Friday, April 21, 2017

Prompt Response 16: Future of Reading

How have reading and books changed for me since I was a kid?

I tell you what I no longer have to read books with a flashlight under the covers. I miss the thought of it but at the same time eBooks and audiobooks are just so convenient. I'm at a point in my life where I live in a teensy weensy apartment and I don't have the room to hoard so many books. Most of my collection is sadly boxed up at my parent's house for them to keep until I get into a house of my own. I hate it a lot. I love reading eBooks for the sheer convenience and it lets me still enjoy reading without having to clutter my already cluttered apartment. However, authors can't sign eBooks and I can't experience and gawk at pretty book covers. I can't wait to have that back in my life when I have a house and a personal library (right next door to my fiance's music man cave that he wants).

As an adult I read less for fun than I did as a child. Part of that is because graduate school as well as teaching (did NOT have time to read that year) prevented me from doing so. Now I'm working full time at a library, still going to graduate school, and planning a wedding so I'm still pretty busy. I expect that to change entirely next month once I'm out of school. I have a goal to read 40 books this year and I'm at a pathetic start. I pulled off 33 last year so I think I can catch up!

I think self-publishing is becoming a lot more accessible so I think we will start to see more of those emerge from the shadows, although it would hurt the publishers even more than they currently are with battling to figure out how to make a profit off of eBooks. I could imagine a lot of things happening. Books could become more expensive and valuable again (sad for my wallet, but I could see it happening). I couldn't imagine them becoming obsolete though. I don't think my brain could ever wrap around that concept.

I can see story telling and reading taking different forms. With the lastest expansion with Virtual Reality and how art is transforming with virtual reality software like Tilt Brush, it could be the same for books. What if we could read books in VR? Live out the story in the books in VR? Or be the main character in an RPG video game in a virtual world? We have an HTC Vive at work that we're testing for teens and the technology for this is here and I could easily see that coming into play for education, reading and creativity in 20 years.

 I feel like I will never stop reading and I hope that it's not going to be a rare thing. Yeah, I will probably still read a lot of eBooks, but I do want a big collection of physical books in my personal library, especially ones that my future children can access. My kids will likely have restricted 'screen time' but as long as the homework is done and it's not too late at night,  I'll never turn them away from a physical book.

Occasionally I may even pretend not to catch them reading with a flashlight under the covers.

Week 15 Prompt Response: Fiction Collection


First and foremost having attractive signage with minimal, easy to read text that indicate the collection throughout the building and at the reference desk would help advertise the collection and inform patrons of where they can find it as well as whatever information we think is necessary (example: where is the new stuff?). What I also will include under 'signage' is social media postings about the collection with similar information from the in-person signs, and include images.

Book displays

Book displays that cycle through new books, or highlight different genres, themes, and seasons that are centrally located or by the reference desk. This is something we should be expected to do anyway but I know how effective they can be because it's often very difficult to keep book displays stocked! Books with covers facing out are just more attractive to patrons and some just want to grab the first interesting thing that catches their eye. Some good fiction on a display is a great way to do that.

Aurasma/Book trailers/book talks

Aurasma is the most unique idea that I'm actually implementing in another way for the library but could easily implement to show off a fiction collection. Aurasma is an app that allows you to upload content to be displayed in augmented reality when the phone scans a 'trigger' image. In this case, the trigger images would be the covers of particular books. When the 'trigger' is scanned by your device, the content will appear in front of you, just like Pokemon would in the Pokemon GO game. In this example, patrons could scan the cover of a book, and a book trailer or book talk that I made (or if there's a good one on youtube, that would work as well) will appear to give reader's an extra special preview of the book. It saves them the trouble of googling it later and it's a fun new way to browse and kill time at the library. It also incorporates new technology. There would be signage by the fiction shelves as well as at the reference desk with instructions for patrons to download the app if they wanted to try this experience. Many companies have used Aurasma for advertising, such as Disney. Disney made one of their Star Wars Weekend T-shirt designs a 'trigger' image so Disney-goers could scan the T-shirt and see a cute little animation of Mickey wielding a light saber. I'm working on implementing it for a scavenger hunt that we do with kids throughout the year.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Week Fourteen Prompt Response

