Monday, February 29, 2016


            I watched “The Age of Adaline” this weekend and it was a pretty good movie overall except for one short piece of dialogue. In the movie Adaline is going home with Ellis to meet his parents at their 40th wedding anniversary and before they arrive his parents are discussing her.

Harrison Ford (father) “So what’s the story with this girl? She works there?
Mom – “I’ve told you everything Ellis told me.”
HF – “A beautiful girl… (big pause here)…working in a public library?”

What the heck? Are the writers implying that only ugly girls work at public libraries? Are they implying that there is something wrong with working at a public library?

            Mom – “Maybe she likes books and silence.”
HF – “Or maybe she Googled him and found out about his generous contribution and then worked her way into getting her hooks in him.”

            Now this is where the writers again went wrong. As every librarian knows, Google is not the best source for research. She works at the San Francisco Public Library in the archives. She is used to scholarly research and has much better databases to use if she really wanted to find out the dirt on her boyfriend. She already knew that he had made his fortune in economic forecasting and he is the board of director president for a philanthropic organization. With a few clicks she would have this information in a flash from a reputable source.

            What is it about librarians that make them an easy target? People hear that you are a librarian and the comments begin. “It must be nice to just sit and read all day” or “Oh, they still have librarians?” Librarians, for the most part, are stereotyped as introverted, unattractive, timid, or as a know-it-all without social skills. The reality is that librarians are just like everyone. Some are firecrackers that ignite the thirst for knowledge and some quietly lead the way. What librarian stereotypes have you heard? How can we change society’s image of us and do we want to?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Girls Can Be Heroes Too!

I recently read the results of a gender study that looked at 6,000 children’s books published between 1900 and 2000. The study showed that children’s books are twice as likely to feature a male hero as a female heroine and could be reinforcing gender inequality. Personally, I don’t choose books on whether they have a female or male leading character, I enjoy books that have a strong leading characters regardless of gender. However, I do think society encourages young girls to be little princesses waiting to be rescued rather than encouraging them to be confident, resourceful, and rescue themselves. How can we help dispel this image? As librarians, we can help by setting up a book display showing that girls do not have to always be the damsel in distress, that they can be leaders and adventurers. That it is okay for girls to be smart and save the world if necessary.
What books would you put on display? I think a good representation of fun and action-packed stories set in times long past or in future worlds will spark the young adventurer to pick up a book and realize they too can be strong, confident, compassionate leaders. Here are a few to get you started.
1.      Brave Margaret: An Irish Adventure by Robert D. San Souci
2.      The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
3.      Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
4.      Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell
5.      The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
6.      The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
7.      The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon
8.      Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
9.      Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
10.  Anne of Green Gables (series) by l. M. Montgomery
11.  A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
12.  Huntress by Malinda Lo
13.  The Hunger Games (trilogy) by Suzanne Collins
14.  Young Wizard series by Diane Duane
15.  Graceling by Kristin Cashore

McCabe, Janice, Emily Fairchild, Liz Grauerholz, Bernice A. Pescosolido, and Daniel Tope. 2011. “Gender in Twentieth-Century Children’s Books: Patterns of Disparity in Titles and Central Characters”. Gender & Society, April 2011 25(2): 197-226.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A tap..tap..tapping

I’ve mentioned before that I arrive early so I can walk all four floors and get some of my steps in for the day. I enjoy my quiet time walking through the stacks and letting my mind float free. Just me and the quiet library until this morning. I was on the 4th floor near the Greek and Latin texts when I heard a tapping from outside the window.

“…suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.”

            What Was That?!! I’m on the 4th floor for crying out loud and alone in the library. My heart began to beat faster as I neared the window. I peered through the blind and saw only the beautiful pink streaked sunrise so I continued my walk through the stacks to the other side. My imagination was in full throttle as I wondered what this mysterious tapping was. Suddenly, as I neared the final stack, I again heard a rapping at the window. I stopped,

“..long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,”

            I heard no sound except my beating heart. As a fan of horror and sci-fi I’m sure you cannot begin to imagine the thoughts going through my head and yet I needed to know. I tiptoed ever closer to the window and waited breathlessly for the next tap-tap-tap. 

There! Quickly I peered through the blind and found the source of my distress. Not a raven but a large black crow. With a loud raucous CAW he sprang aloft in the dawning light to perform another tap-tap-tap flight and hopefully to return to my library,


My apologies to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven.