Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The Subversive Library!

Once upon a time (aka June, 2012) Kelly Jensen and I presented on passive programming at ALA Annual in Anaheim. It was a delightfully nerve-wracking experience. Afterward, we were asked to write an article on the subject of our talk. Today, many moons later, that article has posted with Programming Librarian, and can be read here.

Feedback and your experiences with the subject are welcome!

One thing that Kelly and I were very committed to including were specific examples of how you can implement our recommendations (some culled from personal experience, some are well-known adaptations, and some are blatantly stolen from here and there). Nothing frustrates me more when reading professional material than eight paragraphs of how awesome this thing that librarian did was, followed up with zero practical info about how to reproduce it. It wastes everyone's time, and frankly, it's tacky self-promo in a space that should be more about professional enrichment, advice, and inspiration (I has a beef*). That was exactly the opposite what Kelly and I were going for. Not that we want to be all touchy-feely objects of inspiration. That would be gross. Our goal was more of the line of thinking about reaching different segments of your teen population. Which is pretty much what we said in our last paragraph:

"Passive programming gives teens another avenue and level in which to interact and connect with the library. It will hopefully lead to larger, more obvious engagement, but even if it doesn’t, even if a teen never once actually participates in a passive program, those teens will still have seen the effort. Whether or not they embrace the activities, it communicates to them that they are wanted and valued; that the teen area is truly  their  space. That’s the long game. We want patrons, no matter their age, to understand that they own the library."

ANYWAY. We did a thing, and even though the whole package, including the presentation** has been something Kelly & I have been thinking about and experimenting with for well (well) over a year now, I, apparently, still feel strongly about the subject. So, give it a read. See if you can apply any of it to your library or life. Let us know how it turns out.

*It's really hard for me to find time to read professional journals. I get cranky when you don't give me the tools for reproduction. Don't bother writing if you're going to be all selfish about it. /meanieness
**speech notes can be found here, and the Prezi here.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Missing in Teen: The 600s

I'm working my way through weeding the 600s in teen non-fiction. The first step, for me, is to get rid of some of the stuff that hasn't circulated in at least a year. What this also catches are books that have disappeared. Walked off. Maybe hiding under the ficus.

Teen 613.83 Harmon
Hallucinogens: The Dangers of Distorted Reality
Daniel E. Harmon

Teen 613.9071 Kemp
Healthy Sexuality
Kristen Kemp

Teen 613.951 Shaw
This Book is About Sex
Tucker Shaw

Teen 614.17 Denega
Skulls and Skeletons
Danielle Denega

Teen 618.9285 Attenti
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
William Dudley

Teen 637.7 Garza
Stuff on My Mutt
Mario Garza

Teen 646.3083 Warrick
Style Trix for Cool Chix
Leanne Warrick

Teen 646.7008 Shaw
--Any Advice?
Tucker Shaw

I don't think that there are really any conclusions to be made, but it's probably a decent look at what type of stuff is popular in the Dewy century. I should compare this to the teen titles that do actually have the highest recorded circulation, although I have no doubt that, with maybe the exception of the ADHD title, these are all the type of browsable nf that teens will look at in the library and not check out. Or, you know, steal.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Last Princess or Beware of Fruit

I stole The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze from my fake boss at her birthday party last night. I read it in one sitting, so there is obviously a lot going right in the novel. But that's less interesting than talking about the niggling issues I have about it that sully the fact that it was obviously a unique approach to the post-apocalyptic trend and very well paced.

Catastrophic events led to every natural disaster you can think of battering the Earth. After the Seventeen Days, the British Royalty emerged from their bomb shelter beneath Buckingham Palace. All communication was down, so they sent a ship to contact someone, anyone, outside of England. That ship never returned. For all any of the English know, they are the last people in alive in the world. With the environment ravaged, and the sun dropping flaming bits of itself for further destruction, most of the country is starving. Badly enough that in some quarters cannibals roam what remains of forrests. There is civil unrest, and it's going to kill the king and queen -Eliza's parents.

I would say that my biggest issue starts with the fact that it is made very clear on page 13 that Eliza isn't supposed to be a helpless girl:

"After the Seventeen Days, without phones or computers or television, Mary [elder sister] and I amused ourselves play-fighting with the Royal Swords. The Master of Arms gave us lessons, teaching us to slash, stab, and parry. Mary and I would fence against each other, betting on the little luxuries that were still left over from before: a square of Cadbury chocolate, a piece of spearmint gum. Later, when the government food rations were gone, we would take spears and throwing knives to the woods around Balmoral, hunting the snakes and pigeons and few other creatures that remained. I was surprised to find that I had quite good aim, unlike Mary, who never could get the hang of throwing a knife."

Despite her obvious natural skills that were trained over the course of several years with, presumably, one of the best teachers one would find in England, Eliza, at practically every turn, gets saved by the boy. This is not to say that she doesn't fight, or even have modest success at hand-to-hand combat, but that 9 out of 10 times, when she's in dire straights, the love interest, Wesley, suddenly appears to get her out of the situation.

My second issue gets spoilery. So, massive civil unrest leads to a coup. Eliza barely escapes alive, her parents are dead, her brother and sister have been captured but are inexplicably being kept alive. For months. The leader of the insurection has made no secret of his intention to crown himself king. Why keep two heirs around to threaten your legitimacy? Futhermore, and more importantly, as we near the end, the populace, needing only an inspirational heroine they obviously find in Eliza, rise up against the over-the-top evil of the insurection. They conquer Newcastle by surprise and suffer little to no loss despite their inferior numbers, training, and weaponry. Getting to this fighting back stage happens all to quickly and cleanly, and unlike real war, no one close to Eliza is ever seriously wounded, let alone killed. Except her poor expendable parents whose deaths more or less start everything off.

Also, horses seem to travel preternaturally fast in this book. I can't say for certain as time passage was vague, but as Eliza flees London on her stolen warhorse she sees a sign saying "Scotland 380 miles" (p 189). Two short chapters, a nap, and a couple of dispatched cannibals later, she's made it to Balmoral Castle, which, according to Google Maps is 510 miles away from the Tower of London. I had to look it up, but a good day's travel on horseback is about 30 miles. No big.

Few teens are going to care about the speed a horse travels, or that battle goes too easily, nor that there is no depth or dimention given to the villians. Only some will care that the princess gets saved. A LOT. None of these things will keep me from recommending the book. Neither does it stop the obnoxious "BUTs" that ricochet around my brain.