‘news’ Category

  1. TPL’s Alternate Reality Game

    April 7, 2013 by lindsay

    I love independent creators, libraries and integrating alternative media into library collections and programs, so when I heard about the Toronto Public Library’s new game created to accompany Keep Toronto Reading and themed around TPL’s “One Book” — Fahrenheit 451 — I was excited.

    I was most excited when I heard it was created by Jim Munroe. I know Jim through my work at Broken Pencil magazine, and his many endeavours including No Media Kings, video game arts group The Hand Eye Society and his various books, films and video games. Given Jim’s interests and activities, it wasn’t surprising to hear that he was behind KTR 451, a game that asks library patrons to call a number and follow instructions to take part in an alternate reality game (ARG) — which Jim describes as “part scavenger hunt, part audio drama.” The voice on the other end asks you to find books in the library and participate in a science fiction story that will continue until it culminates in a live event on April 22.

    I talked to Jim about how he got involved with TPL, why he thinks games are an important addition to the library and how other systems might attempt a similar project.

    How did you get involved with the Toronto Public Library on this project?

    Jim Munroe: I was chatting with them about a potential partnership with the Hand Eye around International Games in Libraries Day. There wasn’t enough time to get that together for last year (this year looks likely though), but at the end of the meeting they mentioned they were thinking about something interactive, maybe even a game, for Keep Toronto Reading. When I heard what book it was — Fahrenheit 451, probably the biggest reason why I write sci-fi novels myself — then I begged to pitch something to them. So I showed them two possibilities, an interactive ebook prototype and an ARG, and we decided to go with the latter.

    Why do you think media such as this is an appropriate undertaking for a public library?

    JM: From the library’s perspective, it’s a different method of engagement. I hope that it’ll explore the books themes in an interesting way and get people into the library (physically and otherwise).

    How did you go about putting this together?

    JM: I’ve designed about a dozen games, and one that also integrated audio drama, so the basics were pretty straightforward. I had to learn some new PHP and internet telephony tricks. I had weekly check-ins for a few months with the TPL so they could [give] feedback, and at the end I had several playtest sessions with strangers in libraries.

    What advice do you have for people who want to get their home libraries working on projects like this?

    JM: As far as advice, I would say that you kind of have to start with an open minded library system. If they’re looking to expand their programming and believe interactive has cultural value, then that’s a good starting point. The TPL has been amazing to work with in this regard.

    *     *     *

    KTR 451’s first mission is available until the end of the day and then the second mission begins on Monday, April 8th. For more information about Jim’s other projects, or to put him in touch with your local library, you can find him over at No Media Kings.

  2. South Carolina Library’s Graphic Novel Banning Controversy

    January 4, 2013 by lindsay

    Last month the director of Greenville County Library in South Carolina made the decision to ban Alan Moore and Jacen Burrow’s graphic novel Neonomicon from the library system. The book, which was released in 2011, was challenged in June by library patron Carrie Gaske after her 14-year-old daughter borrowed the book from the adult section of the Hughes Main Library.

    Neonomicon is a horror comic about FBI agents investigating cult murders that are connected to writing of HP Lovecraft. The comic, which was the first recipient of the graphic novel prize within the Bram Stoker Awards, contains violent sexual imagery, including a women being raped by a fish-man.

    In a letter of support written by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the National Coalition Against Censorship and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the organizations defend the position of the book in a library collection stating “Removing it because of sexual content not only fails to consider the indisputable value of the book as a whole, but also ignores the library’s obligation to serve all readers, without regards to individual tastes and sensibilities.” The groups defended the disturbing sexual content as a commentary on how such subject matter is handled in the horror genre. They also caution that the removal of books based on violent sexual content could potentially see the loss of books such as Aeschylus’ Oresteia or Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

    Many libraries solve the problem of questionable content by keeping challenged books in specific parts of the library that will keep them out of the hands of children. A classic example is Herge’s Tintin in the Congo which is often kept in adult or special collections because of its stereotyped depictions of the Congolese. However, in the case of Neonomicon in Greenville, the book was already kept in the adult collection.

    What compounds free speech groups’ frustration with this decision is that the committee who reviewed the book for the challenge decided it should be kept in the collection.  It was library director, Beverly James, who overruled the decision and removed the book, calling it “disgusting.”

    Moore is an award-winning graphic novel author (Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Batman: The Killing Joke) and a vocal defender of libraries. During the 2011 campaign to save the St. James Library in Northampton, England, Moore spoke at rallies and made a video about the value of libraries. “I am very concerned about the kids today who may grow up without this access [to libraries]. I am very against taking literacy away from people,” he said during a rally for the library.

    “If my work means anything to anybody out there then they shouldn’t thank me for it, they should thank the institution of the libraries that created me.”


  3. The Zine Fair: A Librarian’s Guide to Independent Press

    October 21, 2012 by lindsay

    Canzine is a large zine fair put on every year by Broken Pencil magazine. This Sunday marks the 17th Canzine in Toronto and the seventh Canzine I have co-programmed.

    In order for librarians to get a first-hand view of what is happening in alternative media and what their users are creating local zine fairs, independent book fairs and comic festivals are great opportunities.

    Tomorrow’s Canzine will feature over 170 zine makers and small presses selling their literary and artistic works. Makers come from across Ontario and up from the States to sell their wares and meet other creators.

    Two recent articles on zines, collecting written ephemera and Canzine were in Metro and Xtra.

    Other upcoming zine and small press fairs include Expozine (November 17 & 18, Montreal), Canzine West (November 17, Vancouver), Buffalo Small Press Book Fair (March, Buffalo) and the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (May, Toronto).

  4. Cleveland Library to Unveil Harvey Pekar Statue

    October 5, 2012 by lindsay

    On October 14, the Lee Road branch of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library will be unveiling a bronze Harvey Pekar statue. According to Comics Alliance, Pekar’s widow, Joyce Brabner, decided to start a Kickstarter to fund the statue to raise awareness for comics as a literary artform.

    Before his death, Pekar spent a lot of his time at this library branch. At 2pm, October 14, there will be a statue and plaque dedication ceremony followed by a presentation by JT Waldman who collaborated with Pekar on his posthumously released book Not The Israel My Parents Promised Me. The book, which was released this summer, will be for sale at the ceremony.

  5. A Queer Archive

    August 10, 2012 by lindsay

    During the Canadian Library Association National Conference and Tradeshow in Ottawa this past June, I met Chatham-Kent Public Library Board member, Mark Reinhart, who was on a panel discussing how to reach LGBTQ audiences in libraries.

    An artist as well as a library board member, Mark was on the panel along with Chatham-Kent Public Library’s public services coordinator Tania Sharpe to discuss their project A Queer Archive, an archive of LGBTQ material that is as much an art installation as it is a mobile library.

    Mark and I have kept in touch post-conference and he will be bringing the archive to Toronto on October 21st for the zine fair I organize, Canzine.

    You can read more about the archive in an article Alison Lang wrote for the newest issue of Broken Pencil, which just hit newsstands this week.

  6. My Feliciter Debut

    August 2, 2012 by lindsay

    For the past week I have been on a trip through New Brunswick and P.E.I. checking out the beautiful scenery, delicious seafood and various neighbourhood libraries. Upon my return to Toronto I noticed that a digital version of the Canadian Library Association’s Feliciter was released featuring a few articles I wrote during my time as a Student to CLA for the CLA conference in Ottawa this June.

    This is the first electronic-only edition of the magazine. A double page spread of conference attendees in this issue includes a photo of me and two of my fellow Students to CLA (Jessica Thorlakson from the University of Alberta and Kathryn Alexander from Université de Montréal) as well as a great photo of Andrea Siemens (children’s librarian for Cambridge Libraries and Galleries) using puppets to explain why librarian’s values are not outdated. Click here to view the digital edition.

    Stay tuned for a report on my experience as a library tourist in New Brunswick.

  7. The Will Eisner Graphic Novel Prize for Libraries

    June 13, 2012 by lindsay

    Earlier this week The Will & Ann Eisner Family Foundation announced the launch of a new prize for libraries that will see over 100 graphic novels donated to three libraries each year. The Will Eisner Graphic Novel Prize for Libraries will give each winning library a collection of graphic novels and additional prizes to help promote graphic novels. Libraries can register to win during the American Library Association (ALA) Conference in Anaheim, California which runs from June 21 to 26. The names of the winning libraries will be announced at 4pm on Sunday, June 24th on the Graphic Novel Stage in the convention hall.

    The prize — named after the late cartoonist best known for creating The Spirit and often noted as coining the term graphic novel —  will include the 2012 Will Eisner Comics Industry Award nominated graphic novels, the entire Will Eisner Library of books, a $2,000 voucher for the purchase of additional graphic novels, and an additional $1,000 stipend for the library to hold a graphic novel or comic related event. The total value for each prize is approximately $4,000.

    Last month the ALA announced it would be hosting zine-related content at the conference and inviting zine-makers to participate in the Zine Pavilion, which includes an exhibit of donated zines (that will be raffled off to a library at the end of the conference) and tables for zinesters to sell their wares during the exhibit. There will also be a zine reading on Sunday June 21, from 9am until 12pm.