricia McCormick
87 Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
88 The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89 Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90 A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
91 Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Graighead George
92 The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
93 Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
94 Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
95 Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
96 Grendel, by John Gardner
97 The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
98 I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
99 Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
100 America: A Novel, by Frank, E.R.

Banned Books Week 2008

So, it’s Friday, and the ALA’s Banned Book Week is coming to an end and I haven’t posted about it yet.  Thus, here’s my post and a reminder for you to go to your library or bookseller this weekend and get a banned or challenged book to read.  And yeah, go in person, don’t be a wuss and order from Amazon.  You need to go to the counter, hold the book over your head and announce in a loud voice: “I’d like to get this banned book!”

If you’d like to know why opposing book bans and challenges is important, you need to watch this episode of The Facts of Life on Hulu.  Now!!!

Okay, now if you’d like a less-contrived and more thoughtful statement on the freedom to read, check out this blog post by jamie posted on myliblog last summer: Uncle Bobby’s Wedding.  This is the best response to a book challenge I’ve ever read.

Here’s some other news from Banned Book Week:

As for me, since I’m now a parent, I decided this year to pick up a couple of children’s books for my son:

  • First, a book about penguins that is the most banned book two years running: And Tango Makes Three.  Apparently these penquins live in Manhattan, and thus are liberal elitists.
  • Second, a classic book about nightmares, In the Night Kitchen.  Some folks think this book should come with little fig leafs.

Have a great weekend and enjoy a banned book!

Previously: Banned Books Week 2007

Library Link Dump

In my last post, I promised I would no longer save up lots and lots of articles and blog posts and then put them all in one post, but I have a bunch of library news I’ve saved up over the past month. So this is my last “link dump”. In the future I’ll do more frequent, more current and shorter posts like “Library Link of the Day for…”

Actually, I’d really like to take advantage of one of the social bookmarking tools out there, but I’m not sure which one is best. As I’ve noted in a previous post, I like the Posted Items feature in Facebook. What I’m looking for is something where I can save news articles and blog posts for my personal reference. I have a account but haven’t really been able to get into it. It just looks messy to me. I know there are other things out there like Digg, Reddit, and Newsvine, but I don’t know which one to try next. So if anyone has any suggestions for a social bookmarking tool that does the following, let me know:

  1. Lets me save articles and blog posts and sort them by date, topic, source, etc.
  2. Allows me to comment on these items and share them with others who may be interested in what I’m recommending to read.
  3. Is compatible with WordPress so I can put a widget in my sidebar with the most recent items listed.

With that out of the way, let’s go to the library links!

Library News & Opinion:

November 10 – “Rembrandt reaches the web” by James Fenton, The Guardian – the British Museum makes their collection of “flat” art accessible on the web (via MetaFilter).

November 11 – “Much Loved, Now Much Used” by Fran Silverman, New York Times – successful library renovation in Connecticut and Long Island to make comfortable gathering places for the community.

November 12 – “Exclusive to The Bee: Secret librarian handshake revealed!” by Brad Barker, The Modesto Bee – More from Mr. Library Man

November 13 – “Boston Public Library board ousts longtime president” by Donovan Slack, Boston Globe – in news close to home, BPL president Bernard A. Margolis is removed in what may be a political maneuver by Mayor Menino.

November 15 – “Banned User Abused Factiva” by Jeremy S. Singer-Vine, Harvard Crimson – even closer to home, a library user tests the limits of fair use in downloading articles, and loses.

November 20 – “Six Techniques to Get More from the Web than Google Will Tell You” by Margaret Locher, CIO – “Google does not equal the web” – Librarian in Black.
November 24 – “Inside the tomb of tomes” by Stuart Jeffries, The Guardian – with British Library books moving to “warehouse” facilities the writer questions the need for copyright libraries, and while he doesn’t seem convinced, he does get some interesting explanations.

November 27 – “How Libraries Might Once Again Become Technology Leaders” by Brett Bonfield on ACRLog.

November 30 – “JP Branch Library gets hot, cold and wet” by John Ruch, Jamaica Plain Gazette – another close to home story and related to the Margolis story above, there’s trouble at Boston’s branch libraries.

December 3 – “Shielding Kids from the Real World” from the Marry in Massachusetts blog – massmarrier takes on book censorship in libraries and schools.

December 7 – Finally my friend Craig states the obvious: “Libraries Rock!

Library blogs rock too. If you look to your right, you may notice a great number of new library blogs in my blogroll. I enjoy reading them and will be happy to add more if you have any recomendations.

New Library Blogs in the Blogroll:

Aaron the Librarian


Heidi Go Seek
JohnWilkin’s Blog


The Medium is the Message

mmm. . .brain
Required Field Must Not Be Left Blank

Thoughts From a Library Administrator

Travelin’ Librarian

walking paper

Banned Books Week

September 30-October 6 is Banned Books Week, set aside to promote great literature that has been banned or challenged.  You can learn more online at the ALA Banned Book Week website (should you be luckier than I and find that the website is actually functional).  They have great promotional posters with pirates, and you know how I feel about pirates.


Jessamyn West of has collected useful links for Banned Books Week as well as a related post on union issuesUnshelved takes a funny look at books challenged in the library (keep reading, it may be the start of a series).  Amnesty International also has a Banned Books Week page.

In honor of Banned Books Week, I’ve scanned the lists of books frequently banned and/or challenged and selected two books I’ve never read before to read this week: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (a banned book about banned books, what could be more appropriate?) and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.  I have to stop by my new local library to pick these up.  And when I’m done, I can wear this pin:


Attack of the Hipster Librarians

Recently articles in two New York City newspapers have set the library world abuzz with their coverage of hipsters who happen to be librarians. Or librarians who happen to be hipsters. Either way it seems that everyone has an opinion ranging from “it’s cool to be getting positive media attention” to”this is condescending trash!”

I’m a bit behind the times on this but as a responsible librarian-blogger I should 1) read the articles, 2) review the response, and 3) offer my own take. Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll probably just cut and paste what other people write again.

1. The Articles:

Jesella, Kara, “A Hipper Crowd of Shushers,” New York Times, July 8, 2007.

The myth prevails that librarians are becoming obsolete. “There’s Google, no one needs us,” Ms. Gentile said, mockingly, over a drink at Daddy’s.

Still, these are high-tech times. Why are people getting into this profession when libraries seem as retro as the granny glasses so many of the members of the Desk Set wear?

“Because it’s cool,” said Ms. Gentile, who works at the Brooklyn Museum.

Ms. Murphy, 29, thinks so, too. An actress who had long considered library school, Ms. Murphy finally decided to sign up after meeting several librarians – in bars.

“People I, going in, would never have expected were from the library field,” she said. “Smart, well-read, interesting, funny people, who seemed to be happy with their jobs.”

Shapiro, Gary, “For New-Look Librarians, Head to Brooklyn,” New York Sun, July 5, 2007.

How badly does the image of librarians need updating? A private school librarian, Natasha Cane, recounted how she knew someone whose mother cried when her daughter told her that she wanted to become a librarian. Ms. Cane, who was wearing a pin that read “Can I help you find what you need?” said the Desk Set could help provide an “alternative vision” for being a librarian today. Ms. Cane, who grew up in New Jersey, recalled having had “too much fun” at her local library growing up, but now her job includes shushing kids behaving as she had.Asked how she can tell the archivists from the librarians, Ms. Cane said, “Different gang colors.”

