Library humor


I mentioned a few posts ago about the Austin Public Library Bibliofiles, our book cart drill team, which won the silver at the ALA Book Cart Drill Team Championships in Anaheim. Here’s a story from one of our local Austin TV news sites, so that you can learn more about them.

And here’s a video of their routine:

Book cart drill teams are a great way to get any library – school, public, or otherwise – “noticed” in any community. Every town and city has parades and festivals, and once a book cart drill team works up a few routines, why not do something to break out of those old stereotypes?

And then, you can, as the Bibliofiles did, post the video to YouTube so that everyone in your community can see it.

Robert McCloskey\'s \All of us know Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings, which takes place in Boston. We would never expect, though, to see a mother duck leading eight or nine ducklings near the heavily-trafficked Katella Blvd near Disneyland on the first day of the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, CA. I was, unfortunately, about a block and a half away – inside the Anaheim Convention Center – when it happened, so I missed it. But two members of the Austin Public Library youth services staff, Stephanie Shipman and Suzanne Sanders, spotted them as they walked from a restaurant toward the Convention Center.

“We looked over and saw the mama duck with four or five ducklings on the curb and four more in the gutter,” Sanders told me. “She leaped down to get them, but couldn’t get them up, so we ran over and gave them a little boost onto the grass. They started crossing the sidewalk, and another woman started coming over to see. When she did, that mama duck gave out a tremendous ‘QUAAACK!’.”

They waddled away into a big flower bed. Sanders and Shipman wonder – where did they come from? But that family of ducks was, after all, right next to Disneyland.

Henry and booksI read a great quote on the PUBYAC discussion group this morning, and after all the depressing news and discussion around the Web over the value of libraries and librarians in these Googly times, I felt compelled to pass it along.

It’s from Pat Downs, youth services manager at San Diego County (CA) Library. They’ve been holding a similar discussion on PUBYAC, so Pat knew just what to share – something overheard at SDCL’s new Encinitas branch:

I just have to weigh in here with a wonderful quote from a young boy, upon entering our newest branch:

“This place is great! It’s like the Internet, but it’s real!”

I smiled for about an hour after reading that. (And thanks for the permission to share it here, Pat.)

Darth Bill eats a defeated peepYes! If you’ve never heard of the sport of peep jousting, you should hightail it over to the Boys Rule! Boys Read! blog and check it out. (However, a warning: it involves a microwave oven.)

Here’s Darth Bill of the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County (NC) explaining exactly how it works, in his Feb. 28 post:

Now if you have never heard of peep jousting, you are in for a treat. What peep jousting involves is putting two Easter Peeps, each equipped with a trusty tooth pick (pushed into each peep), facing each other onto a plate and then into a microwave. The peeps will expand in the microwave and the first peep to stick the opposing peep with a tooth pick is the winner. Think I’m crazy?

No, not at all, Bill. (The photo shows Bill eating one of the exploded peeps.) I think it sounds rather cool myself (except eating the melted peep – I’ll pass). I’ve seen plenty of librarians do strange things with peeps over the years (it sounds like the subject for a Ph.D. thesis to me), but this one takes the cake, or, er, the peep. Where do these ideas come from? Watch this YouTube video, not from a library, but it shows the general idea:

Now, go try it at your library!

Bottled waterBeloit College in WI has for some years released a “Mindset List” of the world as an incoming freshman sees it (here’s this year’s). As the average first-year Beloit student of the Class of 2011 will be 18 and born in 1989, it’s a perfect list for those of us who are a little older than 18 to say, “Omigod, when’d I get so old?”

But the list is also fun, and keeps us focused on the difference between the perspective and cultural background of an adult (particularly a baby boomer such as myself) and the kids we work with. I grew up learning about how awful and oppressive the Soviet Union was; I followed the Gemini and Apollo space shots religiously, and I only recently bought a car with electric windows. But for young people now, there is no Soviet Union (and how could anyone be afraid these days of the countries that made it up?), the space program has never been a big deal, and the vast majority of them have never “rolled up” a car window. And they think that people have always bought bottles of drinking water.

Check it out. If you look to the left you’ll see Mindset Lists from previous years.

Kansas City library parking┬ástructureAnother “Hey, look at these!” post, this time from the deputydog blog – a blog primarily about architecture. Whimsical walls have gone up at two libraries, one in Cardiff, Wales, and the other in Kansas City, MO. Both have been plastered with what look like the spines of giant books.

Even though it’s extremely cool, I’m a bit bothered by the one in Cardiff, which is only temporary until library construction is completed – it looks like a shelf of adult mass-market paperbacks, as in, um, Where are the children’s books? I like the (permanent) wall of Kansas City’s library parking structure better, which includes spines for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Charlotte’s Web. (Library users voted on the titles they wanted to see.)

What a great idea! And what a great way to promote books and reading as you drive past. I wish more libraries would do stuff like this.

Oloch Wooly Mammoth bookcartWhoa – you have to look at these. Highsmith and the Unshelved library comic strip recently announced the winners of their “Pimp My Bookcart” contest. The four top entries were so much fun that there was a tie for third place.

While the first prize winner, a mock-UPS truck bookcart built by Timberland High School in Wentzville, MO, is impressive – and looks as if it’ll be great for setting out displays – my favorite is the second prize winner. It’s this Woolly Mammoth cart named “Oloch” from the Othmer Library of Chemical History in Philadelphia. Wouldn’t the kids in any library love to see this furry beast rolling around the room?

Early childhood and librariesGood news from Washington, DC – and how frequently do we hear that? A lot of work from the youth-services divisions of ALA (ALSC, AASL, and YALSA), who met earlier in the year with members of the U.S. House and Senate, has led to an important change in the new version of the Improving Head Start Act. Here’s the page on the ALA’s Washington Office site with the history of their work on Head Start bills past and present.

What a great thing! If the bill passes through Congress and the President signs it – which it looks as if he will – public libraries will for the first time be recognized as official partners of the Head Start program. Hooray! While lots of Head Starts around the country have built good working relationships with public libraries for projects that promote early literacy, this new bill will mean that Head Starts nationwide will be encouraged to work with libraries. That’s great news for anyone thinking about submitting grant applications for programs promoting early literacy.

There’s a silly – and unrelated – thing, too. Brad Barker, librarian at Mark Twain Junior High in Modesto, CA, has been writing an irregular (and I mean that in several senses of the word) humor column, “Dear Mr. Library Man,” in the Modesto Bee. Here he betrays us all by revealing the secret librarian handshake we all learned when we graduated from library school. Right?

Uh-huh.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.