It has been about a week since my Week 1 Digital Story critique. Once again, I found myself vigorously searching for a suitable digital story that (a) piques my interest, (b) provides suitable fodder for a critique, and (c) fits with my storytelling theme of “Libraries and Librarianship”. If there is a search engine designed with such purposes in mind, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!

Luckily, a close friend of mine uses Reddit religiously (sidenote: I have yet to meet a casual Reddit user). This friend sent me a link to the Libraries Subreddit which proved to be a wealth of library-related stories. After spending an undetermined amount of time searching and browsing for a piece of content with enough “meat” for me to critique, I settled on this one: “A merry Facebook Christmas”. In this cute little story, a librarian describes working her last shift before a long sabbatical in which she helps a technologically-impaired user set up email and Facebook accounts so that he can see a picture of his long lost son. In the end, the patron leaves with tears of joy having seen his son’s face for the first time in fifteen years.

My critique for  this story is based on the following criteria:

  • Writing: This is a very well-written piece. The author, Elizabeth Jane Corbett, employs a very punchy, descriptive, almost staccato style of prose. Throughout the piece, the reader gets a healthy does of free and indirect discourse (though I’d hesitate to compare a blog post to Jane Austen otherwise) and gets lost between the description of the external action and the inner-monologue of the narrator. It is easy to identify the grammatical errors in the story such as starting sentences with conjunctions, inconsistent comma and other punctuation usage, and-in some cases-omitting the subject of a sentence entirely. However, this style is very effective for creating the mood of the piece. Fixing the punctuation would make it even better.
  • Originality, voice, creativity: The originality, voice, and creativity of this piece depends on who’s reading it. If it were bouncing around in library circles, this might be perhaps the least original story. I am pleased to say that I have heard many remarkable tales of library services from many colleagues. That being said, it really is quite an original story to someone who has never worked in a library (or in a similar place/position). The snarky, sarcastic (almost Seinfeldian) observations of the author are the most creative aspects of this piece. Maybe suspecting the patron is a pedophile goes a little far, but the author is very funny and gets her point across.
  • Sense of audience: The author knows her audience and knows it well. Librarians have a knack for sharing stories such as this one. As the author describes the eagerness of working your last shift before a very long break, the audience knows the feeling very well. She narrates the pet-peeves, concerns, and general anxieties of librarians everywhere. I feel confident that many readers in Librarianship could say, “This is about ME!”


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