Monday, February 19, 2018

Week Seven

The readings this week are focused on book controversies. When providing readers' advisory services, patrons expect us to know the details behind books that are in the news - without passing judgment. The articles you are to read for this week talk about some of the most significant book headlines of the past. However book controversies aren't just things of the past, I'm sure many of you have heard all about the controversy behind the picture book, A Birthday Cake for George Washington two years ago. And this past year, the controversy over Milo Yiannopoulos' new book. There are always two sides to every story whether it be A Million Little Pieces or Lance Armstrong's "memoirs." It's our job to be informed and give non-biased information to patrons. We will also be doing our science fiction and mystery annotations this week. Be sure to read the chapters! Saricks has some interesting points to make about serving the readers of these genres.

Some of you know that I am a pretty big science fiction fan. I have a couple of resources available that I want to post on here - I know I put a lot of reading in the syllabus for this week so I didn't want to add any more required reading. But if you are one of those people who has never been able to "get into" science fiction, I highly suggest reading this article by Jo Walton. In it, she talks about SF reading protocols, or, how people who read science fiction read with a learned set of skills that people who did not grow up reading science fiction may not have. And here is a super-fun resource to share with patrons, it takes the NPR top one hundred SF and fantasy books voted on by listeners a couple of years ago and turns it into a flowchart.

Also, I want to remind you to be commenting on your classmate's blogs. Class participation is a huge chunk of your grade and there are a handful of you that have yet to leave any comments. Everyone should be commenting at least three times a week.

Due by the end of this week:
Prompt Response
Science Fiction and Mystery Annotations (practically the entire class is doing one or the other so I'm not going to put individual names here)

For our prompt this week, I want you to think about fake memoirs, author mills (James Patterons), and celebrity inspired book clubs. Basically write a readers' response to one of the articles you are reading for this week (see syllabus or links in this post for readings) - or talk about a time when a book or author that made headlines affected you personally or your work.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Week Six

Great job on your Secret Shopper experiences, I'm almost done grading all of them. I know that is can be very uncomfortable and awkward to pretend in this way, but I think it's very valuable to see how the people we are trying to help are treated - both the good and the bad.

This week, we are doing Horror, Gentle Reads, and Romance. As strange as the three of these seem to pair together, they actually go very well as all three genres are designed to elicit strong emotions on behalf of the reader.

We are also discussing integrated advisory this week. The concept behind integrated advisory is very simple: it's using forms of media other than books in your advisory. For example, if someone wants to get back into reading but they haven't read too much, you could ask what type of television shows or movies they like, or what kinds of games they like to play. The opposite works as well; I have nearly as many people ask me for movie suggestions as I do book suggestions. And I rarely watch movies, so I have to use sources - and these are not always as easy to find. With reluctant readers, having this knowledge and ability is even more valuable.

For this week's prompt, I would like you to think of an innovative way to promote romance, gentle reads or horror at your local library (pick one, just one!). What would be most effective? A catchy display? Some passive programming? In what ways could you incorporate integrated advisory? Pretend you're pitching an idea to your boss and write at least a paragraph in your prompt response. Hint, pinterest can come in handy, so can Facebook's ALA Think Tank. Have fun with this one!!

Remember, by the end of this week I will need the following posted to your blog (you don't need to submit anything through Canvas):

  • Prompt Responses 
  • Romance, Gentle Reads, and Horror Annotations

The following students have annotations this week:

Bailey, Craig
Bartkowiak, Amy
Burcham, Shawn
Cory, Lindsay
Hight, Holly
Hoyt, Rachel
McDowell, Dana
Roberts, Catherine
Saia, Amanda
Turner, Chelsea
Vanzo, Brittany

Gentle Reads
Bhatt, Lisa
Flennery, Katherine
Hoyt, Rachel
Huizenga, Paige
Kammeyer, Megan
Richey, Anna
Spurgin, Jeannine

Bedwell, Emily
Berry, Melanie
Chronister, Andrea
Geesy, Laura
Gritten, Ricke
Jones, Dustin
Kindle. Kelly
Lubelski, Carter
Martin, Chase
McGill, Cristi
Renno, Malissa
Rice, Sarah
Richey, Anna
Sparrow, Masada

Monday, February 5, 2018

Week Five Prompt

Hope you are getting your reviews read and written. For this week's prompt, I want to start a conversation about the different types of reviews. Different publications review different types of books and they allow different types of conversations. For example, Booklist will not publish negative reviews, while, as you have all seen, Kirkus has no problems with it (check out this savage review - Ebook only books, which are increasingly popular (especially in the romance genre) see little to no reviews in professional publications unless they have a big name author, and then still it's usually only RT Reviews (formally Romantic Times) or other genre heavy publications. How does this affect collection development?

