Re-branding or Evolution?

Like everybody else in the known universe right now I am watching 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. I read the book (actually reviewed it here) about a year ago and thought it was great, so I was really excited to check out what they did with the series. I won’t laundry list the differences between the book and series, (most of which I don’t agree with but hey, that’s what Hollywood does) except one that really kind of got to me on a personal level.

I just watched the episode where Hannah joins the poetry group at the local library. How does she find out about this poetry group? Well, a young, hipster, male librarian wearing a scarf in her school’s gymnasium tells her about it. What? He wasn’t anywhere in the book? Anyhow, he gives this speech about how people stereotype librarians to be these small, gray haired old ladies and that it’s not really how it is anymore, that the profession was “re-branding” itself.

My first instinct was to get annoyed. Very annoyed, but only because it hit so close to home. Maybe it’s one of those things where you buy a blue car and start seeing blue cars everywhere but I have been seeing a lot more of librarians mentioned in the media. First of all that weird show where they time travel what the heck is that all about? Then there was some crack about librarians and the way they look when I was watching season 2 of crazy ex-girlfriend, and now this. The more I thought about it though, the less annoyed I actually got, realizing that I did in fact fit quite well into this new “re-branded” type of librarian.

The use of the word “re-branding” is actually where I felt the rub, it’s such a big term used in business , and I don’t like the thought of being part of a brand or contributing to one. If you do a quick google of library AND re-branding you are going to get quite a bit of info, it appears to be a hot topic these days. The way I feel about it all is that libraries should be anti-corporate and independent of politics such as making money, or selling themselves. I know that patrons are the reason that we get funded, I get that we should be offering more technological services and provide the public (or students) with further reaching services but don’t call it re-branding, call it evolving. We aren’t selling ourselves, we are adapting and expanding to public needs in order to serve our communities and patron bases.

That’s only addressing the library, not the librarians themselves. Now it seems we have jumped from one stereotype of the library worker to another. One of a grey and aging woman behind the reference desk filing and shushing people to one where a hip young person dashes around the library brimming with poetic fervor while being tech savvy and fashion forward all at the same time. It’s not a bad thing, but again, I feel it’s more of a natural evolution in terms of what kind of personalities are drawn to working in libraries. What are the goals, aspirations and strengths of this new generation of librarians and how can they bring these skills to the table to help serve their patrons? Well, it’s just a natural transition if you think about it, old ways phasing out to be more in tune with the new. It’s not that one generation is better than the previous, it’s just that things have changed and change is constant, especially with technology being so heavily relied on as a part of our everyday lives. I work with many different generations of librarians at both jobs, and we all have our strengths and weaknesses in the field which allow us to learn from one another and grow together as a team towards a common goal. I love those white haired older ladies that were doing this before there was even the internet, and I love my 20 something’s in the makerspaces who I swear have brains that are half computer. We are diverse crowd serving a diverse crowd, and I like it that way, without grouping us all into a “brand”.

In my short searching around I found a movie that we have streaming through the U called: The Hollywood Librarian: A look at Librarians through film. I have a plan to watch it this week, and I’ll give my review sometime soon. It’s from 2009, a bit older than I’d like, but I’m sure still has some pretty interesting insight.

Ponzee and Pop-paap

Today my co-worker brought in a super cool XP-pen digital drawing tablet that he let me play with. I think he got it for like 20 bucks on amazon, or something to that effect. It takes a bit of getting used to, but after I got the hang of it, it became pretty darn fun. I’m not much of an artist really, but just playing around with it gave me something to do on this super slow Sunday.

Here’s our first creation. Ponzee and Pop-paap. As you can see Ponzee is a Panda, and Pop-paap is a kind and pretty Popsicle. It’s a collaboration piece, I did the panda, he did the pop.

Ponzee

Playing with this thing has re-inspired me to write a children’s book. So I did. A super rough 6 pager called The Black Hole in the Library. Here it is, my first crack at it.

