As a child, I always participated in the library’s summer reading program. The details are fuzzy, but the program was somewhat competitive. The incentive of being able to stick a construction paper star with the number of books I’d read, or whatever display option we had, where everyone could see it … suffice it to say, summer became all about putting numbers on the board.
I just went to the Houston Public Library website to see if I could find some details about their summer reading programs, figuring I’d give this post some authenticity by using the correct name or showing where you could go to find out more information.
Clicking on the kids tab, I was dismayed to see a prominently featured box with five favorite links. Cartoon Network, Barbie Homepage, Disney Channel, Coloring.com, and the Nick Jr. website.
Really? The library is promoting the Barbie Homepage to aspiring readers?
Unable to leave well enough alone, I flipped over to the teen tab. No Barbie, at least. The first link offered to connect me to a database for answering my health questions, but that database required me to enter my last name and library card number.
Really? How many teens with health questions want to go on record with their search? Because let’s be real – if a teen has a health question, 99 times out of 100, it is a sex ed question. I think reasonable people can all agree that more is better when it comes to giving teens medically-accurate, reality-based information about their sexual health.
NB – I said reasonable people, and will not hesitate to call someone who disagrees with me unreasonable.
I’m discouraged, and will have to post another time about my recent library binge. Librarians always rock when it comes to First Amendment issues, so how did they let Disney, Barbie, and Big Brother Health Questions sneak onto their website?
The Barbie link makes me sad. Why not a link to New Moon: http://www.newmoon.com/? That seems far more in line with the library’s mission.
Mom and I used to go to the Southwest Public Library in Ft. Worth all the time. I remember how cool it was to get my first library card and how we would go home with stacks of books – maxing out every time, I think. We also went for Saturday movies like Escape from Witch Mountain. Now I haven’t set foot in a library since I don’t know when.
One of my favorite memories of childhood in Houston is of the Jungman Branch on Westheimer. Even though the building recalls standard issue, late 60’s, government architecture (concrete walls, large block lettering…like something you might see at NASA, not to mention the ubiquitous Houston “car-port”), I can still picture the interior and am reminded of my introduction to reading.
I share your dismay at the dismal state and doings of the library webpage; the website should serve as a useful portal to reading and all the services the library has to offer. However, this is a great reminder to us all that the internet–no matter how useful, fun and crucial to modern cultural literacy– is not a substitute for actually going to the library!!