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Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Haunted Library

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen this series of tweets last week about a serious haunting problem in my library:

As you can probably tell, it was an exciting day. Since the girls were compeltely freaking themselves out about the library ghost, after they filmed their "newsreel" (which I have not yet seen, sadly), I told them they should do some investigating and then write down the facts. This was the result:

A bit later, the girls came up to me and said they found an ACTUAL note from the ghost (nevermind the fact that I had given them this paper myself and they said they were going to crinkle it to make it look "old". It's GENUINE, they assured me).

"Sincerely, the Ghost." Very polite for a poltergeist, no? 

Later still, I found photographic evidence of "The Lady" on a table.

They point out that she has white hair because all ghosts have white hair, apparently.

This note was at the bottom:

We're all creeped out, kids. We're all creeped out.

So, the "Ghostbuster Cousins" didn't actually say how they planned to bust the library ghost, but if all else fails, they can always call the librarian. (Unless, of course, she is a ghost herself.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I am vengeance. I am the night. I am...THE LIBRARIAN!

Since today is National Batman Day, I thought this would be a good time to share with you what the great Chip Kidd said about librarians:


A few months ago, my boyfriend (who is a big comics nerd) and I attended the Batman at 75 panel, which featured Mr. Kidd, Michael Uslan, Kevin Conroy, Kevin Smith, and my Twitter friend Marc Tyler Nobleman, who put together the panel (and who writes interesting books about Bill Finger, one of the formerly unsung heroes in Batman's history). I'm not much of a comics gal myself, but I found it to be very interesting stuff. 

After the panel, there was a book signing, and, as I usually do when I go to signings, I awkwardly blurted that I was a librarian to the signees - luckily, Chip knows what's up.

Happy National Batman Day, everyone!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Another Summer, Another Case of Summer Reading List Drama

What is it about summer reading that makes people so cranky? Is it the heat? Are people just bored before they go away on vacation? I dunno, man. Last year, people got all up in arms about mistakes on a school's summer reading list. That was fun.

THIS summer's drama hits a bit closer to home for me: an opinion columnist at the NY Post wrote a rather scathing and (in my opinion) uninformed diatribe against this's seasons summer reading lists from NYC libraries. Here are just a few of the author's problems with the books that were chosen for the list: there aren't enough classics on it, the books represent too much ethnic diversity, and (I'm paraphrasing here), librarains are obviously trying too hard to be politically correct to pander to certain demographics. 

Here's my reaction piece over on Book Riot: A Defense of NYPL's Summer Reading List for Kids.

The issues of literacy and diversity in books are very important to me, so I tried hard to give a measured, somewhat-fact-based response (as opposed to yelling and breaking things, like I was tempted to do). I hope you find it worth reading, and I hope your summer - and summer reading - are going well.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Domo Arigato, Ms. Roboto

You know when you're having kind of a rough day and then some of the library kids come in and show you a freaking ROBOT that they made just for the library and then your day seems much, much better?

I introduce to you the "Maid/Cleaner 3000." This was created by two tween library users (girls, I might add) with an interest in science and technology. One of our suggested activities for the Summer Reading challenge is to make a robot, and these kids sure delivered.

There are its sponge feet. And it was made with 100% recycled materials, so it's good for the planet (or so I was told). I asked the girls what made them think of this design, and they said they had so many cleaning chores over the summer, it would be good to have some help.

Thank you for making the day a bit brighter and cleaner, girls.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ain't No Pun Like a Librarian Pun

Teen: "I'm having STRUGGLES."
Me: "What's wrong?"
Teen: "I need to do a five-page report on Joseph Stalin."
Me: "Ouch."
Teen: "I KNOW. I'm going to die."
Me: "Well, I think researching Stalin will put things in perspective for you."
A little while later, she came back up to the desk in an obvious attempt to put off doing her report.
Me: "Don't you have a report to write?"
Teen: "I DON'T WANT TO."
Me: "When is it due?"
Teen: "Tomorrow."
Me: "Tomorrow!"
Teen: *nods with shame*
Me: "Then you'd better stop STALLIN'!"
Teen: *blank stare*
Teen: "That was really cheesy."
Me: *nods with shame*
Can't win 'em all.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summertime and The Reading is Easy

I just wanted to share a few quotes from actual kids I talked to during my Summer Reading school visit today:

1) "We need to read over the summer to get smarter and learn more things so we can grow up and write books." (When I asked why it was important to read over the summer.) 

2) "Can I live at your library?" It sounds fun." (When I talked about library programs.)

3) And lastly, when I asked the kids if they were able to read for 20 minutes, one kid was like, "Psht, I can read for 20 HOURS." Oh yeah? PROVE IT, BIG SHOT.

Happy Summer Reading, children's librarians. God help us all.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

News to Share: Book Deal!

So, I haven't talked about this much on here (mostly because I didn't want to jinx things), BUT I have some news to share about a picture book manuscript I've been working on for the past two years or so. After a lot of revising and waiting and revising and waiting, I'm beyond thrilled to announce that my book Edward Gets Messy has sold to Simon & Schuster Children's Books, thanks to the hard work of my wonderful agent Brooks Sherman and my awesome new editor Kristin Ostby. I am so excited to be working with this team! Here's the official announcement from PW Children's Bookshelf

I'll post any significant updates about the book's actual creation as they occur. (And rest assured, I will NOT be doing the art. I just tried to draw a pig and this was the result. Someone call a vet!)

At least it's smiling?

In conclusion: yay! 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Kids, man.

NYC schools have a half day today, so of course a big group of kids came to the library right when we opened.

Kid (after seeing the computers are all being used for an adult computer class): "Aw, maaaaaan."

Me: "Well, you can read while you wait!"

Kid:  "We can read when we're grownups. The only time we can have FUN is when we're kids."


Monday, June 2, 2014

When Literary Tattoos Go Wrong

Yesterday I was doing some organizing in my apartment (you know how librarians like to have fun) and I came across a book of "Illustrated Librarian" temporary tattoos that I had received in grad school. Since I graduated approximately eight million years ago, I wanted to see if they still worked  - and they did! 


I've never seriously considered getting a real tattoo...not because I don't like them or because I'm afraid of the pain, but because I'm scared that I'll change my mind about whatever it is I choose as a design. I've toyed with the idea of getting something literary because, you know, BOOKS (side note: the Book Riot crew has a lot of inspirational literary tattoos, which you can see here), but I can't ever seem to be able to commit fully enough to an image or least not enough to feel good about it literally being a part of my body/skin for the REST OF MY LIFE.

However, applying the fake tattoo yesterday kind of got me in the mood to at least THINK about designs, so I asked my insanely talented boyfriend Michael if he'd help me sketch something out, just for fun. (Michael also created this amazing librarian pulp poster a few years ago, so you know he's got talent.) He asked what ideas I had, and I told him that it might be nice to incorporate a part of my favorite quote ("The world was hers for the reading") from my favorite book (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith) into a related image (a tree. Because I like trees and "tree" is in the book title. I'm so original!) I told him I'd do a rough sketch first to show him what I meant.

That's when things went terribly wrong.

Okay, well, that's when my drawing went terribly wrong. As you can see from the image below (and from previous posts in this very blog), I have absolutely no artistic skill whatsoever. I'm not being modest or fishing for compliments when I say this. It's a well-established fact, and I am okay with it. So, basically, my version of a tree looks like a whale tail with Chia-hair. Luckily, from my monstrosiTREE (I don't know) Michael was able to understand the basic idea of what I wanted and drew a beautiful version of the quote in a tree:

I don't know if I'll ever be brave enough to get Michael's design actually tattooed on my person, but I do love it. Or maybe I'll come up with another idea altogether that I'll actually decide is worthy of becoming a permanent "living" art exhibit. For now, I'll just stick with the temporary tattoo. (Maybe I'll trick the kids at the library into thinking it's real. Again, we librarians like to have our fun.)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Catch Up on Dear Book Nerd!

Over at Book Riot, I've had some fabulous guests on the Dear Book Nerd podcast lately! (Although, I think all my guests have been fabulous. I may be biased.) 

In case you missed them, here are the episodes that have come out since the last time I posted about the show on this blog:

Episode #7: Entering the Literary Discomfort Zone

"The witty and charming Colleen AF Venable joins me this week to answer some TOUGH QUESTIONS from listeners. We discuss issues like restricting what kids are allowed to read, who has the final say in what is even “appropriate” for kids in terms of literature, how to deal with family bookish drama, getting out of your own literary comfort zone, and much more. (Then we take a fun break and talk about poetry! Yay!)"

Episode #8: The Guilt Game

"The bold and brilliant Saladin Ahmed joins me for Episode #8 to answer two listener-submitted questions about very specific types of book guilt. Saladin and I act as judges in the 'Guilt Game,' deciding whether or not these people should feel guilty about things like not buying a book when you visit a book store, not finishing a book you’ve started, taking out library books when other people might need them more, and how not to act like a jerk to booksellers and authors. Have a listen!"

Episode #9: Is Honesty the Best Policy?

"I am joined this week by the philosophical and hilarious Ari Scott , who is a writer for the Upright Citizens Brigade in NYC and AMC Story Notes. Ari and I give advice about to three listeners who are struggling with whether or not it’s a good idea to be honest with people when it comes to book recommendations. We cover red-hot topics such as: can I lie to my friend about having time to read this book she recommended? Should I tell my friend I think this series sucks? And, speaking of series, is it okay to hate Game of Thrones?"

"This week, the eloquent and enthusiastic Jonathan Auxier joins me on the show and we answer two listener-submitted questions about the different ways in which people experience books. Jonathan and I explore issues such as: is it better to deeply analyze a book, or just enjoy it? Am I driving my friends crazy when I pick apart their favorite novels? How do my partner and I reconcile our differences when we don’t experience books in the same way? And much more. Don’t miss it!"

(Note: there were some audio problems with the second half of Episode #10, which is annoying because Jonathan had lots of interesting things to say. But we are working on the problem and it should be fixed by the next show! Thanks for your patience.) 


And if YOU have any bookish questions you'd like answered on the podcast, please email me at or use the little webform thingy at the bottom of each post above. Don't be shy! Try to challenge me! And thank you to those of you who have submitted questions and/or listened to the show. I really appreciate it. 

Until next time!