I have posted two more documents in the week five files. One is two reviews of an ebook only romantic suspense novel, one from a blog and one from amazon. Look over the reviews - do you feel they are both reliable? How likely would you be to buy this book for your library?

The other document contains some reviews of Angela's Ashes, by Frank McCourt, an incredibly popular memoir. These reviews are all from professional publications, feel free to find more on your own I just nabbed a few from the Book Review Digest database for you. How do these reviews make you feel about the possibility of adding Angela's Ashes to your collection?

Do you think it's fair that one type of book is reviewed to death and other types of books get little to no coverage? How does this affect a library's collection?  And how do you feel about review sources that won't print negative content? Do you think that's appropriate? If you buy for your library, how often do you use reviews to make your decisions? If not, how do you feel about reviews for personal reading, and what are some of your favorite review sources?

Personally, I love to read reviews, but usually the shorter the better. If it's too long I feel like I might as well just read the book. When I used to buy, I loved RT Reviews - it's very genre heavy but that's what everyone read where I was. For fun, I subscribe to Locus magazine and I love their science fiction and fantasy reviews, and for romance you can't go wrong with Smart Bitches Trashy Books. I flip through Library Journal, Kirkus, and Publishers Weekly to keep myself up to date on what is coming out.

For fun check out to see some of the greatest "bad reviews" from Kirkus. They are brilliant and savage. This isn't assigned reading by any means and you don't have to mention it in your prompts. I thought I would just share :)

Thanks folks, I look forward to reading your prompt responses!

Week Five!

Hope you have had a great week and enjoyed your secret shopper experience! I haven't gotten a chance to read all of them yet - but I am looking forward to it. I should have feedback and grades posted by the end of the week.

Due by the end of this week:

  • Adventure & Romantic Suspense Annotations
  • A Kirkus-style review of a book you loved or hated 
  • Prompt Response

For this week, we are reading about the Adventure and Romantic Suspense genres and about book reviews. These are very fun genres that are really popular right now so please make sure to read those chapters in your textbook!

For the book review reading I have asked you to look over several different book review websites and write a Kirkus-style review. Kirkus has two things that make it stand out from other review sources - first, it is anonymous. This means that an aspiring writer can publish a bad review without alienating a publisher, or a librarian can publish one without angering a popular author. The second thing Kirkus has going for it, is format. Kirkus uses a very specific format that allows librarians and booksellers to quickly skim a review and find out if the book is one that they want for their collection. The first sentence or two is always a quick summary of the book, then the middle paragraph is a more thorough summary with criticism, and the last sentence or two sum up the reviewer's feelings about the title. Please go to the Kirkus site or look up some reviews of books you have read in the library databases - many databases provide access to Kirkus, I believe Academic Search Premier is one.

The PowerPoint in Canvas is about professional reviewing. If you're looking to see your name in print, earn some cash, or just score free books, be sure to check it out. I've been reviewing professionally for a few years and it is very gratifying! I don't always get paid, but I get to see my name in print and I average about 140 free books and audiobooks a year. Plus it's great networking and am awesome resume booster!

Also, it may seem early, but you might want to start thinking about your midterm assignment. I have asked you to write a paper on a topic related to readers' advisory (please email me the topic for approval prior to writing the paper).

I will post the prompt later this afternoon. The following students have selected this week's genre's: adventure and romantic suspense. Be sure to check out their blogs and comment on their annotations and/or prompt responses.

Bhatt, Lisa
Jones, Dustin
Kammeyer, Megan
Roberts, Catherine
Vanzo, Brittany

Romantic Suspense:
Blair, April
Flennery, Katherine
McDowell, Dana
Richey, Anna
Shafer, Mary
Spurgin, Jeannine

Monday, January 29, 2018

Week Four!

Great job everyone on the prompt responses and annotations! I'm pleased that you all tried out a variety of RA resources. Also, great job commenting on each other's posts. Keep it up!

Ok all, this is the week for your Secret Shopper visit! No other response this week, just two readings and this assignment. Review the assignment details, and let me know if you have any questions. A couple of points:

Look over the assignment description! Please upload your paper to the assignment tool and then post a summary of your paper to your blog.

