#3 “Why is there women?”

The title above was taken from the Snikts and Stones (the letters to the editor) section of issue #2 in the “Aliens / Predator: The Deadliest of the Species” (Black Horse Comics, Inc., Sept. 1993).

Wham! Professional Development Developments:

I had a great meeting last Friday with Kelly Miller-Martin, the head of facilities operations for libraries here. Another long title that means that she thinks, very creatively and objectively, about how the users use the libraries’ spaces. Is there a nook that has five table but only really accommodates one student at a time? Can students find quiet spaces to study, loud spaces to do group work? Is there enough of each? Fundamentally, she looks at how the library itself, not the materials, is used. (It kinda falls under Ranganathan’s purview – Libraries are for use, library space is for use.) Maintaining that budgetary constraints exist, how librarians ensure optimization for space tells a lot about what they value. Kelly and her team do an amazing job at the Rose Library, from selecting moveable furniture to re-using bookshelves as other furniture, to playing with nooks to see what the community needs.

Pow! Project News!

My project continues. I finished cataloging our collection of Aliens comics (including Aliens vs. Predator and the many Aliens/Predator subseries). Today started and saw me halfway through the Alpha Flight run. It also saw my first major snag, after I got my head wrapped firmly into LCSH and clever ways to find subjects (and clever ways to reuse them): characters. One of our elements, for the purposes of this collection, is Characters. Sounds simple; but when you’re not particularly an expert in the Alpha Flight regiment, trying to identify what to call each character and who even matters in each issue has become a sore point.

For example: if I want to follow LCSH standards, I could say Parker, Peter “Spiderman” or Parker, Peter (Spiderman).

Except LC already has a Spider-Man (Fictitious character) subject. Which includes, in its variants, Peter Parker, Miles Morales, Spidey…so is that useful? Yes, but I’d still need to specify, somewhere, that I’m talking about Peter, rather than Miles.

So that’s the current hill I’m trying to crest. We’ll see how that goes. I’m going to think on it tonight and go back to try to amend the empty values I’ve left dreadfully hanging in an otherwise-complete metadata collection.

To change topics drastically, the title of this post represents the discussion that my metadata project will address, inately. “Why is there women?” was a question given in a letter to the editor in an Aliens/Predator series that featured, you guessed it, a female protagonist and a good number of female characters – including a female Predator. (I might have read most of the letters-to-the-editor section in that run; it was an amusing, if frustrating, experience.) There was a nice mixture of don’t-politicize-comics (as though the inclusion of women is a political agenda rather than a rule of the world) and more appreciative posts that were amused by the question. The editor didn’t try to deign a response, and she didn’t change the other comics to reflect the mixture of characters.

That’s rather what this is all about – inclusivity in comics without marginalizing the focused community or creating an otherness. I’m focusing on race rather than gender, of course, but the point stands: Comics have long been a white male medium, both in creators and in characters. This project aims to contest and draw attention to that implicit generalization.

(A great article my supervisor, Steven Holloway, shared with me that really drives home the gender inequality in superheroes: Analyzing the Gender Representation of 34,476 Comic Book Characters .)

Why is (are) there women?

The editor, one Diana Schutz, let other readers answer the question. My favorite response: “Why is there men?”

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