The New York Public Library’s hilarious archive of librarians’ harsh children’s book reviews

by Rachel Baker on August 5, 2014

These are fantastic and so worth perusing! Thanks to Jenni Avins at Quartz for putting this together.

One hundred years before post-millennial parents were deeming Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs inappropriate for young vegans, the children’s librarians of the New York Public Library kept a card catalog of hand-typed kids’ book reviews.

“There’s about a billion card catalogs in the library,” says Lynn Lobash, who oversees reader services at the NYPL. “But these are special in that they were used as a tool for collection development, for the staff to evaluate the children’s collection.”

Children’s librarians, says Lobash, are themselves a special breed. “You say ‘trucks’ and they can name 50 truck books that are amazing,” she says.

You can hear their spirited voices in the catalog of about 6,400 index-sized cards, which offers everything from critical take-downs of Green Eggs and Ham (“typical of Suess’ late-period”) to racy reviews of Fast Times at Ridgemont High and scandalized reactions to Judy Blume’s Forever. Perhaps because the reviews were for internal purposes only, the librarians were unabashed in their criticism. When Lobash and her colleagues came across the catalog, they agreed it should be properly archived in the library headquarters at Bryant Park.

Check out the New York Public Library’s hilarious archive of librarians’ harsh children’s book reviews

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