Monday, December 24, 2012

VINTAGE CHILDREN'S BOOKS : Oz Junior Editions

     I think one of the best things about people who work in libraries (the ones who are truly library-minded) is that they understand the importance of preservation. Books can be time capsules and treasures if they end up in the right, appreciative hands.
     Before I started working in a school library, I worked in a public library, in the children's room. I loved it, and I still have friends there. One of them occasionally rescues books that are about to be discarded or sold for pennies in one of those indiscriminate library sales. Which are exciting and fun, don't get me wrong! But some books rate better treatment.

The Land of Oz Junior Edition by L. Frank Baum, 1939 (front cover)
The Land of Oz Junior Edition by L. Frank Baum, 1939 (back cover)
     My friend knows I'm a fan of the original Oz books, so she sent me these two time-worn little books. They're obviously not in good shape, one of them is missing the spine and back cover, and they both are marked "5" on the cover. At first I thought it meant $5, and then realized it probably meant 5 CENTS. Poor, sad little old books.
     I'm sure to a collector these are practically worthless because of their condition, but I'd never seen them before, and love them.
     
Jack Pumpkinhead and the Sawhorse of Oz by L. Frank Baum, 1939 (front cover)


Friday, December 21, 2012

PUBLISHING TREND : Teen Nut Allergy Drama!

     The teen & YA publishing world loves "issues." Especially an "issue du jour." Like cutting, gender identity, obesity & anorexia, school shootings, etc. Kids are drawn to tragedy and sensationalism, and publishers capitalize on that.
     I think there may be an emerging trend of teen books about NUT ALLERGIES. Deadly ones. Here's why:
     I was just going through the December 2012 issue of VOYA, and discovered a review of Janet Gurtler's Who I Kissed. It's a drama about a girl who eats a peanut butter sandwich, kisses a boy, and then the boy DIES because unbeknownst to the girl, he had a severe peanut allergy. But don't laugh! The reviewer refers to the book as a "...timely heartbreaker, designed to raise awareness about nut allergies..."
     From that same issue is Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe's Peanut, a graphic novel about a girl so desperate for popularity that she FAKES having a nut allergy, which results in an emergency medical scare involving paramedics, etc. So she's outed for NOT having nut allergies. To keep anyone from thinking the book is insensitive to those who DO have violent nut allergies, the book includes "information on what teens really go through having a life threatening food allergy." (Halliday has street cred, having created the well-known East Village Inky Zine, and writing for Bust magazine)
     I know that any kind of severe allergy is nothing to sneeze at, and I myself had to use a prescription inhaler for several years, still have to frequently pop Claritin-D, but come on. Peanuts are funny. Peanuts KILLING people is hard not to laugh at, isn't it? I am sorry. I would definitely read Halliday and Hoppe's Peanut before I'd try wading through Gurtler's Who I Kissed. But I'm sure many drama-seeking girls will love it.
     Maybe "peanut allergies" will be the next "paranormal romance!" All the teens will be clamoring for it.
     I'm trying to be sensitive, but we had a student with peanut allergies a few years ago, and at a school function he stupidly ate something that had actual obvious peanuts in it. Not just something prepared with or near peanuts, but PEANUTS sitting there IN it, not even trying to be sneaky. Anyway, he had a bad reaction, had to go to the hospital, etc. He was fine, but it was a major scene and we had to discuss awareness of nut allergies and food preparation for students. It was hard to be very sympathetic, though, because maybe the kid, who KNEW he was allergic to peanuts, should have NOT EATEN PEANUTS.
     So anyway, if you want to jump on the latest cutting-edge teen fiction trend, write something dramatic yet sensitive about the very real threat of NUT ALLERGIES. If you're REALLY ambitious, write a DYSTOPIAN teen novel about a future in which some murky government controls the populace by GIVING them peanut allergies through genetic engineering, and then controlling the food supply, thus being able to PUNISH those who disobey by slipping peanut oil into the food supply.
     Wait-- that's my idea. I should write that.
     