Desk Set MySpace Page

2. The Response:

Positive (July 7)

The fashion section of the New York Times has an article titled A Hipper Crowd of Shushers which, despite the title is less annoying than the usual “librarians, they’re not as lame as you think!” articles that we see about the profession. (July 9)

So, I don’t care much what you think about hipsters. I’m personally proud of the braininess of the profession and if it comes with dowdiness I’m all for it. However, a few things should be clear. The author of the article is trying to say something nice about hipsters by associating them with librarians and librarians by associating them with hipsters. Maybe you don’t share her cultural associations, but it’s not a negative piece. Everyone in the article is portrayed in a positive light. How often does that happen in anything but “puppet show a complete success!” articles about the library? The popularity of this article is likely not because people are sharing it saying “Heh, librarians are such total dorks and losers they think they’re cool and they’re not!” it’s because the framing of this story seems to resonate with people in some way.


A nice article about today’s hipster librarians in the New York Times…

Lower East Side Librarian

It’s not a bad article about how librarians are hipper than our stereotype.

Random Musings from the Desert (July 9 #1)

Random Musings from the Desert (July 9 #2)

Randoms Musings from the Desert (July 9 #3)

As the self-styled Maven of All Things Librarian Image (*laugh*snort*), I just want to add two more cents to my earlier postings. (1) Both articles were in the, shall we say, “fluffier” sections of the respective papers, and I didn’t expect anything serious at that point; (2) Sometimes just getting us out there in front of the public in a way that isn’t behind the desk is good; (3) epithets are bad; and (4) I don’t expect these articles will do much to affect the overarching image we have to Joe Q. Public. On the other hand… small steps, people, small steps, and the more of them the better – maybe J.Q.P will surprise us!

Librarian in Black

It’s great that some good PR is coming out about libraries and librarians, showing how we’re a profession of technology-gurus and research experts more than anything else…not book-stamping shush monsters.

Candy @ GSLIS


…although I take exception to the implication that we weren’t hip in the 70s.

Mixed Bag

Huffington Post (Nicole Scherer)

As a profession, I don’t think librarians care if the public thinks we’re cool: We just want the people we work for to know what exactly it is that we do. For all its emphasis on hipster librarians as another example of nerdy chic, the article’s title perpetuates that most outdated image of librarians — the Shusher — implying that while these new young professionals might be trendy and — dare I say it — sexy, they are still fussy librarians who want to keep it quiet.

The truth is that I myself am not a hipster (although I am always ready for a Dewey cocktail) and I don’t see librarianship as an interesting-enough day job to support my ‘real’ life as a filmmaker or musician or actor. As it is for many librarians, this is my chosen career. Librarians are cool, not because of how we dress, what we drink, or who we associate with. Librarians are cool because our job is cool: We protect people’s freedom to seek out and find the information they need: All service and no shushing.


Circ and Serve

Maybe 5 years is a long time, but when I graduated from library school, none of my classmates became librarians because it seemed cool. They were interested in teaching, collection development, preservation, outreach, literacy, web development, etc. Trendiness had nothing to do with it.

Why are we allowing ourselves and our profession to have one stale stereotype swapped out for a younger, “hipper” one that may be even less accurate than Marian the Librarian ever was?

Information Wants to be Free

The basic gist of the article, “A Hipper Crowd of Shushers,” (if the title wasn’t bad enough) is that these days, librarians are more than bun-wearing spinster book-lovers who hate to have their quiet and orderly library disturbed by human beings. Librarians can be hip, though still in a geeky tattoo of the federal depository library logo, trendy granny glasses and mixed drinks classified by Dewey numbers kind of way. And shockingly, librarians aren’t just women… there are “guybrarians” out there too. And we’re not just about books anymore, we’re also “about organizing and connecting people with information” (I guess I have to wonder when the profession wasn’t about these things). It felt to me like the author hadn’t been to a library in a long time, had never known a librarian personally prior to researching the article, and thought she was making an important discovery in finding that librarians are not how they’ve been portrayed in movies since the 1930s.

A Librarian’s Guide to Ettiquette

And as for trying to remake the image of the typical librarian, how about not going out of your way to tell the entire journalistic world ‘See, we’re normal. We leave our houses just like you do. Really, we do.’

