Monday, April 23, 2018

End of the Class!

Hello all!

I have received a couple of final projects so far - please feel free to turn these into me early. I have given you until April 29th to finish your projects. You can submit them via email or assignments.

I hope to have all grades posted by the end of next week. Don't forget that class participation is a part of your grade! This is the last week to comment on each other's posts so make it count!

What a fun semester - thanks all, for making it enjoyable. I appreciate you letting me know when things were unclear or confusing - I will definitely take it all into account for the next course. I hope you all have a great summer!

Again, let me know if you have any questions or problems - I wish I could have met all of you in person! If you're ever around Indianapolis maybe I'll meet you at one of the Indianapolis Librarian Happy Hour meetups or ILF. Also, if you're interested I am a co-organizer of the Indianapolis Literary Pub Crawl that runs once a year in the fall. All proceeds go towards Indy Reads and we have a featured author talk, costume contest, literary drinks, and raffle; it's a great way to meet lots of other bibliophiles (and librarians!). The two girls I run it with are IUPUI SLIS grads, as well as many of our volunteers.

Thanks again for a wonderful course and feel free to add me on social media (after I have posted the final grades, that is.)

Due by April 29th: 
Prompt Response (many of you have already done this, I posted it last week)
Lab - Final Project!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Weeks Fifteen and Sixteen

Bowing to the EXTREME pressure of people politely asking, I've decided to post prompts for both this week and the next, so you guys can get finished up with everything as soon as you'd like!

The last few weeks of this course are light, reading-wise, because I want you to focus on your final projects. So for Week 15, some of the readings about programming for adults are more suggestions for what to read rather than required. Please read the Saricks chapter though, as that talks specifically about programming for RA and will be very helpful in answering your prompt.

Week 15 Prompt

What do you think are the best ways to market your library's fiction collection? Name and describe three ways you do or would like to market your library or your future library's fiction. These can be tools, programs, services, displays - anything that you see as getting the word out.

Week 16 Prompt

Both of our readings this week talk about the culture of reading and the future of the book. So I have two questions for you as readers, pulling on your own experiences and all of the readings we have done over the semester: First, how have reading and books changed since you were a child, for you specifically? Second, talk a little about what you see in the future for reading, books, or publishing - say 20 years from now. Will we read more or less, will our reading become more interactive? What will happen to traditional publishing? This is  a very free-form question, feel free to wildly extrapolate or calmly state facts, as suits your mood!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Week Fourteen

This week we are talking about some other types of fiction that aren't necessarily their own genres, but are often treated as such. There are of course the urban fiction (or street lit), African American literature, and GLBTQ writings.

Street Lit

Working in a small, not very diverse branch, I don't get many RA questions about street lit. It's been a lot of fun exploring a genre I was unfamiliar with and discovering the subtleties and themes that run through it. The frames of street lit include overcoming poverty, crime, outrageous acts of violence, the importance of money, life being cheap, and women are often sexually abused. Story lines include betrayal and revenge, rags to riches tales, hip hop, overblown crime and violence. There are also street lit books that include a strong connection to Christianity and redemption through religion. A lot of these books are popular with young adults. Part of the reason for this is that black characters do not feature strongly in many YA titles.

Some of the seminal works of street lit include Iceberg Slim's Pimp: The Story of my Life from 1967, and Donald Goines Whoreson. More modern street lit authors often publish their titles independently - author Vicki Stringer started the publisher Triple Crown for these titles. More modern titles that are highly influential include the work of Sister Souljah and Stringer. Street lit is also really taking off in ebook form right now.

People who read street lit are often interested in specific sub-genres. Getting to know these titles and authors will prove to be invaluable in connecting with the patrons. Fans of street lit love talking about their favorite authors and do not expect librarians to have knowledge of the genre. When you show even the smallest bit of knowledge they are surprised and thrilled, and you increase the likelihood of their being library advocates. Even if the books are not to your taste, with the violence and sexual abuse, remember that people often like to read exaggerated tales that match their own lives or fears for their own lives, and that identifying with a similar character and seeing how they deal with difficult situations is an extremely valuable tool and part of the reason why fiction is so important.

Please review the sources provided in your syllabus. The readings are light this week; please take this opportunity to work on your final projects! There isn't as much on the African American genre (not as much as Urban Fiction or Street Lit anyways) so here are two websites that can help you out:

Let me know of any problems, issues, or questions.

