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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

What’s so funny? part two

What's NOT so funny about our library? The fact that adults are so focused and concerned with social issues while my students want recreational reads that take them away from their problems. How can I help them locate these fun books? 


(Don't you wish you had such a title sometimes? I found this image using Creative Commons.)

Look at this comparison of the categories available in my OPAC through the browsing section:

 Using the browsing section of my OPAC, the categories in Jokes and Comics include:  Browse the category of Kids’ Problems and you’ll find these categories:
  •  Comics & Cartoons
  • Jokes
  • Riddles
  • Funny Stories (yes, all 250 are lumped here)
  • Humorous Poems
  • Funny Songs
  • Silly Verse
  • Comedians
  • Help for Kids’ Problems
  • Abuse & Violence
  • Bad Dreams
  • Bedwetting
  • Bullies
  • Crime
  • Death & Grief
  • Disabilities
  • Drugs & Alcohol
  • Eating Problems
  • Families
  • Fears
  • Feelings
  • Gangs
  • Getting Sick
  • Guns
  • Homelessness
  • Home Alone
  • Peer Pressure
  • Racism & Prejudice
  • Runaways
  • School
  • Strangers
  • Suicide

After I viewed that list, I needed some good jokes to lift my spirits. I’m in an elementary school. Why can’t my humorous books be divided into equally descriptive categories? I really could use the ability to add special tags to my catalog records so students could find what they wanted. How about some of these terms?

  • eating gross things
  • slipping and falling into disgusting stuff
  • doing silly things to impress your friends
  • having a slightly fun time in school
  • embarrassing yourself in front of the opposite sex

Those vague descriptors aren’t going to show up in any cataloguing terminology I’ve ever seen, but imagine what would happen if our students could add their own descriptive terminology! The power and the absurdity!
In part one of this post, I suggested what could happen to the Higher Power of Lucky which explores a girl's overcoming issues. Our cataloguing propensity is for serious issues over humorous, so I expect someone to fix the OPAC to add all the serious and the anatomical words. Any comedic librarians out there willing to tackle our “funny fix?” Give us more tags, more descriptors, and more keywords for searching.

Social tagging is growing. Participating is being valued more. Our libraries are changing. Our patrons want to participate – take a look at LibraryThing. Our patrons are becoming more specific in their wants and we need to meet their demands – even the funny ones.


  1. Greg Collver says:

    I think it’s a great idea to let the students meta-tag the books! Also, why not publish online copies of the students’ book reports tied to the books? And student ratings and comments on the books?

  2. DIANE CHEN says:

    Absolutely! We should also include the teacher lesson plans that they use with the books, plus the novel tie-in’s including related books. One vendor suggested we allow teachers to tag books for units they do annually.