Wednesday, December 29, 2010


          SLG finally confirmed that we'll be attending ALA Midwinter (booth #1903), so I'm totally excited.  Nerdily, bookishly excited.  I get to be a "creator" on Saturday January 8th, and sign my books for anyone interested.  I also volunteered to just work the booth, as a staff member, at least one more day.  Dan (my publisher) told me he'd be going alone to this, and would appreciate any help he could get.
          The side benefits for me are that I get in for free through SLG, which means I get to go around the exhibitor hall grabbing any free books I can for the school library.  And when I went to ALA before, they gave out LOTS of free books.  Which is great because we seldom have an actual book budget. 
          Having said that, we did just receive about $1600 total through two different sources, but that was unexpected and certainly not something we get on a regular basis.  And anyone who buys for a library, public or school, knows that doesn't go as far as it sounds.
          Now I get to check out the ALA website and find out if there are any exciting authors scheduled to be there, in case I want to be a fanboy and get signed books or something.
          This will be the first time SLG has shown at ALA, so Dan asked me if I had "thoughts" about it.  I responded immediately with a bossy list of suggestions.  How to display, what to display, etc.  I also suggested he come up with a flyer highlighting some key books, with all the order info.  And I said I thought neon lights and small fireworks would be a nice way to draw attention to MY books.  But I was just kidding.  Maybe we could just put my books on some sort of platform that rotates slowly.  Under a spotlight.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

MOTHER GOOSE : racist bitch?

          While working in the junior high library about a decade ago, I happened to discover this tarnished gem called Mother Goose's Nursery Rhymes, published in London in 1924, by Adam and Charles Black.  (I'll refrain from making an obvious joke about the publishers' last name, but you may do so if you wish)  I idly flipped through a few pages and luckily found the following illustration:
(Click to enlarge and read the charming caption)
          I think I probably said, "Oh, SHIT!" to myself, and took it straight to the Librarian.  But not before showing it to all of my teacher friends.  I think most people of my generation and older ones are familiar with the "Ten Little Indians" rhyme, which seems offensive enough by today's standards, but this may have been the precursor.  I wonder if it was changed from this version to the Indians version, to make it seem less offensive?  Or maybe there are various versions of this rhyme, one to offend everyone.  "Ten Little Homos" anyone?
It's just vile, right?  I mean, seriously.  WTF?
          Of course we immediately pulled it from the library's collection, and I do NOT feel bad about that.  Maybe I would have thought harder about whether or not to remove the book if it were found in a high school library, because older students would hopefully be mature enough to understand it in a historical context, and might even be able to use it in some kind of report on changing social perspectives or whatever.  But in the junior high library I think it would have the potential of hitting some poor kid like a punch to the gut.  Either that, or they'd read it and then punch ME in the gut, thinking I endorse that kind of thing.

          Apparently even way back in 1924 the Brits who published this book realized some of the content might be a little... edgy.  From the very last paragraph of L. Edna Walter's introduction:

                    If one or two of the rhymes strike a modern ear as
                    being somewhat crude, it must be remembered that they
                    are old, and it was felt that they ought not to be omitted
                    from so comprehensive an edition.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


          One of my favorite students recently got to take an all-expenses-paid trip to Abu Dhabi, because she applied to NYU's campus there, and made it through the first level of screening.  (
          She brought me back this lovely postcard, with a sentiment written on it that totally made my week.
A postcard from the student's trip to Dubai, although she was staying in Abu Dhabi

          The sentiment reads:
          "Dear Mr. Kovac- Thank you for being a fellow bibliophile, sharing your theories on bibliotherapy, and being a good friend.  And once again, thank you for the beautiful cover art!"

          The cover art she's referring to is an illustration I did for the cover of the school paper's December issue.  She's the Editor-in-Chief, and had asked me to be a "guest cover artist."  :)
          And if you don't know what "bibliotherapy" is, defines it as:

A form of supportive psychotherapy in which carefully selected reading materials are used to assist a subject in solving personal problems or for other therapeutic purposes.

