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Miss Hatchet, Kim Possible, the complexity of library classification, and technocratic libraries

 

Recently, I began watching Kim Possible for the first time, apart from one episode: “Overdue.” I watched it before I began the series. When I first conceived this post, I thought that I would somehow change my opinion of Miss Hatchet. Long-time readers may recall I previously described her as a person who “rules the school library like a tyrant…[with] her own form of library organization.” After watching the episode, I feel no differently about her as I did before. However, I would argue that her character and the plotline says a lot more about libraries than I had previously guessed, meaning that Hatchet is more than a smorgasbord of librarian stereotypes, especially when it comes to library classifications of materials within libraries themselves.

There is no doubt that this librarian is “wound pretty tight” as Ron, a friend of Kim Possible, and series protagonist with her, remarks later in the episode. She has strict rules, like having a zero tardiness policy when it comes to overdue books. She has an enormous amount of power in the school as she is able to suspend Kim from cheerleading because she has an overdue book! Yikes. All the students seem to fear her and she acts like a villain throughout the episode, first by making Kim shelve stacks upon stacks of books based on her own, and more complicated, library classification system, known as the Hatchet Decimal System (HDS). Second, she takes away Kim’s communicator (equivalent to her cell phone) and makes her put adhesive labels on every book saying “property of MHS library.” In the end, Ron appears to come to the rescue, returning the book, but it turns out that this is the incorrect one, as it releases evil spirits which terrify her and cause destruction to the library. Her fate after that is unknown. Presumably, Kim and Ron save her life, although that isn’t shown on screen.

Even though she is one of the only Middleton High School staff employees shown in the show, Hatchet nothing much more than a basket of stereotypes harmful to librarians while acting like a supervillain of sorts, giving Kim busy work while in “library lockup,” as she calls it. Nothing about her is redeemable. However, I would venture that the episode is pointing to something more: the complexity of library classification. This has been an argument that has been rightly pointed out about the Dewey Decimal Classification system (DDC) have made in the past. This is despite the fact that this library classification system organizes to materials by subject. It can be hard for those who don’t know the intricacies of DDC, like ordinary library patrons, to understand how books are organized. [1]

In 2007, the Library of Congress warned of limiting the use of the number components field so that doesn’t become “confusing and complicated.” Some years earlier, scholars Luc Beaudoin, Marc-Antoine Parent, and Louis C. Vroomen described DDC as a huge and complex information hierarchy. [2] Additional classification systems have also been noted as complex. For instance, some said that the Library of Congress Classification System (LCC) [3] is more efficient and specific for new technical material and big collections but “more complex.” Others described the effort by Belgians Paul Otlet and Henri La Fontaine, who used the DDC as a basis, to create the “complex multidimensional indexing system” known as the Universal Bibliographic Repertory (UBR). [4]

The Hatchet Decimal System on a book binding on the left and the DDC on a book bindings on the right. The latter is from this image on Wikimedia.

To come back to the episode, I would say that the focus on a classification system that Hatchet made by herself is meant to point to the complexity of library classification systems in general and how they can be confusing for ordinary people, in this case Kim. Her system is clearly more complex than the DDC and perhaps that is part of the point of this episode, which was written by Jim Peterson, directed by Steve Loter (who directs many of the episodes in the series), and storyboarded by Eugene Salandra, Jennifer Graves & Robert Pratt. It is incredible that Hatchet has enough authority that she can create her own system for organizing books in the library, which has become “her natural habitat” as it states on her short Kim Possible fandom page. Many librarians would not have that ability as their actions would be hemmed in by school administrators, school boards, national and state library associations, which have their own codes of ethics.

As Anne Gooding-Call has pointed out, “librarians of color don’t necessarily have the same support that white librarians enjoy,” with the MLIS and middling wages as a barrier to many. This is undoubtedly the case for Hatchet, who the school probably would have treated differently had she been Black, Latine, or Asian, for instance, as most of the librarian field is composed of White female librarians. She would not have the social support of other White people, even if the students feared her. In one way, the library that Hatchet occupies appears to be a white space, meaning somewhere that Black people may be reluctant to ask questions or use resources. On another, since students generally fear her, no one, of any race, may be asking her questions or for any help. Instead, they are presumably trying to spend the least amount of time in the library as possible, as they are afraid of her. I would even argue that if she wasn’t White, she couldn’t be as mean and menacing to the students, at least I would hope that would be the case.

Beyond this, there is no doubt in my mind that Hatchet obviously blatantly violates tenets 1, 6, 7, 8, and 9, at minimum, of the ALA’s Code of Ethics. This is not unique to her, as others are even worse offenders. [5] For instance, Francis Clara Censorsdoll in Moral Orel dipped “objectionable” books in kerosene and set them on fire. Cletus Bookworm in Rocky & Bullwinkle had no problem with an armed man taking two patrons of the library hostage. In fact, he encouraged their capture and applauded it. That’s just two of the most egregious examples I can think of, although there are many others. Gooding-Call says that librarians are mostly “sincere people who mean well…eager to grow and improve” who can become “vehicles of empowerment.” Hatchet does not seem to be this at all. Instead, she seems overly strict and harsh, not wanting to improve. She is the female equivalent of Steven Barkin, a former U.S. Army Ranger, who has a gruff, no-nonsense, attitude, and is abrasive with students in the series. Unlike Barkin, it is unlikely she has PTSD from wartime experiences.

There is the additional issue that the DDC system and other cataloging approaches were “designed in a racist and white-centered system,” [6] building upon my post in May about fictional acceptance of the DDC. Hatchet probably didn’t care much about this. Instead, what matters to her was lording this power over other people in a menacing way, or at least it appears that way. She says as much, as she declares to Kim that “There will come a day when you forget to return a book and I’ll be waiting for you.” It gives you the chills. Was she so self-centered that she created her own classification system? Did she care that DDC is, as Emily Ruth Brown points out, built around adult disciplines, is proprietary, and is negatively affected by changes in technology? We can’t know for sure, as she is a one-time character who never re-appears in the series. This isn’t surprising, given that Western animation has a habit of easily playing into librarian stereotypes, although this may be changing, with libraries shown much more positively in anime.

As I expected, not one person has written a fan fiction about Ms. Hatchet in Kim Possible on Archive of Our Own, even though it could make an interesting story to see things from her perspective. Clearly her actions toward Kim, and presumed other students, are irredeemable. Even so, she may be under a lot of stress as the only librarian of the entire Middleton High School library, at least the only one we see as the audience. If she had been trying to get Kim to do extra work, like shelving books, then this was definitely not the way to go about it. There are the other library scenes in the series, but she never re-appears. She is never given a chance to redeem herself or for the audience to see who she is as a person. She is just a bunch of stereotypes all shoved into one person. I admit that I may be reading too much into this 11-minute episode. At the same time, this episode may be more than what it appears to be on the surface and interconnects with issues surrounding library classification systems and even broader issues within the library field itself.

Ms. Hatchet pushes a book cart piled high with books
Ms. Hatchet pushes a book cart piled high with books

When I first composed and finished this post in later February 2022, my last paragraph was the end of the article. However, I see Hatchet’s classification in a new light after reading a chapter by Rafia Marza and Maura Seale about White masculinity and “the technocratic library of the future” in Topographies of Whiteness. Although she is no technocrat, and neither are any of those on List of fictional librarians I have put together for this blog as most are either “old-school”, “traditional”, or “magical” for the most part, her complex HDS is akin to technocratic ideas. Marza and Seale note that as information technology has become a bigger part of librarianship in the 1990s and 2000s, the White female librarian has been replaced by ideas from Silicon Valley, with “technological solutions” which will supposedly free us. They further said that such a focus on technology as a “solution to complex social problems” is central to technocratic ideas, which is characterized by its “impartial, apolitical rationality,” with those who are technocrats interests in politics rather than efficiency, thinking that technological fixes can be universal. However, this ideology is bound up in White supremacy because White men have historically claimed rationality and White masculinity has been able to function as the “universal form,” while it can only claim to be neutral and objective due to Whiteness. At the same time it upholds patriarchy as well. [7] This interlinks with the historic investment of libraries in Whiteness and faulty notions such as rationality, objectivity, neutrality, and neoliberal tendencies. The latter is promoted by two ALA initiatives: Libraries Transform and the Center of the Future of Libraries (launched in 2015).

Such initiatives, Marza and Seale argue, engage internet-centrism, an idea described by Morozov as the idea that everything is changed and there needs to be fixes, while technology is permanent, fixed, has an inherent nature, and possess agency as it exists “outside of history.” They are interconnected to technological solutionism, the idea that  all complex social problems can be neatly defined and have definite solutions or processes that “can be easily optimized,” even though this can undermine support for more demanding or stimulating reform projects. [8] This comes with the assumption that it is neutral and objective, even though it is anything but that. This is reinforced by a focus on digital and quantitative skills, with an individual and “entrepreneurial” worker as the default, who are often male and White, especially when it comes to those in Silicon Valley, who are used as a basis for these “necessary” skill sets. At the same time, care and emotion work, service work, manual labor, and so on are seen as “feminized labor” At the same time, libraries are seen as akin those businesses in the so-called sharing economy, with racial prejudice as ingrained in such an economy, and labor of people of color and White women not visible due to the emphasis on technology and de-emphasis on the labor behind the technology itself, with its deadly environmental and labor consequences. [9]

While labor of those causing the technological solutions to be workable is erased, so is any quiet or reflective work, like that portrayed in Kokoro Library, while fewer workers are told to take on more work, leading to burnout. Additionally, libraries are viewed as platforms, like the sites created by Silicon Valley, which ends up prioritizing monetization and obscures any libraries seen as “non-technological,” pay is low, and librarianship itself is devalued while technocratic ideology is risen, and the value of library degrees has declined while information technology is seen as even more paramount. This is only strengthened with a focus on “short-term results,” market demands, just-in-time services, efficiency, and “return on investment,” even as emotional labor of women and physical labor of people of color is needed to make sure libraries, and society as a whole, function. In the end, such technocratic ideas are embedded in systems of privilege, while technology itself is subject to the same inequities as the rest of the world, with a necessary situated and historic understanding of technology and librarianship, and ways that both of those concepts “intersect with dominant conceptions of white masculinity.” [10]

Hatchet clearly does not embody any of this technocratic ideology, nor has any librarian I’ve ever seen in any popular culture I’ve come across to date. However, her ideas would fit right in with today’s technocratic push in librarianship, with their own inherent complexity. In fact, if the episode was to be done again today, it would not be a stretch to see Hatchet using robots to shelve the books in their own complex way, or even sitting at her desk while she ordered a robot to snatch Kim and bring her to the library in punishment for an overdue book. That may be a bit extreme, but the point is that her ideas fit within those who espouse technocratic ideas about libraries at the present. Ultimately, I enjoyed reexamining this episode and I look forward to your comments, criticisms, and anything else you’d like to leave in response to this post. Until next time!

© 2022 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


Notes

[1] Erin Sterling, “The Case of the Clunky Classification: The Elusive Graphic Novel,” May 2010, accessed February 25, 2022; Dewey Decimal System,” ScienceDirect, accessed February 25, 2022; “Information Literacy Tutorial: Finding Books,” University of Illinois Library, University of Illinois, LibGuides, Aug. 7, 2018, accessed February 25, 2022; Melinda Buterbaugh, “Lesson Three: Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) and Call Numbers,” Teach Me How To Dewey,” Hillsborough County, Florida, Dec. 13, 2017, Why I Would Use Dewey,” Technical Processes for Education Media, Oct. 29, 2011,

[2] Luc Beaudoin, Marc-Antoine Parent, and Louis C. Vroomen (1996), “Cheops: A Complex Explorer for Complex Hierarchies,” IEEE, p. 87; “MARC DISCUSSION PAPER NO. 2007-DP06,” Library of Congress, Jun. 6, 2007, .

[3] Not the same as the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) which has “been actively maintained since 1898 to catalog materials held at the Library of Congress” and said to be the “most widely adopted subject indexing language in the world.” LCSH describes contents systemically, while LCC is a library classification system. Its also different from the Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN), a serially based system of numbering cataloged record.

[4] Robert McCoppin, “Who’s killing the Dewey decimal system?,” Chicago Tribune, Feb. 18, 2011, accessed February 25, 2022; Melvil Dewey and the classification of knowledge,” Science Lens, Dec. 10, 2012, accessed February 25, 2022; ; “How the index card launched the information age,” Multimediaman, Sept. 10, 2016, accessed February 25, 2022.

[5] Discounting the shushers, the most extreme include the librarian in multiple episodes of Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil, Rita Loud in a Timon & Pumbaa episode (“Library Brouhaha“), Mr. Snellson in a Mysticons episode (“Happily Never After”), Librarian in a Big City Greens episode (“Quiet Please”), Librarian in a Courage the Cowardly Dog episode (“Wrath of the Librarian”), and Bat Librarian in Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episode (“Mystic Library”).

[6] “Conducting research through an anti-racism lens,” University of Minnesota Libraries, University of Minnesota, Feb. 15, 2022, accessed February 25, 2022. Others have claimed that DDC can be reformed with librarians who have “deeply held values of equity, diversity, and inclusion” while others have pointed to racism within the DDC, by Dewey himself, noted Dewey was a sexual harasser and a clearly a bigot without any question. Even conservatives have pointed out that Dewey is ingrained in librarianship and there is no escaping him.

[7] Rafia Mirza and Maura Seale, “Who Killed the World?: White Masculinity and the Technocratic Library of the Future” within Topographies of Whiteness: Mapping Whiteness in Library and Information Science (ed. Gina Schlesselman-Tarango, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2017), pp. 175-177. They also say on page 175 that in the early 20th century, librarians participated in “civilizing” and assimilating the “tired, huddled masses into American democracy” as long as those people could become White.

[8] Mirza and Seale, “Who Killed the World?”, pp. 177-181. Libraries Transform describes itself as “spreading the word about the impact libraries and librarians make every day…[and] advocat[ing] for the value of librarianship” but the about page almost reads like a corporate webpage, and not surprising as Overdrive is the lead sponsor, with other big sponsors including Capital One, Dollar General, Biblioboard, and SAGE Publishing. The same can be said about the webpage of the Center of the Future of Libraries.

[9] Ibid, 181-5.

[10] Ibid, 186-192.

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Kaisa’s defense: Are patrons who borrow books, liable to return them?

Kaisa gets annoyed with the committee of Three Witches

Happy Book Lovers’ Day! On December 16, 2020, I submitted a post to I Love Libraries about Kaisa, the recurring librarian in the animated series, Hilda, titled “Witches, patrons, and the value of libraries in Netflix’s Hilda,” and included a section, where Kaisa argues that the “person who borrowed the book is liable for its return,” with the obligation passed from the librarian to the patron, while the witches say SHE is the one responsible. While this was included in the final article, which was published on January 8, 2021, and re-titled “The Mysterious Librarian in Netflix’s “Hilda” Finally Gets a Name,” it was worded differently, [1] and I didn’t explore it in-depth. So I’ll re-examine that part of the episode and note its implications more broadly in terms of relations between librarians and patrons, and the ever-present problem of missing books from libraries.

In the episode “Chapter 3: The Witch,” Kaisa comes before three witches who govern the tower and they tell her that she must return a book missing from the library for almost 30 years! She challenges this, saying that the person who borrowed the book is liable for its return, passing off the obligation from the librarian to the patron. The witches remind her of her responsibilities and say that if she does not find the book, she will be cast into the void! While librarians obviously are not cast into the void for misplaced books, the episode is right to highlight the problem of missing books and how librarians solve this problem. Later, Kaisa reveals why she had not tried to return the book until now: she was embarrassed that she could not use the right spell to find the book. They later return with the book and Tildy pleads with the witches to not punish them, the void of no return is unintentionally opened, trapping Kaisa, Hilda, and Frida.

The question at the title of this post still itches my brain: Are patrons who borrow books, liable to return them? Some on /r/Libraries and /r/librarians have shared that they give students who fail to return a book a warning, the terrible condition of returned books(which is kinda funny to read), stolen/lost book, and lending to the wrong person. Others shared the return of missing items, horrible patrons, weird sense of guilt when checking out books, getting patrons to return their books, presenting photo IDs to check out books, and libraries that give anyone a library card. [2] One of the most interesting discussions was one on /r/asklibrarians where librarians responded as to how a librarian could cover up a theft:

…Books disappear all the time. Depends on if the library uses any security measures like RFID tags…Here are a few ideas: Checking the book out to another user. Marking it as lost under that other users identity. Checking the book in but just taking it. Makes it appear lost in the shelves. Simply taking the book through an employee entrance with no security gates. Or simply desensitizing the security strip and walking the book out the front door. Or you can purge the user from the system making them not exist. Assuming a modern library, the librarian could alter the records if they had the right circulation authorizations. In most cases, there is likely to be an audit trail, but no one is likely to be looking for that unless alerted to the possibility that someone did that. Someone with the right IT privileges for the circulation software, could probably alter those audit trails as well.

In some ways, Kaisa may have done this when not getting the book back from Tildy. She probably as had to deal with those who return books with “illegal drugs, water damage, urine odors, cigarette burns, coffee stains, fecal matter, roaches, or peanut butter globs,” those who have tried to argue that they don’t need to pay library fines, while dealing with account issues, checking out books, and other tasks. [3] As one librarian put it, not only can the length of a loan period ” have a big impact on staff workload and patron satisfaction with a library,” but overdue materials are an issue “because they are not available to other library users” while fines lead to the perception that overdue fines allows the library to function and buy materials. In fact, many libraries spend a lot of money and time “attempting to retrieve overdue materials and collect various fines,” meaning these fines represent “a drop in the bucket for library revenues” and saying that while overdue fines may “provide some incentive for returning materials” some studies have shown they are “not a significant deterrent to the ultimate return of items. Libraries can also collect fines on lost and damaged materials or lost library identification cards, which are meant to ” replace or repair the material…plus a processing fee,” while it was said that there “should be some flexibility with overdue policies.” It has also been said that if a book is lost, then a fine should be collected, while for a missing book, “the library does not know where the item is.” [4]

The same librarian urged library personnel to be “familiar with registration procedures and be prepared to answer questions about the library’s services and resources,” and to have specific “procedures for dealing with security and medical emergencies and all staff should be thoroughly familiar with them.” This connects with the mission of a librarian to not only handling books, but books themselves serving a vital function, and the responsibility of the library to “adjust the time allotted for the patron to have the item to ensure it reaches the originating library on time.” It was also said that librarians should take into account copyright, freedom of information, privacy, duty of care, censorship, and confidentiality which assisting a patron. [5]

Committee of Witches annoyed with Kaisa

When it comes to actual libraries, there appears to be agreement with the idea that patrons who borrow books are liable to return them. In fact, of library policies I read, there was a consensus that patrons are responsible for book replacement, returning books on time (late books hinder ability of other patrons to use book), have to pay for damaged or lost materials, and responsible for books they have checked out under their name. [6] Some librarians even said that those who abuse privileges may be banned from interlibrary loan, holds placed on their student accounts, suspension of borrowing privileges, or being reported to a collection agency. [7]

There were libraries which laid out their responsibilities even more clearly. Some said they had the “responsibility of ensuring the availability of materials for the use of the community,” but that the person who borrows materials is responsible for materials borrowed and “agrees to return them in good condition and by the date they are due.” Others absolved the library from “liability, damages, or expense” from misuse of library devices, library materials, and asserted that librarians are responsible for renewing and returning items, with fees imposed if items are not returned. However, in some cases, librarians had the discretion to stop or restrict loans of materials or the ability to waive fines, charges, or fees in cases of hardship. [8]

Kaisa stands by her view that patrons who borrow books are liable to return them, while the witches say it should be the library’s responsibility after a book is overdue for 30 years. If this was the real world, the responsibility of the patron would likely still be emphasized, but at that point, the library would have declared the book “lost” and probably charged the patron a fee for the lost book. Kaisa does not do that as she knows exactly who has the book, but she doesn’t want to take responsibility for getting the book back, not at first.

