Friday, May 31, 2013

#19 South Hill Branch

South Hill Branch
6076 Fraser Street

Let me update you all on my quest for X-Men comics to read (and the side story of missing/stolen comics at libraries). I stopped by the Central Branch of the VPL the other day to pick up a hold, and decided to see what X-Men comics were available. I checked the catalogue, and saw that there were 25 X-Men related comics supposedly available on the shelves at that branch right now! Hurray!

So I went to check the young adult/teen section and couldn't find any. I wasn't sure if I was just being stupid or what, so I went and asked a librarian. That librarian couldn't find any of the graphic novels they supposedly had in stock (and said they were confused as to how things in that section were organized), so they asked a YA librarian to come help me. They also couldn't find any on the shelves, so they went off to look elsewhere. They eventually came back with the one they had managed to find (which I'd already read), and sadly told me that the rest were probably stolen. There was also one in the reference section, which I didn't check, so that one might be there. But that's, at best, 8% of the X-Men comics were there, and 92% were missing. Crazy!

On a different day I stopped by the brightly painted South Hill Branch to check out what they had. They actually had X-Men comics available to read! (I think they had only three, but I also don't think any were actually missing according to the catalogue.) So I read the final volume of Kieron Gillen's recent Uncanny X-Men (it was pretty good!), but I was disappointed by the seating options available as I was looking for a place to hang out for a few hours and read as the weather outside was kind of gross. Instead I went to a different library and finished reading a terrible/ridiculous 1930s travel guide to Chicago, and some other stuff. Yay reading! Yay libraries!

Only four libraries left! This blog is almost done!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


So after the last post I was looking around the VPL collection for other X-Men comics. I quickly discovered a noticeable trend, and so decided to go through every volume that shows up on the site when you search for X-Men and limit the results to comic books.

There are 145 results. Now many of these aren't X-Men comics, but I'm willing to give the system the benefit of the doubt and assume that at least one of the X-Men show up in the comic somewhere.

Of those 145, six of them are not actually comics. Remember this is _after_ I've already limited my results to only give me comics.

Of the remaining 139 comics that show up, 55 are missing/trace. That's 39.6%!  And remember, those are just the ones that are tagged missing/trace on _every_ copy. Many more have only a sole copy left.

Of the remaining 84, 32 are currently in processing, checked out, being held, or in transit (which I've learnt can mean that the book is actually missing, and has been for several years, why can their system not alert someone if a book has been in transit for that long?). Leaving 52 "at any location" (including two that are only available in the reference collection), or 50 that you could theoretically walk into a library and borrow today.

How many of those do you think are actually there?

I was always aware that theft was an issue in regards to libraries, but I guess I didn't realize both the extent to which it is an issue, and the fact that stolen books aren't always replaced quickly/ever. I know that Marvel is pretty terrible at keeping books in print, but I also know that many of these books (or different editions of the same material) are available.

So I guess I've got an new question in regards to libraries that I'll have to consider: How do you deal with library theft?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

#22 West Point Grey Branch

West Point Grey Branch
4480 West 10th Avenue

This library was the final branch I visited on a disappointing three library day. "Three libraries in one day?" you ask, "What are you? A crazy person?". As though the very existence of this blog hadn't convinced you of that fact already.

But before I get into why I went to three libraries in one day, some background information.

This may count as vaguely surprising (to people who have internet stalked me) based on the fact that my internet presence related to comics is decidedly "indie"/"alternative" in nature, but I'm actually a rather big fan of X-Men comics. The cartoon came on TV about a year after I originally moved to Canada, and I really loved watching it. My love extended to a series of  books aimed at kids that "novelised" older X-Men stories, and eventually to my reading the actual comics (and their spinoffs) themselves. Throughout the '90s I scoured back issue bins until I completed a full run of Excalibur, and read lots of issues of Uncanny, X-Men, Generation X, and more.

And while I haven't bought a new X-Men comic in years, I have read issues through collections borrowed from libraries. I've also read a lot of the Essential X-Men collections, huge thick black and white books that reprinted 20-30 issues of older comics. Despite the "Claremontisms" I enjoyed the stories and characters enough to keep reading. Plus part of me was always at least a little excited when I read a comic that I'd only ever seen referenced before.

