Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (for Banned Books Week)

I posted about the first Harry Potter book four years ago for Banned Books Week. Since then I have re-read one book each year, and posted in honor of Harry's birthday on July 31. I missed his birthday this year, but book five seems more appropriate for Banned Books Week, as it features a case of censorship.
By Order of
The High Inquisitor of Hogwarts
Any student found to be in possession of the magazine The Quibbler will be expelled.

The above is in accordance with Educational Decree Number Twenty-seven. 
Dolores Jane Umbridge
High Inquisitor
Of course all the students then set out to read the issue of The Quibbler that contained the interview with Harry Potter.

Meanwhile Professor Umbridge was stalking the school, stopping students at random and demanding that they turn out their pockets. Harry knew she was looking for copies of The Quibbler, but the students were several steps ahead of her. The pages carrying Harry's interview had been bewitched to resemble extracts from textbooks if anyone but themselves read it, or else wiped magically blank until they wanted to peruse it again. Soon it seemed that every person in the school had read it.
In a bit of meta-censorship, Educational Decree number 26 banned teachers from "giving students any information that is not strictly related to the subjects they are paid to teach" thus preventing them from mentioning the interview.
but they found ways to express their feelings about it all the same. Professor Sprout awarded Gryffindor twenty points when Harry passed her a watering can; a beaming Professor Flitwick pressed a box of squeaking sugar mice on him at the end of Charms, said "Shh!" and hurried away; and Professor Trelawney...announced to a startled class...that Harry was not going to to suffer an early death after all, but would live to a ripe old age, become Minister of Magic, and have twelve children.
As is true with the previous four Potter books, our heroes find themselves in the library quite often doing research and finishing homework. Nasty librarian Madam Pince makes two appearances in this volume, both times being her negative self.

Harry found Ron and Hermione in the library, where they were working on Umbridge's most recent ream of homework. Other students, nearly all of them fifth years, sat at lamp-lit tables nearby, noses close to books, quills scratching feverishly...the only other sound was the slight squeaking on one of Madam Pince's shoes as the librarian prowled the aisles menacingly, breaking down the necks of those touching her precious books.
Later, when Ginny brings a chocolate Easter egg, sent by Mrs. Weasley to Harry, Madam Pince chases them out of the library "her shriveled face contorted with rage...And whipping out her wand...caused Harry's books, bag, and ink bottle to chase him and Ginny from the library, whacking them repeatedly over the head as they ran."

Most libraries have given up on the "no eating" policy. But I guess there's no telling what trouble a bewitched Fizzing Whizbee might wreak in a book of spells.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag - the movie

Hard to believe this one is over twenty years old. I must have seen it the first time around the time I got my first librarian job. There is a lot of playing with stereotypes here, with young children's librarian Betty Lou (Penelope Ann Miller) contrasted with the older more prim Margaret Armstrong (Marian Seldes). Betty Lou, however young and energetic is still rather mousy though, and draped in Laura Ashley, until she becomes a celebrity when she finds (and fires) a gun that was used in a murder. Her new prisonhouse friends give her a makeover before her day in court, and she suddenly has not only the attention of her detective husband, but the rest of her small town as well.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Nature of College - by James J. Farrell

Just in time for Back to School! I read this book in preparation for the fall semester during which I will be teaching a course called Sustainability 101. Students in the class will be assigned this book along with Colin Beavan's No Impact Man (which it pains me to say doesn't mention libraries at all).

Anyway, I digress. I read this in preparation for teaching the class, but it was especially thought-provoking for me to read as I sent my own daughter off to college for the first time. Farrell's book looks at the many resources a college student uses in given day. My daughter's college helpfully provided us a list of things she would need for her dorm, and in case they forgot to include anything Target had a special section of the store labeled dorm "essentials" - things such as string lights and welcome mats. I must admit that I found it easier just to load up the cart than to critique the list (or argue with my daughter). I think I ultimately talked her out of one thing. And so before she even got to college we had amassed a bounty of  "things" for her to take with her. I have honestly decided just to bury my own head in the sand rather than calculating the environmental cost of it all.

Farrell's book mentions libraries a few times, generally as part of a list of places a student might go. They are not specifically analyzed in terms of what resources they use, or help conserve, however.