Please don't tell us what library you went to! Unless you had an amazing experience! A few of you have already posted your responses and listed the library. That's fine, because thankfully you seemed to have good experiences. I don't expect that to be the case for everybody. Many people can have a bad day, and the point of this exercise isn't to shame our underfunded, understaffed public libraries - it's to show us how we can improve.

Glance over some of the articles we've read about RA interviews before you go, to remember what is supposed to happen.

Have an idea of what type of book you are looking for in mind. This is a great time to try to find a book for that romance annotation ;)

I've read about some great transactions and about some horrible transactions over the years. Let's hope you all get great examples of amazing customer service!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Another blog post because.... Monday

Don't worry I'll keep this quick. I've had a few questions about class participation, which is 100% made up of your comments on your classmate's blogs. You can comment on their prompt responses or annotations or one of the other assignments (secret shopper, book club experience, etc.). You also aren't limited to only responding to annotations in the genre that you have also selected to annotate. For example, you don't only have to comment on "thriller" annotations if you also wrote a thriller one. Shake it up, respond to a suspense one. The sky is the limit.

Every Monday morning I look at everyone's blogs and read through the previous week's comments (and add some of my own) while tallying them up. I only count the comments that were written on blog posts assigned that week. So for instance, next Monday I will tally up all the comments on thriller/ suspense annotations and prompt responses. I'm not going to go back and check out the reader profiles again to see if there were any additional comments. Does this make sense? You can't go back retrospectively and add comments to posts that were from weeks or months prior and expect to get credit for them.

But worry not, everyone did great commenting on each other's blog this past week. I was very happy by thoughtful dialogue and rapport many of you had on each other's reader profiles. Keep it up! It's 10% of your grade! See below for excerpt from the syllabus on class participation:

I will expect you to comment on each others’ blogs. Reading about what other people are reading helps A LOT in readers’ advisory. I know this probably goes unsaid but just in case, there is one ground rule – this is a safe place. No teasing each other – if someone says the only book they have ever loved is a sparkly vampire romance they are to be treated with respect, just as a patron would. The definition of a good book, for the purpose of RA, is always one that is enjoyed by the reader. Every week that there is a prompt or annotation posted on yours or your classmate’s blogs, I expect you to comment on at least three different blog postings. It doesn't have to be a long comment, but it should be thoughtful, helpful, and add to the discussion.

*also, feel free to add me on Goodreads! Every semester my tbr pile gets larger as I read your annotations! my username is ecataldi *

Week Three Prompt Response

So two things this week- first, I would like you to use Novelist if you are able (not every public library owns it, if you don't have access and want it, contact me and I can give you my access). Answer the following questions using Novelist (or another RA site) as much as you can - just to familiarize yourself with it if you aren't already using it.  Explain why you chose the books you did.

1. I am looking for a book by Laurell K. Hamilton. I just read the third book in the Anita Blake series and I can’t figure out which one comes next!

2. What have I read recently? Well, I just finished this great book by Barbara Kingsolver, Prodigal Summer. I really liked the way it was written, you know, the way she used language. I wouldn't mind something a bit faster paced though.

3. I like reading books set in different countries. I just read one set in China, could you help me find one set in Japan? No, not modern – historical. I like it when the author describes it so much it feels like I was there!

4. I read this great mystery by Elizabeth George called Well-Schooled in Murder and I loved it. Then my dentist said that if I liked mysteries I would probably like John Sandford, but boy was he creepy I couldn't finish it! Do you have any suggestions?

5. My husband has really gotten into zombies lately. He’s already read The Walking Dead and World War Z, is there anything else you can recommend?

6. I love books that get turned into movies, especially literary ones. Can you recommend some? Nothing too old, maybe just those from the last 5 years or so.

7. I love thrillers but I hate foul language and sex scenes. I want something clean and fast paced.

Second, after you get a chance to do the readings and explore Mary Chelton's list of tools, I want to hear about how you find books to read. It could be a site or a resource you've just discovered or one you've used for years, one you use for yourself or for your patrons or family and friends.

Personally, I believe Novelist to be the best online tool, but it's not the only one. I use GoodReads as well as some of the other sites Chelton lists. Trade journals are also really helpful for recommendations (Library Journal, Book List, Kirkus, etc.).

I look forward to reading your prompts! Make sure they are posted to your blog by this Sunday at 10:00pm. Same for everyone who signed up to annotate suspense or thrillers! Any questions get in touch with me however is easiest for you. Thanks!