Wednesday, April 26, 2017

End of 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 30th 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. 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 (the likely date is September 30th this year). 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 the end of this week:
Prompt Response (many of you have already done this, I posted it last week)

Due by April 30th: 
Lab - Final Project!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Prompts for Weeks 15 and 16

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 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 10, 2017

Welcome to Week Fourteen and Prompt!

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 that are of each genre.

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, 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
African American, GBLTQ, and Urban Fiction annotations from the following students:

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.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Welcome to Week Thirteen and Prompt

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" 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.

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 27, 2017

Welcome to Week Twelve and Prompt

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!

Monday, March 20, 2017

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.

Welcome to Week Eleven and Prompt

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.

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!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Happy Spring Break!

I just finished reading your book club experience papers and I was SOO IMPRESSED! It all sounds as if you learned loads, I hope you continue to participate or lead book discussions. They are very rewarding! I will be posting those grades and hopefully the special topics paper this week. Thanks again everyone!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Welcome to Week Nine!

Well, we are officially more than halfway through the semester! Congratulations - hope this is proving to be a fun and useful class for everyone.

This week we should have fun. Learning to moderate a book group can be like walking a tightrope - you want to find works with enough meat to provide good discussions, but you have to get to know your group and try to find books that will appeal to all. At the same time, don't feel bad making people get out of their comfort zone - reading books they are unfamiliar with is half the reason a lot of people join book groups. I will share a few examples from the previous instructor's book club groups (she had such great examples, I couldn't not share!):

"I once choose a Tom Robbins book, Another Roadside Attraction, for a book group I ran that my at the time boyfriend's mother belonged to. I hadn't read it in ages, but I remembered thinking it was brilliant. In case you are unfamiliar with Tom Robbins, he is very descriptive and enjoys talking about anatomy and drug use. In this case, he spent pages describing one particular piece of female anatomy that is generally not discussed in polite society, and the whole time I was reading it my face was getting more and more red, thinking, "I told Mark's mother to read this!!! What is wrong with me???" In the end, she was offended but not by that - there was some serious blasphemy in the book that I, as a non-religious person, had not even noticed. She still let me marry her son."

"I had some incredibly young, passionate, and intelligent young ladies in one of my book groups. Reading Pride and Prejudice was a wake-up call that infuriated them. They insisted that the women were in a form of slavery and that they should have prostituted themselves rather than being sold like slaves because at least then they would get to choose their clients. While an interesting point, it completely dominated the discussion and offended some of the people who really loved Jane Austen. One of the men in the group said he didn't know why we were reading it because it was irrelevant now as there was no need for feminism. Chaos ensued."

"When we read The Poisonwood Bible a new member came. He had not read the book. He had however, traveled extensively in India. This was not shown to be relevant, despite his repeated attempts to make it seem so by interrupting our discussions with anecdotes starting with, "Well in India they...." It was infuriating and very difficult to moderate. We later made a rule that you had to have read the whole book to participate in the discussion, but only instituted it when he was there. Which was inexplicably often even though he never read the books."

These are just a few examples of issues that she ran into. No book club is perfect! Currently, I am in four book club groups myself (I can't say no!). They are as follows:
1. Rockin' Reads
     - We read a music memoir and then watch concert clips while we discuss the book. I run this at my library monthly, it is open to the public. (
2. Reading Between the Wines
     - A book club that I started four years ago as an excuse to drink with my friends but quickly formed into a "mostly" serious group that was sponsored by Harper Collins for a year and a half (we got free books every month and skyped and live tweeted authors, it was THE BEST). It is by invite only and hosted by a different member very month. Liquor still plays a role but we have gotten much better about actually discussing the book.
3. Happy Booker's Book Club
     - The unofficial Franklin College ladies book club. Meets every six weeks at a different restaurant. Books are mainly New York Times Bestsellers, by invite only.
4. Stout Stories
     - I co-run this with one of my co-workers. We meet at a different brewery or winery every month and discuss a book. It's a library program open to those 21 and up. It's so popular that there are often many on the waitlist that can't come. We actually have MEN attend, which is the best thing ever. One month they outnumbered the ladies! We cap it at 20 participants. (

If any of you have had enlightening experiences while leading or belonging to a book group, please share them in the comments.

Now I want to talk about some basic rules for book groups. First of all, if you are moderating, do not lead with your opinion of the quality of the book. Just like in readers' advisory, as a moderator you have a level of authority that will influence the opinions of your group. I also think that in a moderator-led group, there should generally be a rule that you need to have read the book to participate in discussions. Now, there are the less formal book clubs that are more of an excuse to socialize and drink wine where of course, there is a less formal structure. Moderator-led book clubs at a library though, are generally slightly more formal and attended by people who have a genuine interest in discussing the book, and the occasional person who just likes to talk too much.

