HARD CATALOG

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

August 1, 2014
August 1, 2014

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.

Thankfully, her colleague Morgan Holzer has been sharing some biting, hilarious, and heartwarming gems of reviews via the library’s Instagram account. Below find some of our favorites, and follow @NYPL on Instagram for more. Holzer posts reviews on Tuesdays.

“Be sure to read the chapter about the three girls and the banana.”

Typical late-period Suess.

Note the edit: danger adventure.

On further thought…

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