The ABCs of Children’s Books Exhibit at the New York Public Library – 42nd Street/5th Ave

The ABC of it: why children's books matter

On the 6th of this month, my wife and I met up with friends of ours to check out an exhibit on children’s books at the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue. I love going to that library! Right now, it’s just a reference library, meaning you can’t check any books out to take home, though there’s a chance that could change soon. There are plans being made to move a lot of the reference works to a storage facility in New Jersey and open up the area that is now called “the stacks” to the public as an area with books that can be taken home, though these plans are meeting heavy opposition from scholars who have filed lawsuits to block the removal of reference materials from the site.

Lion Statue in front of 42nd Street New York Public Library

The Fifth Avenue library branch regularly shows exhibits with different themes. Last year, we went to see an exhibit on old Automat restaurants.  I think you’d call them restaurants anyway. The exhibit we saw this time was on children’s books.

DSCN2636

I wasn’t expecting much, but I was surprised by how well the exhibit was set up and the diversity of books on display.

Dick and Jane!

Dick and Jane!

DSCN2626

A Japanese Faerie Tale

A Japanese Faerie Tale

They had everything from traditional American textbooks to Hindu comic books to Japanese faerie tales.

Little Golden Books in a case shaped like a Giant Golden Box

Little Golden Books in a case shaped like a Giant Golden Box

A few of the books on display were books I remembered reading as a kid, like the Little Golden Books series. Most were older. Some were a lot newer, though, like the Harry Potter series. I’ve seen the movies and I’d like to read those books when I get a chance too. According to the display, Harry Potter books are the fastest selling of all time. My wife says it’s because the books appeal to kids, teens and adults, so the audience buying them is a lot bigger. Makes sense to me.

I’ve always been fascinated by books. I guess that’s a good thing, considering the field I chose to pursue in college. I just placed an order for 17 books for one master’s history class for this Fall semester. Woot woot! I have so many books I’ve run out of shelves to put them on. I’ve given away lots of books to charity in the past when my collection became too cumbersome to take with me when moving, but this time most of my books are history books or books on religion, politics, sociology and anthropology. In other words, they’re all books I’ll probably need in the future as a student and teacher. I suppose there are worse things to have too many of in your house!

Gallery of more photos from the children’s book exhibit:

The Antipolo Library

DSC04934

My wife and I love to read so we were excited to check out the Antipolo library when we saw the sign near the town hall.  We couldn’t figure out how to get into it at first because the whole lower level of the building is taken up by unrelated offices.  We had to ask a guard for directions.  There’s a narrow stairwell on the left side of the building that leads up to the entrance of the library.

DSC04935

We expected to have to pay a fee to enter, but instead we only had to sign in on their guestbook.  We also had to put on home-made shoe coverings before we were allowed to walk around the library.  I wasn’t too thrilled with that, since they’re reused without being washed.  I’m not a big fan of getting toe fungus from strangers.  Oddly enough, when we left, we were asked to deposit the shoe covers back at the entrance and then told to walk through the library to a separate exit without them.  Kinda defeats the purpose doesn’t it?

I’m really impressed with the fact that Antipolo has a library at all, though I can’t say I’m all that impressed with the titles available.  The place is small.  It’s about the size of a small classroom and has 8 to 10 racks of books which are about 6 feet tall and 6 tables that each seat 4 people.  The books that are available are all very old, some outdated to the point of being useless information, the medical books being the biggest example of that.  Medical practices and knowledge change constantly and you can’t learn much that’s still relevant, or even correct, from a textbook that’s 20+ years old.  The categories cover very basic topics that seem to focus on high school level education and the area for fiction and literature seemed really small.

There were two or three computer terminals available, but all of them were running what appeared to be a game that’s used to teach basic English and logic with a 5 year old audience in mind.  I didn’t notice any signs for Internet access, but I didn’t get to check the terminals.

What the place excels at is providing a relatively cool, quiet place for groups of people to study and read.  Peace and quiet is rare in Antipolo.  If you happen to want to use the library, I suggest bringing along your own reading material and your own laptop with a mobile broadband USB modem.

Hopefully, better facilities will be available when we move to Manila proper but for a provincial area, this is more than I expected.

Tampines (Edit: Pasir Ris) Library Groups Cats in With Roaches and Rats On Poster

Mobile Photo 25-Apr-2010 PM 06 44 39 This poster is on display in the Tampines Pasir Ris Public Library branch.  While I wholeheartedly agree with the message, that it takes everyone to keep the city clean, I disagree with the images used to portray the negative consequences.

This poster implies that cats are disgusting pests, on the same level as roaches and disease carrying rodents.  Cats are not in the same category of animal.  Cats are domesticated house pets and have been for thousands of years.  In ancient Egypt, when a household’s cat died, the owners would shave off their eyebrows as a sign of mourning.

While I’m not suggesting that we start shaving our eyebrows off to protest cat culling in Singapore, I do want to call attention to the fact that it’s not proper to reinforce the negative perception of these animals.  The person who created this poster was even sly enough to use a black cat, which has always been associated with bad fortune, to add dramatic effect and further create a negative opinion of cats in the general public.

What’s truly ironic about this poster is that cats are Singapore’s greatest defense against the real pests, as mice are a stray cats natural prey.

A clean city may be a reflection of moral and civic values, but kindness to animals is a much better indicator.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi