Labor Day

I’m going to Flint tomorrow. I’ll be in town through Tuesday.

I hope to visit my mom’s library on Friday, assuming I don’t expire from the cold I have developed.
For your envy and amusement, my itinerary: I’m getting up at 4am so I can leave Ithaca at 4:30am so I can get to the Syracuse airport at 5:30am so I can fly at 6:30am so I can tranfer in DC at 8am so I can arrive in Detroit at 9:30am.

All to get to Flint.
Has mankind ever made such efforts?
Has anyone ever had to work so hard to get to Flint?

Take my Comics…please

feazellcat.gifI’ve started a library at work. My cataloging system is the whiteboard over my desk. My patrons are co-workers and student employees whom I bully into taking books. My material? Comics. I’m on a mission from Groo.

When I was a young Librarian Avenger, I spent many happy years working in the world’s largest cataloged collection of comic art, located at Michigan State University. There I met some majorly kickass librarians who were kind enough to allow me to shelve books, type tags, sort through boxes, occasionally catalog (ah, young dorkiness) and induge in a whole lot of secret in-the-stacks comic-reading.

As a result of this intensive training, I can now walk into any fluorescent-lit basement-level industrial-carpeted D&D-riddled comic shop and pick a fight. Ghost Rider vs. Punisher? No problem. Spawn eats them both. First edition copy of Watchmen? Own it. Portrait of myself inked by David Mack? Got it. Personalized CynicalMan convention souvenir by Matt Feazell? On my wall. Every issue of Scott McCloud’s Zot, stolen from an ex-boyfriend? Yuppers.

If I had several lives to live simultaneously, I would take out a loan and start a comic shop. I believe that some of the best art and writing of my generation can be found in the pages of comics. Transmetropolitan. Sandman. Optic Nerve. La Perdida. Dykes to Watch Out For. Fun Home. Understanding Comics. Kabuki. Y The Last Man. Zot.

So, lately I’ve been biking my trade paperbacks up the hill and distributing them. I need someone to talk to about this stuff. It’s lonely here at the top.


I did a talk at a convention in Detroit a few weeks ago in which I encouraged people to become librarians. I started out with this quiz. Now it’s your turn.

Am I Geeky enough to be a Librarian?

Yes No
1. I enjoy acronyms.
2. I own a cat.
3. When confronted with a pile of books I think “Hmm…first I would sort by author, then by title?
4. I am obsessive enough to appreciate the difference between 345.065 and 345.605.
5. I possess a useless undergraduate degree.
6. Being surrounded by books makes me lather with delight.
7. The idea of someone preventing me from reading Orwell because they don’t like it strikes me as Orwellian.
8. I am comfortable with the Internets.
9. If my house caught on fire, one of the things I would grab is my favorite book.
10. I possess a useless graduate degree.
11. I can daisy-chain a herd of Ubuntu boxes faster than you can say FreeBSD.
12. These kids today. I swear. If they would just read a damn book once in awhile, they wouldn’t be blowing each other up so much.
13. I could find out the middle name of your high school boyfriend with just ten minutes on the Internet.
14. I could find out the first line of A Tale of Two Cities with just ten seconds on the Internet.
15. I know the first line of A Tale of Two Cities.
16. I am a disenfranchised intellectual.
17. The idea of arming the public with knowledge appeals to me more than, say, arming them with pitchforks and torches.
18. I would rather do something cool than get rich.
19. I possess a useless doctoral degree.
20. I can say “Colon classification” without laughing.
Under 5 = I think the “We hate libraries” meeting is down the hall.5-10 = You are geeky, but can you HANDLE the acronyms?10-15 = I’ve got some library school applications under my desk you big dork

15-20 = Quit your job immediately! Grab the nearest child and teach him to read! Oh, and start stocking up on acid-free paper.

Rock Rock Rock n’ Roll Librarian

Hey avenging librarians… A few weeks ago, Bill Harmer wrote a letter asking for our help. You may remember Bill as the founder of the Rock n Roll library tour that was featured on This American Life. I wrote about the show here.

Bill wants to take the Rock n Roll library tour nationwide. Last summer the Michigan tour was a big success, and he wants to get at least one library to sign up in each of the 50 states. This is a killer after-school program that serves the dual purpose of getting reluctant readers in the library, and busting through some myths about how the library is boring. You know? Those myths? Now you can do something about them.

After some initial hoo-ha-ing, the ALA got its act together and is sort of helping out. You can now register your very own ever-loving library for the tour. You’ll be booking library rock n’ roll veterans The High Strung for an all-ages show and a question and answer session afterward.

Just read the press release, then write to Bill and he’ll make it happen.

I hope they come here. Ithaca is desperate for decent music. There’s a large Contra Dance movement here that MUST BE STOPPED. Also, if anybody has suggestions or offers of help, I think Bill would be glad to hear them.

Maysan Haydar is Cool

My friend Maysan Haydar has always been cool. She introduced me to Bratmobile and Swing dancing back when such things were hip. She got a tongue ring before everyone else. She was the first person I knew to dye her hair purple.

She escaped from Flint, majored in Linguistics and moved to NYC to write for The Nation. Now she’s a social worker. Oh. And she wears the hijab. Here’s an excerpt from an article she wrote for the book Body Outlaws about why she wears the veil, and what it’s been like.

Cat and Girl on Vertical Files

I like Dorothy’s Donation Derby almost as much as I like her comic Cat and Girl. If you send her money, she does a small drawing to show how she spent it. The result is an autobiographical comic blog with snippets of funny dialogue and moments from her life. Today there was a library mention that will be funny to anyone who still maintains vertical files. Don’t we have computers for that? I spent a good chunk of my life cutting out newspapers for the wonderfully eclectic American Radicalism & Popular Culture vertical files when I was an undergrad at Michigan State University. If you ever happen to be in East Lansing researching representations of Grant Wood’s American Gothic in advertising, MSU’s got yer back. We never got into any screaming matches either.


shannon Says:
October 18th, 2005 at 1:47 pm e
Awesome! If you make it to Oxford (hours train ride from London) you can go to the Bodleian Library and visit the various haunts of people like Lewis Carroll, Tolkien and all sorts of famous literarys (as in pubs).

Believe it or nay, fair reader Shannon,  I have BEEN to the Bodleian library in Oxford. I was studying abroad in Dublin. I had two days in the UK. Where did I go? Oh yeah. The only library in the world that makes its patrons vow not to set the books on fire.

En route, I was lectured by an unamused train conductor on the correct pronunciation of Oxford. According to the man in the hat, it is not pronounced (imagine a thick midwestern accent) AAHHXFERD, as we kids insist, but rather (imagine a thick plank lodged irretrievably netherward) UHXFERD. This remains my only real memory of Oxford, so perhaps I should return.

Anybody want to hook a sister up with Bodleian backstage passes? In return, I promise to tell you the (two-drink minimum, not work-safe) story about my deadly encounter with the MSU library masturbator.  

Library School angst

Where O where should this nice person go to library school?
I got this letter the other day:

I was thinking about applying to the Library and Information Science program at Wayne State University here in Detroit and was wondering if you had an opinion on their program? I’d love to go to U of M but I don’t think I’d get in nor do I have the money to go there. Just wondered if you knew or heard about Wayne State’s program.

Please keep in mind that I am not a career counselor, and am in fact a big web designer hypocrite who hasn’t spoken to a patron in years. If that doesn’t bother you, read on.

First of all: Nobody has the money to go to Big Expensive Schools like the University of Michigan. I certainly didn’t. My friends didn’t. Except maybe that one woman who wore expensive suits. The rest of us did three things: Took out Loans, Got Scholarships, and Worked Our Butts Off. Look, see? No butt.

Don’t worry about funding yet. Worrying about funding comes later and will represent one of the many delightful themes of graduate school. Worry about getting in first. Both schools are reputable and, I assume, have some sort of decent admission standards. Still, buck up little appleblossom. This ain’t rocket science. Write a decent essay, take the GRE a couple of times if you need to and cross your fingers. I’d apply to both schools just to cover your bases.

I suspect from the “here in Detroit” bit, that Wayne is geographically closer to you? This is nothing to sniff at, since driving to a distant city to attend class quickly becomes wearisome. If you are in a position to uproot and go to Ann Arbor, however, U of M is a great school. I have no complaints about my THREE years there (don’t ask). The library students I met were smart, funny, geeky and motivated. The interdisciplinary stuff was good for everyone, and you end up with all sorts of cutting-edge library and life skillz.

I don’t know much about Wayne because

1) it is a library school and I never wanted to be a librarian. Not a traditional librarian anyway, with the patrons, and the books and the reference.

2) it is in Detroit and

3) it isn’t as prestigious as U of M. I know this sounds mercenary, but hey, race you to the upper middle class.

If anyone out there can advise this promising young librarian about the Joys of Wayne State or any stuff I missed, please do.