Friday, December 17, 2010


          In my post about holiday decorations in the 'brary I forgot to include the two hamster mini-erasers on top of my computer monitor, and their hand-crafted Christmas tree.
They had a mini-eraser pumpkin for October/November, but I didn't have a mini-eraser Christmas tree, and had to use construction paper and the magic of Baby Jesus

Thursday, December 16, 2010


          I'm careful to only put displays up that mention "Winter Break" or "the Holidays," so I don't make anyone feel excluded regarding whatever their religious or non-religious deal is.  But I know that personally I'm not religious, and Santa and his reindeer were NOT present at the supposed birth of Baby Jesus, so I think it's okay to have those elements on display.  Anyway, here's what I put up this month:
The big central bulletin board, with Krampus and Narnia
          The Krampus is a real German Christmas legend/tradition that I incorporate every year because it's so freaky and fun.
I drew this Krampus depiction a few years ago, to terrify all the little children
It was way too fun for me to draw this frightened, crying little elf
The glass display cabinet with our tree and our Secret Santa gifts packed inside
          The last couple years we've started this cool tradition with the class that meets in the library 4 days a week.  (It's kind of like a homeroom class)  We do a Secret Santa gift exchange, and as soon as the kids start bringing their gifts in, we put them under the tree in the locking cabinet.  So the cabinet starts out kind of empty-looking, but fills up by the last day before Winter Break, when we have our gift exchange.
Well, they DO
Every library should have a glowing deer to preside over the graphic novels & comics
It's a little lackluster in execution, but I like the idea
I'm big on promoting the idea of "leisure reading"
Christmas lights strung behind the circ desk
This is my end-of-the-day, running low on holiday steam, WTF decoration.  Are they candy canes?  I think so.
          And of course I had to decorate myself a little, since I was wearing a green tie and needed something red.  Plus I just like any excuse to use my old-school Dymo label maker with interchangeable colors.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


A certain friend of mine who works at a certain public library not far from here sent this email to me, and I just had to share:

          "Someone took a SHIT last night in the library.  Way back in the 001s.  Probably while we had the High Madrigals in the lobby singing holiday tunes.  Pooping takes time... they had to yank down their pants, do the deed... wipe?... pull pants up.  Then of course a skinny, clueless Page stepped in it without realizing and tracked poop all the way to the Circ desk.  Gah.  We've had patrons leave poop on the floor of the men's room, of course, but not back in the stacks."

P.S.- this makes the title of my blog very relevant.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


          About a decade ago when I was working in the junior high library, I had a student library aide whom I will call "Jack."  He was a lot of fun to have around, but not very serious about professionalism in his capacity as a library worker.
          A few days ago I was going through some old files and discovered this far right-hand slice of a photograph, featuring the very sassy "Jack" in rare form.  I wish I could remember the circumstances of the photograph, but all I remember is that it was taken with my camera, and the Librarian and I were too focused on whatever was in the foreground to notice Jack's peripheral contribution until later.  
          There was a post-it attached to the slice, a note to the Librarian.  I had written an assurance that I DID speak to Jack sternly about his shameful shenanigans, and gave him a detention, but could I please keep this sliver of the photograph?  Because it's pretty funny.
Young man, you should be ashamed!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


A Librarian in our school district (I have changed her name below to "Priscilla" for privacy) sent this really bitchy email to one of my fellow Library technicians (whom I have dubbed "Ernestine," also for privacy).  I happen to be friends with "Priscilla," and worked with her for years, and somehow never saw this scary, intense side of her.  That's why I think this is so funny.  (And by the way, I made up the names "Reginald" and "St. Didacticus," too.  But wouldn't that be great if there really was a school called St. Didacticus?)

It is VERY important to teach the students how to shelf read and the proper order the books should be in. 
Do not assume they know, you must go to the shelves and SHOW them. 
I checked Reginald's shelves and he was not instructed on the order.  For example he had 745.6 before 745.44 or 745.59 since he thought the number 6 is smaller than 44 or 59. 

It is 745.01 before 745.10   It is digit by digit
745. 02
745.03 etc. 

I will bring the instruction manual from St. Didacticus for you to go through and then you can teach the TAs.  This is very important and we can't assume they know what to do simply by saying "go put the books in order". 
This is the only section I got to.  I don't know how the others are doing. 

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.  
Don't.  Do it.  WRONG.