The answer to the question, are patrons who borrow books, liable to return them, is generally yes, but that does not justify patrons being treated in such a way that they are heavily penalized with fines which discourage them from borrowing from a library. It is certainly a “wonderful surprise” that Kaisa is the keeper of the books, i.e. the librarian who, with the help of Hilda and Frida, was able to convince an old lady to return a book. An impressive feat, you could say.

© 2022 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


Notes

[1] Worded as “the person who borrowed the book is responsible for it and the witches threaten to cast her into a void if she cannot locate the lost item.”

[2] See the “checking out books” (Nov. 2018), “Librarians: What’s the worst condition someone has returned a book?” (Apr. 2014), “Most stolen book at your library” (Jul. 2018),”I (accudentally) lent a book to someone who is NOT authorized to use the library. What to do?” (Jun. 2020), “Lots of (probably) missing items were returned!” (Nov. 2020), “Horrible Patrons: CoVid Edition” (Feb. 2021), “I’m struggling with a weird sense of guilt when checking books out now, it’s very irrational” (Sept. 2021), “Academic librarians: strategies for getting checked out books back from faculty?” (Mar. 2017), “Violating the spirit of the policy but not the letter of it…” (May 2017), “I think one of our patrons is a hoarder, and he isn’t returning our books.” (Aug. 2018), “Borrowing Policy Inquiry” (Dec. 2016), “Borrowing Out of Town” (Jun. 2016)

[3] See K.W. Colyard, “How To Piss Off Your Local Librarian,” Bustle, Jul. 16, 2015; Oleg Kagan, “Day in the Life: Reference Librarian at a Public Library,” Every Library, Nov. 29, 2017.

[4] “Basic library procedures: Circulation functions,” Living in the Library World, Dec. 18, 2008; “Basic library procedures: Library inventory,” Living in the Library World, Jan. 18, 2009.

[5] See “Circulation of nonbook materials,” Living in the Library World, Dec. 28, 2008; “Circulation’s role in security,” Living in the Library World, Dec. 28, 2008; “Basic library procedures: Processing library materials,” Living in the Library World, Jan. 7, 2009; “Library co-operation, interlibrary loan and document delivery,” Living in the Library World,  Jan. 25, 2010; “Ethics,” Living in the Library World, Nov. 22, 2010.

[6] “Library Policies,” Galveston College, accessed October 3, 2021; “Loan Periods,” Richard E. Bjork Library at Stockton University, accessed October 3, 2021; “Overdue Materials,” Richard E. Bjork Library at Stockton University, accessed October 3, 2021; “Lost/Damaged Item,” Richard E. Bjork Library at Stockton University, accessed October 3, 2021; “Outside Borrowers,” University Libraries of University of Georgia, accessed October 3, 2021; “Circulation Policies,” Princeton University Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Borrow,” Pitts Theology Library at Emory University, accessed October 3, 2021; “Library,” Caswell County, NC, accessed October 3, 2021; “Interlibrary Loan Borrowing and Document Delivery Services,” University of North Texas University Libraries, accessed October 3, 2021; “Library Fines and Fees,” New York Public Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Library Policies, Guidelines and Procedures: Lost or Damaged Materials,” Calvin T. Ryan Library, University of Nebraska Kearney, accessed October 3, 2021; “Step by Step Billing Patrons and Libraries for Lost Books in Horizon,” Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System, accessed October 3, 2021; “Loan Periods and Fines,” Pasadena Public Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Studio Use Policy,” Pikes Peak Library District, Sept. 2019; “Interlibrary Loan (ILL),” SRSU Library & Archives, accessed October 3, 2021; “Policies,” Proctor Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Borrow Materials,” E.H. Butler Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “InterLibrary Loan (ILL),” Osceola Library System, accessed October 3, 2021; “Borrowing/Circulation,” SCSU Research Guides at Southern Connecticut State University, accessed October 3, 2021; Library Policies,” Orange Coast College, accessed October 3, 2021; Borrowing and Renewals,” Marriott Library, University of Utah, accessed October 3, 2021; Borrow,” UC Berkeley Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Borrowing,” Hawai’i Pacific University, accessed October 3, 2021; “Fine Free Library,” San Francisco Public Library, accessed October 3, 2021; FAQ : Interlibrary Loan,” Smithsonian Libraries, accessed October 3, 2021; “Checkout Periods and Protocols,” Fulton Library, Utah Valley University, accessed October 3, 2021 (discussed secondary borrowers); “Borrow, Renew & Return,” Georgia Tech Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Borrowing Policies,” Stewart B. Land Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Borrowing Materials,” Memorial Library of Nazereth & Vicinity,” accessed October 3, 2021; “Hennepin County Library goes fine-free,” Hennepin County Library, Mar. 9, 2021; Borrow Items,” Charleston County Public Library, accessed October 3, 2021;Interlibrary Loan,” Omaha Public Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Book Club in a Bag,” Southeast Regional Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Interlibrary Loan,” Kenton County Public Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Pageturners To Go,” Multnomah Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Remote Delivery,” UW-Madison Libraries, accessed October 3, 2021; “Library,” Thesophical Society of America, accessed October 3, 2021; Borrowing Privileges,” Penn State University Libraries, accessed October 3, 2021; “Borrowing Materials,” Circulation Services, Research Guides at Broward College, accessed October 3, 2021; “Prince William libraries are now fine-free,” InsideNOVA, Jul. 7, 2021; “Your Library Account,” Boulder Public Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Services – Libraries,” LibGuides at St. Joseph’s College New York, accessed October 3, 2021; “Nevada State College Interlibrary Loan,” Nevada State College, accessed October 3, 2021; “Get a Library Card,” Laurel County Public Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “InterLibrary Loan,” Queens College Libraries, accessed October 3, 2021; “Bradley Library eliminates late fees,” Daily Journal, Sept. 9, 2021; “Library,” Amridge University, accessed October 3, 2021; “Checkout Privileges,” BYU Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Using the Library,” Linda Hall Library, accessed October 3, 2021; Borrowing from CSN Libraries,” CSN Libraries, accessed October 3, 2021; “Interlibrary Loan (ILL),” Texas State Library and Archives Commission, accessed October 3, 2021; “Borrowing Library materials,” Simon Fraser University, accessed October 3, 2021; “Library of Things: Home,” LibGuides at Milton Public Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Onsite Borrowing Program,” OCLC Research, accessed October 3, 2021; “Welcome to Your Library,” Grand Rapids Public Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Frequently Asked Questions,” El Dorado County Library, accessed October 3, 2021; Liam Griffin, “Libraries Become Fine-Free In July In Prince William County,” Manassas, VA, accessed October 3, 2021; “Circulation,” Mary and John Gray Library, Lamar University, accessed October 3, 2021; “Prince William Public Libraries to Go Fine-Free Beginning July 1,” Jul. 2021, accessed October 3, 2021; “James. E. Walker Library,” Middle Tennessee State University, accessed October 3, 2021 (mentions proxy borrowers); “Interlibrary Loan (ILL),” University of Idaho Library, accessed October 3, 2021.

[7] “Interlibrary Loan,” Air Force Research Laboratory D’Azzo Research Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Library Policies,” Galveston College, accessed October 3, 2021; “Loan Periods,” Richard E. Bjork Library at Stockton University, accessed October 3, 2021; “Circulation Policies,” Princeton University Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Library,” Caswell County, NC, accessed October 3, 2021; Andrew Scott, “11 Lehigh, Carbon County libraries ending fines on overdue items, starting Wednesday; 8,000 patrons being forgiven over $59,000 in fines,” The Morning Call, Aug. 31, 2021; “Library Fines and Fees,” New York Public Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Library Policies, Guidelines and Procedures: Lost or Damaged Materials,” Calvin T. Ryan Library, University of Nebraska Kearney, accessed October 3, 2021; “Policies,” Proctor Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Borrowing/Circulation,” SCSU Research Guides at Southern Connecticut State University, accessed October 3, 2021; “Borrowing and Renewals,” Marriott Library, University of Utah, accessed October 3, 2021; “Borrow,” UC Berkeley Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Borrow, Renew & Return,” Georgia Tech Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Borrow Items,” Charleston County Public Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Valparaiso University Interlibrary Loan (ILLiad),” accessed October 3, 2021; “Borrowing Policies,” Jefferson-Madison Regional Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Your Library Account,” Boulder Public Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Nevada State College Interlibrary Loan,” Nevada State College, accessed October 3, 2021; Your Card,” Berkeley Public Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Using the Library,” ABBE Regional Library System, accessed October 3, 2021;

[8] “Library Policy,” Ainsworth Public Library, accessed October 3, 2021;Hotspot Lending Policy,” Loomis Library & Community Center, accessed October 3, 2021; “Borrower Policy,” Charlotte Mecklenberg Library, accessed October 3, 2021; “Henderson-Wilder Library,” Upper Iowa University, accessed October 3, 2021; “Circulation Policy,” Fulton County Library System, accessed October 3, 2021; “Library Regulations,” The University of Hong Kong Libraries, accessed October 3, 2021; “Overdue Library Materials,” Leon County Public Library, accessed October 3, 2021.

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action adventure animation anime Comics drama fantasy Fiction genres horror Japanese people Librarians Libraries magic libraries magical girl Movies Pop culture mediums public libraries romance school libraries speculative fiction webcomics White people

Recently added titles (July 2022)

Willow and Amity fight in the library in the The Owl House episode “Labyrinth Runners”

Building upon the titles listed for July/August, September, OctoberNovember, and and December 2021, and January, February, March, April, May, and June of this year, this post notes recent titles with libraries or librarians in popular culture which I’ve come across in the past month. Each of these has been watched or read during the past month. Not as many animated series or anime with libraries this past month, but I did come across a good deal in comics, whether in graphic novels or webcomics, and hopefully there will be more that I find in the days, weeks, and months to come. That’s my hope at least.