ERASER HAMSTERS NEED HOLIDAY CHEER, TOO

Eraser hamsters with Christmas tree
     For years now, I've had two little eraser hamsters sitting on the top of my circulation computer monitor. They usually have some sort of eraser food item between them. If I only have eraser ice cream or eraser cake for them, eventually kids worry that the hamsters aren't getting proper nutrition, and I have to switch it out for eraser fruits, or eraser vegetables. Sometimes a student or even a teacher friend buys the eraser hamsters some new eraser food/treats. I try to give them something new each week or two. The students notice and complain if the eraser food isn't changed out occasionally.
     One time a clever student even made a little appropriately-sized bathtub for the hamsters, complete with tiny towel and tiny sponge, because apparently there was concern about their hygiene.
     Somewhere along the way I received an eraser pumpkin, and started putting it out for the hamsters during October and November. Which meant that of course the kids insisted that something Christmas-themed needed to show up for the hamsters in December.
     But I've kept an eye out, and have yet to find a tiny eraser Christmas tree, or a tiny eraser Christmas present, or stocking, or anything that would work. The last few years I've hand-crafted a tiny Christmas tree (you can see it HERE) out of green construction paper, with red hole-punched ornaments and even a prismatic silver star glued on top.
     This year the kids started asking about the hamsters' Christmas tree, and I just haven't had time to hand-craft one. But the kids kept insisting those hamsters NEEDED something Christmasy. Then I remembered we had some little artificial snowy pine trees we had been using at home for a family miniature diorama craft. So I cut one to eraser hamster size, and brought that in. It has appeased the hamsters and their fans.  
Longshot of eraser hamster environment. This is their world.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

SANTA VS THE KRAMPUS : the legend continues

     A few years ago I did this illustration for the cover of the school newspaper's December issue:

     This year I used the same illustration for due date bookmarks, but I split it in two halves, so that students get either the Krampus, or Santa.


It's entirely random. If you're superstitious, you could choose to believe that getting the Krampus means you're BAD, and getting Santa means you're GOOD. I don't tell the kids that, because I wouldn't want the ones who get Krampus to feel bad. But if it were me, and I got the Krampus, I might think I was totally doomed.
     The students are totally aware of the Krampus because of this bulletin board display I have up, which I also did the artwork for several years ago. I do like me some Krampus.


     I was pleased to overhear two girls who were borrowing books teasing each other that if they let their books become overdue, the Krampus would get them. They were giggling and freaking each other out with the Krampus. I approve.
     I've also had several kids asking for a matched set of the due date bookmarks, so they'd have both Santa and the Krampus. One kid even muttered, "Okay, good, now I can just cut off the edge and fit them together to make the complete picture..."
     I think that's pretty cool. It's the little things in life...
     (...that will judge you NAUGHTY, beat you with switches, stuff you in a basket and drag you down to HELL... Merry Christmas!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

THE SNILBY

   
     This is the Snilby, a character I created a few years ago for an animated series pitch called "Quiet, Please." The story takes place in a library in Hell, and the Snilby leads a grim life toiling for the shelving demons.
     This is a new drawing, because I figured out some upgrades for the Snilby, such as the tape-dispenser butt, glue horn, and staple bite. I think he's even more efficient now, and every library should have one.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

RIYL DIARY OF A WIMPY KID

     A few days ago a kid asked me for books "like" the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney. I sighed, then set to work coming up with suggestions.
     Basically I tried to find titles that fit a few or all of the following criteria:

funny
aimed at boys
first-person narrator
diary format
school stories
illustrated

     Here's my list, which I'll be putting on an end-cap display:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Whales On Stilts! by M.T. Anderson

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Science Fair by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson

Superfudge by Judy Blume

NERDS by Michael Buckley

Notes From a Totally Lame Vampire by Tim Collins & Andrew Pinder

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos

The Day My Butt Went Psycho by Andy Griffiths

Just Joking! by Andy Griffiths

Flush by Carl Hiaasen

Swindle by Gordon Korman

Leon and the Champion Chip by Allen Kurzweil

I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want To Be Your Class President by Josh Lieb

In the Land of the Lawn Weenies by David Lubar

My Rotten Life: Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie by David Lubar

Middle School, the Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson, Christopher Tebbetts, and Laura Park

Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce

Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

How To Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

The Dork Diaries by Rachel Russell

Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger by Louis Sachar

Guys Read: Funny Business edited by Jon Scieszka

Guy Time by Sarah Weeks

Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Weston

Malice by Chris Wooding

Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time by Lisa Yee

BONUS:
Books by Roald Dahl, while not realistic, might be comedic & snarky enough to fit the bill.

Monday, November 19, 2012

THE MIND REELS : "The Big No-No!"