The Days and Nights of Lipstick Librarian

I too feel condescended to, but not so much over the age thing as the now-codifed subtext that unless something (e.g., hobbies, fashion, professions) is adopted by blithe, dripping-with-irony and mostly white twenty-to-thirty-something hipsters, it’s not legitimate, or worse, uncool. (Actually, we’ve come to that point in our culture where once the masses deem something is uncool it immediately becomes cool. The cycling begins.)

The Ubiquitous Librarian

Oh, and Kara Jesella set librarians back about 10 years… she’s living back in the roaring 90’s when the web was new and cool. Her article about hip librarians will do more damage than good. For me, changing the stereotype is done through actions, not through fashion. At the next ALA they’ll probably have hip librarian body wash, hip librarian hair spray, hip librarian lip gloss, hip librarian temporary tattoos, a mixed cd for Next Gen Librarians, the official “hip librarian” t-shirt, and so on. No thanks. The “hip librarian” is such a ready-made cliché — it’s fitting for New York City where style is more important than substance.

Free Range Librarian

I am an aging, wrinkly thing whose idea of a wild evening is playing “Spin the Netflix” to pick a movie to watch while we fold laundry and pay bills. I dress like a square, will never get drunk enough to get a tattoo (especially one with the FDLP logo – do let me rant someday about gov docs), and avoid sleeveless dresses, as there are just not enough arm-curls in the world to defeat gravity times age.But I am cool in my subversive old-lady tech-loving the-user-is-not-broken way, and getting cooler all the time, and I count among my friends and colleagues librarians of all ages, dress codes, and evening habits. What we share is not a love of expensive mixed drinks or the ability to hang out in cliques, but a passion for the profession.

And some people responded the old fashioned way by writing to the editor:

Letters to the New York Times (July15)

3. My Take

I saw a lot of the outrage before I read the articles and now I’m kind of wondering why all the tempest in a teapot over a newspaper fluff piece. The rage against the hipster librarians is especially puzzling. I could see myself enjoying hanging out with the Desk Set as I too enjoy drinking and dancing. On the other hand if they kept insisting on calling me a “guybrarian” I may end up clenching my fists and rubbing my nose vigorously. Regardless, the amount of attention that these two articles on one group received seems to say a whole lot about the obsession with image in the librarian profession.

Tuesday at the ALA Annual Conference

Wow! Librarians certainly like to read a lot. I had 112 hits yesterday and my reports from the ALA Conference are looking pretty popular. It’s about time something gave my review of The Painted Veil a run for its money. I’m grateful for the Internet Cafe at the Washington Convention Center and apologize to all those librarians who had to wait in line while I was writing in my blog. Then again I’m impressed with how much I was able to write in such a short time. Over the next few days I’ll go back and revise the conference posts to add hyperlinks and more details as well as correct the inevitable typos.

So I’m back in Boston where it’s hot and stick. It was hot and sticky in Washington today, and the sun felt relentless on Capitol Hill where white marble is more common than trees. I began the day waiting a long time for the shuttle bus which up until this morning had be extremely efficient. There were more waits at the convention center for the bag check and to get into the Closing Session. Yet somehow I did get squeezed into a seat near the front and hear all of Garrison Keillor’s speech. It was nice to hear the warm voice so familiar from “The Writer’s Almanac” and “A Prairie Home Companion.” While Keillor’s ideas of libraries are a bit idealized and out of date, he did have a good sense of their being a quiet place where the imagination can grow, and that they are important for democracy. He particularly liked that they are places where children don’t have to perform for adults and believes the immigrant children he sees reading in today’s Minneapolis Public Library are America’s future leaders. The Library Journal has already written up a good summary of Keillor’s address.

Next I went down to the Exhibition hall to register for Library Day on the Hill.  This consisted of getting a red t-shirt and some hand outs and was all rather anticlimactic.  There was supposed to a big closing day party in The Stacks but it was just more vendors I didn’t want to talk to telling me about products I’m not interested and asking me to sign up for raffles in which I did not want to participate.  It was also somewhat depressing since a lot of vendors had packed up and left giving it a dying Main Street look.  I escaped up to the Internet Cafe to blog and otherwise find ways to kill time.