Due by the end of the week:
Prompt Response
GBLTQ, and Urban Fiction annotations

Week 14 Prompt

Consider yourself part of the collection management committee of your local library, or a library at which you would like to work. You must decide whether or not to separate GBLTQ fiction and African American Fiction from the general collection to its own special place. Some patrons have requested this, yet many staff are uncomfortable with the idea - saying it promotes segregation and disrupts serendipitous discovery of an author who might be different from the reader. Do you separate them? Do you separate one and not the other? Why or why not? You must provide at least 3 reasons for or against your decision. Feel free to use outside sources - this is a weighty question that is answered differently in a lot of different libraries. Also, it's been in the news recently. These articles (and the comments) can help you get a feel for the issue:

Monday, April 2, 2018

Week Thirteen

We're in the home stretch! I hope that you are progressing well on your projects - I have yet to have anyone ask me for help in finding a librarian to work with, so my guess is if you are doing Lab B you all already know who you are working with. If you are doing Lab A you should be finding your folks to experiment on now to give them time to read some of your picks and respond to how well they like them. Please let me know if you have any questions - I am very flexible, but I do expect a certain level of work from this project and you won't have time to revise it if you turn it in the day it is due. But going by the work you guys have been doing all semester everything will be great.

So this week we are tackling a few "genres" (really they're formats/ age ranges) that seem to be skyrocketing in popularity. Be sure and check out all the readings and links listed in the syllabus!!

Young Adult
Young adult books are kind of on the fence between being a genre and not being a genre. Obviously, they are mainly supposed to be an age group, with different genres interspersed throughout. However, young adult books now tend to share certain characteristics that make them very popular among both teens and adults. These characteristics include a fast pace, likeable and young main characters who are facing issues that do not devalue or minimize the problems that teenagers face.

New Adult
New Adult books are similar to YA - however the people are slightly older and there is generally more sex. They may be going to college for the first time or on a military deployment. Here's some information:

New Adult Alley: This is a popular new adult website that has a lot of titles and reviews.

Meg-a-Rae: This is a video podcast from an IUPUI grad, who has since moved on to another job. She and her co-worker discuss a couple of New Adult titles and the genre.

Betwixt and Between: A collection development article on the New Adult genre I published a few years ago in the Library Journal.

Graphic Novels
Like Young Adult, graphic novels aren't really a genre, they are a format and they contain different genres. Graphic novels have been steadily increasing in popularity for years. Some of the works that you should know include the Watchmen, Maus, The Death of Superman, and Persepolis. All of these titles have had a great influence on graphic novels, and have helped to propel them from comic book status to award-winning stories in their own right. Many very popular novels or series of novels have been made into graphic novels as well - especially urban fantasy. Also, it's become a theme for some popular science fiction shows that have gone off the air to continue their series as graphic novels - Firefly for instance.

The main difference in doing RA for graphic novels is that you have to take the art style into consideration - many patrons enjoy a particular type of art and just want to read graphic novels that employ that particular style. If you have a difficult time following graphic novels, try reading Scott McCloud's book Understanding Comics: the Invisible Art. He explains some of the semiotics of comic books to help you understand how the artwork influences the story.


  • New Adult and young adult annotations posted to blog for this week’s selectors.
  • Prompt response on your blog.

Week 13 Prompt 
Though this week's group of "genres" all seem very different, they all have in common the fact that many people don't feel that they are legitimate literary choices and libraries shouldn't be spending money on them or promoting them to adults. The common belief is that adults still don't or shouldn't read that stuff. How can we as librarians, work to ensure that we are able to serve adults who enjoy YA literature or graphic novels? Or should we? I can't wait to read your thoughts on this. Thanks!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Week Twelve

Hope you have had a great week! This week we are discussing non-fiction and reviewing different types of book awards.

Non-fiction often poses a dilemma for readers' advisors. If the RA librarian is separate from the Reference Desk, isn't non-fiction the reference librarians' job? However, quite often anymore, someone isn't saying, "I'm looking for a book on social economics," they are saying, "I just read Freakonomics and I found it fascinating, but I was an English major and don't know math. Any other books that are like Freakonimics but that I can understand?" That type of question takes a readers' advisor. What about Freakonomics interested the reader? The sociology of it, or the study of numbers that made it possible? And why?

The difference here is between task-based and non-task-based books. If the reader is looking for a book to show them how to fix the sink, a guide to the best hikes in the area, or a biology textbook, then appeal is not as relevant. However non-fiction is very readable, and many people, myself included, read it for pleasure. These readers are the ones who need our help.