Animated series recently added to this page

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender, “Siege of the North, Part 2”
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender, “The Library”
  • Craig of the Creek, “Secret Book Club”
  • Craig of the Creek, “Kelsey the Author”
  • Craig of the Creek, “The Haunted Dollhouse”
  • Craig of the Creek, “Ferret Quest”
  • Craig of the Creek, “The Last Game of the Summer”
  • Craig of the Creek, “Welcome to Creek Street”
  • Craig of the Creek, “Capture the Flag Part 4: The Plan”
  • Craig of the Creek, “The Legend of the Library”
  • Craig of the Creek, “Fire and Ice”
  • The Owl House, “Labyrinth Runners”

Anime series recently added to this page

  • A Couple of Cuckoos, “You Can’t Just Pretend It Didn’t Happen”
  • The Rising of the Shield Hero, “The Shield Hero”*

*Keep in mind that I do not recommend this series, and only watched two episodes before I stopped watching it. Read more about the controversy with this series here.

Comics recently added to this page

  • Greta the Red Wolf, “Foreboding”
  • Greta the Red Wolf, “A Series of Unexpected Events”
  • Sabine: an asexual coming of age story, “One Hundred Twenty Four”
  • Spellbound, “Ep116 – Weird”
  • Spellbound, “Ep117 – All good then!”
  • Spellbound, “Ep126 – Another game?”
  • Spellbound, “Ep127 – Sulky face”
  • Spellbound, “Ep128 – Not Happy!”
  • Spellbound, “Ep129 – Let’s make it ok”
  • Spellbound, “Ep2 – Organise – Season 2”
  • Tamberlane, “Issue 131”
  • The Siren’s Light, “Chapter 5 (4)”
  • Vixen: NYC, “Episode 4”
  • Winter Before Spring, “Episode 46”

Films recently added to this page

No films to add for this month.

© 2022 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


Thank you to all the people that regularly read my blog. As always, if you have any titles you’d like to suggest, let me know. Thanks!

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action adventure animation Black people comedy fantasy Fiction genres Librarians Libraries magic libraries Pop culture mediums public libraries special libraries speculative fiction

Behind the Screen: Black voice actors who bring fictional librarians to life!

From left to right: Harriet D. Foy, Regi Davis, Chris Jai Alex, Ike Imadi, and Kimberly D. Brooks

Part of understanding fictional librarians is understanding those behind the screen, especially when it comes to anime and animation. [1] I plan to do more posts like this if I find additional fictional librarians, so this post is the beginning of what I call the “Behind the Screen” series, hopefully getting some interviews with some of these voice actors too. I’m starting with Black voice actors in this first part of the series.

About the voice actors

Perhaps the most prominent Black voice of an animated librarian is Harriett D. Foy. She steals the show with the chief librarian of the Stanza, named Clara Rhone in Welcome to the Wayne. Foy is known for roles on Broadway, television, film, regional plays, regional musicals, and concerts. Rhone was her first animated role.

Just as powerful is Ike Amadi, a Nigerian man who voices a librarian named voices Cagliostro in a What If…? episode (“What If… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?”). Imadi has voiced characters like Agency Boss / Subquatos in Kid Cosmic, Officer Mantus / Platoon Sergeant in Love, Death & Robots, Angor Rot and Detective Scott in Tales of Arcadia, to name a few.

Most curious of all, in terms of Black people voicing animated librarians is Kimberly Brooks, also known as Kimberly D. Brooks. She voices an uptight librarian in a DC Super Hero Girls episode (“#SoulSisters Part 2”). Apart from voicing Elephant Grandma in The Cuphead Show!, she voiced characters such as Sky Young in Arcane, Teela and Eldress in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Skara in The Owl House, Amsaja in Cleopatra in Space, Allura in Voltron: Legendary Defender, young Mari in Vixen, and over 10 characters [2] in Steven Universe and Steven Universe Future, most prominently Jasper.

Other Black voice actors include two Black men: Regi Davis as George and Chris Jai Alex as Lance in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Davis and Alex are seasoned voice actors. Davis has been in countless television, theatre, and film productions. Alex has been working in the entertainment industry since 2005, starting at the bottom. He has voiced at least 40 characters according to Behind the Voice Actors. [3]

About the characters

From left to right: Clara Rhone, O’Bengh, Unnamed librarian, George, and Lance

As I wrote in my review of Welcome to the Wayne, Clara Rhone is one of the “very few librarians of color in popular culture” and works with others at the library, emphasizing the value of these institutions as places of knowledge and understanding. Clara also has a granddaughter named Goodness, who is a library ninja, and is voiced by another Black woman: Charnele Crick.

Just as striking of a character is Cagliostro in What If…?. As I wrote in my review of that episode, he masquerades under the name “O’Bengh,” and runs the Lost Library of Cagliostro, a library-temple. He tries to the best of his ability to help Doctor Strange, as he “grows out of control.” He attempts to warn Strange but is unsuccessful and ends up dying in the library, taking on a number of roles in the episode at the same time: all-knowing person, a medic, and a sorcerer, while happening to be the only librarian. It is unfortunate that he is never shown outside the library.

The librarian that Brooks voices is interesting, as the unnamed librarian in the DC Super Hero Girls episode is uptight. I suppose this makes the character interesting and gives more life to it, but the character is very stereotypical and straight-lace. She voices two characters in that episode: Bumblebee and the Librarian, according to IMDB. One day, if possible, I’d like to ask her about that character.

Then there’s George and Lance in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Both call themselves historians but they run a family library. They help the protagonists Adora, Glimmer, and Bow translate an ancient message and keep their library open for as long as they can, before abandoning it. Even then, they provide vital information which helps Adora and her friends stop the vile Horde from destroying the world and universe.

© 2022 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


Notes

[1] Not profiled in this series is Emilio Estevez (who voiced Stewart Goodson), Jeffrey Wright (who voiced Mr. Anderson), and Jena Malone (who voiced Myra) in The Public. For Malone, also see her Facebook and Instagram pages here and here. I also cannot include the 30 webcomic characters I have included on my “List of fictional librarians” page, nor the unnamed librarians in a Revolutionary Girl Utena episode (“The Sunlit Garden – Prelude”), the Black male librarian in a We Bare Bears episode (“Our Stuff”), Isomura in Let’s Make a Mug Too episode (“The Garden of Sky and Wind”) as her voice actress is not known. Voice actors of the librarian in Steven Universe episode (“Buddy’s Book”), Librarian in Futurama episode (“The Day the Earth Stood Stupid”), Librarian in Zevo-3 episode (“Zevo-3”), librarians in The Simpsons, librarian in Martin Mystery episode (“Return of the Dark Druid”), librarian in Martin Mystery episode (“The Warlock Returns”), unnamed librarians in Phineas and Ferb episode (“Dude, We’re Getting the Band Back Together”), another librarian in Martin Mystery episode (“Return of the Dark Druid”), librarian in Amphibia episode (“True Colors”), Arlene in Phineas & Ferb episode (“Phineas and Ferb’s Quantum Boogaloo”), Librarian in Bob’s Burgers episode (“Y Tu Ga-Ga Tina Tambien”), librarian in Phineas & Ferb episode (“The Doonkelberry Imperative”), and a librarian in The Flintstones episode (“The Hit Songwriter”) are also not known. Also, librarian in Teen Titans Go! episode (“Magic Man”) of Azarath Public Library and Little Squeak in Colonel Bleep do not have any voices either. It is further not known who voiced librarian in Courage the Cowardly Dog episode (“Wrath of the Librarian“), librarian in Uncle Grandpa episode (“Back to the Library”), the librarian in Beavis and Butt-Head episode (“Cyber-Butt“), Violet Stanhope and Ms. Herrera in the Archie’s Weird Mysteries episode (“The Haunting of Riverdale“),  Miss Dickens in Carl Squared episode (“Carl’s Techno-Jinx”), or Mrs. Shusher in The Replacements episode (“Quiet Riot“).

[2] Jasper, Cherry Quartz, Superfan Rose, Shy Rose, Hippy Rose, Angel Aura Quartz, Zebra Jasper, Ocean Jasper (2), Flint, Malachite, Carnelian, and Skinny. She also voiced eight characters in Winx Club.

[3] Also see his IMDB bio, Facebook page, Twitter, YouTube channel, Instagram, and LinkedIn profile, or the website of Davis.

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anime fantasy Fiction genres Japanese people Librarians Libraries Pop culture mediums slice-of-life special libraries speculative fiction

Examining Isomura, a librarian-curator in “Let’s Make a Mug Too”

The library inside the ceramics museum in Let’s Make a Mug Too

Recently, when watching some currently airing anime series, I stumbled upon the slice-of-life 2021 anime, Let’s Make a Mug Too, otherwise known as Yaku nara Magu Kappu mo, which is based on a manga series of the same name, about high school girls making pottery together. With that, I was taken off guard when in one episode, “The Garden of Sky and Wind,” the protagonist, Himeno Toyokawa, visits a local ceramics museum with her teacher and the curator brings them inside to a library! Not expecting to see a library in series, so it made me very happy and more excited to keep watching it. In this post, I’ll examine the scene inside the library and whether the curator is a librarian, or not, and how this connects to libraries more broadly.

Early in the episode, the adviser of the Pottery Club, Mami, tells Himeno about the museum in Tajimi for local works behind the school is adding a section for youth pottery, hoping to inspire Himeno. They gather materials together, go up to a climbing kiln, and Himeno finds an interesting, majestic sculpture in the woods. Later on, Himeno and Mami meet Isomura, a woman who is from city hall, discusses plans to use the local museum space, until the year before when there was agreement to make it a youth pottery museum. Isomura explains that the monument was created by Tokigawa Himena, who happens to be Himeno’s late mother, a well-known pottery maker! This makes Isomura very excited (she geeks out), especially since Himeno is making pottery of her own, and notes how Himena’s sculpture was instrumental in the decision to keep and repurpose the building.

We then see the library in all its glory, with a screenshot of it shown as the beginning of this post, with Isomura laying out materials for them, noting the materials the museum collected. Himeno is excited to find, with encouragement from Isomura, her mom’s drawings and photographs of the ceramics she made, allowing her and her teacher to bond. Later, Isomura shows Himeno an article where her mom explained the sculpture project, reading her part of the article, making her connect with her mother that much more!

It seems evident to me that Isomura, is undoubtedly a curator, which the Dictionary of Archives Terminology defines as an “individual responsible for oversight of a collection or an exhibition” or the “administrative head of a museum or collection,” adding it often carries the connotation of an “individual who selects items based on artistic merit or connoisseurship.” More than that, she is a librarian, although not in the way of those in public libraries, as the museum has a special library which is geared toward those interested in ceramics. It is, as a public institution, open to the public, but only those in the town and makers of ceramics would come there. She seems to know where the materials are on the shelves very easily and with ease, making me think that she has been there before and likely helped organize the materials in the first place, continuing to shelve books and other records throughout the day. She is so nice, and cheerful, in contrast to many others in animation who are librarians:

I LOVE the attention to detail in this shot, like the call numbers. Is there a place like this in Tajimi? I think its definitely a possibility

Sadly, her character is uncredited from the listings on the official website and on Anime News Network. Isomura appears to be the only curator of this museum. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes, “in small institutions, one curator may be responsible for many tasks, from taking care of collections to directing the affairs of the museum.” That seems to be her role, rather than a museum technician or conservator, as the fact she is coming from city hall seems to indicate she has some position of authority in the museum, rather than someone lower on the hierarchy of this local museum. But, maybe I’m reading into that too much? Anyone who has watched this episode and has a different interpretation of her role, I welcome them to chime in.

The two roles of “librarian” and “curator” can overlap, so much so at times that there are even blogs, albeit dated ones like this one which ended in 2008,  and a page on the Liturgy Institute London website about “library curators.” Of course, librarians and curators don’t have the same roles, for sure, but it appears that Isomura shares characteristics of both roles, all into one position. In fact, some curators directly oversee special collections libraries, and others work for libraries, like those who work for the Library of Congress.

I think it can definitely be said that Isomura is a librarian and as such, she is unique, because most of the Japanese female librarians noted on my list of fictional librarians are much younger, whether high school age or younger. [1] My guess is that Isomura is in her 20s or 30s. So that makes her a unique character in and of itself. And her experience in the museum inspires Himeno to make a sculpture the next day which is similar to what her mother made.

This has to be my favorite episode in the series and while I’m not sure if the library, or Isomura will continue, I have to say this one of the most positive depictions of libraries and museums that I’ve seen in a long time, with the Isomura being helpful, friendly, and courteous to her patrons, unlike many other librarians in animation. And that is laudable to say the least. I’d like hear your comments on this, including those which watched this series. Did you interpret her character the same way? What were your thoughts?

© 2022 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


Notes

[1] This includes Myne in Ascendance of a Bookworm, Hisami Hishishii in R.O.D. the TV, Yamada in B Gata H Kei, Azusa Aoi in Whispered Words, Chiyo Tsukudate in Strawberry Panic!, Fumi Manjōme in Aoi Hana / Sweet Blue Flowers, Anne in Manaria Friends, Grea in Manaria Friends, Lilith in Yamibou, Iku Kasahara in Library War, Asako Shibasaki in Library War, Fumio Murakumi in Girl Friend Beta, Hasegawa Sumika in Bernard-jou Iwaku a.k.a. Miss Bernard said, Himeko Agari in Komi Can’t Communicate, Aruto, Iina, and Kokoro in Kokoro Toshokan a.k.a. Kokoro Library. While the age of Lilith in Yamibou is not known, the unnamed librarians in Cardcaptor Sakura episode (“Sakura and Her Summer Holiday Homework”), librarian in Little Witch Academia episode (“Night Fall”), are likely the same age while Sophie Twilight in Ms. Vampire who lives in my neighborhood is older. The same can be said, I think, about Hamyuts Meseta, Mirepoc Finedel, Noloty Malche, and Ireia Kitty in Tatakau Shisho: The Book of Bantorra.

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anime drama fantasy Fiction genres Japanese people Librarians Libraries Pop culture mediums rural libraries special libraries speculative fiction

More than “frilly outfits”: librarian work, weeding, and library marketing in Kokoro Library

How every episode of the series begins

In September of last year, I came across Kokoro Library, an anime series from the early 2000s. I watched it, it was apparent that librarians were likely consulted when this was produced because of the number of issues about libraries this animation raises. This was further buttressed by the fact that in March 2002, the Japan Library Association announced that copies of the Kokoro Library anime would appear in 500 libraries across Japan. Although all thirteen episodes are available in Japan on Amazon Prime Video, the series has not seen an official English translation. Luckily, there are fan translations, one of which I watched on the Internet Archive. Provided that there are many library-related themes in this anime, it would be wrong to cram them all into one post. Given criticisms of this anime [1] for possibly implying that all librarians have to do is “look cute and sit behind a desk” and that the series is “inconsequential”, I may reassess it in the future.

This slice-of-life anime, which is named Kokoro Library or Kokoro Toshokan, follows the daily lives of three sisters (Kokoro, Aruto, and Iina) who live in a remote, rural library, seemingly somewhere in Western Europe. Although the show is peaceful, cute, and relaxing, some people might be turned off by the art style, the slow pacing, or the fact that the librarians are wearing “frilly French maid outfits,” trying to fulfill their jobs, although they mostly do maintenance and groundskeeping. The library gets very few patrons, reportedly with very little “real” librarian work to do.

Kokoro remains optimistic and kind, serving as the “soul of the show,” and learns to become more confident. There are later stories about exotic stories about androids, but it said to not be about “anything important or deeply philosophical,” relying more on feeling than anything else, with the characters symbolic in their own way. Other reviewers praised voice acting in the series by Chiwa Saitō, who voices Kokoro, and said it is a type of anime that you watch when you get home after a hard day at work, comparing it to Read or Die. Viewers praised the opening and ending songs of the anime, and the anime itself was one of the most popular anime in February of 2002. [2]

The first episode, “I’ll Become a Librarian” begins with introducing the show’s three protagonists, and the library cat, Kit. Kokoro lives at the library with her sisters, a little like George and Lance in a few episodes of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Kokoro begins her first day at the library, isolated on a mountain and away from the city, working alongside her sisters Aruto and Iina. She learns that the library gets few users. All three sisters engage in library tasks like opening up the library’s windows, shelving books, checking the mail, data entry, cart pushing, and book arranging.

Apart from library itself which has old computers, some sort of classification system, tables, seats, and computers for people to use, there are many library-related issues covered in the anime. For one, Kokoro and Aruto differ on describing library patrons, with Kokoro describing them as “customers” and Aruto saying they are “users.”

Kokoro (left) talks to a patron who is asking if she can borrow a book

She is helpful to patrons, helping patrons by finding them books they are looking for, or check out items, or giving someone a library card, all instances of “librarian work.” This is later described as a “reference” experience. She even later tracks down one user who came to the library, in hopes of retrieving a book, going on an adventure of sorts. Her sisters claim that the “job of a librarian…is to believe in people.”

When they talk about “reference,” they are likely not referring to a reference librarian. Instead to the idea of a reference interview, the process which “determines the information needs” of a patron, and tries to translate the questions of a patron into one that “can be answered with the library’s resources.” In this case, Kokoro clearly did a great job of helping a patron and felt fulfilled while she did it. It was a bit extreme, though, for her to go on a whole journey to find one book which wasn’t returned to the library, as libraries lose books all the time. I’m also not convinced that the job of a librarian is to believe in people, as sometimes you really can’t do that. I’d say the job is to help patrons in the best way you can, but not believe in people, as people can be wrong, hostile, or dangerous, depending on where you are a librarian.

In the show’s second episode, “What I Can Do At This Moment,” Kokoro begins asking herself what she is good at, knowing that her sister Aru likes to bake and sleep everywhere, Iina who likes taking photos and is good with computers. She later realizes she is good at singing. The episode features book shelving, a truck coming to deliver boxes of books, book cataloging, and carrying stacks of books. The library also appears to have a scanner, a laptop, and a printer, technology which was advanced at the time.

One of the more interesting parts of the episode when they worry about declining number of library patrons. During their discussion, Aru proposes they get rid of the “old, unpopular books” and replace them with new popular books and it will draw in users, gathering best sellers and popular comics, picture books, CDs, and videos. However,  Kokoro isn’t sure about this and Iina agrees. She declares that library is a place to “deepen knowledge and education.” In response, Aru justifies her position by using the stats of declining patronage to the library, even saying that modern libraries should focus on entertainment, something which Iina calls “vulgar.” Aru later remarks that young novels and picture books can “cultivate knowledge and education” too. Poor Kokoro though, as she isn’t sure what side to take. She tells them both that if people knew about the library, then they would come, and she proposes advertising the library!

This makes me think of the difference between the collections of two libraries I know very well: the Baltimore County Library (BCPL) and the Pratt Library. From my experience as a patron who uses both systems, and as a person who worked at a Pratt Library branch, I can say with confidence that the BCPL tends to have more popular books and weed old and unpopular books. On the other hand, the Pratt has vast collections, able to easily accommodate old and new materials which much more ease. This is not much of a surprise as the Pratt has 22 branches, with the Pratt itself saying that Maryland residents continue to “depend on the Pratt’s collections to supply materials that are not available elsewhere in the state or electronically.” [3] Compare this to BCPL, which has 19 branches and many other services, with goals asserted in their Strategic Plan focused on quality of life, education and lifelong learning, equitable access, and organizational wellness, which doesn’t provide much room for older materials, but much more for newer materials. Even so, we must acknowledge that the Pratt has a bigger budget, more support, and more storage space than BCPL, which undoubtedly affects which materials are chosen and kept within the library’s collections for users, or which are discarded.

How many librarians do you know who have this ability, like Aru? I don’t even have that ability…and I can’t think of anyone else who has that ability.

Later in the episode, Kokoro tries to determine what she can do to bring in more patrons, while her sister Iina wants a music appreciation gathering, with a well-known artist, and inviting a well-known programmer. Aru rejects this, with an idea for super care of users like serving tea, reading books to them, and massaging their shoulders, but Iina worries about how this would affect Kokoro. Ultimately, all three sisters work together on a flyer to promote the library, and they are able to rope in their delivery driver in distributing the flyers.

While Kokoro is dispirited after her sisters say that she might have unreasonable expectations about the library, she returns to find a whole group of people at the library, a line of cars snaking down the road! This communicates the idea that library advertising does work. Weirdly, there is the idea that overnight work is ok “from time to time.” But, is that work really fine? I would have to lean toward no, as it can lead to burnout. After the end of the episode, we are all probably crying tears of joy like Kokoro at the end, as she accomplished her goals.

This makes me think of the Marketing Libraries Journal (MLJ), a peer-reviewed, independently published, open access scholarly journal which “focuses on innovative marketing activities libraries are engaged in,” trying to publish “research and practical examples of library marketing campaigns…tools used for marketing” and much more. Kokoro Library has to be the only animated series I have come across which has discussed library advertising or marketing as part of the plot! So that makes this series unique in that respect. When putting together this article, I thought back to my time in library school, when I wrote papers about marketing, library promotion, library engagement, target audiences, and many more topics. [4]

Kokoro clearly knew who the target audience she was trying to reach with this campaign: people from the nearby town. She believed she could influence them to come to the library, increasing the patronage, even though her sisters were not sure this would be a success. While you could say that, the library caused “miracles” to happen, as Iina put it, more accurately, people were intrigued by the poster and excited to visit it, coming to a place they didn’t know. It was a successful, but simple public relations campaign you could say, even though it has the downside of being completely based on the fliers, with no other way of the message being shared. This is exactly what Kokoro’s sisters were afraid of, they believed the fliers wouldn’t be enough to bring more people to the library. As I wrote back in 2018, “no one is immune to advertising and marketing.”

As Ned Potter, an information professional, put it, one-off marketing usually never works. Rather, libraries try to build awareness overtime of relevant services, appeal to people “at the right time,” as putting out too many messages at once means there is “nothing for anyone to hold on to.” He argues that marketing campaigns are what has an “impact and make[s] a tangible difference to the Library.” He concludes his piece by saying that such campaigns need to “the primary focus of your comms for a concerted period of time,” with the same message going out through multiple platforms, having a strong call to action, and measuring outcomes rather than outcomes, even if that takes time. During the time this series was set, in the early 2000s, there was no Twitter (founded in 2006), YouTube (founded in 2005), TikTok (founded in 2016), Facebook (founded in 2004), Instagram (founded in 2010), Reddit (founded in 2005) or Tumblr (founded in 2007), so using fliers makes sense, even though they could have used other methods, like their presumed dial-up internet to promote the library as well.

Kokoro watches her sister, Iina at a computer. Kokoro is apparently bad with using computers, although Iina is not and is very skilled.

While there are many other marketing strategies, resources on library marketing, tips, and more, I believe I’ve given enough of an overview of this topic without getting too much in the weeds on this topic. [5] This post is one of the many which connects to library themes unlike other series out there, even with those which have librarians as supporting characters like Welcome to the Wayne or The Owl House. That makes the series unique and worthy of note, so much so that it can’t all be summarized in one post, making this the beginning of a series.

© 2022 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


Notes

[1] This review also says that “it takes a whole lot more than minimum alpha brain waves to earn a degree in library sciences. Certainly Kokoro wouldn’t hack it in the ALA – she’d do good to make it to the Special Olympics” and goes onto say “for a much more exciting and interesting tour of the world of library sciences, we recommend Read or Die. Either that, or read a book. Both are infinitely preferable to this inconsequential series.” Harsh words! As of the writing of this post, I have only watched TWO episodes, so my opinion on it may change as I watch more episodes.

[2] Cornblatt, Cassidy. “10 Best Unpopular Anime Series,” Reel Rundown, Sept. 15, 2021; Grisham, Paul. “Kokoro Library Vol. #1,” Mania Entertainment, Apr. 14, 2002; Beard, Jeremy A. “Kokoro Library,” THEM Anime Reviews, c. 2002; Hikawa, Ryusuke. Kokoro Library Bandai Channel New Arrivals This Month!,” Bandai Channel, 2006; Macdonald, Christopher. “Top Televised Anime in Japan,” Anime News Network, Mar. 11, 2002; “Anime News in Japan(^^),” Anihabara!, c. 2004.

[3] “How Baltimore Chooses: The Selection Policies of the Enoch Pratt Free Library,” Eighth Edition, 2007, p. 6. According to the most recent annual report of the BCPL (see page 6), the library has over 1.2 million physical items and over 192,000 downloadable items. The Comptroller of Baltimore City notes that the Pratt Library system,  in fiscal year 2020, had over 216 million in capital assets including “books, land, buildings, equipment, fine arts, and special collections” (see pages 5 and 28), while library books are said to have a short life, of only 10 years, less than the buildings or building improvements (see page 19). The library has over 2.3 million items, and 1 million database downloads in fiscal year 2020 (see page 36).

[4] See “Strategic Plan Analysis–Maryland State Library Resource Center (SLRC),” 2018, p. 6, 8; “Uggles and the University of Illinois: a very furry situation indeed!,” 2018, p. 1-7. The Uggles article is where I believe it was this article where I learned about MLJ. I also wrote about preservation, data collection, data creation, and a homeless library, in grad school, and many other topics when in college.

[5] For more information, see these resources about marketing & promotion, this article about how libraries use content to tell stories, the Library of Congress rebrand (which was somewhat controversial), and Ad/Lib which is about advertising in libraries. If you work at a university or are a student, there are some articles of note, like “It’s not just what you know but who you know: Social capital theory and academic library outreach,” “Connecting best practices in public relations to social media strategies for academic libraries,” “Grassroots Strategic Planning: Involving Library Staff from the Beginning,” and “Applying Return on Investment (ROI) in Libraries.”

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animation anime comedy Comics fantasy Fiction genres harem Japanese people Librarians Movies music Pop culture mediums romantic comedy slice-of-life speculative fiction

Recently added titles (June 2022)

Student librarians in Azumanga Daioh
Student library aides tell the protagonists they are going home and ask them to turn off the lights when they leave in an episode of Azumanga Daioh

Building upon the titles listed for July/August, September, OctoberNovember, and and December 2021, and January, February, MarchApril, and May of this year, this post notes recent titles with libraries or librarians in popular culture which I’ve come across in the past month. Each of these has been watched or read during the past month. No films or comics to add for this past month, but I did come across a good deal in anime and some in animated series. Hopefully there will be more that I find in the days, weeks, and months to come.

Animated series recently added to this page

  • Amphibia, “All In”
  • Mira, Royal Detective, “Mystery of the Blue Jewel”
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot aka Teenage Robot, “The Boy Who Cried Robot”
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot aka Teenage Robot, “Shell Game”
  • Totally Spies, “Evil Bouquets Are So Passe”
  • Totally Spies, “Evil Roommate”
  • Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?, “Boyhood’s End [Part 2]”
  • Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?, “The Labyrinth, [Part 2]”
  • Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?, “Retribution [Part 1]”

Anime series recently added to this page

  • A Couple of Cuckoos, “My Fate Might Change”
  • Azumanga Daioh, “One Spring Night”/”Springtime of Life” section [episode 19]
  • Azumanga Daioh, “Career Paths” section [episode 24]
  • Clannad, “The First Step”
  • Cue!, “The End of the Beginning”
  • Healer Girl, “Kana Fujii, Healer (Apprentice)”
  • Healer Girl, “Can I Take a Picture? Or Maybe a Video?”
  • Healer Girl, “Cleanup, Run • Run • Run”
  • Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War, Season 3, Episode 12 “Dual Confessions, Part 2” segment
  • Makura no Danshi a.k.a Makuranodanshi, “Librarian Danishi”
  • Spy x Family, “Stella”
  • Stars Align, “Episode 3”
  • We Never Learn a.k.a Bokuben, “Genius and [X] Are Two Sides of the Same Coin”
  • We Never Learn a.k.a Bokuben, “A Genius Resonates Emotionally with [X]”
  • We Never Learn a.k.a Bokuben, “What She Wants from a Genius Is [X]”
  • We Never Learn a.k.a Bokuben, “A Genius in the Forest Is Strayed by [X]”
  • We Never Learn a.k.a Bokuben, “A Former Tutor’s Secret Spot is [X]”
  • We Never Learn a.k.a Bokuben, “Sometimes a Genius’s Every Action Is at the Mercy of [X]”
  • We Never Learn a.k.a Bokuben, “Wherefore Might They Fathom the Aspirations of the Immediate [X]”
  • We Never Learn a.k.a Bokuben, “A Genius Secretly Responds with [X] to their Conjectures”

Comics recently added to this page

  • New Mutants, Vol. 2, Issue 4, “Freaks and Geeks”
  • New Mutants, Vol. 2, Issue 5, “Not One of Us
  • Sabine: an asexual coming-of-age story, “One hundred twenty-three”

Films recently added to this page

  • Malcolm X (1992)
  • The Professor and the Madman (2019)

© 2022 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


Thank you to all the people that regularly read my blog. As always, if you have any titles you’d like to suggest, let me know. Thanks!

Categories
adventure animation anime comedy comic books Comics fantasy Fiction genres Japanese people Librarians Libraries magic libraries Pop culture mediums public libraries romance school libraries speculative fiction

A Lack of Imagination: Fictional Acceptance of Dewey Decimal System Without Question

Fiction is a medium which allows people to question and challenge existing norms, beliefs, and systems of our world. It provides the opportunity to create new places, characters, and situations, which might mirror the real world, but are something entirely new, even if that is inspired by existing fictional works. Despite this, there seems to be a profound lack of imagination when it comes to the well-known library classification system, the Dewey Decimal System (DDC), in fiction. Instead, there seems to be an acceptance of this system  of classification at face value, without challenging the values and beliefs which undergird the system. This is the case for animated series like Futurama, Ascendance of a Bookworm, The Owl House, Teen Titans Go!, and We Bare Bears, a comic associated with Steven Universe, and fan fictions. This article will look at those fictional works and provide comments on DDC and other library classification systems.

In the Futurama episode “The Day the Earth Stood Stupid,” one of the Big Brains remarks that humans had doomed themselves by arranging knowledge by category, making it “easier to absorb.” He then declares that the DDC played right into their hands, laughing maniacally. In an episode of Ascendance of a Bookworm, Myne, the anime’s protagonist, advocates for re-organizing all the books in a temple library using the NDC (Nippon Decimal Classification) system, which is the Japanese version of the DDC, which she remembers from her previous life. Although she can’t organize all the books, she is able to make sure the books are more ordered than elsewhere they were before. She even had a PSA on the role of Melvil Dewey, argues later about the importance of giving away books for free rather than for profit, and industrious.

In contrast, the public library in The Owl House, the Bonesborough library, has something called the Demon Decimal System, which spoofs the DDC. It has a sign saying to not feed it, reading areas and books floating above the ceiling you can choose from. In Teen Titans Go!, when Raven complains it will take forever to find a book in the library, Beast Boy asks her if she is familiar with the Dewey Decimal System. In We Bare Bears, a branch of the San Francisco library is shown which uses the Library of Congress classification system (LCCO) and DDC numbers. In a comic associated with the Steven Universe series, Connie tells Steven that you find things in the library with the DDC. This confuses him because he thinks Mayor Dewey (the mayor of Beach City) organizes the books with math. Connie then declares that, no, it is referring to Melvil Dewey, who invented it in 1876, allowing books to be organized by topic, which impresses Steven.

Mind map style of DDC classification. Reposted from “The library, and step on it

This fealty in fiction is not limited to animation series. Fan fictions about Marvel, Supernatural, Person of Interest, Royal White & Royal Blue, Simon Snow, Carry On Series, The 100, Brothers & Sisters, The Flash, Wheel of Times, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Music Man, and Stargate Atlantis characters have parts about the DDC which is stated as a fact and not questioned. The same is for fics about characters from the Schitt’s Creek, The Avengers, BTS, Game of Thrones, Final Fantasy XIV, Genshin Impact, Teen Wolf, Haikyuu!, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Sherlock Holmes, and Batman fandoms. [1]

It makes sense that the DDC is used and referenced in fiction, including by those writing stories who are librarians. It can cement a story in something that people deal with day to day. Even so, there are some stories which buck this trend. For instance, there is a Good Omens fic with character saying “I go by category…Dewey’s system might have worked well for public libraries, but it’s laughable for my collection.” There’s even an explicit Schitt’s Creek fic describing the DDC as “a needlessly complicated system designed by a misogynist and a racist” and a Criminal Minds fic which calls the system “sadistic.” Another fic has Levi Ackerman of the Attack on Titan describes it as an “an important system that has organized the world’s knowledge for centuries” and then explains why specific books are categorized in certain sections, stating to a stranger:

…books on domestic skills like cleaning and dinner etiquette used to always be grouped together with topics on women. As if domestic spaces are inherently gendered. Of course, that’s no surprise, seeing as how Melvil Dewey was a well-known sexual harasser of women. The groupings were changed once people realized this bias, but if you think about what that says in terms of who is pushed towards certain knowledge…the system has an effect on — or at least is representative of — how we bias our knowledge…Another example is the categorization of LGBTQ topics. Did you know queer discussions were originally labelled under the numbers 132 and 159.9?…They were categorized under mental derangements and abnormal psychology…Yeah, well. It switched around to the 300’s — sociology — and skipped around from social problems to social deviations. A lot of libraries still use those labels today. But the most current one is 306.7, sexual relations.

I don’t believe the author of that fic is a librarian, but they do say in the author notes that they spent two hours learning about the DDC, and shared a link about homophobia in the DDC, which is an article by Doreen Sullivan entitled “A brief history of homophobia in Dewey decimal classification.” I wish there were more fics like that, [2] as too many seem to accept the DDC on face value.

Comes from an interview Berman did with Tina Gross of St. Cloud University in 2017. Berman was known as a cataloger, and librarian, who directly challenged mainstream views on librarianship, including criticizing LCCO subject headings, describing them as biased in terms of race, sex, etc. and described poor cataloging as a form of censorship. Others have followed in Berman’s footsteps, especially when it comes to terms about immigration.

There has been a move, as of late, to challenge the DDC and make changes. Some have noted that Dewey himself harassed four female librarians, and that there is a “push to slowly shift away from some of Dewey’s overtly biased categorizations comes amid a greater effort to decolonize—or build racially equitable—libraries in general,” hoping to be more inclusive of “voices of color, to highlight diverse perspectives, and to decenter whiteness,” a process which isn’t easy and can’t be done immediately, but is a “thoughtful, continuous process.” School librarians, as an article put it, “dismantling Dewey one section at a time,” creating new library sections, having a library with social justice objectives not only in “the labeling, but…the display and the promotion,” making spaces inclusive, but not having one approach for everyone, even creating sections for specific ethnicities if needed. [3]

There are others who have criticized DDC rightly. It has been described as an “outdated mess,” is flawed, racist, sexist, and does not work. Additionally, politics about rights for immigrants, Indigenous people, and women are not classified under history, Black and African culture are pushed “into smaller and smaller boxes,” and LGBTQ content is marginalized. Some have added that DDC does not make reading exciting, noted that there are other ways of organizing information which is concerned more with substance of knowledge than structure, allowing for very little “creative interpretation of the classification.” [4] Even those who favor DDC admit that squeezes subjects which don’t fit into the 10 main categories into a division called “others,” “bias towards Protestant/American aspects prevalent in both the history and religion disciplines,” and that, among other aspects, that it is “not as easily expandable” as LCCO. These issues with DDC put into question whether it can really be an effective means to “organize all knowledge” as the Dewey Program at the Library of Congress (LOC) claims on their website, especially since it reflects Dewey’s worldview imposed on everyone else from beyond the grave.

Although LOC says that DDC is the “most widely used library classification scheme in the world,” there are many other classification systems out there, apart from those based on DDC [5] or LCCO. It is nothing new. Dorothy B. Porter, a Black female librarian who worked for Howard University, pushed aside DDC, classifying works by genre and author to “highlight the foundational role of black people in all subject areas,” with these areas being “art, anthropology, communications, demography, economics, education, geography, history, health, international relations, linguistics, literature, medicine, music, political science, sociology, sports, and religion,” creating a classification system which “challenged racism…by centering work by and about black people within scholarly conversations around the world.” Porter helped build Howard’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University, which “remains one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of African-American history in the world” according to one article on the subject. [6]

Furthermore, there are other non-proprietary classification systems apart from DDC which not the only classification system that all libraries, which some have incorrectly claimed. For example, some have expanded the main categories in their libraries, with a flexible, child-centered, browsable system, known as Metis, even ditching author cutters on the book spines, while others have gone the bookstore-model which is word-based instead. [7] There’s the Bliss bibliographic classification system which is used by British libraries and is said to be based around societal needs (and created by a critic of DDC), and S.R. Ranganthan’s colon classification system used by libraries in India which uses 42 main classes “combined with other letters, numbers, and marks” somewhat resembling LCCO. Of note is the Chinese Library Classification (CLC) system, also known as Classification for Chinese Libraries (CCL) which is used in China, which has 22 major categories and a Marxist orientation from its earlier editions (first published in 1975), along with over 43,000 categories in total. The Brian Deer Classification System, otherwise known as BDC, is said to reflect an Indigenous worldview with “an emphasis on relationships between and among people, animals, and the land.” [8]

Courtright as quoted in a Dec. 2017 HuffPost article

I’d love to see more fiction about this and building off this rather than blandly including DDC in their stories and then moving on, without challenging it. It seems like weak writing without substance to me. Why can’t there be characters similar to Reanna Esmail, a outreach and engagement librarian at Olin Library at Cornell University, who criticized DDC and LCCO for being racist? [9] Is it that many of the librarian characters are White or that the ones writing the stories are White and they don’t think about these issues? Sure, there were some stories I found which challenged DDC, but far too few. There should be many more. Personally, if I have an opportunity, I would definitely try and incorporate inclusive library classification into a story.

© 2022 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


Notes

[1] See “Dewey Decimal System” (Nov. 12, 2020) by nepenthe_writer, “The Dewey Decimal System” (Feb. 16, 2018) by justanotherbusyfangirl, “The Dewey Decimal System of Love” (Aug. 10, 2018) by orphan_account, “The Dewey Decimal System Will Always Save You” (Jul. 25, 2016) by strawberriesandtophats, “The Dewey Decimal System, and Other Love Languages” (Sept. 28, 2019) by HMS Chill, “Lessons on Love and the Dewey Decimal System” (Dec. 25, 2020) by effing-numpties (avenging_cap), “The Dewey Decimal System is Not That Hard” (Nov. 4, 2016) by Musiclurv, “Shelving” (Apr. 13, 2013) by romanticalgirl, “the beauty of a thousand variations” (Aug. 14, 2015) by super-gingerholly, “Universal Knowledge: A series of Dewey Drabbles” (Jan. 24, 2010) by whenrabbitsattack (Maya), “Card Catalog” (May 1, 2020) by primeideal, “Four Letter Words in Purple Prose” (Dec. 19, 2020) by CelticxPanda, “The Proper Classification of Lovemaking” (Dec. 10, 2019) by MarianneGreenleaf, “Take My Hand” (Aug. 5, 2018) by BeccabooO1O, “MarianSue: An SG-15 Sex Fantasy” (Aug. 29, 2011) by delphia2000, “The Contractual Obligations of Loving Patrick Brewer” (Jan. 17, 2020) by paleredheadinascifi, “Hayalci” (Feb. 4, 2013) by purpleshrub (Viola25), “840” (June 19, 2012) by pollyrepeat, “check me out” (May 29, 2019) by constellatte, “The Stapler Thief” (July 21, 2017) by WauryD, “Sumire” (March 7, 2021) by CelticxPanda, “And Now I Know My ABCs” (Aug. 11, 2019) by semantics, “Electric Love” (Oct. 25, 2020) by winstonsfolly, “Operation: Stileswatch” [Chapter 2] (Mar. 1, 2014) by antpower, “the dragon, the witch, and the mistakes we made along the way” (Nov. 2, 2018) by crocustongues, “That Notable Librarian” (Mar. 1, 2021) by LizzieMack, “And so beguile thy sorrow” (May 26, 2021) by hapax (hapaxnym), “Quiet in the Library” (Sept. 30, 2018) by sharkinterviewee, “In The Library” (Aug. 1, 2016) by Quesarasara, “How To Make A Photopoetry” (Mar. 18, 2021) by pilongski, “when he sees me” (June 3, 2021) by asteriasera. This includes the main fics I found when searching for the DDC here and with the tag (which includes 10 fics).

