Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Moving On

I've decided that I need a new blog entirely to really focus on what I've been blabbing about for many posts.. library issues. The nunnery will probably be empty for a while, as I move to new digs, Paperback Girl.

The title is a work in progress. ;)

Librarian action rises to a new level.

Just as a tide of ignorance swells up and threatens to engulf the world, out of the ashes of the Great Library of Alexandria arises a hero, an educated fellow with fists of steel and a mind as sharp as a tack: public librarian Rex Libris.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Best. Band. EVAH.

Update: I just bought Harry and the Potters two major albums, one self titled, the other titled, "Voldemort Can't Stop the Rock." I am currently swooning over the song, Save Ginny Weasley. Favorite lines: "Are you Petrified of being Petrified" and of course, "We've Got to Save Ginny Weasley from the Basilisk/ we've got to save the school from that unseen horror."

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

My Heart is Broken

I finished Potter.. hate to say it, but I'm more broken up about finishing Potter than anything else at the moment.

Give me time.. this will pass.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Parents Gone Wild--and the kids pay for it

Laurie Taylor took it upon herself to excorcise the Fayetteville School District of books that might lead to fornication or bad thoughts. After what she termed a personal "audit," she filed 70 complaints against books like Rainbow Boys and Doing It. Oh yeah, and Forever, because puritanical witch-hunts aren't complete without the traditional attack on Judy Blume.

Usually censorship nuts go for well known books that have a lot written about them and are easy to attack without having to read them. To my mind a truly dangerous breed of book burner has emerged, one with a singly minded obsession with parental control. By making "naughty" books unavailable in school libaries, kids would no longer have access to books without parental assistance, either in taking them to the public library, or buying the books.

What is particularly problematic about this book restriction is that while Taylor believes that these books promote sexual promiscuity, they in fact are cautionary tales which may help curious students understand the risks of sexual associations, and give them better a undestanding of their feelings. If there was ever a book to warn girls away from flinging themselves at adolescent boys, "Doing It," would be a good choice.

Taylor seems to have been bolstered in her efforts by a timid school board who decided to move three books she had complained about earlier in the year to a parent shelf, where students wouldn't be able to get at them. I think she really wanted them publicly shredded, but that placing them in a restricted area was an "acceptable compromise."

Letter From Andrea

I recieved this missive from Sister Andrea only a few days ago, and I thought it might be of interest. I will soon be joining her in England, where she is studying ancient (and important) texts with the help of a lovely grant.

Who just got to spend a day transcribing a Latin song about a prior and an abbot getting completely drunk and puking all over the flowers? I did!

Man, I love my job.

Libraries like the one I visited today do give me a chance to practice some of my more unusual hobbies, like staring at other people's books. A woman behind me was looking at a lovely one with huge full-page full-color fifteenth-century heraldic signs. I didn't have a chance to gawk at that one very long, though, because then I noticed a man about my age who was looking back and forth between the manuscript on foam pads on his desk and two modern printed copies of The Book of Margery Kempe. (Margery Kempe is a famous fifteenth-century woman mystic, and there's only one copy of her manuscript in existence. I think I was three feet from it this afternoon.) Fortunately I managed to contain my enthusiasm. A scholarly reading room was just not the place for it.

London's lovely, even if much warmer than advertised. It's good to be back.

All's well,

Friday, June 10, 2005

Jon Scieszka on Boy Fic.. Sorry, Guy Fic

Scieszka, famous for such amazing reads as The True Story of the Three Little Pigs has a new title out called Guys Write for Guys Read. Its an anthology of guy authors writing about and for guys.. boys really, but we won't say that too loud.

Along with the book, Scieszka is unveiling an awesome new website, Guys Read which features book recommendations for boys. Hooray! Boys are by far the toughest to pitch books to, as a lady librarian. Some guys don't believe I would know a good book if it poked me in the eye, because after all, I'm a girl.

One problem with the site is that its sectioning of age groups (Young Guys, Middle Guys, Older Guys) lumps books like The Beast by Walter Dean Myers, with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in one age group (Middle). That is really no help to anyone not already familiar with titles and authors.

Bookslut has the interview.

Library Board decides against labeling "mature" materials in Teen section

From Albany, N.Y. :

GUILDERLAND -- Town library trustees soundly rejected a controversial proposal Thursday night that would have flagged sexually explicit books in the library's teen section, ending several weeks of ethical discomfort for some library workers over the implications of labeling books.

"Since we put the books there ... we have an obligation to help the parents," said trustee John Daly, the proposal's sponsor and the only trustee to vote for it.

