Links of Note, 1/26/13

While you’re reading these interesting links from the last couple of weeks, I’m in the midst of ALA. I’m writing this out beforehand, meaning it’s likely I’ve missed some good reading from the last few days. If you’ve seen something worthwhile, please feel free to drop a comment and let me know so I can catch up! 
I’m in love with Marc Johns‘s “Objects Reading Books” drawings.
  • There has been a lot of talk about brick and mortar bookstores in the last couple of weeks. First, it was the discussion about how Barnes and Noble has been quietly closing its doors over the last couple of years (I don’t have the exact article, but here’s a less well-written one over at the Daily Beast). Then there was an interesting post by Sarah over at YA Librarian Tales about how she doesn’t care if book stores close because she doesn’t use them. Some of what she says I take issue with because, well, I’m rural, too, and I don’t have a bookstore within 50 miles and yet, what I love about the book store experience isn’t the immediacy. It’s the serendipity of browsing, of discovery, and of the fact I don’t need immediate gratification therein. But I hear and get the argument about the ease of ereading and ability to download ebooks when you want them. Here’s a nice guide to supporting your local indies through your ereading habits. You can have it both ways. 
  • Sort of going hand in hand with that are the stories of the bookless libraries popping up. First, it was Bexar (pronounced “Bear” for anyone who hasn’t spent time in Texas) County declaring their brilliant idea for an all-digital library to reach their county/rural residents. Then it was a school in Philadelphia which is going to whittle their 47,000 some collection down to a mere 1,000 books. Why is no one calling shenanigans on either of these? Come on. The first is the grand idea of a judge — A JUDGE, not a LIBRARIAN or EDUCATOR with actual experience and knowledge about literacy — and the second is the grand scheme of an administrator in a library where there is no librarian (she’s retired!). Do we not see the problem here? Going bookless is a privilege, and even if the grand idea is access, how does giving access help literacy? It doesn’t. It’s simply ACCESS. Yes, these get me incredibly riled up because it undermines all of the work people with actual skills and knowledge in this arena have in favor of something that’s “sexy” and “cutting edge.” We’re doing the future huge disservices when we do this. But maybe I shouldn’t say “we,” because in every instance, it’s someone who is not an expert in literacy pushing for this. In light of all these (crazy) stories is the opening of the Antelope Lending Library in Iowa City. Take a step back and just think about these stories in conjunction with one another. Oh, also, this PEW study said that 80% of Americans say borrowing books is a very important service of libraries.
  • Earlier this week, I talked about how critical reviews are a means of reader advocacy. It was sparked when Sarah asked about resources for those interested in writing critical reviews. Sarah’s since rounded up her resources in one place — so if you’ve ever wondered about writing critical reviews, here’s a great place to find some answers (and not just because she links to me).
  • A couple of weeks ago, I started ranting to Liz about the believability factors in YA books — especially those which aren’t realistic. And while obviously fantasy/scifi books have no obligation to be realistic, there are things I wonder about. We then got on to talking about how female leads deal with things like their periods. So then she blogged about this, and the response has been fantastic. Let’s talk about that time of the month and books that bring it up when necessary
  • Maggie Stiefvater wrote a blog post this week about the use of rape in books to create a tragic backstory. It’s a worthwhile read, but I do take a few issues with it. First, not knowing the books, it’s impossible to know whether part of the commentary in the books is that this sort of abuse and violence towards women is sickening and disgusting. Likewise, she points out something about rape being the worst thing that can happen to a woman but not a man (she words it better than I’m paraphrasing) but I think in light of current politics, her comments here actually make me more curious about how the rape is being used in these books because it may in fact be commentary on that very thing. Either way, this is a must-read piece. 
  • Does YA Lit rely on sexist and misogynistic language too much? A thoughtful post over at crunchings and munchings. My thoughts: sometimes — and I think especially in the case of the McCafferty book discussed — it’s meant to be there AS a discussion point. But maybe I’m a bit privileged knowing that because I’ve read everything McCafferty’s written and get what she’s doing with her writing (which isn’t to say that this blog post is wrong, but rather, I don’t know if that’s the strongest example). 
  • One of my all-time favorite library stories is this one: a branch of the NYPL lends out their American Girls doll. As a kid who grew up envious of my friends who had them (we couldn’t afford one!), this is the kind of thing I would have loved. And it’s so, so nice to see a librarian getting recognition for doing something so simple and yet so community-minded. Huge kudos to her and to the NYT for writing this up. 
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