I don't think it's a problem to keep these collections separate. Where you put these collections and how it's presented to the public are what I think really matters. I believe it would be unethical to put these collections in the back dank dusty corner, poorly labeled in an area that is difficult to find. If you introduce it with an attractive display and highlight the culture and keep in in a spot that is on par with the rest of the collection then it is definitely okay. I know many patrons come to our library in particular wanting to look for books written by an African-American author. "Where are your African-American books?" is usually the exact question we get. Appreciation and demand for African-American literature is something our community at my library deeply cares about, so it would make sense for us to make a special place for it. It's become it's own genre, but can encompass any other genre we're already familiar with. It makes a lot of sense to me to keep all of these together and not spread out among the general collection from an organizing standpoint.

To address the point that it would disrupt a reader from stumbling upon a great book from these areas if they're separate from the general collection - I say maybe, if you're browsing independently. However, if these collections are given proper signage and located in a visible area that can help with this. Also, isn't that what reader's advisory service is for? We can direct patrons to try books from these areas if we think there's something in there that based on our RA interview they may enjoy.

A good example that I think will be done very successfully is that we're actually doing this right now where I work for our African-American collection. We're dedicating an entire reading room (it's a big library, so we are able to do this) to all of our books, DVDs, audiobooks, music, etc. that have been authored and created by African-Americans. We're calling the space the "Center for African-American Literature and Culture." When it opens later this year (the books have been moved but we're doing some remodeling to the space) we will be able to host programs, musical guests, community dialogue, and invite the public to explore the collection in it's own special place. I look at it as a celebration of culture, not segregation, although I know some may disagree.

LGBTQ I could go either way on, I don't think it's a problem to separate them for the same reasons that I'm okay with splitting up African-American literature. It's definitely a smaller category than African American literature so that's where I'm a bit hesitant - it has nothing to do with what the genre represents. LGBTQ can fall into a few other genre categories, but primarily romance and YA. I see no issues with a book display highlighting LGBTQ books from time to time - we should do that with just about anything. But I think separating these books may separate a decent chunk of another genre and I don't think it'd make as much sense for a smaller library than it would for a library that has a large romance collection and splitting the romance up into different types of romance may be beneficial they way they sometimes do in bookstores.

In addition, the way the Dewey system works, putting LGBTQ somewhere else from the rest of the collection could be more confusing than moving books from African-American authors which encompasses all genres and uses several different types of call numbers somewhere else. As a general rule of thumb, I think there are some criteria outside of ethical ones to determine if these genres are worth separating:

  • The size of the collection - how much of an impact will moving it make on the rest of the collection and will it take up a meaningful amount of space that it would get noticed? If not, perhaps frequent book displays every few months may be enough to draw attention to it.
  • The needs of the community. Do you have high demand for those specific materials?
  • If we separate, are we able to provide an area with proper signage and display the materials in similar professional, attractive fashion like the rest of the collection? 

I don't think separating is a necessary move, but I believe that if it fits the needs of the community and the library has the capacity to do it, then by all means go for it. Many libraries are well known for specific collections, so if there's a library with an amazing LGBTQ collection then it should be highlighted! 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Week Thirteen Prompt Response: YA

People should be able to read what they want to read, otherwise they wouldn't be reading much at all.

I enjoyed a lot of YA and juvenile in high school and have loved it ever since. However, I was a creative writing major in college and as such I had to take a number of literature classes. A literature class, for those who don't know, is like a book club on steroids. There's massive amounts of reading and then each piece gets dissected to death in class and you get graded based on how well you can break it down, how much you participate, and how much your professor likes your insightful opinions on it (I'm a little bitter because no matter how hard I tried, I was a solid B student in most lit classes). I saw things pretty differently from a lot of my classmates and I felt like I was one of the few people who didn't look down on YA and other modern "Garbage".  These people treated Faulkner and Hemingway like gods and wouldn't be caught dead reading anything with slang in the title. I hated those classes because it made me feel like there was something I wasn't getting - that my simple minded brain couldn't understand the deep meaning in these well respected works. I loved reading and writing, but I could not get behind the way my literature professors were trying to get me to think. I tried to like it - there was a number of things that I did like such as Heart of Darkness by Conrad, which surprised everyone including myself because it's a horrific story and most people hate it. I also love anything by Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters, Shakespeare, some stuff by Socrates, The Prince, and William Carlos Williams. But put John Donne in front of me and I'll promptly fall asleep - I really didn't understand the appeal Donne had for my fellow classmates.