     I don't think we need anything more than just the cover illustration of this book, and can just let our minds fill in the depraved horrors these two adorable mice are evidently witness to...

Friday, November 16, 2012

BULLETIN BOARDS & DISPLAY : November. Eh.

     So I had the library half-decorated for Halloween when I had to do jury duty. I hoped I would be excused after sitting around for a while, thus I left all my decorating stuff out in the library, thinking I'd be back the next day to finish it all up.
     But no, I ended up being selected for a case that took 8 full days, and was emotionally draining for all of us.
     So when I finally got back in the groove in the library, Thanksgiving was almost here, and I just quietly slipped all the Halloween stuff back into the storage room and slapped up one temporary November/Thanksgiving board, which you see below: 
We're thankful for... (genres)
     Eh. It's okay, but no great shakes. I already had all the elements in a November folder, having made the acorns and leaves a few years ago.
     I did think it was a happy coincidence that the November page of the My Little Pony calendar coordinated perfectly with my fall colors.

     One of the students had asked me when I was going to update our "Coming Soon" board behind the circ desk, because we finally caught up with all the upcoming releases. So I cruised our library's wishlist on Amazon for popular series, and put this list together:

Feb. 5th:
Cross My Heart, Hope To Die by Sara Shepard
(The Lying Game #5)

March 5th:
Day of Doom by David Baldacci
(39 Clues: Cahills Vs. Vespers #6)

March 5th:
Requiem by Lauren Oliver
(Delirium #3, the final book of the trilogy)

March 12th:
Chasing the Prophecy by Brandon Mull
(Beyonders #3, final book in the trilogy)

March 19th:
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
(Infernal Devices #3, final book of trilogy)

April 16th:
Fyre by Angie Sage
(Septimus Heap #7)

     A few little thoughts on this list: Cassandra Clare's series (plural) seem kind of cool, but the titles "Mortal Instruments," and "Infernal Devices" remind me too much of my beloved His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman. I'm just referring to the titles, not the actual content. Haven't read Clare's work, yet.
     Regarding the 39 Clues sub-series Cahills Vs. Vespers, I think the publishers of that series must want to annoy library catalogers. It's bad enough each one is written by a different author, and I resorted to making the call # "FIC 39."
     And one more thing-- I think it's interesting that there always seems to be some apparent trend in the "Coming Soon" lists I put up. Obviously this one is March's trio of final books in trilogies. March being the third month. I GET it already. 3.

   

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

ROUGH LIBRARY LANGUAGE

     A recent and furiously popular book in my library is Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed In Blood. The sequel, Girl of Nightmares, was released in August this year.
     The student who first urged me to get these books was in the library this morning, and said doubtfully, "We don't have Girl of Nightmares, yet, do we?"
     I said, "Why, yes, we DO! It just came in a few days ago."
     "REALLY?! 'Cause I will borrow the shit out of that!"
     I didn't even bother to say anything about the language, since it was used in such elated library context.


NOTE: We still have no actual book budget from the district, these new books I manage to get are all purchased through the "Amazon Associates Program," which is an ongoing fundraiser in which the school gets 4% of anything purchased through a specific link.

Friday, October 19, 2012

THE BOOK, THE BOOK, THE BOOK IS ON FIRE...

   
     Last week our field custodian brought me a textbook (the one you see above) he'd found out by the baseball field. Somebody had set the book on fire in the press box, then tried to put it out with a fire extinguisher stolen from the English wing.
     I have no idea if the same person set it on fire AND tried to put it out, but I like to imagine one of our hyper-disciplined over-achievers having a moment of wild rebellion and then panicking and trying to do damage control. Maybe sobbing, covered in flame-retardant foam, moaning, "What have I done....?"
     At any other school this would be a standard bit of vandalism, but here it's actually surprising.
     As you can see in the picture, it's kind of arty and fascinating, taken out of context. It left a drift of sandy particles all over my desk.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

