Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Watch me relate everything back to high school

This month's SLJ editorial is on the library as a third space. Obviously this is a trend: emphasizing the physical character of the library since it's (often perceived to be) in competition with more disembodied resources (not that I'm naming any names, Google).

Which brings me back to my "the library is not your hangout place!" rant. I can only drool over images like the ones in Looks Like Teen Spirit (unfortunately, the pics aren't online), so I get angsty about one group of people's hanging-out affecting another person's hanging-out. But all these third space articles seem to suggest our only hope for survival is to encourage people to hang out.

The other thing that got me thinking about this is that I have an intern from a local high school "shadowing" me, and I wanted to give him some articles about the role of libraries in society. I was looking for my all-time favorite article about libraries: "Lock the Library! Rowdy Students Are Taking Over!" And that's when I discovered "Times Topics!"

So maybe everyone else was already aware that the NYTimes used, basically, subject headings, and that you could find a suite of articles on topics ranging from "Extraterrestrial Life" to "Lighthouses and Lightships" without even touching that maverick keyword search, but I was unaware.

This is particularly relevant for children's librarians, because newspaper articles are some of the most accessible resources for young readers. They're short and they have 8th grade reading levels, tops. But I also want to recommend, to all information professionals, the "Libraries and Librarians" topic, as it provides an interesting glimpse of the profile of librarians in the news.

In fact, from "Hip Shushers" to "Lock the Library," all the best articles are there. It's like one of those slideshows at the end of the school year, or summer camp. You know, with the Greenday song in the background and the pictures of the same four people over and over and the inside jokes that must all have happened while you were eating your lunch in the bathroom, not to mention the huge picture of someone's nostril. Why is there always a huge picture of someone's nostril?

Whatever. All I can say is, good times, good times.

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