Two big things to consider when choosing books for your group - length and accessibility. As great a book as it is, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, with over a thousand pages, is not a great pick for a book group that meets monthly. Of course, know your group. A group that reads exclusively historical fiction or epic fantasy is going to be more tolerant of long books than a group that reads literary or general fiction. Also, accessibility. Is the book brand new? That means there will be a waitlist at the library and it's only out in expensive hardcover. Is it out of print? How difficult the book is to get a hold of needs to be a consideration. If you have the power to purchase books for your club through the library of course, this is less of an issue.

Due by Sunday at 10:00pm:
Book Club Experience posted to your blog. Please be thorough! I want a blog post that is at least an equivalent to a page and a half to a two page paper. I will post the rubric and assignment on canvas shortly.

PS the syllabus has an article (Reads Well with Others) that can no longer be accessed in the databases. Please disregard that and just read the other one.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Canvas is Down - Paper Extension!

Unfortunately, you have probably noticed that Canvas has down. I have all my files saved on my master profile on Canvas so I am unable to email you all the rubric and paper assignment. Because of this I will put an extension on the paper, so far it will be a day (so the paper is now due Monday at midnight), but if the outage is longer I will add on more days. This is very frustrating, I hope the site is up soon. I'm so sorry for the inconvenience!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Welcome to Week Eight

Hope you are all having a great week. Since papers are due at the end of this week, there is no prompt response due. However, please do the readings anyway (don't forget to look at the syllabus to see a complete list of readings!) - this week we are thinking about quality vs. demand in fiction - some pretty weighty issues. Do we spend lots of money on titles that are popular but that maybe aren't the greatest critical hits? Do we try to push people towards more "quality" books? Who defines what is a quality book and how? What is the role of reading? So many questions to talk about - I really picked the wrong week to have your papers due!

So, due by the end of this week:

1. Special Topic Paper
2. Women's Lives and Relationships Annotations:

Can't wait to read your papers - as always let me know if you have any questions!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Week Seven Notes & Prompt

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 last year. And more recently, 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 3 to 5 times a week at least.

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, 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 13, 2017

Week Six Prompt:

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 your:

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

Welcome to 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. Please review the PowerPoint in the Week 6 file on Canvas, and let me know if you have any questions.

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.

I chose to share the romance chapter with you from the book Integrated Advisory, because they do a great job talking about some of the many romance subgenres. However they do fall a bit short in suggesting that there aren't any games for romance readers - that is patently ridiculous. The huge surge in casual gaming is largely due to the same people who read romance novels; people who want a quick, easy, rewarding, and fun diversion. If you go to Big Fish Games or many other casual gaming sites you will find many, many games where the motivation is romance. Also, many romance authors have already put their spin on games - Marjorie M. Liu did years ago with one of her first titles, Tiger Eye. Many indie games have embraced romance as a narrative device. The huge narrative hit Gone Home from 2013 is a sweet teen romance that has won a ton of awards. As libraries expand their offerings to include games and other media, we need to  be aware of the possibilities that integrated advisory offers us. Steam, a cloud-based game media service (kind of like an iTunes for games) has very recently introduced tags into their search features. Library Journal includes game recommendations quite often in their RA articles now.

The following students are doing annotations on gentle reads:

The following students are doing annotations on horror:
The following students are doing annotations on romance:

Monday, February 6, 2017

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. 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? Is this ebook even romantic suspense?

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 and Publishers Weekly to keep myself up to date on what is coming out.

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

Welcome to Week Five

Hope you have had a great week and enjoyed your secret shopper experience! I haven't gotten a chance to read many 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 and about book reviews. I have posted a PowerPoint about the two genres in Canvas files. 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 other 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 120 free books and audiobooks a year. Plus it's great networking and a great 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. Remember they have until 10pm on Sunday to have their annotations posted! Also, feel free to comment on your classmate's prompt responses which are also due Sunday night.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Thinking Ahead - Book Club Experience

I know we're still on week four but if you like to think ahead here are some thoughts for your week nine assignment, observing or participating in a book club (due March 12).

You're not required to to tell anyone at the book discussion that you're a librarian or that your attendance is part of a class, but feel free to if you want. If you've read the book, just discuss the book as you normally would, but if you're just observing take note of the following:

  • Who is asking the questions, is there a leader or do people take turns?
  • If there is a leader, does the leader answer the questions as well or let the attendees respond first?
  • What type of questions are asked? Any involving just yes or no answers?
  • Do all attendees actively participate?
  • Do any attendees swoop in and steal all the spotlight?
  • What is the atmosphere of the discussion, where is it taking place at?
  • Are snacks or drinks provided?
  • What types of books does this book club normally discuss?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Welcome to 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 Powerpoint in Week Two files and 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. 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 23, 2017

Week Three Prompt:

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 (see below)! Any questions get in touch with me however is easiest for you. Thanks!

