Tag Archives: ALA

A Rant on Intellectual Freedom

Once upon a time….

I was in a ____ literature course, and a particular day was focused on [fictional books on a controversial topic, one in which I differ in personal opinion from most of the vocal members of the library profession].  We discussed our reflections on the reading choices as a class.  Although I cringed at hearing some of the storylines, I would, of course, support the inclusion of these titles  in a collection, pending age-/review-/balance-/budget-appropriateness.

My gut was very uncomfortable with this discussion, not only with the vision of some of these books (which were contrary to my own worldview, but I’m used to that), but largely with the fact that most of the library profession seems to think that it is the only way to see the world, and that other points of view are [adjective describing unacceptability].  Sadly, the professor and fellow students seem to perpetuate the notion that a character or theme of a book must agree with their set of values, especially within this controversial topic.

This smells awfully similar to the 180-degree opposite intolerant mindset that the same people complain about.  Woe.  The best I can do is stick to my beliefs in my personal life (a luxury which in some fields is being eroded), defend intellectual freedom, and make sure that my future library welcomes all points of view, not just the ones in vogue.

For more information about Intellectual Freedom, check out ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and the Library Bill of Rights.

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American Born Chinese – Graphic Novel Book Review

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Color by Lark Pien

Yang creates a mini, modern-day epic about the experiences of Jin, a boy born in American from Chinese immigrant parents.  American Born Chinese garnered many awards, including the American Library Association’s Michael J. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature, and appears on many YA top ten lists.

The reader follows him from his first day at a new elementary school through the awkward middle school years. Jin is ostracized by his young classmates because of his race and doesn’t make a true friend until he meets a new classmate, Wei-Chen Sun, who has just immigrated from Taiwan.  Jin struggles with trying to fit into the white culture, especially after he discovers he fancies a white girl named Amelia.  To his dismay, no matter how hard he tries, Jin can never change what skin he’s in.

Parallel to Jin’s story are two other threads in American Born Chinese: a retelling of a popular Chinese folktale about the Monkey King, and look at the life of a white teenager named Danny who endures humiliation every year when his stereotypically off-the-boat cousin Chin-Kee visits from China.  Though disparate in time and place, the three stories all offer characters that are unhappy with who they are born to be, and go to measures to try to reinvent themselves.

American Born Chinese tells a universal story of coming to terms with one’s heritage, and all the baggage that comes along with it.  Moreover, it does it in such a way that is realistic, easy to sympathize with, and sometimes poignant.  Yang and Pien create an inspired combination of text and visuals that literally breaks the barriers of the frames to enhance an already excellent storyline.

This graphic novel is highly recommended for young adult readers.  It was a very quick read (I’m an adult and it took me about an hour to 90 minutes to read), and kept my attention nicely.  The racist remarks may be something to weigh when considering for younger readers, but these comments serve to exaggerate and dispel stereotypes, not to perpetuate them.

Gutter Geek did a thorough review of American Born Chinese here.

Have you read American Born Chinese? What did you think?

It’s Matriculation Time!

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This week, I made my first satisfying slices through red tape.  Like any respectable institution, Queens College has its fair share of interdepartmental twists and turns.  Considering the fact that I’ll be starting classes at the end of this month, I thought that a few weeks was cutting it close.  A friend of mine cut it even closer – a one week turnaround from acceptance to the first graduate class.  Regardless, I feel an inkling of gratification after this week’s worth of taking care of business:

  • Friday 6/4 – Acceptance. …and there was much rejoicing…
  • Wednesday 6/9 – On the phone with LIS department, advisement office, registrar, advisement, LIS.  Finally…Enrollment in my summer 701 course.  Google Calendar here I come!
  • Tuesday 6/6 – On the phone with IT, registrar, IT, registrar, IT, LIS department, made online payment (Ouch!), and on the phone with bursar.  And now…I’m an official MLS student!

It feels good to get back into the academic game and to learn again how to keep the momentum going.  The red tape wasn’t prohibitive; it was just enough to get the wheels turning in this old brain of mine.  Three cheers for library school!  Now I can become an ALA (and state) student member.

Tomorrow’s challenge:  my first Librarian Trainee job  interview.  Wish me good luck!

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