So I've read ten volumes of Essential X-Men (comprising almost two hundred issues of the main series, and countless annuals and crossovers), the seven volumes of New Mutants Classic that are out (over fifty issues of that series), and at some point I want to read all those volumes of Essential X-Factor as well (if I can find them cheap somewhere...). Or rather, I've almost read ten volumes of Essential X-Men. I'm halfway through volume ten, and am up to the X-Tinction Agenda crossover (and all the crossovers happening in the later volumes are one of the reasons I want to read X-Factor, and wish there were more New Mutants collections). But, as I said before, these collections are in black and white, and I discovered that the VPL had the X-Tinction Agenda hardcover that collected all of these stories in colour. That's the one I want to read!

So I looked up where the copies were, and one day, after having lunch with some friends nearby, I went to a branch of the library to find the copy that was supposedly on the shelves. I couldn't find it. I asked a librarian if they could help me. They couldn't find it, and it's currently in the system as "trace", meaning they're trying to find it before it's listed as "missing". The librarian did let me know that there was another copy at a nearby library, so I hopped on a bus and head over there.

Of course you know where this story is going, that copy was missing as well. Now I generally think it's pretty shitty to steal books from libraries (steal from Chapters instead!), but the fact that two of the three copies of this book have been stolen from the library is both weird and super frustrating. This isn't exactly a classic of modern literature. Plus thieves have forced me to ask for a book called X-Tinction Agenda twice. Twice! That's not a book I ever want to have to admit to anyone that I'm reading (please ignore this blog post), let alone two librarians in one day. Oh well, I've got a hold on the last remaining copy, and hopefully it shows up.

Meanwhile, I headed off to this branch later in the day to...well, have something to write about for this blog. I'd gone past it on the bus loads of times as it's fairly near to UBC. It seems fine inside, but I guess I couldn't really get much enthusiasm up. I looked at the books and graphic novels and DVDs, removed a volume of The Unwritten from the kids section (shelvers, please look at what you're putting in that section, not every comic is suitable for kids), and left. Not that exciting really.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

#10 Joe Fortes Branch

870 Denman Street

The most Northerly branch of the VPL is pretty small. However, on the afternoon when I went it was filled with people! In fact when I briefly sat down to use a computer I was next to the reference librarian on duty who was constantly being asked questions, and having to tell people that he'd help them as soon as possible, but there were multiple people ahead of them in line waiting for help!

(Of course most of that help seemed to be "I'm old and don't understand computers" or "I'm young and don't understand computers", but I'm sure there was some other advice given out too!)

I didn't actually borrow anything from this library, but while there I did discover a Magic: The Gathering novel in the discard section. I told my friend (who I play Magic with) about this, and she was so confused/excited by this that she promised me that she would read it no matter how bad it was.

However, I checked out what other Magic the Gathering novels the library had, and they were all in the central branch. So I went over there and ended up getting confused as the difference between the fantasy section and the "adult paperback" (or something) section, which was right next to it, and not catalogued at all. I found it kind of weird that the library had a section of books that were available to borrow, but weren't in the system so you could only find them by physically looking at the shelves. (The one I actually got out is in the system as "Adult Paperback (2010)", and the library has 452 copies. I should just start putting holds on it to see what actually shows up.) I got a Magic novel out for my friend, and I'll be sure to update you once she finishes reading it.

Anyway, back to Joe Fortes, I took this photo of their Spanish book collection that I thought was funny. And it wasn't just the top shelf, all the books on that bookcase were in Chinese. I'm not sure where their Spanish language books are.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Richmond: Brighouse (Main) Branch

Brighouse (Main) Branch
7700 Minoru Gate

I went to the BCLA conference in Richmond last weekend. One of the things I did was tour the main branch of the Richmond Public Library. Yeah! More field trips!

The library was pretty cool, though thinking back on it I seem to remember it really lacking in natural light.

They had all these iPads in the kids area. They were on bendy stalk things so that they could be turned for motion stuff or so that this alien puzzle game could actually be used. In related news I have used an iPad once, when I briefly borrowed my mom's at Christmas time.

This was really cool! It's a DVD vending machine. You put in a request on their website, then put your card into the machine, and out pops the DVD in a case! It's a super good way of cutting down on the space a DVD collection would take up, but also means that you can't browse them as easily.

Also in this library was a pretty huge collection of Chinese books that apparently nobody that worked their could read. So I guess if you can speak Chinese you can probably guarantee yourself a job in Vancouver. They got around this problem by putting stickers on the covers of the books that said what genre/type of book they were, and then just putting the books of that type together in no particular order. That must be annoying to browse through... (The only thing on the spine stickers was the name of the collection, no additional information about the book.)

After the tour my friend and I were hanging out waiting for another friend, and I managed to read the final two volumes of Scalped by Jason Aaron, R. M. Guera, and others. It's probably one of my favourite graphic novel series of the last decade, just incredibly solid crime fiction set on an aboriginal reserve in the states. The final volume came out late last year, and I've been rereading them in order since I moved to Vancouver in January. The end of the series was good, though not exactly what I expected.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

#7 Firehall Branch

1455 West 10th Avenue 

While you can't see it in this photo this branch is actually in the same building as a fire station! Neat! I would have taken a picture if there had been any fire trucks outside, but alas on the day I visited there were none.

Instead you'll have to deal with some of the pictures that were on the side of the non-fiction shelves inside.

This one brings to the library patrons' attention the thin line between religion and mythology. I think it's kind of interesting that the mythology section is so much bigger.

This picture shows the type of things I tend to like reading about, and I've probably looked up dinosaurs, aliens, monsters, and submarines in encyclopedias before. Hell, I've probably read encyclopedias about many of those subjects. (And while I may never have read a submarine encyclopedia, I do have a book about Zeppelins on my shelf just waiting to be read.)

Also, I've just wasted like half an hour trying (and failing) to track down a sample in an electroswing mix (it's something Balkan I think, but beyond that I dunno....). So this seems like a good time to post this killer video that talks about sampling. Also, I have no idea what went wrong with the font.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

#6 Dunbar Branch

4515 Dunbar St.

So I just moved house! To a completely different part of town, so now I have a new local library that's just a few blocks away! It was even one I'd never been to before, so it made sense that I'd check it out as soon as possible!

The branch itself is fairly small, but it still had some neat stuff in it. One of which were these bookmarks that I saw inside books in the teen section. I'd actually heard about these before, as I'm a member of the BC Library Association Readers Advisory Interest Group (BCLA RAIG, go acronyms!), and they were brought up in the last meeting. I thought they were a really neat way to encourage dialogue between library patrons without them having to actually talk to each other.

In this case the book is a volume of Dengeki Daisy, which  someone loves because of "The secret love of Teru and Daisy! Squeal!". Okay, so that's not a recommendation that I'm going to pay much attention to, but I'm generally going to ignore any of the Shojo Beat manga graphic novels anyway. Actually, I kind of want to read Honey and Clover, but that's about it.

Here's the other side of the bookmark, indicating that these are just for teen books (though the RAIG is discussing doing them for lots of different books in the library). I think it looks pretty good, though I probably would have aligned the text differently.

Have you encountered anything like this in a library? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Victoria: Emily Carr Branch

3500 Blanshard Street

I went to another library in Victoria too! (This was actually the first one I went to, and basically the first thing I did in Victoria. Their libraries are far away from each other!)

This library is named after Emily Carr, a Canadian artist who's art I've seen in the Vancouver Art Gallery. I an't say I remember her art, so I guess it wasn't too impressed by it, but while in Victoria I did discover that she owned a monkey. Whaaat? That's crazy! There was a bronze statue or her downtown with the monkey perched on her shoulder, but I sadly didn't get a photo of it. Next time I guess. (This blog post has photos of the statue and the monkey.)

The library itself seemed fine, I guess nothing about it really stood out to me. Though the fact that I couldn't borrow any books was definitely one of the reasons for my feeling that way.

Next time! Back to Vancouver (I promise!).

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Victoria: Central Branch

735 Broughton Street

So I went to Victoria (on Vancouver Island) last weekend to visit some friends, play in a Magic: The Gathering tournament, go to a robot burlesque show, and, because this is what I do now apparently, check out some of the libraries there.

What I discovered at the Central Branch was both awesome and depressing. The awesome part? They're participating in Free Comic Book Day! That's this Saturday (May 4th). FCBD is one of my favourite days of the year (along with Halloween) and I look forward to it every year. Even if I don't personally like the comics, I'm excited by the many other people who will get free comics they can read.

In addition to the library giving away free comics, they're also running a comic making workshop with an artist who'll be at the library throughout the day drawing! Awesome.

One of the libraries in Halifax (where I used to live until I moved to Vancouver for school) is also doing something for Free Comic Book Day, and I'm kind of jealous of my friends who get to go.

Okay, so why is this depressing? Libraries doing things is great right? Yes, it is, but the depressing part is that a classmate and I contacted the Vancouver Public Library about doing something for FCBD and were shot down. Booooo. Or maybe I'm just depressed by the photo I took showing the weird way books in Victoria are organized.

A Christmas books section? It's May! Why do they have this?