Students annotating suspense novels:

Students annotating thriller novels:

Welcome to Week Three

Welcome to Week Three! I am really excited to read your Suspense and Thriller annotations.

I've posted a power point about the genres in Week Three Files. Please review that and read your classmates annotations. Feel free to start a discussion here, on your blog, or on a classmates blog about things you've noticed about Suspense and Thrillers (don't forget, participation is part of your grade!). We are all learning from each other here.

Second – this week we are reviewing the tools of the trade. Quite possibly the most useful and popular tool is Novelist. This is a database that most public libraries subscribe to. IndyPL subscribes to Novelist, and with your IUPUI registration, you are eligible for an IndyPL card, but I know a lot of you don’t live anywhere near Indianapolis so it's not exactly feasible to get a card, but just know that you can!.

If you are able to find Novelist in your library’s list of databases, there are plenty of tutorials on how to use it. Directly to the right of the search box should be a button that says “How to Use Novelist.” Also, above that are several tiny links, one of which is Help. That has also proven very useful to me.

There is also quite a comprehensive list in Canvas Week Three files of some great RA resources, put together by Mary Chelton – whose name you may recognize from other readings.

So, by the end of this week, please finish the assigned readings in the syllabus and I will need from you:

 1. Suspense and Thriller Annotations*
 2. Prompt Response

For the annotations, please don't wait until the very last minute to post them, we want to give your classmates time to read and comment on them. Please also remember that by the end of Week Four I will need to have your Secret Shopper Assignment! That one takes some planning so be looking ahead!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Examples of Annotations

Here are some examples from years past. You can also look at appendix a in the syllabus to get some guidance. I expect your five annotations to be about as long (or longer if you wish) as these examples. Included at the end is a grading rubric so you know how they will be graded. Feel free to comment if you have any questions!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Week Two

Hello Everyone!

Hope you are having a pleasant start to this semester. Please let me know if you have any questions about the syllabus or assignments. I know there is a lot of reading this week – bear with it, it’s all for a good cause. If you're having trouble finding any of the articles on the syllabus please let me know!

By the end of this week (January 22 at 10pm), I will need from you:

1. Your Blog URL and name.  So far about half the class has worked ahead. Kudos!

2. The five genres you will be reading and annotating for this class. Annotations will be due in the week they are assigned, and will be turned in on your blog. You do not have to know what books you are reading yet, just what genres. Look over the syllabus while you're deciding what genres to choose; some weeks we discuss more than one and you probably don't want to have to do two annotations in one week. Email me your selections so I can make a spreadsheet to see who all is covering what genres. Be sure to pick at least one outside your comfort zone! Also, no more than 15 students can cover any one genre (I like to try and spread it out evenly), so if you're really want to read a certain genre get to me early! If you're picking later in the week some of the genres may already be filled up. Here are all the genre options available to choose from:
 - suspense
 - thriller
 - adventure
 - romantic suspense
 - gentle reads
 - horror
 - romance
 - mystery
 - science fiction
 - women's fiction
 - fantasy
 - historical fiction
 - westerns
 - new adult
 - young adult
 - urban fiction
 - African American Literature
 - LGBTQ reads
 - literary fictions
 - non-fiction

3. Your reading profile posted to your blog.

I also posted in Week One some sample reading profiles. Shortly, I will post examples of annotations. Feel free on your blog to talk about your personal feelings about the book as well. If you are doing a suspense or a thriller, get reading! Those annotations will be due by the end of Week Three.

I have also posted In Week Two the PowerPoint describing what you should be looking for during your assignment for Week Four, the Secret Shopper. I wanted to make sure you had plenty of time to complete this assignment, because I know that for some people it can be difficult to get to a library where they are not well known. After doing the readings for this week you should have a pretty good idea of what makes a good readers’ advisory interview. I will also post some video examples on this blog – feel free to post any you find on your blog during the next couple of weeks.

As always, let me know if you have any questions! You can reach me through email on canvas or by commenting anywhere on the class blog!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Reading Profile Examples

I know some of you are eager to get started on next week's assignment and I've had a few questions as to what a reading profile looks like. It doesn't have to be formal, but it should summarize what your reading tastes are. You can include favorite books, authors, genres, etc. It's also helpful to explain why you like what you like. Below you'll find two samples of reading profiles. Remember there is no right or wrong way to do it! Include whatever you think is relevant for us to know! I'd like at least two paragraphs. Also, please comment on at least two of your classmate's reading profiles. We don't have discussion boards but I will be keeping track of how often you interact with your classmates. For the comments I'm not looking at length, just content. Share readers' advisory related stories, similar books or interests. If you have further questions please don't hesitate to contact me!