Just about noon I took a shuttle bus over to the Capitol.  I sat next to a lovely librarian from Prince George’s County, Maryland who told me all about Street Lit which is all the rage among her semi-urban patrons.  On Capitol Hill, much like Jimmy Carter, I had a crisis of confidence.  What on earth am I going to say to my Representative and Senators, especially if they had questions?  I stalled a bit in the exhibit space in the Rayburn Building and read up on my library legislative literature.  Then I wandered through the labyrinthine corridors of Capitol Hill and finally got up the gusto to enter Michael Capuano’s office.  And I talked with his legislative assistant, ever so briefly, leaving behind by contact info and sheet of library concerns.  The same pattern repeated itself later in the Russell Senate Building at John Kerry’s and Edward Kennedy’s offices.  I have to say that just boat loads of people were in the government buildings today. Most of them were in snazzy suits, but there were also other petitioners from the ACLU doing the same type of thing we were doing (they wore white & green t-shirts).  I was also touched by the wall of portraits in Kennedy’s office of big brother John.  Granted, every Irish pub in Boston has a similar display, but it there it was more meaningful.

In between visiting the House and Senate offices, I played hooky from my lobbying duties by taking a tour of the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress.  I took a tour lead by an exuberant volunteer.  She liked to point out how the art and architecture of the building were paeans to the European culture that Americans aspired to in the late 19th-Century when the library was built.  It’s very beautiful.  I also looked at the exhibit of American treasures because I never tire of looking at cool, old stuff.

And then I flew home.  I have a lot to read and write and think about.  Luckily I work in a library.

Monday at the ALA Annual Conference

I had a slow start to the day and had to call Susan from my hotel bed to have her tell me to get out of bed and get to the conference center.  It turned out to be a lucky day though.  How often does one get a 1905 Indian Head cent in one’s change from the coffee shop?  For me never.  I can’t believe that it was still in circulation, but it isn’t anymore.  I was so excited about the cent I brought it by the US Mint booth in the exhibition hall.  They were not so excited and probably wished I was a teacher or a school librarian so that they could give me some literature.

Anyhow, enough numismatics, on to to librarianship.  I spent most of the morning in the exhibition halls.  I’m not really into gathering loot like so many of my colleagues seem to be but I did get a number of handouts from vendors.  I visited the Proquest CSA  “funhouse” (it really looks like a kid’s treehouse) and learned of their new historical annual reports services.  Of course they told me that they created the database with the assistance of my library, not that anyone there told Access Services.  Anyhow, that will be a useful resources once it debuts and I’m ready to let the secret out.  I also got a good demo at Ex Libris of Primo a kind of super catalog that searches through a library or a consortiums various catalogs and databases.   OCLC has a similar product in WorldCat Local.

The real eyeopeners were the Resource Sharing products.  The OCLC vendor demonstrated ILLiad for me which was so beautifully easy I could have wept.  I also saw scanners that scan quickly, clearly, in color if you need it, and don’t require profanity to operate.  I would happily use these devices if only my library would purchase them.

Also at the exhibition, Nick Hornby read from his new book for young adults Slam.  It’s a story of a sixteen-year old boy who is trying to avoid the news that his girlfriend is pregnant.  In the part Hornby read the boy wakes up and it is a year later and he’s learning that he’s actually become a good father.  It sounds like an excellent book.

Monday was not all fun and games.  I attended a session at the Grand Hyatt called “Access Services: It’s Not Just Circulation Anymore!”  Three managers talked about Access Services in their libraries and it is interesting to see how there is not even one agreed upon definition of what Access Services does.  Personally, Access Services are any staff who work on the front lines dealing with the public in person, on phone, and online.  The most itneresting examples I heard were about libraries where faculty and IT staff actually work in the library on the library staff.  That seems like such a simple but effective way of getting input and collaborating in an academic library.

