Sunday, February 27, 2011

Liaising on Steampunk, Black-clad Librarians, and More

Ever at work for the betterment of school libraries and for a deeper understanding of the scope and nature of our work, I ventured out this weekend to the BCTF New Teachers' Conference in Richmond in my Liaison Chair role for the BCTLA.   And in addition to liaising, I do try to stay on top of the discourse, particularly active at the moment, on the BCTLA Forum.
  • In conversation with Ilona from the Writers' Festival on Saturday morning, I learned of a genre of fiction called Steampunk -- turns out it's not new.  You gotta love Wikipedia for its ready answers, not only compact and definitive but also more deeply interpretive than anything you are likely to find elsewhere online.  So would Edward Scissorhands and The Polar Express be steampunk film?  Can you offer any examples of YA or Children's Lit in the genre?
  • The deep and prolonged professional conversations about copyright, viewing rights, e-books, and more are taking over the BCTLA Forum.  Have you joined yet, by the way?  Membership is going up, a good thing in the very year we are going to need to keep in touch.  For sure, you will want to get online and plunge into the Forum.  Non-district email required. 

    If you are pondering the drive for e-books and e-readers, check out this great blog from California public librarian Sarah Houghton-Jan, named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker as a Trendspotter in 2009, and her "properly opinionated" trend-capture (LiB) blog, introduced for my consideration by TL Lisa to the BCTLA Forum discussion.  In particular, the discussion focussed on her alarm-sounding post about Overdrive and Harper-Collins and her outraged call for the eBook Revolution.  (Can't help but relate to the call for revolution and her level of ire -- given most recent political developments here at home!  But that's another blogpost, right?)

    It's in perusing Houghton-Jan's blog that I encounter, for the second time in two days, the weird term steampunk.  Houghton-Jan, the LiB, offers a YA-based steampunk "description of a library from a user’s perspective, an excerpt from the most excellent steampunk teen novel Behemoth, by Scott Westerfeld.  This book is the second in the series that started with Leviathan.  (Westerfeld’s website is really quite nicely designed incidentally, and properly steampunky of course)."  See "What Steampunk Has to Teach Us About User Experience." (Jan 24, 2011)

    [Click here for a review of and trailer for Westerfeld's Behemoth and LeviathanDBRL Teen site.]
  • Houghton-Jan asks librarian-readers to read the Westerfeld excerpt and think about how users of your (school) library may interpret the policies and procedures, environment, services, workflow, and the resources, including access to both print and digital, as barriers, how libraries have intimidation factors that we ignore at our own peril.  She believes that changes can be made immediately and the only way to go is "one step at a time."  What step will you take this week?  

1 comment:

Cecile McVittie said...

Ahh, Moira! So glad to see someone else who has discovered Steampunk. I actually dressed up this way for Halloween and am busily subverting former vampires to a much more fun form of dress-up.
Classic steampunk literature would include Jules Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Current favourites for high schools would be Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan series. Also a favourite (and set in Seattle) is Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. Kenneth Oppel's Airborn and Skyshaker might also fall in this category. I've enjoyed them all!

Cecile McVittie
Sa-Hali Secondary