Friday, September 28, 2012

Banned Books Week

                        As promised, I'm going to tell you about what the library is doing for Banned Books Week! I have had a lot of fun planning it. First of all, we're going to have pins with book covers on them so that students can show off their favorite banned book. There will also be snacks, and a comment box where they can write their feelings on censorship which will be posted on Facebook and Twitter, hopefully every day but it depends on how many responses we get. I'm also making up signs so that students can see the title and then turn it around to see the reasons why the text was banned. A lot of them are really interesting, and maybe books you might not expect. Like Captain Underpants, which was banned because it contains poop jokes and potty humor. Which is why I loved it when I was little. We're going to showcase Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn during the week. I think the students will be most interested to know that Hunger Games, Twilight and Harry Potter have been banned, but then again maybe they'll surprise me and go for the classics. I also hope that they like the buttons, I had so much fun making them! Button making machines are awesome, and I wouldn't mind making some more.
                       Learning about Banned Books Week has been particularly interesting to me. Some of the books that are banned have actually won awards and are considered some of the most popular books published, like Huckleberry Finn or To Kill a Mockingbird. There seems to be a repetition of reasons for banning as well, mostly offensive language, anything involving sex or drugs, violence, and religious views that are controversial. This seems to represent the mindset of the country, to me at least. For instance, the book It's Perfectly Normal, which explains to teens what puberty is like and what they will be going through, is banned because it involves sex and has pictures of the human body. Because educating them about their own bodies and sex is a topic that is uncomfortable and so we either ignore, or blatantly don't discuss it. I think the banned books that bother me the most are the ones that are banned because some of the characters are homosexual though. Not that I agree that any of these books should be banned, but banning for that reason particularly irks me. Just the fact the characters are homosexual is enough for the public to ban them, regardless of what they are actually doing in the book. Which is just plain ridiculous, in my opinion anyway. I don't want to get too political about it, but reading about all these censored books has definitely given me something to think about.
                      As part of my internship, Clinton gave me an article to read about a children's book that was causing an uproar. The book uses the word scrotum in the context of a little girl who hears it and makes up her own ideas about it and what it means. Because of that word, schools are banning the book from elementary schools and possibly public libraries. It's tough to balance, I think, when it comes to children. Wanting to educate them but also not including material that isn't appropriate for their age group. Maybe there is a way to work with that though. In elementary school the students won't know what it means, but if they ask, their parents or teachers will have to explain it to them, which again is a uncomfortable topic they don't want to broach. Maybe I'm getting too political again but it seems to me if something makes us uncomfortable as a society we sweep it under the rug and refuse to talk about it. Anyway, I've decided to read through the Banned Books list, because I want to know what everyone is making such a fuss about. And it'll make for some very interesting reading.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

First Post

                Hello! My name is Kelly and I am an intern in the reference department this semester, which is very exciting. I was thrilled when I found out that I was going to be working here this semester. This is exactly what I wanted to do during my senior year, since next year I am planning on going to grad school for library science. But before I applied, I wanted to make sure I had some experience under my belt, and that I had some idea of what I was getting myself into. Which, as it turns out, I only had some idea of. Library science and reference are harder than I thought. There is a lot of technology involved as well as a thorough knowledge of research techniques and the library catalogue itself.  It may look easy when you see a librarian finding a book or pulling up information, but it's not. There's a reason I have to get a degree to know how to do it. The more I work, the more excited I am to go to grad school and experience it myself.
          As a librarian I can work at museums, public libraries, colleges or universities, corporate libraries. A ton of places, and all of them I get to work with books and information that I normally wouldn't have access to and would never find on my own. The other day I found a database with images of paleolithic paintings for my art history class, there are several databases for primary sources from the civil war, one devoted to the author Thomas Hardy (which will come in handy for my senior seminar next semester), and I found an Arthurian dictionary on the shelves from the 70s. This is why I love libraries and I want to be a librarian. There is so much information to be found on the most random and wonderful subjects. Every time you open one of these books you discover information that you never would have encountered before and will change you in some small way, if only because it is so unusual. And I get to share that with people. With students and community members and families and faculty. It is so thrilling to learn about the catalogue in this library and all of the ways it can be used and appreciated.
            So far, I've been working on reference training. Getting an idea how to answer research questions, and all the databases students can use to find them. I am also starting to plan Banned Books Week with another intern, which I am very excited about. There are a lot of books that I was surprised to discover were banned, especially considering why they are on the list. But more on that soon. There will be some exciting activities involved, so I'll keep you posted. I'll just wrap this first post up by saying that I know this internship is going to be amazing and I look forward to posting all about what I learn and experience.