EXCELLENT TELEPHONE SKILLS

     We get lots of calls from vendors trying to sell us books we can't afford. Nobody has any money right now, ESPECIALLY the school I work at, because we get no "special funding" whatsoever. But vendors don't back off, even when we let them know we haven't any money to spend.
     The Teacher Librarians used to have to take all those calls, since they were the ones who technically placed the orders. Which meant I (as a humble Library technician) was used to just passing the phone to the Librarian and not having to deal with the stupid vendors.
     Now that we have no site Librarians, I'm stuck with stupid vendor calls, and today I had a particularly awkward one.
     I've never pretended to be good on the phone. It is not one of my strengths. I HATE talking on the phone. When I answer the phone at work, I say, "Library," in a whaddyawant?! tone. My coworker friends have always made fun of me for it. They say things like, "No shit," or,"You are NOT a library. You are a human being," or they just imitate me saying "Library" in a drawling nasal tone that does NOT sound anything like me.
     When it is suggested that I try to nice things up a little by possibly adding, Good afternoon, or How can I help you, my response is, "I will not."
     I'm pretty sure I'm engaging and kind in person, though. Even solicitous.
     Anyway, this afternoon when I returned from lunch break, the phone rang. There was a lot of background noise because students were pouring into the library, which made it hard to hear. This is how the call went:

ME:  Library.

CALLER:  Hi, I'm _____ from _____ Publishing, and I (something unintelligible).

ME:  (Impatiently) What?!

CALLER:  Hi, I'm _____ from _____ Publishing, and (I wasn't paying attention and missed it).

ME:  Are you trying to sell me something? Because if you are you should know that we don't have any money, and even if we did you should really speak to the District Librarian.

CALLER:  Is there a number (unintelligible)?

ME:  Her phone number? I'm not sure what it is, actually, and I... Bye.

     I abruptly hung up the phone. What was THAT? I asked myself, puzzled by my own abrupt dismissal of the stupid vendor. Had I meant to hang up suddenly, like that? Was it a seizure? Then I realized I was probably just tired and didn't feel like explaining YET AGAIN our lack of funding, etc. I don't OWE these people anything.
     Was I lying when I said I didn't even have the number of the District Librarian? Not exactly. I think I do have it somewhere, but it would involve hunting around. Besides, the District Librarian's last name is unusual and difficult for people to spell, and I always end up having to repeat myself loudly about 10 times before they get it.
     Like I said, I don't owe these people anything.
     Good day, sir.
   

Friday, October 12, 2012

BIBLIOGRAPHY : RIYL the Bone graphic novel series by Jeff Smith

     (Pssst! "RIYL" stands for Recommended If You Like.)
     Here are some middle school to junior high-appropriate graphic novels, with fantasy and/or adventure elements. At both school libraries I've worked in, the students are CRAZY for Jeff Smith's Bone series. Before Scholastic started releasing the new full-color versions of them, I had already collected and read the entire original (black & white) series myself, and loved it.
     When the kids finish all the Bone books, they're hungry for something in the same genre. Amulet is the most popular one, but there are others out there. These books are all selected from my library's shelves, which means there are plenty more great titles out there, but these are just the ones we happen to have available for our students.

Rapunzel's Revenge by Hale, Hale, and Hale
Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi (#1 in series of same name)
Explorer: the Mystery Boxes anthology edited by Kazu Kibuishi
Pinky & Stinky by James Kochalka
The Royal Historian of Oz by Tommy Kovac and Andy Hirsch
Wonderland by Tommy Kovac and Sonny Liew
The Sons of Liberty by Lagos, Lagos, and Walker (series)
Mal and Chad: the Biggest, Bestest Time Ever! by Stephen McCranie (series)
Prince of Persia by Mechner, Sina, Pham, and Puvilland
Mouse Guard by David Petersen (series)
The Unsinkable Walker Bean by Aaron Renier
Crogan's Vengeance by Chris Schweizer (series)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Shanower and Young (series)
Jellaby by Kean Soo (series)
Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel
Kid Gravity by Walker and Jones (series)
Pandemonium by Chris Wooding and Cassandra Diaz

Also a possible fit for this list are graphic novel incarnations of some popular fantasy book series, like Pendragon by MacHale, Redwall by Jaques, and Percy Jackson by Riordan. The kids seem to like these okay, but they don't LOVE them. At least in my library, they seem to prefer the original novels. :)


Bonus "alternative format" titles (part novel, part comic)
Bone: Quest For the Spark by Sniegoski, Smith, and Hamaker (series)
The First Escape by G.P. Taylor (#1 of the Doppleganger Chronicles)
Malice by Chris Wooding and Dan Chernett (series)


DISCLOSURE: I put two books written by ME on the main list (Royal Historian of Oz and Wonderland) because I really think they fit. I don't normally do that kind of shameless self-promotion. But there it is. And isn't Andy Hirsch's cover art for Royal Historian of Oz beautiful?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