The PLA President’s Program finished out the day.  I don’t work in a public library but author Armistead Maupin was the keynote speaker so I went to hear him.  Originally, Elizabeth Edwards was to speak, but as Maupin informed us, she was out on the campaign trail.  He said he liked the irony that he saw her on TV in San Francisco addressing a gay pride event while he himself was here in Washington addressing librarians.  He thanked librarians for putting the Tales of the City books on library shelves at a time when they were very controversial and was grateful that they are not so controversial anymore.

To conclude my day I returned to Arlington and visited with my friend Betsy and Randy and met their newborn baby girl Zoe.  And for supper, once again, we ate Thai food.

Sunday at the ALA Annual Conference

My third day at the conference continued the parade of celebrities I admire. Nancy Pearl is not only a hero but a Library Action Figure. She’s also written several books of book recommendations including Book Lust, More Book Lust, and the new Book Crush for children and teens. She spoke mainly on encouraging children to read and to validate the choices they make in reading. She also warned of the perils of a life of reading as a counterbalance. She told the story of how the Library Action Figure came about, and the 39 librarians with no sense of humor who sent her hate mail.

I’d scheduled myself to attend a Blog and Wikis Interest Group but I didn’t like the looks of it since it seemed to be another committee meeting (with laptops) and that was not where I wanted to go. So I quickly flipped through my program and discovered that a program called Harnessing the Hive: Social Networking in Libraries was taking place in an adjacent room. It was even tagged as being suited to New Bees. I can’t believe my luck, because this may be the best program I’ve attended yet. Three presenters showed off actual working collaborative tools that have improved services and research in libraries. I’ve got lots of links to follow up on this as well.

I left the convention center and returned to the U Street area, this time to attend Mass at St. Augustine, a predominantly Black Catholic parish. The priest preached for half an hour, two children were baptized, and the choir sang a whole lot of gospel so the Mass lasted 2 hours! Not that I’m complaining. The liturgy was beautiful and I felt very welcomed. I ate a veggie burger sub at the famed Ben’s Chili Bowl prior to returning to the convention center.

I didn’t have time to visit the exhibitions as planned, but did get to make yesterdays blog entry and head to the ALA Book Cart Drill Team Championships. It was hillarious. The team from Pennsylvania named “Get Down With Your Funky Shelf” definitely had the best name. However, the Divas from Texas who performed the Rosie the Riveter inspired “Riveted by Reading” truly deserved the coveted Gold Book Cart.

Thanks to the power of Youtube, now you <em>can</em> see the ALA Book Cart Drill Team Championships! At least parts of the event.

irst, the Readin’ & Rollin’ team from Milford, Ohio who took fourth place and the autographed DEMCO catalog:

Next, the Bronze Cart winning Delaware Diamonds:

The Silver Cart winning performance by Gett Down With Your Funky Shelf of Gettysburg, PA.

The Book Divas of Houston, TX took home the Gold Cart with their performance of “Rosie is Riveting”, only a snippet of it is available here:

After another long day of conferencing, I visited Northern Virginia to see my friends Annie & Mike. Additionally, a fellow librarian/conferencee/friend Camille (and one of her friends from Ithaca) and Washingtonian/friend Lisa Lynn were there. So the six of us (and Mike and Annie’s in utero son) went out for Thai food in Alexandria (no pun in the name). We actually talked about a lot of library and social networking stuff. Camille and I came up with a creative writing project based on odd reference questions. It could even be like the “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” game where three stories are told and you have to guess the real reference question. This originated from Camille’s story about IM reference where a patron first asked for everything they had about biotechnology and then followed up by saying an illegal alien was living in his apartment. We will be presenting this game at the next conference.

So it was another good, full day. I can’t believe that it’s gone by so fast and there’s only one full day left. I also can’t believe all that I’ve learned. I hope I don’t lose all these great ideas brewing in my head. It’s hard to find time to write them all down.

Saturday at the ALA Annual Conference

When I was a teenager I wanted to grow up to be Ken Burns, or at least a whole lot like him.  Of course I never became a filmmaker nor a professional historian, I became a librarian.  But Ken Burns is down with librarians and addressed us early on Saturday morning.  He spoke of how after The Civil War he didn’t want to make another movie about war because he didn’t want to be typecast nor be mistaken for glorfying war.  Two things changed his mind: 1) that 1000 WWII veterans die each day & 2) that a large (but unnamed) percentage of graduating high school seniors believe that the US fought WWII allied with Germany against Russia.  So he and Florentine Films made The War, a 14-hour film about the experience of ordinary soldiers and ordinary people on the homefront during the Second World War.  He showed us a half-hour preview of the film which focuses on four towns in the United States and how people in those towns were affected by the war.  The film was very powerful and contained the most graphic archival footage of the war I’ve ever seen.  If the 30 minute sample is any indication, this may be Ken Burns’ best documentary yet.  Burns closed with a quote from Abraham Lincoln which he described as the best sentence ever written: “The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely the will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

From one childhood hero to another.  In the exhibition center Arthur Frommer and his daughter Pauline signed replica copies of the 1957 edition of Europe on $5 a Day.  I’ve been addicted to reading guidebooks and travel literature since I was a kid, and Frommer was one of my early favorites.  Back upstairs I attended the ACRL 101 session which wasn’t too different from the NMRT Conference 101 session but I got a few useful tips and handouts.

I rode the shuttle bus over to the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, at lunch and attended two sessions of RUSA STARS on resource sharing.  The first was a committee meeting on reavaluating resource sharing policies which I simply observed.  It was drowned out by the exburant speechifying and applause of another session in the next room.  More interesting was the Hot Topics in Resource Sharing session where my newly aqcuainted colleagues and I talked about customer services issues, copyright problems, and Ariel v. Odyssey.

Back at the convention center I went to the convention center to write an email to my friend Sharon who I didn’t see at the Ken Burns session in the morning.  Moments after I sent the email, I heard a voice call my name.  It was Sharon who was also in the Internet Cafe.  We went to the Capitol City Brewing Co. for dinner and talked about libraries and babies.

And that was that professionally for Saturday.  I had plans to go out Saturday night but didn’t do much as I wasn’t much in the mood, but I did go for a long walk around Washington’s 14th Street and U Street neighborhoods.

I’ll write about Sunday tonight or tomorrow.  The Book Cart Drill Team is coming up next!

Movie Review: The Hollywood Librarian

The Hollywood Librarian (2007) debut at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC. Do not be fooled, this is definitely a propaganda piece, not that that’s a bad thing. Filmmaker Ann Seidl wants to promote librarians and all we offer, and plans to distribute this film by having it shown in libraries across the country during Banned Books Week in September. She even suggests charging admission since a movie about librarians should garner the same respect as any other film.

With that in mind, I have to say that this is a fairly uneven documentary. At first it’s presented as seeing librarianship through the lens of Hollywood movies. Clips of films showing dowdy, glasses and bun-wearing librarians are contrasted with interviews with actual librarians and their active roles in their libraries and community. About halfway through, the Hollywood angle is ditched and it becomes more of an advocacy piece showing various librarians persevering against political pressure. Both parts are pretty good, but they don’t mesh together well. I get the sense the filmmakers weren’t certain what kind of movie they were going to make. Watching this in a room with thousands of other librarians made it all the more entertaining, especially the clips from vintage occupational guidance films were show. Even if I were alone, there was a lot in this movie that would make me laugh, cry, and cheer. What effect it will have on the general public, I don’t know, but it’s probably worth getting it out there. I think some people may like it a lot, but I fear that it may only end up preaching to the choir.

Watch the trailer here:

Other Reviews: