Sunday, November 16, 2008

I'm coming up so you better get this party started

Ok, I'm reading about a million children's and teen graphic novels for this literary award, and I'm really very pleased about it. I get books in the mail every day. Books that I am, by and large, interested in reading, or at the very least interested in passing along to our school library as soon as they can process new acquisitions.

Have I mentioned that? The City school system - which is not staffed ENTIRELY by gold-bricking careless jerkoffs, I know this only because I've met a whole lot of people who work there - switched library software this summer, and effed it up so completely that here it is November and some libraries in the system STILL cannot access their own data.

None of it - they can't tell you whether they own a certain book, they cannot take inventory, they cannot even check out a book to a student.

This makes me so mad. For YEARS I worked for a software company that provided database software to museums. The WHOLE DEAL about getting a new client was that we had to get their data into our database, install it, and get it up and running over like A WEEKEND. At the very least they wouldn't let the subscription to the old database expire until we could flip the switch on ours.

And the school system let the subscription to the old software expire mid-summer. No software. No database. And by the beginning of the school year, new software? Not in place. Beginning of October? Not in place. Every public school librarian in Baltimore had to either give up loaning children books, or come up with some kludgey spreadsheet for keeping track of who had what. In our school we gave each kid a bookmark, and the kid was responsible for keeping track of the bookmark, and transferring it when they returned one book and took out another.

That is an unfair barrier. It is a hindrance to pleasure reading, to research, to doing homework. AND it was completely AVOIDABLE.


In addition, no library in the system has added any new books this school year. Our school scraped up four grand for me to pick out new books for the library, but we shouldn't place the order until the software's up. Plus, the donated books just keep pouring in - brand-new copies of books these kids want to read; books we got through a grant; and my books. I counted last night, and I have almost 80 new review copies of terrific books to pass along to the school. They're gonna have the best graphic novel collection in town - if the software starts working before the pages yellow.

And that's what I meant to write about. There are some things I want to say about some of these books - some mean things, some inappropriate things, and that, after all, is what Your Neighborhood Librarian is all about... but I got sidetracked by being really pissed, so the next post is going to be about why the hell someone would try to make The Merchant of Venice a graphic novel and whether a man can have sex standing up in the middle of a room and then stand around talking for 20 minutes.