BIBLIOGRAPHY : Dragons (middle grade to junior high level)

     One of our new little 7th graders is a voracious reader, and asks me EVERY DAY for more recommendations. He loves the Bone series of graphic novels, but also reads lots of junior high level fantasy. It's all I can do to keep up with his requests, but that's the part I love the most about this job.
     This morning he was checking out the last few books of Emily Rodda's Deltora Dragon's Nest series that he hasn't yet read, and asked me for more books like that, with dragons. There were more kids waiting in line behind him, so I told him I'd work on it later and have suggestions when he came back.
     Here's the stack of books I came up with:

How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell (#1 in the series of the same name)
The Fire Within by Chris D'Lacey (#1 in the Last Dragon Chronicles)
Hatching Magic by Ann Downer (#1 in the series of the same name)
Dragon's Milk by Susan Fletcher (#1 of the Dragon Chronicles)
Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
The Saint of Dragons by Jason Hightman (#1 in the series of the same name)
The Dragon of Cripple Creek by Troy Howell
Starfinder by John Marco
Here, There Be Dragons by James Owen (#1 of the Imaginarium Geographica)
Pillage by Obert Skye
The Dragon's Eye by Dugald Steer (#1 of the Dragonology Chronicles)
Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (#1 of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles)
Dragon's Blood by Jane Yolen (#1 in the Pit Dragon Trilogy)

     And no, I'm NOT putting Eragon on that list. There's not a kid alive who hasn't already read it or heard about it. That's like putting Harry Potter on a list of suggested fantasy titles. That just seems unnecessary. But it's acceptable to make a "RIYL (Recommended if you like) Harry Potter" list, or a "RIYL Eragon" list.
     DISCLOSURE: I'm actually not going to recommend The Dragon's Eye to this kid, because it's the first in a series, and we don't have the rest. The kids at this school are completists, and get really frustrated if they can't start with the first volume of a series, and read the ENTIRE series. I think that's cool. But it puts a lot of pressure on the library!
     He may have already read a few of the really popular books and/or series on this list, such as How To Train Your Dragon, and The Fire Within, but I wanted to include them anyway.

UPDATE: This morning the student came in and went through the stack I had pulled. Turns out he had already read How To Train Your Dragon, and Dragon Rider. The book he chose was Here, There Be Dragons. I told him that's actually the one I would probably choose, too!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

OCD IN THE LIBRARY

     Earlier today I was steadily working at covering the new paperbacks with clear Contact Paper, as detailed in THIS post.
     About the 9th book in the stack was ALREADY covered in Contact Paper, but I failed to notice this until I had already started applying another layer of clear plastic. It was too late to back up, so I went ahead and finished covering it for the second time.
     Someone's going to notice that, I thought, and think I'm a real freak.
     Oh, well. I suppose it will be EXTRA resistant to the ravages of time, now.
     Suddenly that seemed very pleasing. TWO layers of protective plastic. There's no WAY it could get messed up now. I wondered how many layers you'd have to cover it in to make it impossible to crease or tear. I hate it when paperbacks crease and tear. Would 5 layers do it?
     How many layers would it take to form the equivalent of a hardcover?
     What if someone covered a paperback in TEN layers of clear Contact Paper? How long would THAT last? Until the end of time? But surely that's ridiculous.
     It would be awful if you suddenly felt compelled to KEEP covering the SAME paperback in Contact Paper. Over and over again, until it became Christ-like in its perfection. Then you'd have to start all over again with the NEXT paperback on the cart.
   

Monday, September 10, 2012

PERIODICALS : Vintage 1980 "Jack and Jill" magazine


     We're moving soon, so we're in the slow and painful process of packing up all our stuff. As I do this, I'm discovering, much to my surprise, that apparently I'm one of those people who keeps EVERYTHING. Weird. I guess I didn't realize that about myself.
     Take, for instance, this Jack and Jill magazine from 1980 with Scott Baio on the cover. (A 1980 copyright date means most of what you see is really the earth tone shag carpet ashes of the '70s) I found this in a cupboard amongst old photos and memorabilia. The mailing address on the label has my Slovak Grandma's name and address, which reminded me that she always had copies of Highlights and Jack & Jill laying around for us grandkids. I didn't like either of those magazines, but choices at Grandma's house were a little... limited. You should have seen the "toy box," with its battered selection of ancient dolls and weird crap that screamed "Old Country."
     And no, I did NOT have a crush on Scott Baio. I thought he was skanky.

"Dean uses an Exacto knife to put a groove in a side strip for the stock car he's building."
     The picture above is from a profile article about some kid whose hobby is putting models together, probably because he has asthma and no friends. (Just guessing)
     Poor Dean, with his horrible mop of wavy '70s hair, and crushingly dorky glasses. This could totally have been me. Only difference is my hair was blonder, I was fatter, and had more zits. Dean is a dreamy pin-up compared to me at that age.
     Spending too much time at Grandma's house could make you feel antsy and hopeless about ever attaining coolness.

"The Nut-T-shirt"
     T-shirts with crap printed on them were big in the '70s. It almost didn't matter what they said, just the idea that you could get a T-shirt made with just about anything printed on it was, like, "high-tech" for that time. There were whole shops devoted to custom-printed T-shirts.
     I like how triumphant that kid looks with his "Nut-T-shirt," like he's really making a stand for something. He has climbed atop that mound of shag carpeting to proclaim himself a proud Herbie the Health Nut fan, and will probably get his ass kicked at school because of it.

BOOKMARKS MADE FROM DISCARDED PAPERBACK COVERS

     I thought I had already posted this picture, but I guess I didn't. I made these at the end of last school year, June of 2012. These were covers from old 1980s paperbacks that somebody donated, and I declined to add to our library collection. Because they're lame.
     I was kind of surprised to see those Sweet Valley High bitches again. I thought they were long gone and forgotten.
     I love the utterly pathetic "All Alone In the 8th Grade" cover, with that forcedly cheerful nerd girl in her purple gym shorts. She is BEGGING to get her ass kicked.
     What's that? Oh, why yes, I DID make those beaded tassels myself. I'm gay, and we know how to do stuff like that.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS


     There are some really cute little 7th graders this year. Very sincere, and eager to use the Library. They're so EXCITED about it, which I love seeing.

     One of the super friendly ones came in during lunch today. As I was scanning the barcode on his student ID to check his books out, he said this:

"This card thing is fun, being able to come and check books out with it. ‘Cause my mom doesn’t like to go to the public library every day, but I can come to the SCHOOL library every day and return books and check more out! It makes me feel more grownup. Well, thanks, Mr. Kovac! Have a nice day!"

     I thought, Wow, are you kidding me? It’s like I SCRIPTED that for him and PAID him to say it! 

     Only I DIDN'T! I swear!

Friday, August 31, 2012

BOOK PROCESSING : Covering Paperbacks With Contact Paper

     First it puts the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again--
     Oh, wait. Wrong directions. This is for covering paperbacks with clear Contact paper to make them last longer and stay cleaner in a school library. 


GET SOME CONTACT PAPER, & MAKE SURE IT'S CLEAR. (Target, Home Depot, wherevs. Look for shelf liner.)


TAKE THE BOOK YOU'RE GOING TO COVER AND LAY IT ON THE CONTACT PAPER SO YOU CAN ROLL OUT THE RIGHT LENGTH.

     (By the way, see that bottle of generic-brand Windex next to the keyboard? It wouldn't kill you to wipe off the donated books, because you don't know where they've been, what crack-heads have been handling them, or what babies have drooled on them. Seriously, gross.)


THE LENGTH YOU CUT SHOULD BE LONG ENOUGH TO EXTEND ABOUT AN INCH OR SO BEYOND THE FRONT AND BACK COVERS. YOU ALSO WANT ABOUT THAT MUCH EXTRA AT THE TOP AND BOTTOM OF THE BOOK.

(Why? So you can fold it over, but that comes later. Don't get ahead of yourself.)

(Yes, we actually labeled the scissors "Library," so nobody steals them. Shut up--you don't know how hard it is to keep office supplies from wandering off in a school library.)

I usually find that I can fit two books for each length of Contact Paper, as shown above.

Here's the paperback and the Contact Paper cut to size.


TAKE ONE EDGE OF THE CONTACT PAPER AND PEEL THE CLEAR PLASTIC AWAY FROM THE PAPER BACKING.