[2] One fic talks about an equivalent to the DDC and another even set a fic at a place that Dewey founded, criticized how the system is portrayed, or used as background information. Even Hermoine, in one fic, says that the library should be organized using DDC! In another, it is stated that a shelving system is “not based on the Dewey Decimal system or any other human invention.”

[3] See Christina Joseph’s “Move Over, Melvil! Momentum Grows to Eliminate Bias and Racism in the 145-year-old Dewey Decimal System” Aug. 2021 article in School Library Journal.

[4] See Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla’s “The Trouble with Dewey” Oct. 2019 article in School Library Journal, and Isadora Lumbert’s “Melvil Dewey Day: Examining the Problematic Roots of the Dewey Decimal System” Dec. 2021 article in Video Librarian, Colin Ainsworth’s “5 Controversial Facts About Melvil Dewey and the Dewey Decimal System” Dec. 2018 article in Mental Floss, Sarah Hume’s “Challenging DDC – an introduction” Sept. 2015 article in Hack Library School, Anna Gooding-Call’s “Racism in the Dewey Decimal System” Sept. 2021 article in Book Riot, Something is rotten in the Dewey Decimal system” on Care Harder, and Michelle Anne Schingler’s “How Dewey Do: Head-Scratching Library Categorizations” Aug. 2015 article in Book Riot.

[5] The DDC trademark is owned by OCLC (operated WebDewey) and is supported by the aforementioned LOC Dewey Program. I’m specifically referring, when I say other classification systems to Universal Decimal Classification (UDC), Korean Decimal Classification (in Republic of Korea), the New Classification Scheme for Chinese Libraries (in Taiwan), the Nippon Decimal Classification (in Japan), and the Swedish library classification system (SAB system).  The BBC’s Lonclass system is based on UDC, which itself is reworking of DDC, while Freinet classification is based on DDC, Iconclass based on DDC, the Moys Classification Scheme based on LCCO, the National Library of Medicine classification system based on LCCO, and the Sears List of Subject Headings based on DDC. We don’t need to celebrate Dewey Decimal System Day either, NYPL.

[6] For more information on Porter, see her NY Times obituary, the “Dorothy Burnett Porter Wesley: Enterprising Steward of Black Culture” article in The Public Historian, Laura E. Helton’s article “On Decimals, Catalogs, and Racial Imaginaries of Reading,” “Dorothy Porter Wesley papers” at Yale University, “Dorothy Porter Wesley papers, 1867-2002” at Emory University, “Dorothy Porter Wesley (1905-1995)” on BlackPast, “Dorothy Porter Wesley Collection” at Broward County Library, “Dorothy Porter Wesley: Librarian, Bibliophile, and Culture Keeper” blogpost, “Dorothy Porter Wesley: preserver of Black history – Afro-American librarian” page in Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, Katisha Smith‘s “13 Pioneering Black American Librarians You Oughta KnowBook Riot article (notes, other than Porter, Charlemae Hill Rollins, Clara Stanton Jones, Edward C. Williams, Eliza Atkins Gleason, Sadie Peterson Delaney, Annette Lewis Phinazee, Carla Diane Hayden, Effie Lee Morris, Mollie Huston Lee, Virginia Lacy Jones, Virginia Proctor Powell Florence, and Vivian G. Harsh), Washington Post obituary, “Initiative Named for Dorothy Porter, Dewey Decimal De-Colonizer” article in Ombud, “HISTORY: Library Science Pioneer Dorothy Porter Wesley Created Archive at Howard University that Structured New Field of Africana CollectionsGood Black News article, “What Dorothy Porter’s Life Meant for Black StudiesThe Weekly Challenger article, and mention within “Mitigating Bias in Metadata: A Use Case Using Homosaurus Linked Data” article.

[7] See the Sept. 2012 article by Tali Balas Kaplan, Andrea K. Dolloff, Sue Giffard, and Jennifer Still-Schiff, entitled “Are Dewey’s Days Numbered?: Libraries Nationwide Are Ditching the Old Classification System” in School Library Journal and Schuyler Velasco’s “What are public libraries for?” May 2019 article in Experience Magazine.

[8] There is even a classification for Chinese language materials in the U.S., called the Harvard–Yenching Classification system. LCCO used that system and had some its top categories based on the Cutter Expansive Classification system and revised their classification due to a focus on geographical aspects by Bartol Brinkler. LCCO is not the same as DDC in terms of how categories are organized, although there are similarities. There’s also the industry-friendly BISAC Subject Headings, which book publishers would love. UNESCO has their own specific nomenclature as well, while Canadian Subject Headings follows LCCO’s subject headings, music items in the University of Buffalo Music Library classified by original medium, i.e. Dickensonian Classification, the Garside Classification Scheme which was modeled around the “subject reading rooms” into which the collection had been divided, trying to “utilise the expertise of the departments, and their teaching needs in drawing up the divisions within the scheme,” the Superintendent of Documents Classification system developed by Adelaide R. Hasse which relies on “the origin of the document (its provenance) as the major organizing feature, rather than an arbitrarily determined subject,” the Information Coding Classification system which is said to present “a flexible universal ordering system for both literature and other kinds of information, set out as knowledge fields,” the Putnam Classification System which was developed by George H. Putnam, a “handwritten system of classification, dividing the books into categories and subcategories” (likely with shelfmarks), Social History and Industrial Classification system which is used by “many British museums for social history and industrial collections,” and the U.S. Geological Survey Library classification system which was first developed in 1904.

[9] See Maya Rader’s “Cornellians Confront Anti-Asian Racism at Virtual Teach-In Event” May 2021 article in Cornell Daily Sun. She also said libraries have a “fraught history of being complicit in racism and in some cases upholding and disseminating racist ideas” and should be accountable for that and argued that “libraries are predominantly white fields, and Cornell is no exception in this regard,” both of which are correct.

Categories
comic books Comics fantasy Fiction genres graphic novels Librarians speculative fiction webcomics White people

Fictional Librarian of the Month: Mo Testa in “Dykes to Watch Out For”

Left to right, panels of Mo in episodes 1, 3, 8, 11, and 13

Hello everyone! This continues from the “Fictional Librarian of the Month” entries for November, December, January, February, March, April, and May, with this series focusing on fictional librarian every month, prioritizing those in currently shows, but also covering older shows, using entries from the “List of fictional libraries” from time to time. This month, I’d like to highlight Mo Testa in Alison Bechdel’s Dykes to Watch Out For. Here we go!

About the librarian

Mo’s official description describes her as a “worrier and kvetch extraordinaire, with a job at now-defunct Madwimmin Books on the side” which also notes that she has “since graduated from library school.” It was also said she has a “dedication to social justice combined with red and white striped shirts” and has two cats, specifically named Virginia and Vanessa.

Role in the story

Mo is a protagonist in this series, which became a “countercultural institution among lesbians and discerning non-lesbians all over the planet,” running from 1983 to 2008. In one comic, she applies for a job, but rejects it because previous librarian left as she disagreed with the Patriot Act, staying dedicated to her principles. She is later shown going to school, tries to remain informed, dealing with the death of her cat, and gets a library job. I love how the library was described as the “temple to the written word” in one comic as well.

Does the librarian buck stereotypes?

As a lesbian, she becomes a reference librarian and makes some personal calls at work. In the sense that she is White, female, and wears glasses, she falls into stereotypes of librarians. On the other hand, the fact she is passionate about her beliefs and this translates into her work as a librarian, and that stands against stereotypes.

Any similarity with librarians in other shows?

In some ways, she is similar with another librarian, Amity Blight, in The Owl House, who is a White woman and a lesbian. However, she is such a principled librarian which makes her unlike any other librarian on this blog, even more than someone like Kaisa in Hilda.

© 2022 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.

Categories
animation Black people fantasy Fiction genres Librarians Libraries magic libraries Pop culture mediums

Fictional Library of the Month: The Stanza in “Welcome to the Wayne”

Image of the Stanza

Hello everyone! This is the eighth edition of my feature series, “Fictional Library of the Month” (see the ones for November, December, January, February, March, April, and May) which includes a post of one fictional library every month, prioritizing currently airing shows, but also including older shows. And with that, this post will focus on the Stanza in Welcome to the Wayne.

About the library

It is a magical library within The Wayne. Clara Rhone is currently the chief librarian of the Stanza itself. It is an important part of the Wayne and it is organized well enough that it is easy to find information.

Role in the story

Apart from Rhone, many others work there like John Keats, Numerous squidgets, and temporarily Ansi Molina. The library is not only the only library located within the Wayne, but it is, as I noted in my post, a

…secret library…[which is] meticulously organized library…contains information on the inhabitants of the Wayne…Information from the library helps Ansi aid his friends…Saraline describes the library as one of the quietest places in the Wayne

Does the library buck stereotypes?

In the sense that it is a library that is well-lit, has people who work there who help patrons, and is not underground, then yes. Otherwise, it falls into the libraries-are-magical idea, which too many fantasies seem to do. It can be problematic as people can than think of librarians as more than people, but somehow those who can do magical things, when they are just doing their jobs, not engaging in magic.

Any similarity with libraries in other shows?

Magical libraries occasionally up on this blog, with the other example I can think of being the one in What …If?, where Doctor Strange goes to a library. In a comment in responding to that post, I noted that:

…there can be harm in the notion that “librarians are magical.” There are some good examples of librarians who have magic, but balance it with their magical abilities, like Kaisa in Hilda, but in other cases, it can more more harmful….I think some animations have tried to make sure that librarians and libraries are shown as valued, like the Stanza in Welcome to the Wayne [is] run by a Black librarian named Clara Rhone, or even, to an extent, the librarian in Trollhunters, Blinky.

© 2022 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.