Category: library

Weirdest Storytime Ever….

Sometime last year, in a fit of brilliance, I did a fish themed storytime. By the time I got done, I was giggling like a mad woman. I fled back to my coworkers, just slightly horrified by what I had just read to “my” kids and wondering if the parents would bring them back or write me off as just a little crazy.

Fortunately, “just a little crazy” seems to be accepted as part of the job description.

What had I read?

Pout Pout Fish Cover

Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen

(or… fish suffering from depression who gets a prescription by the end of the book, which happens to have the side effect that they make him really affectionate)

Trout Trout Cover

Trout Trout Trout by April Pulley Sayre

(Go look at the art work. It’s, um, vibrant.)

Fidgety Fish by Ruth Galloway

(The fish with ADHD!!)

Ugly Fish by Kara LaReau

(A story about a carnivorous cannibalistic fish….every other page reads “And then he ate him” and there is definitely not a happy ending.)

Now, I could get away with this for a Storytime for Adults (which I totally wish we could institute) or even with my Wee Reads but in the future, may I suggest some other combination for the three year olds?


Of Course I Use Blogs…

I got an interesting phone call yesterday from a SLIS student. She’s taking a summer course on children’s literature and was looking for information* about librarians using children’s lit blogs as part of their collection development tools.

Well, yes, of course I use blogs, I said. There are so many goods ones out there! She seemed surprised and rather dismayed (at least, that’s how it sounded to me), which made her reaction stick with me. And since this is my own little soapbox, I get to elaborate here.

As I’ve addressed in a couple of articles recently, my primary resource is the professional journals to which my library subscribes. This includes Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, School Library Journal, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, andVOYA. There might be others but that’s all I can think of/find on my desk right now.¬† Those reviews go through editors, are recognized throughout the industry, and can be a line of defense should something get challenged.

But that doesn’t mean that’s the only place I find things. I get publisher catalogs in the mail regularly, get emails daily, have wide eyed and eager or subtly shy kids making requests, parents leaving me formal acquisition request slips….and I read blogs, browse bookstores, and look for books wherever I can.

The student was concerned about the quality of blog book reviews. I said I can usually tell the quality based on the overall quality of the blog, which usually is pretty apparent if you read five or ten posts.¬† If someone is caustically slamming everything they read, then yes, I’m going to be a little suspicious. If they are only ever staunchly cheerleading every bleeding title, also ¬†potentially suspect. I know Tasha Saecker only publishes reviews of books she enjoyed (her policy) but she’ll also note if there are weaknesses in those books and I know what her policy is.¬† It’s my job to evaluate information and ¬†that’s something I do every day, so wouldn’t it be reasonable to say that after reading quite a lot of them, I have a pretty good idea which kid lit blogs have usable reviews on which might I rely? And while a blog is someone’s opinion, so is a review printed in a journal. For example,¬†Madame Storyteller reviews for School Library Journal.¬† Her reviews are absolutely her personal, informed opinion–they just happen to go through an editor and into print rather than cross my eyes via Blogger.¬† Why wouldn’t I trust another informed librarian who chooses instead to blog?

I referred the student to Kids Lit and Fuse #8, pointing out that Betsy Bird made Forbes this year, so it’s not like children’s lit blogs are running completely under the radar.¬† I suggested that she email ALSC-L and ask for opinions there.¬† I hope she does, though I’m sure they’ve had the conversation before, it would be interesting to have again and see what new additions I can add to my blogroll.

So yes, kids lit blogs are an important part of the collection development toolkit.

Unfortunately I didn’t get the student’s name and email. I wish I had–I’ve thought of five other blogs she should look at, two other mailing lists, and had three interesting conversations about it. Oh…and now it’s documented on my blog….

Those other blogs:

Abby the Librarian

100 Scope Notes

Bookshelves of Doom

Zooglobble (Children’s Music–I get TONS of great indie stuff here)

Read Roger

*I think she was hoping I’d say “ah yes, there was a recent study in Peer Reviewed Journal by Most Highly Respected Children’s Lit Professor entitled How the Reading of Blog Reviews Led to the Downfall of Children’s Fiction Collections.”

