I haven’t forgotten this blog, it has just been crazy busy around here and I haven’t found the time to write, but I am definitely going to get my act back in gear. So in honor of my own return, here are our thoughts on the Return of the Library Dragon.
In 1994, Carmen Agra Deedy wrote the outstandingly good book, The Library Dragon, in which Miss Lotta Scales takes over the Sunrise Elementary School library, but won’t let the children touch the books. With the help of little Molly Brickmeyer, Miss Lotta learns that the children belong in the library and need to touch books in order to grow from them. It is a remarkable book that praises books, storytelling, reading, and definitely librarians.
Fast forward to 2012, and the landscape of an elementary school library has dramatically changed. No longer are they even called libraries, but are now known as media centers. So it is more than appropriate for Ms. Deedy to come back with a similarly awesome book The Return of the Library Dragon.
In this installment, Miss Lotty Scales is retiring! When she arrives at school on her last day of work, all of the books in the library have been removed by Mike Krochip, an IT guy from Central Office. The books are gone, computers are in, and welcome to the new cybrary.
“‘It’s a brave new world,’ Krochip beamed at Lotty. ‘Books stain and tear and take up room. Check out the Book-be-Gone 5000. It’ll kindle your fire!'”
But the kids want the books back because even though you can put 10,000 books on an e-reader, “10,000 books on a screen all look the same.” “Right, but 10,000 books in a library all look and feel different.”
And just as you think that the old-school way of libraries only housing books has won the battle, one of the children turns on a “MePod” and everyone else crowds around to see the amazing new technology. This of course brings the Library Dragon back in full force.
What brings Miss Lotty back to normal, just as before, is little Molly Brickmeyer. Now she is all grown-up and taking over as Sunrise Elementary School’s school librarian, but only if all of the books find their way back to the shelves immediately. Miss Molly is the balancing point of the new way of doing things. She knows that computers and technology are a good thing and that our children need to be learning and experimenting with them, but she also knows that it is important to unplug. She learned from the best and understands that a school librarian should still dress up in goofy costumes from time to time and enjoy reading to kids, but that they also have to be media savvy and understand how kids of this crazy technologically advanced generation function. So even though Miss Lotty introduces Miss Molly as the new “media-library-cyber-book specialist,” Miss Molly still prefers just being known as the “librarian.”
As I said, we loved the original Library Dragon, and this book just took it to another level. Our kids are definitely going to wind up using e-readers and they have to be incredibly comfortable with the computer world, but we are walking a fine line and it is doubtful that we will be able to instill a love of reading to our children if they don’t get to experience the joy of seeing the vivid beautiful colors of a well-done picture book. There is also the sense of joy in checking out books from the library, running your hands over the spines of well-loved books, and as my daughter likes to do, lining your books up across the floor in the order that you plan to read them.
The inside covers had tons of wonderful quotes about books, libraries and librarians and I leave you with this one: “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers; a librarian can bring you back the right one.” (Neil Gaiman) To all the librarians out there – we love you!