PEEL ABOUT TWO INCHES BACK FROM THE EDGE AND LAY IT CAREFULLY ON THE EDGE OF THE BOOK COVER, SO THAT ONE INCH OR SO HANGS OFF THE EDGE. PRESS THE CONTACT PAPER DOWN FIRMLY AND SMOOTH IT OUT. START PEELING MORE OF THE PAPER BACKING AWAY, A LITTLE BIT AT A TIME, SMOOTHING AS YOU GO.


IT IS BEST TO USE A BONE FOLDER, OR "BOOK BONER" AS THEY ARE SOMETIMES CALLED (Don't laugh, this is serious) TO GET ALL THE AIR BUBBLES OUT AND MAKE SURE THE CONTACT PAPER GOES ON EVENLY AS YOU PULL MORE OF THE BACKING AWAY FROM THE PLASTIC.


ONCE YOU'VE WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE SPINE, STOP TO TRIM THE CORNERS AS SHOWN ABOVE.


(Don't look at how fat and weird my hand looks in this picture. It looks like my Slovak Gramma's hand.)
HERE COMES THE FOLDING OVER PART. FOLD EACH EXTRA FLAP OF CONTACT PAPER INWARD AND PRESS DOWN FIRMLY. (If they overlap a little, that provides better protection for the book.)

See how nice that is? Now the corners of the paperback won't get all ragged.

(In case you didn't know, it's awkward trying to do this left-handed, with my right hand holding my cell phone to take pictures)

NOW THAT YOU'RE DONE WITH ONE COVER, CONTINUE APPLYING THE CONTACT PAPER BY PRESSING IT TIGHTLY OVER THE SPINE. (I said TIGHTLY! Do you WANT air bubbles to ruin it?!)


 USE YOUR BONER TO APPLY THE CONTACT PAPER TO THE OTHER COVER, JUST AS YOU DID THE FIRST.


TRIM THE CORNERS LIKE YOU DID ON THE OTHER SIDE, SO YOU CAN FOLD THEM OVER AND SEAL THE BOOK FOR ALL ETERNITY, INVIOLATE.


 IF YOU PUT THE BOOK POCKET ON BEFORE COVERING THE BOOK, PRETEND YOU MEANT TO DO IT THAT WAY, AND CUT A LITTLE NOTCH SO THE PLASTIC DOESN'T COVER WHERE THE CHECKOUT CARD GOES INTO THE POCKET.

EITHER THAT OR JUST REMEMBER TO WAIT UNTIL AFTER THE CONTACT PAPER IS APPLIED TO PUT THE POCKET IN.


TRIM OFF THE EXCESS CONTACT PAPER AT THE TOP AND BOTTOM OF THE BOOK'S SPINE.

YOU'VE COVERED ONE PAPERBACK!

NOW DO ALL THE REST.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

SPOON OF SHAME

     I like to take my lunch break alone, and I typically barricade myself in the Library's back storage room, which does have a little desk to sit at. I'm forced to hunker back there, because if I stay in my office, I can hear the choir next door practicing, and that is not conducive to healthy digestion.
     At least the back storage room is quiet, and there's no phone. I can eat and read in peace.
     Back in my secret hideaway I sometimes have a jar of peanut butter, and a jar of Nutella, and well... you know how things just kind of HAPPEN. The spoon spends time in both jars, and things get a little crazy, like a '70s love-in.
     The really bad thing is that I'm usually too lazy to wash the spoon after lunch, so it sits there for at least a day in its smeary filth, hardening and probably being licked by rats and cockroaches. That's my worst fear.
     Yesterday I finally shooed all the students out, turned off the lights, locked the door, and closed for lunch.
     I crept back to the scene of the previous day's lunch crimes, and grabbed the spoon. Disgusting. I headed for the sink, holding the spoon out in front of me like a dirty diaper.
     Suddenly I heard someone fumbling at the locked door, and the principal barged in, apologizing for interrupting my lunch break. There I stood, in darkness, with my spoon of shame. I quickly shifted my grip on the spoon so the dirty business end was enclosed completely in my fist. I casually dropped it to my side, hoping she wouldn't notice.
     I slipped behind the circ desk while she asked me the quick question that was the purpose of her visit. As she spoke I surreptitiously dropped the spoon on a storage shelf below the counter. It made a "CLANK" sound, which I ignored.
     As soon as she was gone I took it to the sink and scrubbed away the shame, and the specters of rat tongues and dancing cockroach legs.
     Today it occurred to me that she probably noticed I was weirdly hiding something in my hand, and she probably heard the sound as I dropped it to the shelf out of her view. What if she thought I was concealing a hip flask of vodka? Who knows what she might imagine that could be even worse than the spoon of shame. It briefly crossed my mind that I could fess up and explain that it was a dirty peanut butter-and-Nutella encrusted spoon I was hiding, not anything illegal or perverted.
     But I know that would only make it worse, especially if she hadn't noticed anything.
     Sigh.
     Let her think it was a crack pipe.
   
