Tuesday, April 30, 2013

North Vancouver: Lynn Valley Main Library

1277 Lynn Valley Rd, North Vancouver

Hey, remember when I posted about being half way through this project but that "there will be more delays and asides along the way"? Well this is one of them!

While this blog is "about" the Vancouver Public Library system it's important to remember that there are lots of other library systems nearby! Burnaby, Richmond, Surrey, and West Vancouver all have their own library systems. In fact there are more library systems in this area than the city I grew up in had branches.

Of course, some of this is because North Vancouver has two separate library systems. No, I'm not joking. There's a North Vancouver District Public Library system and a North Vancouver City Library system. They are entirely unrelated. "In the centre of the North Vancouver area lies the City of North Vancouver, which is a separate municipality having its own library system."

Well, that certainly clears everything up...

Anyway, I had heard about North Shore Writers Festival (an event I somehow managed to be the only attendee on a poorly publicised Facebook event page) and decided it would be a good time to head out into the wild North and try to find one of these libraries. So I grabbed a friend and dragged them off on a bus trip to somewhere. We eventually saw the library, got off the bus, and walked into the entrance to the building (see above photo). Sort of. We walked down a hallway with a glass wall that showed the library on the other side. Then we were outside again. Outside a different entrance (see below photo).

Okay, that's kind of weird. But whatever. We had arrived just in time for a talk by author Terry Fallis, who I'd never heard of before. (I hadn't actually bothered to look up what was going on at the festival or who was going to be there.) Thankfully he was a humourist who had written a book about a Canadian astronaut! (The next talk was by an author who'd written about a family member dying of cancer, and I'm kind of glad I missed that.)

Fallis talked about his writing process, how meeting an astronaut is pretty awe-inspiring and overwhelming (something I can relate to as I interviewed Chris Hadfield years ago, so cool!), and read a chapter from his book. It was surprisingly enjoyable for something we didn't even realize we'd be attending, even if my friend and I ended up standing in the back of a crowded room. I might actually check out some of his books next time I'm seeking some Canadiana to read. Here's a blog post written by a classmate who was there for her job or something.

Afterwards we checked out the library and it seemed to have a pretty good selection of stuff. It also had Playaway audio books, pre-recorded audio book players that I'd never seen before. They're pretty neat!

So overall this was totally a successful adventure, and I'm sure to check out other library systems before too long!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

#1 Britannia Branch

1661 Napier Street

So a while ago, when I still had classes to go to and assignments to do, I submitted one of them as a PDF. This turned out to be not what the professor or the TA wanted and I was asked to resubmit as a Word file (while this may have been mentioned in class at some point it was not in the assignment requirements). Fine, easy right? Except my computer was broken. And I didn't actually save a version of the final assignment that wasn't a PDF. (I'm a super genius.)

So I headed off to this library to try to recreate the assignment and submit it as a Word file. Thankfully one of the computers became free soon after I got there, and after too much time I was able to recreate the assignment and resubmit it. (So much formatting...)

As for the library itself the address may say Napier Street, but it's really located off Commercial Drive. Looking at this on Google Maps it appear that at some point Napier Street was blocked off and replaced with a pedestrian walk way with a bunch of trees. Awesome! Except Google thinks you can still drive down that road. That's the second time on this blog that the all powerful Google has been wrong. Well, you know what that means? No webgods, no webmasters!

There are also these robots outside this library! Of course, they do raise a question: if the robot on the right is wearing clothes, does that mean that the one on the left is naked?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

#13 Kitsilano Branch

2425 MacDonald Street

Despite having gone to this branch a couple of times (the original photo I had was taken at night and was incredibly terrible, thankfully I got a better one), I don't have much to say about it at all.

In fact about the only thing I really remember about this branch is that it's where I suggested to a friend that they read Joe Sacco's journalistic comic book Footnotes in Gaza.

Footnotes in Gaza was in my opinion the best comic published in 2009 and, despite it winning Sacco the Eisner award for Best Writer/Artist–Nonfiction, I feel it wasn't talked about as much as it maybe should have been. I think this is in no small part due to it being published on December 24th (and thus missing many year end "best of" lists because people didn't read it until some time in 2010). I think it's a powerful and affecting work, which raises many questions about current society and historical events in Israel and Palestine. I haven't read it in a few years though, so asked my friend to write about it instead.
Published in 2009, Joe Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza pulls readers deep into the conflicted territory of Palestine and even more conflicted territory of its history and relationship with Israel. It’s not an easy read. It’s dense and this stuff is brutal to read about, but Joe Sacco produced an amazing piece of journalism cum comic book. The story moves between the activities of Joe Sacco, the character in his own book, researching and pulling together the broken threads of a half century old series of massacres, and Sacco’s renderings of the 1950’s events around those massacres through the eyes of people he interviewed and who claim to have been there. It works beautifully, as well as being drawn beautifully and densely. Both the place and its people are strong characters in the narrative and are expressed in detailed and powerful images, in detailed and powerful words. It took me weeks to read the whole thing and I honestly kept interspersing it with Yotsuba&! to ease the pain, but it was absolutely worth it. Yeah, it definitely has a Palestinian point of view, but neutrality is always a bluff, so read on anyway.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Halfway There!

I've now written about eleven of the twenty two branches of the VPL! Or at least "written about" them in some cases. It's taken far too long to get this point, and I'm sure there will be more delays and asides along the way, but I am still committed to this project.

