Thursday, April 06, 2006

Bless this man, but send him some body armor

In the March issue of the British children's books magazine Books for Keeps, there are capsule profiles of three children's librarians. Youth services manager Ian Dodds of the Bromley library near London is in a spot of trouble: "Some members of Bromley's library staff are still dumbstruck by Dodds' decision to ban craft activities from children's libraries this summer. His insistence that toffee-apple making and hair-braiding must go because they've got nothing to do with books or reading hasn't been popular in some quarters."

And those are two activities you definitely don't want to do at the same time.

7 comments:

rindambyers said...

I don't mind seeing some craft activities in a corner of my local library now and again. Gets the kids in, gets the parents in. What I do mind is the way the rennovation in my local came out. They took away half of the bookshelves and at least 50 percent of the book, (including almost all of my favorites), installing instead about nine computer stations--with not a single book review magazine in sight. I'm complaining! I want to see an extra copy of the Horn Book magazine out on a shelf along with Martha Stewart Living, etc., etc.

Roger Sutton said...

Hey Rinda--so buy 'em a subscription! ;-)

I do think crafts, etc., can divert time and money away from the program of service. And I'm suspicious of librarians who prefer them to other work--not that they're slackers, but that they might be in the wrong job.

Elizabeth said...

Roger, I think you should fess up and admit that you hired a clown (named Kumquat, I recall) to entertain the kids at a summer reading party you threw when you were children's librarian at Chicago's Pulaski branch. Kumquat was even less relevant to reading than a crafts table.

The really shameless thing that day, though, was that you kept humming the theme music to The Bad Seed everytime the little girl who had read the most books came up to get a prize!

I just thought your many fans might enjoy this glimpse into your librarian past...

rindambyers said...

Now buying my local library a free "Hornbook" subscription, that IS indeed turning the other cheek! I don't think I could do it in silence, though, I confess. I would allow myself the privilege with the cost of the subscription of expressing a few extra pointed words as to how unwisely my tax money is being spent! A library! With no book review magazines on its shelves? Wah!

Roger Sutton said...

Busted by Elizabeth! It's all true. E. was kind enough to help out at that party--what I remember most was when she unveiled the snacks table and the kids flew like locusts upon it.

And the scary little girl was named, deceptively, Angel. Quite a reader and very smart--for a while her mother was dating one of the other librarians and one night Angel locked them both out of the house, ignoring their cries while playing Rhoda Penmark's party-piece on the piano . . . . (At least, I always imagined she was.)

Elizabeth said...

Locusts? Those kids were vultures. I nearly got buried alive as they climbed all over me in their lust for the candy. Roger had already locked himself in the staff room in terror. (Gentle readers, I do not exaggerate.)

Even Kumquat could barely cope with those kids. I've never seen anyone grab his check and exit with more rapidity.

web said...

Doing crafts is mandatory in our library system and a number of YS people are pretty ticked at having to come up with something for 18 month old babies. Since when did you need more than a good book?!