The view from my reading pile.

Five Links Makes a Post September 14, 2009

Filed under: linkdump — stackscene @ 2:36 pm
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I’ve been collecting interesting library links for a week or two now, thinking I’d make posts about each one. But they’re building up, and I don’t always have enough to say about them to merit a whole post anyway, so I’m just going to go ahead and dump them and talk a little about each.

1. Isn’t actually about libraries at all, it’s about women in tech from the Geek Feminism Blog, and I decided to go ahead and post it here because so much of librarianship these days involves technology, but I’m not sure how our numbers stack up for women in actual technical positions. Anybody know?

2. Next up we have Karen Springen at Publisher’s Weekly letting us know that the new hot thing in YA literature this Fall is going to be Angels. YA librarians, if your vampire readers are looking for the next thing, make sure to take a look at these titles!

3. Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing is asking for YA authors to send electronic copies of their books to a Detroit teacher so she can print them in Braille for her blind students. If you have a YA novel or know someone who does, please pass this along, accessibility is one of my big issues in librarianship, and this is a fantastic project she’s doing. In Massachusetts we’re lucky to have the Perkins School for the Blind and their amazing library serving the entire state, but I understand that not everyone has access to the same resources.

4. This is just tragic. Philadelphia is closing their entire library system due to budget cuts. I’m not sure I even have words for how sad that makes me. Here’s hoping things turn around there and libraries are able to re-open.

5. And finally, you’ve probably already heard about this, but a MA prep school has gotten rid of all their books. They’re going completely digital this year, and I’m torn. It really bothers me that they’re getting Kindles for some students but not all, for one thing. I’ve also already heard rumblings from many of my friends and peers that they wouldn’t send their kids to a school with no books in the library. So if nothing else, it’s a pretty bold and gutsy move, and I’m going to be interested to see how it works out for them. I really disapprove of getting rid of the reference desk in favor of a coffee shop as well. Just because they’re going digital doesn’t mean the students won’t need help with research, and in many cases it may mean they need more help navigating new databases and other electronic resources. To be fair, the article says they’re getting rid of the desk, but I’m not sure if it means that the library will not have reference services available. I also think the circulation numbers mentioned in the article are interesting, and the move to digital could turn out to be a really good thing for them. It looks like a lot of the success will depend on how the school sells the change to the parents who send their kids there. Definitely something to keep an eye on.

So that’s my link roundup for today, feel free to leave me other interesting library or book related links in the comments!


Women in Comics, Comics in the Library August 19, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — stackscene @ 1:08 am
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I love this article on Bitch Blogs about the history and inspirations for Lois Lane.  There’s going to be a Part II tomorrow, and I can’t wait!  My fiance is a huge comics fan, and we have a lot of the Showcase books of old comics, so I’ve actually read some of the older Superman stuff, and also the Superboy and Legion of Superheroes stories that feature Lois and Lana Lang (Superboy’s girlfriend) being told that they can’t handle whatever important thing, because they’re clearly just girls.  I love that, sexism aside, these characters were still motivated to go out and prove themselves, even if the writers were using that as comic relief and a convenient way to get them into trouble so they could be saved.  I also love the point the post makes about Lois being a marker of the ways that attitudes towards women, especially professional women, have changed over time.

The article also makes me think about ways to use comics in the library, as a way to get kids and teens engaged with reading.  Getting kids involved with some of the older comics and using that as a jumping off point to discuss some of the historical elements (I’d love to get a bunch of comics from the 80’s and show them say, the giant cell phones.  Remember those?) of what was going on, and the ways that comics reacted to the larger contexts of the time.  Like, how often did Superman fight Nazis?  A lot?  And Superman was created by Jewish guys, right?  Not that it’s a terribly deep analysis right there, but as a different angle for studying history and reading, I think comics could definitely help refresh the process for some kids.  It could also be used as a way to look at gender studies and race issues.  Like with this article, having kids read comics featuring women from different eras and then talk about the different ways the women are presented and treated might be an interesting way to get kids engaged with the history of feminism.  Along the same lines, I can think of some interesting conversations about the way race relations are portrayed in comics.

Too often I see educators and other adults dismiss comics as having no educational value, but I think there’s a lot that can be found in them with some guidance.  I’m not necessarily saying that every comic is worth reading, and I’m not going to start handing kids Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose (LINK IS NOT SAFE FOR WORK OR ANYTHING ELSE YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED) or anything, but I love the idea of taking something kids will engage with and using it to help them learn about other things, as well as encouraging reading in general.

In conclusion: Lois Lane rocks and is a better reporter than Clark Kent anyway.