You may be asking yourself, Who is Charles Cutter? A librarian who held positions at Harvard College Library and the Boston Athenæum library, Cutter (1837–1903) developed the Cutter Expansive Classification system, parts of which are still in use today. He was a founding member of the American Library Association and is also a member of the Library Hall of Fame. (Yes, there's such a thing.)
In 1883, Cutter published an infamous article imagining what visiting a library 100 years in the future—in 1983—would be like. In this eerily prescient excerpt describing a reading room, he talks of a "key-board" connected by a wire to the librarian's desk:
From the newspaper basement a lift took us to one of the reading-rooms. These rooms were narrow, to ensure perfect light at every desk. The windows ran to the very top of the room and occupied more than half the wall space. The desks had every convenience that could facilitate study; but what most caught my eye was a little key-board at each, connected by a wire with the librarian's desk. The reader had only to find the mark of his book in the catalog, touch a few lettered or numbered keys, and on the instant a runner at the central desk started for the volume, and, appearing after an astonishingly short interval at the door nearest his desk, brought him his book and took his acknowledgment without disturbing any of the neighboring readers.
Read the fascinating article in its entirety here. And let's wish the imaginative author a Happy Birthday!
Banned Books Week is one of my favorite celebrations of the year—an important reminder that we shouldn't take our freedom to read for granted. This year marks the 30th celebration of the week.
According to the American Library Association, "Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community . . . in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular."
Check out this list to see the "most frequently challenged authors of the 21st century." It's fascinating to look at these graphs detailing the specifics of challenged books. For example, from the years 1990-2010, the most number of challenges were in 1995. During that time frame the most common reason for challenges was "sexually explicit content," followed by "offensive language." Most challenges were by parents.
One of my favorite features of my local library growing up (CALS, represent!) was the library-distributed bookmark listing names of banned books. Of course, the fact that the books had been banned at one point only increased my interest in reading these subversive titles. And I appreciated that I could get them for free at the library.
Here's another thought for you to consider during Banned Books Week. Reading is educational and fun, and it can be hard to understand why anybody would want to limit our access to good books. But as Barbara Kingsolver says, fiction is political. Here's an explanation in her own words, which I love:
Fiction cultivates empathy for a theoretical stranger by putting you inside his head, allowing you to experience life from his point of view. It can broaden your view of gender, ethnicity, place and time, power and vulnerability, things that influence social interaction. What could be more political than that?
To enter to win 30 banned books (in eBook form), visit Open Road Media's Banned Books Week website. Also, enjoy this video of authors talking about censured books:
Why do you think it's important to celebrate Banned Books Week?
April is School Library Month, and this week is National Library Week. I know that for many BookPage patrons, every week is library week. (According to our recent Reader Survey, nearly 80% of our readers check out books from the library that they discovered in BookPage.)
But this week is special because of all the events sponsored by the American Library Association:
• Today, you can submit a "six word story" on Twitter about why you belong at the library. (Use the #nlw6words tag.) The stories will be compiled and judged, and the winner will receive receive a DVD of Season 1 of Brad Meltzer's "Decoded." (Meltzer is the Honorary Chair of National Library Week.) Read more about the story contest here.
• Today is also National Bookmobile Day. Visit the Bookmobile Day landing page for information about the “Why We Love Our Bookmobile” YouTube video celebration. Or better yet, write a letter or e-mail to your local bookmobile staff.
• Visit the @ Your Library website for ideas on family activities you can do at the library.
• I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but just in case anybody needs a little prodding . . . Library Card Sign-up Month isn't until September, but why not make the plunge in April if you don't already have a card? Where else but the library can you download e-books and audio books for free (and legally!); check out more books than you could ever read; borrow CDs, DVDs, bags of books for your book club . . .?
Finally, bookstores and public libraries in 48 states subscribe to BookPage (and provide it free of charge to their patrons). Click here to see the full list of locations.
Why do you love your library? How will you celebrate National Library Week?
Fans of kid lit look forward to the Youth Media Awards every year, in which the American Library Association announces the year's best children's book authors and illustrators in a variety of categories. This morning, the awards were announced in Dallas.