Playaway Woes….or the Issue with the All in One

I came in to another two Playaways that had stopped working. It’s been more than 30 days, so of course we can’t send them back to Ingram.¬† One I can’t even get to turn on and the other the volume has to be turned to maximum to even get the lowest muttering. I could hear it in my quiet office but the possibility of hearing it in a noisy car on a trip would be slim.

These things are supposed to hold up to middle school student abuse, preschoolers antics, etc…and 8 circulations in they’re toast.¬† They won’t turn on or the volume is screwy or the display screen has flaked out. I’ve heard from the selector for adult audio that she’s having similar issues and somehow I don’t think adults are randomly flinging all of these across the room. When we’re paying $60 a piece for these, we need to get more circulations out if it.

And it’s not like there’s an easy replacement plan–I can’t just send away for a new disc/tape. I have to scrap the entire thing and buy again. Our discount from Playaway is pretty much nonexistent so we usually go through Ingram who, somewhat understandably, won’t let us return them 6 months/4 circs later.¬† I could ask that Acquisitions Man get them directly from Playaway and then replace them with each breakage but oh–that’d just mean I’m spending $15 in replacements on however many every single year. ¬† My audio budget is already stretched with the ever increasing demand–I need these things to hold up and do their work, not constantly need to be sent back/replaced.

I think I’m going to have to give up on Playaways–they don’t seem to be fiscally responsible as a way to use my library’s monies.

It does raise the “all in one package” question though. If we put everything into one small device, what do we do if that device fails? Jason Griffey had to send his Ipad back recently when the screen failed–but at least with netbooks/ereaders/tablets/laptops we usually have things backed up and can get our data back within a day or two.¬† Even that often comes with a shipping cost and headache and frustration as we wait without the information we’ve put into the machines. Playaways are supposed to be an easy answer to people not wanting to lost parts and pieces, forget a disc or worry about scratches–but when they fail,¬† it’s total and complete and I’m up a creek.

I want to like this format–I’ve argued FOR this format–but ultimately I’m faced with high prices and low reliability. And that makes me really crabby.

Let’s Make a Change…

Shannon Hale, YA author extraordinaire and writer of many strong female heroines, recently had a very thoughtful post that I encourage you to take a minute to read:

“I knew he loved me when he hocked a logie at my face.”

To summarize, Hale points out the strange acceptance of boys being mean/cruel/unkind to girls as a way to show that they like the girl and the scary kind of precedent that sets. Hale was adamant that it stop with her–that her daughters learn that it wasn’t ever okay for a boy to be mean, pull hair, bully and be rude under the guise of “liking” her.

And then I picked up the Bulletin Center for Children’s Book’s review of a new chapter book mystery series** which cheerfully (with exclamation points) celebrates that the rival boy treats the heroine miserably because he likes her.¬† It reminded me of Hale’s post and made me pause as I considered putting an order in for that book.¬† Reading other reviews I find phrases like “finds out why he’s been bullying her” and “learns how boys show affection in fourth grade.”¬† Considering I am being asked weekly for books on bullying, dealing with bullies, and moving on from a bullying situation (for crying out loud I have a book list on the subject), I have to ask if this is a valuable addition to my print collection.

I can understand that children, at times, don’t know how to relate to each other.¬† I’m well aware that boys can be very different from girls.¬† I know many men to whom I cannot begin to relate, understand, empathize with, etc etc. However, that holds true for a nearly equal number of women, and I would allow neither men nor women to mistreat me because we had difficulty relating to one another.

We can’t on one hand actively seek to end bullying in schools and among children and on the other equally active hand, tell boys it’s okay to bully and girls that it’s okay to accept bullying as a way to show affection.

So let’s change the standard of boys mistreating girls as a way to show affection and let’s find literature that at least doesn’t glorify it.

**I haven’t linked the book because I haven’t actually read it and the reviews don’t make it clear if there is some parental intervention for the bullying behavior or at least acknowledgment that it is inappropriate.