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.