There are some amazing YA novels out there that send strong messages and have beautiful writing and tone. I think a big part of what makes YA appeal to adults as well as teens is the pacing. As a full time worker and student, it's easier for me to read YA for fun that it would be to read a lot of adult novels. I enjoy a lot of adult fiction now that I'm older than most YA protagonists, however, I always come back to YA because not only am I a sucker for some teenage paranormal dystopian/utopian world building and innocent romance but because I want to make sure I relate to my patrons and what they are reading. I work in the children's area so I also find juvenile chapter books I find interesting. I've read half of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and still enjoyed it. I also recently read another juvenile book, The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black and it really brought me back to what it felt like reading Harry Potter for the first time.

I don't think there's anything wrong with adults reading YA or children's novels. Adults are busy and if they are actually taking the time to read it should be something that appeals to them that they can enjoy instead of trying to read something else because they think it's appropriate or good for them because society says so. I believe librarians should encourage adults to read YA if they want to. It can be tough sometimes because teens books are cataloged and shelved separately from adult books and is a shelving/cataloging nightmare to try to put the same book in two different locations. Where I work in particular, we may be unintentionally scaring off adults who want to read YA because I work at a large central library where we need to keep our children's area safe and our security team will kick out any adult who is there without a child. As library staff, we've tried to get security to be a little nicer because we know teachers often come without children to get books. We try to beat the security guards to lone adult patrons and politely ask if they're with kids or are looking for children or teen materials so that way we don't deter an adult from getting a YA book for themselves.

Think about it this way: when a lot of this classic literature was published, people of those times likely thought some of it was garbage too. Jane Austen would probably have been considered a YA author in her time. A hundred years from now students will be studying the Hunger Games and tearing it apart the way students today debate about what Fitzgerald was trying to say with the green light in The Great Gatsby.

Friday, March 31, 2017

YA Annotation: The Duff

Image result for the duff bookBook Information: Keplinger, K. (2010). The Duff. New York, NY. Little Brown.

ISBN: 978-0316084246

Bianca Piper is a regular girl with two awesome best friends. Bianca is not much of the social/party type, but tags along and hangs out in the sidelines while her friends tear it up on the dance floor. One night she's approached by the one guy from school who she deems to be the biggest playboy man-whore on Earth (she's not wrong): Wesley Rush.  He tries to hit on her two friends by insulting Bianca and referring to her as their Duff, or Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Bianca blows him off and tries to move on. However, trouble at home leaves Bianca finding herself turning to the one person she usually never wants to even be in the same room with to deal with her feelings. Bianca finds out that there may even be more to that jerk than meets the eye.  

Characteristics of YA:

  • Main Characters are within an adolescent age range (approximately 14-21).
    In The Duff Bianca and her friends are high school seniors.
  • The protagonist has a sort of coming-of-age experience
    In the story, Bianca learns that it's not the best idea to keep everything bottled up and escaping from her problems by having lots of meaningless sex (mostly fade-to-black stuff but there's still a ton of sex in this book for a YA). She also has to adjust to and help her dad through an inevitable divorce.
  • Setting, genre, and style can vary
    I've read a lot of YA. YA encompasses every genre under the sun that adults read, only it features a different target audience, so the protagonist is typically within the adolescent age range and deal with typical teenage problems, even in a high fantasy setting. 
  • The story tackles certain issue(s) that many adolescents experience (i.e. love, sex, parental divorce, LGBTQ, identity, friendship drama, moving, suicide etc.) 

    In The Duff, Bianca's mother surprises everyone by mailing signed divorce papers. The marriage wasn't exactly a happy one but it came out of the blue for Bianca and her father (the reader can kinda see it coming). This led to Bianca's father turning to alcohol to cope and instead of reaching out to her friends for help (these friends have also had experience dealing with divorce) she uses her worst enemy as a way to escape. Bianca also fights with her own self-image (due to Wesley being an asshole and calling her Duffy all the time - making her aware that she doesn't exactly fit the norm for what's hot).
  • Can be fiction and nonfiction
    This goes along with one of the previous points that setting, genre, and style can vary in YA. The Duff is realistic fiction. What's also interesting about this book is that the author of the book is really young and actually wrote The Duff at age 17, when she was also likely a high school senior. As an aspiring YA writer myself, I'm very jealous and if I had known that before reading it, it would've made the book appeal more to me. I think the author being at an age that the target audience can relate to would definitely appeal to another teen. 

As a personal note, I didn't think I'd like this book, but I did. The writing itself is really quirky and funny and sticks true-to-character point of view: Bianca doesn't mess around, so neither does the writing. The character development and dialogue are winners here. Don't watch the movie. After finishing the book, I went ahead and watched it and it tells a completely different story (and it's awful). The book is really about how Bianca handles her parents divorce and her other friendship/social problems - the movie focuses on what Bianca can do to "be pretty" and "not be the Duff anymore" and turns her parents divorce into a joke. The book = depth, character development, meaning. The movie = the screenwriters had to basically change the whole thing to get it rated PG-13.  

Read - A- Likes: 

The Earth, my butt, and other big round things by Carolyn Macker
Love and other Theories by Alexis Bass
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones
The Queen of Everything by Deb Caletti

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Week Twelve Prompt Response: NF Matrix

Image result for rise how a house built a family

Title: Rise: How a House Built a Family
Author: Cara Brookins
Publication Date: January 2017
Number of Pages: 320
Geographic Setting: Arkansas, USA.
Time Period: Present day
Subject Headings: American Authors, 21st Century, Women Authors, Biography, Divorced mothers, House Construction
Book Summary: After escaping an abusive marriage, Cara Brookins had four children to provide for and no one to turn to but herself. In desperate need of a home but without the means to buy one, she did something unbelievable. Equipped only with YouTube instructional videos, a small bank loan, a mile-wide stubborn streak, Cara built her own house from the foundation up with a work crew made up of her four children. Through building a house together, Cara and her family could finally move on.

1. Where is the book on the narrative continuum?

Highly narrative (reads like fiction)

2. What is the subject of the book? This book is about overcoming a terrible situation by completing a task that is near impossible. It's about a family growing stronger after getting away from abusive husbands through building a house together.

3. What type of book is it? This is a memoir in narrative form.

4. Articulate appeal

  • What is the pacing of the book? It's a leisure pace and Brookins does a good job spacing out the good things with the tough challenges she faced so the reader doesn't get bogged down with depressing things.
  • Describe the characters of the book. This book is about the author, Cara and her four children as they build a house from the ground up. Cara is a computer programmer and aspiring writer who is trying to pick up the pieces after three failed marriages.
  • How does the story feel? Inspiring, shocking, thoughtful.
  • What is the intent of the author? To tell her story about how building a house strengthened her relationship with her kids and moving past the bad times.
  • What is the focus of the story? The focus of the story is on Cara and how she had to navigate through escaping her marriages, keeping her kids safe, and all in all how they went from a broken and scared family to one that has learned to be free and have fun together.
  • Does the language matter? Yes. Cara uses it pretty cleverly to distinguish chapters from building the house to flashbacks from her marriages. chapters labeled "Rise" are about the house, and chapters labeled "Fall" are flashbacks.
  • Is the setting important and well described? The setting is important because it led to Cara making the decision to build a house despite all odds as well as the description of how they built it and the work that needed to be accomplished is needed for the reader to grasp how daunting this task is for a mother and four children (one child being only two years old, so really it was a house building crew of four, not five).
  • Are there details and, if so, of what? Lots of details about the construction work, and detailed descriptions of her husbands and the expressions on her kid's faces.
  • Are there sufficient charts and other graphic materials? Are they useful and clear? None. None needed.
  • Does the book stress moments of learning, understanding or experience? Absolutely. They made many mistakes especially in the early stages of building the house, and Cara reflects a lot about why she stayed with certain husbands for so long, what held her back etc. 