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Well that’s pretty much it. I did ask him to bring it in next week, so maybe I can do another installment. A series perhaps of library mishaps. I suppose it could always end in them closing the library for safety reasons, I don’t know why I find that so entertaining.

Cats and Buttered Toast

One of my best friends is having a baby shower early June, and in a clever twist, her sister in law has asked guests to bring a book for the baby instead of a card. OH, how perfect is this request. Build the little one a library with personalized messages from the ones who will love him and watch him grow. BOOKS, just books, I love it all.

Whenever I go to a kid’s party I’m that lady that brings books. I don’t buy toys, or clothes, or anything like that I bring books. If it’s a baby shower, sometimes I bring my go to Read Along Handbook by Jim Trelease –  as a part of the gift in an attempt to guilt the mother into reading to her child. Really, it’s just generally handy for book suggestions.  For kid’s birthdays its books, books and more books. The public has an awesome friends of the library where you can find, odd, offbeat, marvelous children’s books for .50 cents to a dollar. There’s really nothing like watching your friends and/or acquaintances open your gift to find such original treasures. I’m sure most kids would rather have a princess dress, or skateboard or something much cooler. If this is the case, then don’t invite me to your kids parties because they are only getting 5$ of strange literature out of me. So there. Am I being rebellious? Maybe a little, but I think the consumerism, especially for kids, is way out of control these days.

So what did I find today in the Friends?

A picture book called Mac Side Up by Bob Elsdale. I got it mainly because it has a cat wearing a backwards hat on a piece of toast on the cover, but as I read it gets better.

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The whole book is a play on the buttered toast always lands butter side down and cat always lands on its feet thing that was so popular like 15 years ago, you know, that thing.

Anyways. This cool cat decides that he is going to see what happens if he straps a piece of buttered toast with the butter side up to his back. With the help of his radical ferret friend (who wears sunglasses) he embarks on a stunt to try to get to the bottom of this hypothesis. Which is stronger, the fact that the cat always lands on his feet, or the thought that buttered toast always lands side down??? Well if you want to know, you will have to find a copy of this god knows where. I will give you a spoiler though, in the end, I think that felines may prevail.

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**Also at the end of this book there is a two page explanation of how there were no animals harmed in the making of this book, and how they position the model animals and surrounding images so that they are in no way distressed in the process (YES!)**

Book hoarding

Librarians are the worst kind of library patrons hands down. We hoard things, check them out and override max number of check outs, or just keep the items forever since we get no fees. Sorry it’s so true. Part of the time you feel like a kid in a candy store. There so much out there to get your hands on. And with both public and academic libraries at my disposal it becomes even worse. I pick up so many books and hold on to them for months and never get around to reading them. It’s a balance, you have to force yourself to do social things occasionally or be a shut in with your books. Half the time when you are out you just wish you were at home reading with a bottle of wine. But then I guess a lifetime of that and you die alone with the cats. OR find somebody that just wants to stay at home and read with you. I may be wishful thinking.

One more month and its back to school here, which sounds good to me. It’s like a ghost town around here, and although I don’t need the constant flow of people that happens at the public, I do enjoy the bustle of a new semester, and new students that breathe some life into this old re-purposed Alpha Beta. But there’s still 3 more weeks in August to get through before that happens. Fall weather is something to look forward to as well but that doesn’t happen here in So Cal until November. (grumble) Tomorrow I’m going to meet with the archivist and talk about possibly putting together a digital collection for our 125th anniversary as a college. I’m excited because it’s something I worked on pretty hard last year for the history wall that never really got anywhere, so it won’t be much work to put together at all it’s mostly done. Plus it’s a digital collection, my child, something I created for once, I guess it’s not the next great American novel, but it’s a start. Still trying my hand at being more creative lately, but I’m lacking a muse, or creative partner. How do you find one of these? Craigslist? Instagram? What about that saying.. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear… I’m pretty sure I’m ready, and figuring out that creativity doesn’t live in a drunken vacuum, as I previously believed.