Neal Wyatt has written the book on RA for Nonfiction. In it, she discusses how we can do what we do with fiction for non-fiction. Here is what we need to look for in the non-fiction we read and suggest:

Narrative Continuum  - How much does this book read like a novel? How many narrative devices does the author use to make it a page-turning work?
Subject – Many people are looking for a subject, just as in fiction they are looking for genre. However, a person who says they want to read about the restaurant business because they loved Kitchen Confidential are going to enjoy the equally raunchy and irreverent behind-the-scenes take on the hotel industry Heads in Beds more than A Thousand Hill to Heaven, the inspirational story of a couple who opened a restaurant in war-torn Rwanda.
Type - memoir, biography, letters, essays, history, social sciences, reporting, travel narratives - these are all types of non-fiction that readers will ask for. Often they won't know the word for it.
Appeal - We can use a lot of the same appeal factors that we use for fiction:
Pacing- influenced by fact and theories, needed to be digested by the reader; also how much knowledge of a subject a reader brings to it the faster the pace will go. The more narrative a story is the more quickly it will unfold. For readers who want more details and facts about the subject this isn't always a good thing - however for readers looking for an enjoyable take on the subject it can be.
Characterization - reader interaction with characters vary: often the author intends for the reader to either identify with them or to observe them as separate.
Storyline – Affects narrative nature, focus of story, subject treatment. Books with a great story that are highly narrative are the best to “transcend the Dewey Divide”, as Wyatt puts it.
Intent of author – to educate or to entertain? Easy to read or crammed with facts
Subject focused – history, science, biography; whereas travel cooking memoir – more about story than subject
Detail – descriptions, maps, illustrations etc
Learning / Experiencing -  teachable moments (Freakonomics) versus sharing an experience (David Sedaris)
Language –does writing style matter? – lyrical or sharp edged
Setting – location, does it need to be brought to life? Most NF takes place somewhere
Tone - light or dark

Please do the readings located in the Canvas files this week and in the syllabus. Wyatt also writes articles for Library Journal that I highly suggest reading - she is an approachable and incredibly knowledgeable part of the RA community and getting to know her work is a great way to keep up with the scholarship on Readers' Advisory.

Due by the End of this week:

Non-fiction and Literary Annotations

Week 12 Prompt Responses

Week 12 Prompt

For your prompt this week, please complete the Readers' Advisory Matrix, found on the last page of the reading title "RA Guide to Nonfiction" in the Canvas files, about a non-fiction book you have read. If you have not read a non-fiction book recently, feel free to use some of the techniques on how to "read" a book in five minutes such as Mary Chelton's handouts or any others we have covered to get a feel for a non-fiction book. I look forward to reading these!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Final Assignment - More Information

I've received a lot of questions about the final assignment recently so I thought I would post some more details about it. Some people have asked if they can use organic work-based experiences for the Readers' Advisor is In Lab, and I have to say, I think that would be difficult to do. Let's take a more in-depth look at the assignment:

Lab A: The Readers' Advisor is In!

Provide readers advisory services to at least 5 different people. Do not use participants real names; create a reader profile describing their reading habits and preferences; list a few of the questions you asked them, indicate which tools/bibliographic aids you used to find other books; what you recommended; what they read; how well you met their reading interests. Submit paper via Canvas Assignment. Please use consistent formatting in whatever style you prefer.

These criteria are meant to create ideal readers' advisory conditions that rarely organically happen in a library, in order to let you learn as much as possible about your subject and see how well you do and what you could have done better. We can't expect our patrons to be our lab rats! Let's break it down a bit.

1. Create a reader profile describing their reading habits and preferences: Here you will want to find out what your friend/family members like to read. Find out what types of books they generally like and why - find out what types of books they don't like and why. You may already have this information if this is someone you are close to, but it doesn't hurt to ask the why's just in case their reasoning is different from what you expect.

2. List a few of the questions you asked them: Give us a basic idea of your interview. Even if you know your person and their reading habits well, you never know what they might be in the mood for. When I did this assignment for Dr. Copeland (she designed the class and the assignments - I just update the readings), one of the friends I enlisted did not want to be interviewed; he said you know what I like, just pick something. When I did - I picked several fantasy novels for him, knowing those were the books he always borrowed from me - he took them and I didn't hear from him. I asked him couple of weeks later what he thought, and he said "Oh, you know, I haven't gotten to them. I just haven't been in the mood for those lately." It was very frustrating, come to find out he'd been reading exclusively non-fiction for months. I was then able to find several books he enjoyed, and it taught me a lesson about assuming I know what someone wants!

3. Indicate which tools/bibliographic aids you used to find other books: This is fairly self-explanatory. Let us know if you used Novelist, the Saricks textbook or a Genreflecting book your library has, Goodreads, Amazon, Readers Advisor Online, whatever!

4. What you recommended: Again, fairly self-explanatory.

5. What they read; how well you met their reading interests: Just so you know, you will not be graded poorly if you don't score a hit every time. This is meant to be a learning experience. Also, if someone does not end up reading the books you recommend, try to find out at least if they think they would like them. We can't force people to read, as much as we would like to.

