classes / KidLit / Libraries / Reviews

Keeping it short

I have a hard time keeping things short. Read: I’m a talker and not naturally a concise writer.

I will try my best to start summing things up, and not only because my Internet Fundamentals and Design class tells me that’s how to get people to read websites, but also because I think it’s a marketable skill and will be useful in my day-to-day life.

I’m lauded for my writing skills, especially at work in the art of the customer-service e-mail regarding touchy subjects category. Here’s hoping at some point the same may be true of my web voice.

I also just added 50+ library blogs to my RSS feed. (I love RSS.) This will probably be highly distracting as well as educational.

Okay. Updates.


I have ONE WEEK LEFT of classes this semester, which means I get a lot of practice editing text for the web soon, as I’m doing a personal redesign of the North American Jules Verne Society’s webpage, which is just awful right now. If I finish up nicely, I may try to contact them, as for the moment I’m only doing it for school and the webpage is not live.


This also means I get a lot of practice with reference questions. I’m still not comfortable with them. I just have to keep going.


I may have to write soon about the state of education for some of these kids I work with during Homework Help. Sigh.


There was a slow start at the Hub today, so I read a few quick picture books!

The Listeners by Gloria Whelan, Mike Benny (Illustrator), 2009

The Listeners Cover ImageI have read a fair amount of picture books about slavery, and it seems common to have child narrators for these texts, which makes sense given the audience. However,


this book was the first to explicitly display a job which was especially suited to slave children: eavesdropping. That said, I thought that it did not have the emotional oomph I was expecting, and that the characters were pretty flat, both in the text as well as in the illustrations which made a lot of black faces look similar, which might perpetuate that racial stereotype.

In addition, there were no “strong” characters in this text. While many slavery texts focus on escape, this one seemed to emphasize the helplessness of the slave, which I’m still thinking about…

It ended on a note about Abraham Lincoln, essentially pinning the family’s hopes for the future on his presidential term…I just don’t know.

Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk, 2007

Library Mouse Cover ImageIn this book, a mouse, Sam, who lives behind children’s reference, becomes an author and ultimately inspires young library patrons to try their hand at writing and sharing their own stories as well. I was really happy that he placed his books in the correct shelving areas, as that was very conscientious of him and I’m sure is what helped the children locate his books in the first place.


This would be a WONDERFUL book to use with children’s programming, writing programs in particular. It essentially gives teachers, librarians, and parents a built-in activity.

My only major disappointment is that although the text bothers to tell the reader (twice!) that Sam lives behind the reference section, he does not use those materials or contribute to the reference texts in any way. Boo hoo.

Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen, Kevin Hawkes (Illustrator), 2006

Library Lion Cover ImageRetro?

I was confused by the retro quality of this book. It is a sweet story, and the illustrations (and their use of color in particular) definitely give the reader an old Golden Book feel.


In addition, a card catalog system is present, and the head librarian sends overdue notices via mail. So, we’re most likely looking to the past.

But there are also computers present (older-looking models), which leads me to believe this story is set in the 1980s or 1990s. I would have to do some research to fine-tune my estimate, but this is a short post, gosh darn it!

Library/Librarian Image

So, we have a retro text. It’s about friendship. But what it also does it illustrate the librarians (prior to their more humanizing actions towards the end of the book) as rule-obsessed types who do not condone running or loud noises in the library. There are only two librarians in the book, one male and one female (perhaps three if you count the “storyteller”). They both wear glasses. The female head librarian also wears her hair in a bun and does not look up to acknowledge her colleague when he first enters her office.


So, although this book is obviously meant as a loving portrait of the library, it also does a lot to reinforce the idea of the library, for children especially, as a place where you have to be quiet or be kicked out, and that librarians are busy with their own work (ie, not working with patrons directly), etc. It takes a cuddly lion to portray character traits of interest in being helpful, as well as having a direct interest in library programming.

I liked it. It was sweet. I probably would not have this sort of conflict and close-reading if I were not in library school.

For you

If you’re a librarian or in library school, has it affected your view of things in a similar was as it has for me in my reading of “Library Lion”?


What about if you’re in a different profession? I love learning about the cultures (social/academic, etc) of different groups of people.  Knowing more about them (preferably straight from the “horse’s mouth”) makes me a more sensitive and knowledgeable individual.

Educate me!


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