5. Why would a reader enjoy this book? 

1. The experience (how does one go about building a house without any experience!?) 2. Details 3. Conversational tone

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Week 11 Prompt Response

I'm a big fan of ebooks and audiobooks. What may be one of the more difficult things to adjust to when analyzing and ebook versus a physical book is the length. The number of ebook pages can vary greatly whereas a physical book has a set number of pages. Ebook pages can vary for several reasons and almost always have more pages than the physical version. The biggest reason being it depends on the screen size of the device you are using. I read ebooks on everything, my computer, a tablet device, or even my little tiny phone screen. If I want to know my actual progress through the book I have to look at the percentage of the book that I've read so far. Physical books aren't measured by percentages. The books are of course, the same length no matter what medium you choose to read it by, however, depending on the type of person you are, you may find the pacing faster with an ebook because you get to turn pages sooner or get daunted if you are looking at the 'pages' you've read and still have several hundred to go. Since I still haven't mastered the science of ebook pages to figure out how long the book will be there are other factors I look at. I often look up the physical book to see what the page count is to get an idea of how long the book actually is. I also look at the table of contents in the ebook which can also help me evaluate how long it may take me to read the book. Finally, you just have to turn to reviews to see what the consensus is about pacing. At that point, how long it actually takes me to get through the book just depends on how good it is and how busy I am which I can't measure. Pacing and length are sometimes a big concern for readers so finding information about how many pages long the physical book is may help give readers a better idea of  how 'long' it is before they get intimidated by how many 'pages' are in the ebook version.

Being able to change the font, color, and spacing of the text something that I think helps pace. If you are able to read comfortably it puts less strain on the eyes and can make it easier to read. Making the font bigger or adjusting the spacing will add more ebook 'pages' so it may seem like your progress slows down, however if making those adjustments helps you get more immersed in the story it doesn't matter in my opinion. I usually change the colors at night when I'm reading in bed so that it helps my eyes adjust to the dark.  I love this about ebooks because I can read lying down without having to prop the book up in weird ways and not have to keep lights on so that way I'm not keeping anyone else up!

One thing we should consider when recommending and showing our patrons ebooks is formats available for reading. My library system uses Overdrive for ebooks which is compatible with the Overdrive app, any browser, and the Kindle app. It can be tricky because occasionally all three formats aren't available for a particular title (Kindle usually is the one left out if this is the case). If you have a patron who wants to use a Kindle format specifically, you got to watch out for that. This is most definitely a common problem for audiobooks on Overdrive. Certain ebook reading apps/systems have different checkout rules. For overdrive, I can always read the book in a browser whenever I want since it's not downloaded and my overdrive account always holds my place where I left off in the browser version. Overdrive will also usually let you choose between Kindle or Overdrive for downloading. You can only pick one of these, but even after you download it, you can still access the read-in-browser version. I often switch between the downloaded version and the browser version depending on where I want to read. The browser and downloaded versions aren't synced up, so if you switch between the two often you'll have to manually find your place because it will only bookmark where you last read in that particular version. Despite that small set back, I love that I can check out an ebook and literally read it anywhere I've got a device (and wifi depending on if I saved the book to a device or not).

I'm less familiar with audiobooks but have started to develop a love for them because I can also use Overdrive for audiobooks. I almost always download these to my phone so that way I don't use data when listening in my car, which is one of the ways I treat audiobooks differently than ebooks. I found the Reading with Your Ears article by Kaite Mediatore very informative because I know a lot of people listen to audiobooks more frequently and differently than I do so there are some major appeal factors that I didn't really think about. Abrdiged or unabridged? Favorite narrator? Music? CD or cassette (and now smart device compatible)? Is the patron using the audiobook for driving or reading alongside? I really think the good narrator and length really applies with the driving scenario. From personal experience, no one wants a dull narrator during a long drive. I use audiobooks in the car to calm the road rage and keep me awake, not put me to sleep!  Length is an appeal factor that I think applies a lot for a long road trip because I want the book to be long enough to cover the whole trip (with some extra length  to account for bad traffic), and hopefully finish or be nearly finished with the book by the time the trip is over. Since I'm still not very well versed in the audiobook world and don't know who all the best narrators are yet (I have had the pleasure of listening to a James Marsters audiobook and would love to listen to more like him) I will definitely be seeking as much information as I can out of my patrons to learn more about why they like particular audiobooks.

Mediatore, K. (2003). Reading with Your Ears: Readers' Advisory and Audio Books. Reference and User Services Quarterly, 42(4), 318-23. Retrieved from Library Lit & Inf Full Text database.