And remember - you need to do this for five people, then write up your experiences with each person and reflect on them in a paper. This is a time-consuming project, but it is fun, and you learn a lot!

On to the other option:

Lab B: Reading List as Community Service

Create an annotated book list on a topic of interest to adult readers. Work with a public librarian to negotiate a topic relevant to the library’s community.Write about the various aspects of the experience, e.g., the library, the community, factors considered, tools used, the product (display, flyer with list); how selections were made; and the final list. Submit paper and other bookmarks/ brochures/flyers via Canvas assignment to me. Please use consistent formatting in whatever style you prefer.

For this lab if you work at a library you are free to work with a librarian at your location to create a list. It does need to include fiction. If you do not work in a library or you want to provide a list for a different library find a librarian willing to work with you to create a booklist. Working with a library is part of this assignment. They may want a list on vampires who knit, or fiction that celebrates spring! Really, you just want the librarian to help you come up with a topic that is relevant to their library and patrons, and talk about the style/type of list they prefer. One point here - many librarians think annotated lists are unnecessary - I disagree, as should you by this point in the class! If they do not want an annotated booklist please create one anyway. Just tell them your professor is mean. It must include some fiction - that being said, feel free to integrate non-fiction, DVDs, music, audiobooks or other parts of the library's collection into the list.

You can refer back to some of our readings on annotation such as the Chelton handouts. I would prefer to see lists with at least 12 books on them, however if your librarian wants it as a bookmark or a small slip of paper obviously you may not be able to fit that many. For your assignment, please send me through Canvas assignment both the final product (the list, a picture of a display with the list, a link, whatever depending on what format the library would like) and a paper talking about your experience as listed in the assignment description. Write about the various aspects of the experience, e.g., the library, the community, factors considered, tools used, the product (display, flyer with list); how selected were made; and the final list. Two pages should suffice.

This assignment sounds a bit easier than the other; but it is more difficult to write good, short annotations than it sounds. Please write your own annotations using appeal factors - do not use ones you have found on Booklist or Amazon. If you are the main RA person in your library and create the RA info and displays, feel free to work with yourself. If you are a having a difficult time finding a librarian to work with, let me know and I can help. But not the day before it is due. :)

 Please let me know if you have any questions that I haven't covered here.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Week Eleven

Hope you all had a great spring break and were able to relax and have some fun.

This week we are talking about ebooks and audiobooks. Ebooks are here and whether we like them or not, we need to support our patrons who do. Since you guys are taking an online course I have to assume that you enjoy technology more than the average bear; but if you still don't like ebooks I hope you decide to give them a try. They may not be for you - but I've yet to meet a voracious reader who tried them and didn't like them. Maybe you don't like them the same way you like your physical books, but just for convenience or travel or to read at night without a light, etc. Personally, I only use them while travelling, but everyone is different!

Audiobooks are a great way to pass the time in cars, I ALWAYS have one on when I'm driving! A narrator can make or break an audiobook, I've had some narrators that were soo awful I had to turn it off after a track or two. But as audiobooks grow in popularity so does their quality. Many celebrities will narrate and many times authors will narrate their own (which is great! I highly recommend Tina Fey's, Carrie Fisher's or Amy Poehler's audiobooks!).  There are a lot of people who do most of their reading through audiobooks. These patrons will often have favorite narrators, who will greatly influence their choice of books. I will listen to anything narrated by Wil Wheaton or James Marsters (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer); they could narrate a phone book and I would still want to listen!

Please do the readings this week - I am posting a couple of extra things in the Canvas files. Also, don't forget to check out syllabus and do those readings as well! I know there is a lot of reading this week, but it's all very useful!

Now that specter of the midterm assignment has passed, I would like to remind you that you are soon going to need to start working on your end of semester assignment if you haven't already. Remember, you have two options, but both require time and planning. Take a look at the assignments again and start thinking!

Due by the end of this week:

1. Prompt Response

2. Fantasy, Historical Fiction, and Western Annotations

Week 11 Prompt 

Ebooks and audiobooks are a part of our landscape. What does the change in medium mean for appeal factors? If you can't hold a book and feel the physical weight of it in your hands, how does that affect your knowledge of the genre? How about readers being able to change the font, line spacing, and color of text - how does that affect pacing and tone? How about audiobooks? Track length, narrator choice, is there music?  For this week, I want you to think about how ebooks and audiobooks affect appeal factors - also think about appeals that are unique to both mediums. Please feel free to use your own experience and that of your (anonymous of course) patrons. I look forward to reading these!