deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Phil Nel has written about the sad parade of deaths in children's literature he last couple of months. I will add to his list of books about death that the best book I know about grieving, for children or adults, is Michael Rosen's Sad Book. It... will not cheer you up, though.

On an entirely more petty note, one thing I've noticed most librarians agree about is the magic by which every time the ALA websites are redesigned, they get worse. I am amazed at how much the blog post in which YALSA president Sarah Flowers defends putting the YALSA award and best-of lists behind member login misses every possible point about why this is a terrible idea.

No wonder people think librarians are irrelevant.

More to the point, no wonder most librarians think the ALA is irrelevant.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I'm so honored to be on the ALSC/Booklist/YALSA Odyssey award for excellence in audiobook production selection committee for 2013. I won't be able to talk about it, but rest assured I am listening to some amazing audiobooks.

Andrea Horbinski's "Madge, in Thy Orisons…", over at the Transformative Works and Cultures Symposium blog, starts with the fascinating ways in which Madonna's Super Bowl halftime performance was clearly drawing upon Luminosity's 300 vid, and comes to some thought-provoking conclusions about the limitations of transformative works:
My point here is not so much that all of this is anything new (it’s not), but rather that viewing the vid and the halftime show together provides a textbook example of the ways in which fandom (and any pop culture critique based in pop culture itself), and vidding in particular, is limited by its working, in some senses, with found objects.

The Free Government Information Blog, in light of the shutdown of Scroogle, talks about privacy-protecting search engines. I've personally come to love Duck Duck Go -- I came for the privacy and stayed for the simplicity and usability.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I continue to be troubled by the Edwards awards. Here is the list of previous winners of the Edwards award.
24 winners )Maybe I'm missing something, but out of 24 winners I count two authors of color (both black), three out queer women (and two authors of explicitly homophobic books to balance them out). As long as I am running statistics in my head, I also get two authors of nonfiction,11 authors known primarily for their realistic fiction for young readers, 4 authors known primarily for fantasy or science fiction for adults, 1 author known primarily for suspense and mystery for young readers, 1 author known primarily for humor.

When compared with the Printz (11 winners, 4 winners of color -- 2 black, one Korean born American, one American of Taiwanese descent; no out authors), the Edwards starts looking like they are not really paying attention to representation when they make statements of lifetime achievement. And I don't just mean representation vis-à-vis the usual factors, but also genre. In those 11 years, Printz winners included one fantasy graphic novel, two post-apocalyptic novels (one far future and one near future), one humor novel, and a couple of really weird surrealist pieces. No mysteries, horror, nonfiction, romance, or thrillers. (Expanding to include the Printz honors-- which isn't fair, because the Edwards award only gets to honor one person the year, so I should be comparing apples to apples -- nets you a whole variety of things I'm not going to run statistics on right now, including several out authors, a heroic crown of sonnets, a couple of books which are at least kinda-kinda as far as fat politics goes, steampunk, autobiography, nonfiction, funny chicklit, and yes, Terry Pratchett. Also a wide variety of books about queerness written by straight people and books about people of color written by white people, but at least the books in question are awesome.)

In this light, I am more happy about the Pratchett award in the Edwards' just because that means they have finally given an award to humor, although personally I'd have been happier to see it go to someone like Pinkwater. Nancy Werlin would go a long way to approaching the dearth of representation for suspense and mystery. I can't even begin to approach the absence of horror from that list. I'm not fond of the genre myself, but even if you don't want to credit R. L. Stine, Christopher Pike, and Anthony Horowitz, you could give a little bit of love to John Bellairs. Chicklit would be well represented by Meg Cabot.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I'm thinking more about why I am upset about the history of the Margaret A Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement. (I want to thank [personal profile] astern for helping me work this out in my head.)

Four authors who are not primarily known as authors for children or young adult have won the Edwards award, and all of them are F&SF authors -- and I think this is wrong. I'd like to state for the record that there are plenty of books by McCaffrey, LeGuin, Card, and Pratchett on my bookshelf, and there were a hell of a lot more when I was a preteen.

I think this is nerds (i.e. librarians) giving book awards to the authors they loved as preteens, and not paying attention to the requirements of the award, that it be for books that are for a wide range of teens. It contributes to the (now ridiculously outdated) stereotype that only nerds read for pleasure. It rewards the authors of crap books which had strong effect on geekery (Anne McCaffery) and ignores the authors of books which had broad effect on everyone else.

And if you think I'm wrong, ask yourself if Ann M Martin or Francine Pascal or R. L. Stine or Zoey Dean will ever win an ALA lifetime achievement award.

Or, hell, Stephenie Meyer. JK Rowling has at least a snowball's chance in hell, which is more than you can say for any of those others.

The point is, If you're lucky, you can give the award to high-quality authors who are heavily praised by book mediators AND have wide readership. If you are less lucky, you can give the award to the high-quality authors who are heavily praised by book mediators, but who might not get as much wide readership. Or you can give the award to books which really do have wide popular appeal and effect. But giving the award to books which have never been part of the young adult mediated readership AND who don't have wide appeal/readership outside of the very specific subculture? That's pandering to yourself and your own interests, and that's just embarrassing.

(I don't think it's impossible for adult authors who are popular with teens to write books which should win awards for spectacular young adult fiction. But that "mere marketing category" that differentiates books popular with teens from books marketed to teens is something that's really important and shouldn't be elided. Part of being a successful young adult author is negotiating the gulf between the book he or she wants to write, what the gatekeepers think is acceptable, and what teens choose to read. That's incredibly difficult, and part of what the youth media awards are designed for is celebrating the books that fall into that space. That doesn't mean books that don't fall into that cannot be wonderful, worthy of praise, and praiseworthy SPECIFICALLY for being beloved by adolescents. But it does mean that maybe they shouldn't be winning awards specifically for rewarding an underserved, well, marketing category. There's a genre difference between The Colour of Magic and The Wintersmith, and that marketing category has something to do with it.)
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
[ profile] diceytillerman has posted an informative and thoughtful response to Kathryn Nolfi's article in Horn Book Magazine, "YA Fatphobia".

And now, insta-reactions to the American Library Association youth media awards.

The True Meaning of Smekday's audiobook won the Odyssey Award for best audio book, so BOOYEAH. The book deserves more awards than that, but at least it's got one.

I find it really entertaining the ordering of the announcement is left over from the days when the Newbery and Caldecott were the most important awards and all that anybody cared about, but in this day and age the YA awards get more popular attention.

Sad faces:

Edwards award: Terry Pratchett has done a lot of wonderful things, and should be honored while he can still appreciate it, but he is not even remotely the correct recipient for the Margaret A. Edwards award for Lifetime Achievement in Young Adult Literature.

Morris award: I admit I haven't read Freak Observer, but I have very strong feelings about Hush and how it should have won pretty much every award for which it was eligible. So poo. (And why was Hold Me Closer, Necromancer shortlisted? It was totally fun, absolutely BBYA material, but it dropped a lot of plot threads.)

Printz award: I have heard that Ship Breaker is wonderful, and it's actually the next book on my to be read pile, but where, again, was Hush anywhere on that short list? Seriously, that book was amazing.

[personal profile] astern pointed out that all of the Stonewall winners are about boys. None of them is about two girls in a relationship. Especially annoying since A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend is very similar to Will Grayson, Will Grayson, but 10 times better.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Laura's post in the DCA blog today makes me feel old: Kathleen Hanna's personal papers are being added to the Riot Grrrl collection at NYU. Laura asks what will be your archival moment; what will be the moment that makes you realize your youth is now being preserved for scholarship and historians?

How about those Youth Media Awards, eh? as usual, I've read almost none of the winners or honor books in advance of the award. I did read Punkzilla, and I quite enjoyed it, although I was initially confused by its selection as a Printz Honor. When I think about it, though, in some ways it resembles the 2002 Honor book Freewill, and I admit that one of the things I love about the Printzes is how eclectic they are. (Also, I'm quite pleased that Wintergirls didn't win anything. I thought it was beautiful, lyrical, and a lovely book aside from its rushed conclusion -- but I also thought it was a clever and detailed how-to guide about how to hide an eating disorder from your caregivers, and it was so effectively in the voice of the eating disordered protagonist that I came out of that book finding my body disgusting and food vile. As much as it was well-written, I really don't want to give it any awards which will increase the number of readers it has.)

Closing another tab, the Useful Chemistry blog has a fantastic post about learning what data sources to trust (and concludes, "none of them, at least not without caveats").

Hmm. I have a lot more I want to blog about but my department is downstairs having wine and cheese, and it seems illogical for me to be sitting upstairs while there is cheese downstairs.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
If you believe, as I do, that there is a crisis in library education that threatens the very existence of libraries and librarianship, you are likely to draw a negative reaction from a variety of people. First, there are the millenniarist librarians and pseudo-librarians who, intoxicated with selfindulgence and technology, will dismiss you as a "Luddite" or worse. They and their yips and yawps can safely be left to their acronymic backwaters and the dubious delights of clicking and surfing. Then there are the increasing numbers of faculty in LIS schools who are, at best, indifferent to libraries and, at worst, hostile to libraries and theircontinuing mission. Their concerns are with "information science" and other topics that are marginal or irrelevant to the work of libraries.

Michael Gorman, our favorite bombast, in the May issue of American Libraries [pdf]

I know mocking Michael Gorman is so yesterday, but honestly, to be president of the primary library association and -- whether he agrees or disagrees with the broad spectrum of opinions his opponents hold -- to publicly brand everyone disagrees with him as "pseudo-librarians" with "yips and yawps", and to call everything labeled "information science" as "marginal or irrelevant to the work of libraries". Goodness.

Mr. Gorman, there is a crisis in library education. It's that while you can't see how core library knowledge and values can be compatible with technological and cultural changes, library schools are churning out unemployable graduates because your organization isn't doing anything to market professional librarianship to budget-strapped schools, towns, and universities.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I wish there were a way to join ACRL and YALSA without joining ALA. I agree with all the brouhaha (eg. Jessamyn, Dorothea) that the ALA as a whole has been trying for years now to benefit libraries at the expense of librarians. I don't want to join the ALA -- it's my belief that you can't fundamentally help libraries as institutions unless you help librarians as well. Yet I need to network with people in my field, and while I can technically get by without joining ACRL (there's plenty of other organizations and opportunities to meet people while I'm working here), I don't know how else I can be involved with YA lit. I don't after all, work in the field, and almost all the real work in children's and YA librarianship are happens in ALSC and YALSA.

Well, at least now that I have a job I can afford to rejoin ChLA. That's something.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I know that it is some time since the last kerfluffle has died down -- and in this case, by "kerfluffle", I mean "outpouring of amused frustration against Michael Gorman". Though various people had excellent things to say about why they were planning on leaving ALA (Dorothea, Anna) or why they weren't (Rochelle), I couldn't quite bring myself to to get that worked up about it. I'm in a transitional phase as far as my career grows. I'm graduated from library school and deep in the hunt for my first professional library position. But I have a variety of specialties, and I'm not sure where I'll end up. Will I be a systems librarian? A digital librarian and markup specialist? A reference librarian? A young adult librarian? Will I be joining ASIST, SLA, YALSA, RUSA, ARL? A different organization depending on my final employed specialty?

For my part, I find the ALA as a whole to be remarkably useless organization. The only point, to me, of a massive professional organization is organizing power -- a union, as it were. And sometimes ALA uses its massive organizing power in ways that I find appropriate and of which I approve: protesting the PATRIOT Act's library provisions. Sometimes ALA neglects to use its massive organizing power: waiting until now to start serious efforts to prevent library closings across the nation. And sometimes ALA, in my opinion, misuses its massive organizing power: recruiting library school students for a mythical shortage which is unlikely to appear.

A small organization, though, can be targeted better professionally or geographically to be a more direct use to its members. A geographically targeted organization (MLA, for example) is far superior for networking purposes than an organization with tens of thousands of members. A professionally targeted organization will have conferences, sessions, networking, and other materials aimed specifically to me.

Now it may well be that it will be appropriate for me to join an ALA division (LITA or YALSA, for example). In that case, I will join ALA, and get what I need from the small division within the large organization. But ALA as a whole? I don't feel that they have anything to offer me, except the aforementioned massive organizational and political power. And, I suppose, Michael Gorman's amazing ability to run off at the mouth and make my entire profession look stupid, which he can do whether I'm a member or not.

But wait, you might say. Weren't you the secretary of your student organization's ALA chapter? And yes, I was. But there's a big difference between being the secretary of the student group which works to bring professional events to campus and being a member of the national organization.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
ALA Midwinter report, part 1: children's and young adult

True Story being used here for Metaphorical Purposes: I'm a butcher's daughter, and used to watch the sausage being made. Now I'm a vegetarian.

I don't suspect that's going to happen -- quite -- with my opinions of the words the American Library Association awards to children's and young adult literature. After all, they have a fairly good record. Being an ALA Notable winner is a good hint that a book might be worth reading. Might. Still, the sessions were enlightening to watch.

The sad )

The good )
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