On the map above you'll see the libraries circled in hideous green are the ones I've been to (and in several cases gone to over and over again). You can kind of tell what parts of town I go to just by looking at this map!

If you have suggestions for where I should go next, or anything about specific libraries I should check out, please let me know!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

#8 Fraserview Branch

Fraserview Branch
1950 Argyle Drive

I pretty much only go to this library when I go and checkout the nearby Value Village. I mean, it's so far south! Anyway, I'd gone to this one a while ago and...forgot what I'd borrowed from it, or done there. So since my friend and I were checking out the nearby thrift store anyway (we failed to find anything), I proposed we go to the library as well.

So we got bubble tea (mine was a sesame seed slush with pearls) and headed down, only to discover that it was closed! Nooooooooo. This is why I don't like Mondays.

(And woah, apparently that song is about school shootings, I had no idea.)

Anyway, this turned out to be blessing in disguise as I got to take the following amazing photo of the book drop inside the library's front door.

Holy crap! That is a huge pile of books, DVDs, and other stuff. Is that really the best way to have people return things? Also, is that the normal amount of stuff that's piled up by Monday afternoon? Cause that's kind of awesome if that much stuff is being returned on days when the library is closed. Though I weep for the physical well-being of those items.

I also found something else awesome! Right outside the drop box (next to the sign asking people not to put donations through the slot or leave them outside), I found a bundle of magazines and comics someone didn't want! Most of them were old and boring, and while I debated taking at least one of the decade old video game magazines, I decided not to, and instead took the following two French language graphic novels (BD).  

Lucky Luke! The most popular French comic to never really get any amount of popularity in English speaking countries. (ie. I've never read any of it. I know some of it's available in English. And maybe it's really huge in, like, India, they published 24 volumes of it in English there in 2009.)

Sophie! I have no idea who this is, and as far as I can tell none of it has ever been translated into English. Anyway, I'm super pumped to "read" both of these. The Sophie book has a dinosaur!

Friday, April 12, 2013

#17 Outreach Branch

302 - 345 Robson Street

The most hidden branch of the library (or maybe second most hidden after Kerrisdale), this is the branch you've probably never been to. In fact, it's probably one of, if not the, least visited of the VPL libraries. Why? Well, you should be able to tell from the name, the Outreach Branch delivers books to people's houses! No, not you specifically (probably) but to people who cannot visit the library due to mobility issues, disabilities, or other reasons. I think this is really neat! 

The library itself is located in the same building as the Central Branch downtown, but is accessed by a completely different entrance. Inside you'll find many of the things you'd expect from a library such as computers and a photocopier and books and stuff, but the majority of the material here is large print and audio books which are delivered to people. I think it's awesome that this service is available, and I think the people who borrow books through it really appreciate the service. Here's a video that shows a brief example of what the Outreach Branch does.

I'm not sure if just anyone can come in and borrow stuff from here, I probably should have asked them that when I visited!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

#12 Kerrisdale Branch

Kerrisdale Branch
2112 West 42 Avenue

Up to this point I've been posting about branches in the order I visited them, but it's been a while since I updated this blog (stupid school), and even longer since I've actually been in some of these places, so let's move ahead to the most recent branch I've visited (don't worry, I'm still going to write about every branch).

Recently for a class project I headed to the Kerrisdale branch of the VPL to pick up a reference book (a copy of the Essential Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe, required for any reference library that needs to tell you about early '80s Marvel characters, sometimes library school is great). So I typed the address into Google Maps and got on a bus only to find out that I was nowhere near where the library actually was. I started walking and about fifteen minutes (and one confused friend that I was txting trying to help me and failing) later I found the branch.

So why was this branch so hard to find? Because Google Maps has _SIX_ different locations mapped for this branch's address.

Look at that shit! Two of those locations are 3.5 kilometres away from each other! How the hell has this site fucked up so badly? (For the record the "1" on the map is the actual correct address with the same postal code as the VPL site, but "2" is closer to where the branch actually is located.) To add to the confusion the library is in the basement of the Kerrisdale Community Centre, a building with a completely different address entirely. It's on a different street!

Anyway, after walking for a while (and 42nd Avenue literally ceasing to exist at least twice) I finally found a building with a bookdrop outside. This had to be it! I went inside, went down some steps, and finally found it! Thankfully the book I was looking for was still on the shelf. And while you may not think that there's much demand for reference material about the Marvel universe, the other Official Handbook the library has in their catalogue is missing, while the Marvel Atlas has been in transit for at least two weeks. Where is it? The assignment is finished and we never got to see a copy and now I'm just curious.

The branch itself is fine. About the only thing I remember about it is that they had a shelf of books (all advanced reader copies) that people could take home without checking out. There was a sign telling people that they could write or draw in the books, and to please bring them back. Kind of reminds me of another library school project I've worked on...

Here's the final version of the reference guide we created for the (fictional) UBC Comic Book Club. I designed the cover to look like a comic book, and then laid out the contents on comic book sized pages. It looks fucking awesome! Totally the best looking assignment I have ever passed in. While the interior is just words, I did make a pretty awesome PowerPoint presentation that was a fumetti comic for class for this assignment. I can add "taking photos for a photocomic" to the list of things I didn't think I'd be doing in library school but have ended up doing (also on the list: using a power sander, painting things, agreeing to run RPGs).