He added later, "I'm a strong believer in intellectual freedom, in the democratic process, in the give-and-take of ideas. I'm hopeful that at least raising this discussion is going to be helpful."

I hope its helpful at getting John Daly kicked off the board.

California is SCARY

Bill AB 756 Prohibits schools from buying any "instructional materials" i.e. books that exceed 200 pages in length.

This bizarre and frighteningly short sighted regulation Encourages the use of technology and multimedia materials to create higher interest and more up-to-date information from varied sources.

The Orange County Register published this commentary by Hugh Glenn, Anaheim resident and online editor:

Efforts to dumb down California public schools continue unabated. The most recent action is the Assembly passing AB 756, a bill by Assemblywoman Jackie Gold- berg that would prevent school districts from using any instructional material that exceeds 200 pages. Assemblyman Keith Richman calls it "ridiculous" and "the epitome of micromanagement." Jack O'Connell, state superintendent of public instruction, surprisingly, has remained silent. Astoundingly, 42 legislators (including Orange County's Tom Umberg) approved AB 756 - a vote so dumb that Gov. Schwarzenegger now looks like Socrates and Solomon rolled into one.

According to Goldberg, today's students have no need to read classic works of American history and literature, the majority of which exceed 200 pages; e.g., "The Federalist Papers," "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," "The Grapes of Wrath," "Treasure Island," "Farewell to Arms" or "Moby-Dick." No more classroom dictionaries or encyclopedias could be purchased. Forget books by Lemony Snicket and J. K. Rowling, authors of books children actually want to read.

Do legislators really believe that in order to promote technology, you have to take away books?

Some news sources hint at environmentalists being involved who want to save trees. Sadly, this conspiracy theory is not half as crazy as the actual bill.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

What if Amazon, Google, Blogger, and TiVo created a media hegemony?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

More about the bill

I can't help myself.. Reading the drivel about H.R. 2295 on the website of the congressman who introduced the legislation makes me feel soft and sick inside.

Congressman Jones has introduced H.R. 2295 to empower parents at a local level and shine a light on controversial books before they are purchased. This legislation ensures parents that these books are not available to their children without their knowledge and consent.

The congressman, Walter Jones, is in fact the same guy who wanted the French fries in Capital Hill cafeterias renamed "freedom fries."

From the SIECUS website, I have a clearer picture of the reason this legislation was created:

Children's Book About Two Gay Princes Causes Parents' Uproar
Wilmington, NC

The parents of a first-grader at Freeman Elementary School in Wilmington, NC, filed a complaint with the school after they read a book their 7-year-old daughter had brought home from the school library. The book entitled King and King tells the story of a character named Prince Bertie who falls in love with a character named Prince Lee. The book is written by two Dutch authors and the publisher says it is for ages 6 and up. It ends with the two princes falling in love and kissing, their lips obscured by a picture of a heart.

The father said his daughter is "not old enough to understand something like that, especially when it is not in our beliefs." The father also said he felt that, "If this book is going to be allowed, I believe it ought to be allowed on more of a high school level."5 The school principal countered by saying "We have a lot of diversity in our schools… What might be inappropriate for one family, in another family is a totally acceptable thing."

Due to the families' complaint and an additional compliant filed by another family, a school committee, made up of parents, teachers, and community members, held a meeting in late March about the book. The school committee voted 8-3 to put the book under lock and key so that only adults, including parents and teachers, are allowed to check it out.

The parents said they were happy with the decision, but not everyone agreed with the ruling. One committee member said, "I feel like it's my responsibility to make it clear that these things exist. It doesn't mean we have to agree with it. It's not about right or wrong…It's just different."

Due to the widespread media about the controversy, people from around the country donated additional copies of the book to the school. If fact, the attention has prompted a second printing of the book and a sequel is expected later this spring.

Parental Controls, Or Parental Patrols?

More about that misbegotten proposal to 'create local review boards of five to 15 parents who would have the authority to review and make recommendations on elementary school library and classroom materials before they could be purchased. Under the law, introduced May 11, states that failed to put the parental panels in place would lose all federal education funding.'
See ALA's statement on the legislation.

Christopher Harris, on his Infomancy blog explains that "This bill presumes that the "highly qualified" teachers and librarians mandated under NCLB are, in fact, incompetent. It assumes, as with filtering software discussed before, that students are incapable of making decisions on their own. This creates an environment where information is driven underground. Information literacy cannot be learned in a controlled environment. Students learn to evaluate the crush of information sources they will face in the world only by encountering examples of good and bad."

Thanks to Alice in Infoland (More voices of reason are showing up my my listservs!) for this excellent information.