You can read the full list of winners here. The list includes many BookPage favorites; here's a sampling:
John Newbery Medal ("for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature"):
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (FSG)
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai (HarperCollins)
Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin (Holt)
Blackout, written & illustrated by John Rocco, (Disney-Hyperion)
Grandpa Green, written & illustrated by Lane Smith ( Roaring Brook Press)
Me . . . Jane, written & illustrated by Patrick McDonnell (Little, Brown)
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (Little, Brown)
The Returning by Christine Hinwood (Dial Books)
Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey (Knopf)
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic Press)
Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award ("recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults"):
Kadir Nelson, author and illustrator of Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans (Balzer + Bray)
Coretta Scott King (Author) Honors:
Eloise Greenfield, author of The Great Migration: Journey to the North (Amistad)
Patricia C. McKissack, author of Never Forgotten (Schwartz & Wade Books)
Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award:
Shane W. Evans, author & illustrator Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom (Roaring Brook Press)
Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Honor:
Kadir Nelson, author & illustrator of Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans (Balzar + Bray)
Do you have a favorite from this bunch? Were you surprised by any of the annoucements?
A highlight of my year has been talking to librarians about what they do and why they love their jobs—both at the ALA Annual Conference and at the Arkansas Literary Festival. So, it was a special thrill to speak today with Sharon Saye, the Director of the Bridgeport Public Library in Bridgeport, WV, a town of 8,000 in north-central West Virginia. The BPL is a municipal library with 18,000 registered borrowers—pretty amazing considering the city's population. ("Location, location, location," said Sharon; the library is near a mall off of I-79.)
I called Sharon because she featured BookPage in her November 10 weekly "Library Lowdown" column in the Bridgeport News (see below). Sharon has been writing this column since the mid-1970s, and she will celebrate her 40th anniversary as Library Director in March of 2012!
In her column, she writes book reviews and highlights library programs. She mentions BookPage about three times a year and always near Christmas. Her patrons often ask her for recommendations for books to give as gifts, and she directs them to our holiday catalog.
It was fun to talk to Sharon about how she and her patrons use BookPage. Since she orders books for the library far in advance, she reads the publication as a reminder for what's actually coming out in a particular month. Her patrons read it, of course, to find new books to check out. (Although sometimes they get frustrated if, say, the new Ian Rankin isn't in circulation on the day it is published!)
"[BookPage] is very handy," said Sharon. "A lot of people pick it up. Patrons want to know what's new. It's easy for desk staff to hand it off. It's nice and compact and out the door. And we don't find a lot of them in the parking lot!" (That's a compliment, since apparently the same can't be said for all handouts from the library, unfortunately.)
We also chatted about eBooks—Sharon said last year she looked to see how many eBooks were checked out on OverDrive in December. Thanks to all those eReaders under the tree, the number tripled on Christmas Day.
Finally, I asked Sharon what book she's excited about right now. "The new Janet Evanovich," she said. "She certainly makes you laugh, and that's a good thing."
Thanks again, Sharon, for writing about BookPage!
Find out if BookPage is carried in a library near you on our website. Are you a librarian interested in carrying BookPage or a patron who'd like to see it in your local branch? Click here for information on how your library can receive two free trial issues of BookPage. Also: Whether you're a subscriber or not, anyone can sign up to receive our free e-newsletters.
It's been a big year for fans of Maggie Stiefvater. The final book in her Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, Forever, came out in July . . . and just last week she released a new stand-alone book, The Scorpio Races. This novel is about a couple of teens who risk their lives in dangerous horse races on cliffs.
Trisha and I had the opportunity to meet Maggie at the American Library Association conference in New Orleans this year. Trisha talked to her about leaving her characters from the world of Shiver behind, and Maggie told us a bit about her research for The Scorpio Races.
Best part of the interview: When Maggie tells us how she had the opportunity to have a romantic day of sightseeing with her husband while she was on tour in Paris—and instead she whisked him off to go look at cliffs as research for the new book.
I linked to this video back in July, but I wanted to share it again in case any of you need reminding about The Scorpio Races. Other news: Today on Publishers Marketplace it was announced that Warner Brothers has bought the film rights to the novel.
Here's the interview from ALA:
Just for fun, check out this awesome stop-motion trailer that Maggie created for The Scorpio Races:
Have you read, or will you read, The Scorpio Races? We'll let you know if we hear any more details about the movie . . .
Banned Books Week runs from September 24 until October 1. Here's some more info from the American Library Association's website:
Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.
There's also something about BBW that makes reading "subversive" books cool and exciting. I still remember when my library branch distributed bookmarks that listed various banned books. As a teen, I would take that bookmark then march straight to the stacks and check out challenged books from Judy Blume and Ray Bradbury. (Click here to see a list of Frequently Challenged Books.)
We can all celebrate BBW by reading a challenged book or attending a library event—but I thought it would be fun to figure out another way of showing support for banned books. I saw these awesome accessories that incorporate banned books, and I had to share. Click the images to go to the vendors' websites.
Have you seen any cool project ideas or products for sale that get you excited about banned books? Have you ever DIY'd something banned books-related? Please share in the comments!
I met Jonathan Auxier at the American Library Association's conference in New Orleans this summer, where he told me (and a couple other BookPage editors) about his debut novel, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes. In the story, Peter Nimble is a blind orphan who is the greatest thief in the world.
When we got back from New Orleans, we checked out the book—and our children's editor liked it so much, she included a review in our September issue, and an interview with Auxier in the August 10 issue of our children's e-newsletter. (Head's up: A new issue is coming out tomorrow, so sign up now if you haven't already!)
Here's an excerpt from the interview, conducted by Kevin Delecki, a Library Manager in Ohio who has also served on the Caldecott Book Award Committee.
Kevin Delecki: Tells us about the world Peter Nimble finds himself in after discovering the Fantastic Eyes.
Jonathan Auxier: Peter Nimble & His Fantastic Eyes takes place in a moment of history when the lines between magic and science were being blurred. Strange, exotic lands were being discovered and becoming known—but with that comes a loss of mystery. The central metaphor in the book is that of a half-finished map: the moment a new island or country gets charted by cartographers, it becomes reduced in some indefinable way . . . and that's sad. In the story, I wanted to take that map metaphor and make it literal. So when Peter Nimble sets out for uncharted waters, he finds himself in a place where the rules of logic and science still don't apply—a place where the impossible is still possible.
What children's books have been capturing your imagination lately? Will you read Peter Nimble? It's on sale now.
Happy publication date to one of my favorite teen authors, Jackson Pearce! I got to know Pearce's work when her second novel, Sisters Red, was a top pick in BookPage.
To follow-up on BookPage's review, I did a Q&A with Pearce. Want proof that I actually read the book? See the photo on the right. (I have very few pictures of me doing what I do best—sitting around and reading books—so I cherish this one, which was randomly snapped on a friend's phone a year and a half ago.)
Sisters Red is a modern telling of Little Red Riding Hood, with a twist, and Sweetly, Pearce's new book, is a modern Hansel and Gretel—also with a twist (think werewolves). I interviewed Pearce about Sweetly at the American Library Association. Watch below for information on Pearce's inspiration, the book's memorable setting and why she loves libraries (please excuse the background noise . . . ALA can get rowdy!):
Any books coming out this week that you're especially excited about? Have you read any of Pearce's books?
If any fairy tale could get a modern twist, which would you like it to be (and who would you want to write it)?
Happy National Library Week!
This probably qualifies as "preaching to the choir," but who cares—it's always a good idea to praise libraries, especially as the American Library Association encourages us to "Create your own story @ your library" during this special week.
So please tell us: Why do you love libraries? What will you check out next from the library? Why are you grateful for librarians?
Here you can watch John Grisham, Honorary Chair of National Library Week, weigh in on why he loves libraries.
What do you have to add?
I've been a devoted library goer my entire life (thanks, Mom!), and now I try to pass on the passion. Just last week, the 10-year-old girl I mentor told me she wanted to do some science experiments. Not being very "science-y" myself, I went to the source I knew would give us a hand: the local library. We checked out books that gave us plenty of ideas and all the information we needed.