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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Librarians To The Rescue

The Librarians as heroes who gallantly come in the nick of time to save the day is hardly an overused theme in movies, literature or other art forms. Maybe its time to change that. After all, there is a librarian action figure doll that has caused some librarians to groan. Why? Perhaps, it's becasue she looked too much like the "sterotypical" librarian. Bun in her hair. Practical low-heeled shoes with plain blue business suit. Of course, there is the reading glasses to make the look complete. (The model for this doll is Nancy Pearl, who is a librarian in "real" life.) Her weapon of choice: The Dewey Decimal System combined with a push button Shusher action that is out of this world. What's not to love? For the librarians who embraced this doll, which has been out now for years, it is a fun reminder that what we do everyday can change lives. Maybe one day we will all be able to don on a red cape and go out to save the world.

Librarians can have some comfort in knowing that there are books, and films which place librarians in a hero's light. (No, the Music Man is not one of the films in mind, but having said that, the movie is wonderful.) For example, Kellogg's The Mysterious Tadpole is a wonderful tale of a young boy who needs to find a good place for his ever growing tadpole. To whome does he turn to for help? The librarian at his public library. After dutifully researching the tadpole's origin and background, she found that the tadpole was related to the Loch Ness Monster. Nothing can be done but have a fundraiser to help build a pool for the tadpole.

For a real "super" strength hero-librarian, look no further than Library Lil by Suzanne Williams. This wonderful book published in 1997 tells of a little girl who has always wanted to be a librarian. She smart, strong and knows how to balance a stack of encyclopedias in one hand while reading a volume in her hand, using her teeth to turn the pages. How tough is she really? Tougher than the moter cycle crowd who think reading is for "lily-livered cowards." She's a true librarian at heart when she teaches the leader of the biker group to be a library assistant. Now that's quite an accomplishment that not many librarians may be able to achieve. (However, there is at least one librarian who pens a blog who is trying on a new cape as this posting is being typed.)

Noah Wyle (of ER fame) starred in the film The Librarian. His character Flynn Carsen applies for the position because he likes to learn and belives that a librarian's job is well suited to fill that need. However, what he comes to find out, once employed by the Metropolitan Public Library, is that the job entails protecting famous historical and magical items. It's kind of like an Indian Jones of the library world. This could be used as a tool to entice new blood into the field, but it may be a tad misleading. On any given day, in public libraries around the world, librarians do protect the most important historical and magical items of all time: the written word. How noble!

However, as we get our sites back down to earth, two titles to consider that show how librarians really have an impact on the lives of children is Mora's Tomas and the Library Lady and Winter's Biblioburro: A true Story From Columbia. In Mora's book, Tomas' family are migrant workers who never stay in one place for very long. Fortunately for Tomas, he discovers the local public library and the helpful librarian that enables him to discover a whole new world. Luis Soriano's true story is in Winter's book. What Soriano did for a Columibian communityis equivalent to Bookmobies going to urban areas that do not have access to libraries. Both tales inspire to reach out to help those who do not know the magic of books.
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