   

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

SPRUCING UP DONATED (USED) BOOKS : Missing Dust Jacket


     See this hardcover copy of Michael Crichton & Richard Preston's Micro?
     It was donated to our little school library by a Science teacher (figures, right?), but was missing the dust jacket. Just a plain black cover. So I found the cover image online and pasted it into a Word document so I could size it correctly for printing. Then I opened up another Word doc and copied and pasted the book description from Amazon, plus a crop of an image from another edition of the same book (I think the paperback) so there'd be some sort of graphic on the back.
     After I printed both pages out and trimmed them to fit the covers, I glued them down, then covered them with clear contact paper, which overlaps onto the inside endpages, so hopefully it's all very secure and will survive intact. 
     
Details of graphic and text glued to back cover
      Yes, I know this is very OCD. Hopefully kids will borrow this book, and it will be worth the small amount of time/effort. Nobody's going to select a book from the shelf if it has no cover image and no description or summary anywhere on it. I think it stands a chance now, though, because we always have some students who are Crichton fans.
     Also, we have no book budget at all, and depend completely on donation programs and the generosity of parent groups. I take what I can get!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

80s TEEN NOVEL : "Probably Still Nick Swansen"

Probably Still Nick Swansen by Virginia Euwer Wolff
     One of my English teacher friends asked if I wanted about three bins full of old books, and I said yes. There's no library funding, so I'm big on donations. Whatever we can't use for our library I take to a used book store to trade in for store credit, which I use to get things we CAN use.
     As I was going through all the old books, I found this little paperback gem from 1988. The cover illustration struck me as pathetic, along with the tagline, "What's wrong with being Nick Swansen?"
     If you have to ask...
     Then I flipped it over and read the synopsis on the back:

Nick has a problem. No, problems.
Nick is 16. He is still trying to learn how to drive. He's an expert on some things, not so good at others. He's haunted by the memory of his sister who drowned nine years ago. Nick is a "Special Ed" kid.

He's been teased about it. But that doesn't stop him from asking Shana, a former special ed classmate, to the Prom. That, Nick thinks, will be really special.

But things don't always go the way you plan.

Suddenly Nick wishes he was anybody but who he is... anybody but Nick Swansen.

     Oh, dear. Poor Nick Swansen in his awkward tuxedo, waiting for his "special" date. And what's up with that seemingly random brick of tragedy tossed in, about Nick's dead drowned sister? Like Nick's struggles aren't enough "teen issues" for one book without a haunting accidental death from the past? Virginia Euwer Wolff, you are one hard and unflinching writer.
     There's even a nice little insulting "Author's Note" at the beginning of the book, which reads:

This book contains some incorrect grammar and punctuation in order to tell Nick Swansen's story in language that is consistent with his.

     Wow, Virginia Euwer Wolff, I'm not sure who's more insulted by that, poor Nick Swansen, or the reader.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

BACK TO SCHOOL LIBRARY BULLETIN BOARDS : part 2

"TIME TO TURN YOUR BRAIN BACK ON"
     Since I'm struggling to get my OWN brain re-focused on school stuff (weh), I figure it must be even harder for the kids. Anyway, this is my slogan, and I think David Sedaris is a great example of a smartie-pants thinking person. Plus I put up some articles on the enduring popularity of print books even in this era of (relatively) affordable ereaders and free ebooks.
     I used the Bone poster because it's not like graphic novels are DUMB, right? Represent.

"TIME TO TURN YOUR BRAIN BACK ON" detail
     I just Googled "brain" and "light switch" images and pasted them into a Word doc, one on top of the other, then printed it on nice brainy pink paper.

"BIG IDEAS MAY COME IN SMALL PACKAGES"
     For both of these boards I also Googled "light bulb" images, and printed them out in varying sizes. Easy and cheap, like yer mom.
     Fuchsia is a cool color, but the spelling of the word is seriously f***ed up.