I am an avid reader and my goal for 2017 is to read 120 books (last year I read 102 and the year before that 65!). My favorite genre is literary fiction, classic literature, fantasy, and horror. My least favorite genre is romance, specifically romance that is super cheesey and predictable. Currently, I am reading The Diviners by Libba Bray (for a young adult book club). Speaking of book clubs I am involved in four, one of which I started with some of my friends from undergrad. Some other tid bits about me, I am a reviewer for Tyndale Press, Waterbrook Press, and The Library Journal (yay for free books!). The staff know me on a first name basis at Half Price Books because I come in so often to sell and buy books. I own around two thousand books (maybe more, I gave up counting), I have a serious book addiction. Here are some lists for your reading pleasure:

* Top 5 books I read in 2016 were:
1. Enchantments - Kathryn Harrison (historical fiction about Rasputin’s daughter – mesmerizing!)
2. A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness (a monster visits a boy as his mom’s cancer worsens – heart wrenching! The movie adaptation is outstanding!)
3. Killing Yourself to Live - Chuck Klosterman (pop culture look at dead rock musicians in the US – really engrossing read!)
4. The Watch - Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya (the conflict in Afghanistan through different perspectives – must read!)
5. American Gods – Neil Gaiman (finding the soul of America through old gods and new – simply stunning!)

* My Top 5 ALL TIME FAVORITE Books/Series:
1. The Stand by Stephen King
2. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
3. The Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin
4. The Hannibal Lector trilogy (prequel not included, it was crap!) by Thomas Harris
5. Welcome to the Monkeyhouse by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

When I have time to read I usually stick to murder mysteries or medical thrillers. Every once in a blue moon I'll branch out by reading a different genre but I'm comfortable in my rut. I really like cozy mysteries and medieval mysteries because I like trying to figure out who the thief or murderer is. I like it even better when I can't figure it out. I like a good head scratcher!

When I'm looking for something a little more serious (or hardcore) I like authors like Robin Cook or Michael Crichton. Since these authors are a little more intense I usually like to read something light afterwards (like one of my cozy mysteries).

I've also been branching out into audiobooks and they really make the drive to work much more bearable. Some of the older mystery novels don't have good narrators, but most newer audiobooks have fantastic narrators and they really help make the stories that much more thrilling!

My favorite authors in those genres are: Laura Childs, Karen E. Olsen, Joanna Fluke, Miranda James, Robin Cook, and Michael Connely. I'm really hoping this class will help me expand my horizons. Since I have very specific reading tastes I'm hoping to learn more about other genres so that I can recommend them to patrons and maybe find a new favorite.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Welcome to Week One!

Hello Everyone!

I am very excited to get to know you all and get this class going! My name is Erin Cataldi, and I will be teaching this course. I am the teen and adult services librarian at the Clark Pleasant Branch of the Johnson County Public Library as well as the readers' advisory manager of the system. If you're ever in New Whiteland (south of Indianapolis), please feel free to visit me! I'd love to get to meet you in person as well!

This class is fun. We read fun things and generally have great discussions. However it has a lot of reading. If you are interested in doing Readers’ Advisory you likely enjoy reading anyway, but I want to make sure at the beginning that all of you are aware that you will be responsible for readings in the textbook, relevant articles, and reading five novels in different genres throughout the course of this class. If you do not think you will be able to handle this much reading you may want to drop this course. I will expect you to allude to the readings in your weekly prompts.

This week I want you to concentrate on learning a bit about the history of readers’ advisory, reviewing the syllabus, and thinking about what genres you will be interested in learning more about. By the end of Week Two, you will need to tell me what five genres you are interested in reading and annotating for this class. I strongly recommend that you choose at least one genre that you never read, for your own benefit and learning experience, and one genre you are an expert in or that is your favorite, for our benefit and learning experience.

Also by the end of Week Two, you will need to create a blog. Most of our communication in this class will be via blog. I feel this is a more organic way to communicate than Canvas forums, plus you can keep it after you graduate. If you have never created a blog before and need help let me know. I used to let students pick whatever blog site they wanted but it led to some chaos so I am requiring everyone to create a blog using blogger. It is very easy to create and upkeep, and it's free! Once you give me your blog URL, I will post it in the blog roll on this blog. That way you can see all of your classmates’ blogs and easily comment on them, follow them, however you want to keep track – it’s up to you. It has proven a great way to start or add to your social network of librarians. Feel free to use your current blog if you have one (as long as it is in Blogger) – just please label any assignments clearly.

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 readers' advisory, is always one that is enjoyed by the reader.

I have posted more detailed assignment descriptions in Canvas resources. Please review them this week and let me know if you have any questions. Please check this blog weekly!

You may ask me questions any way is easy for you – comment on this blog or you can text or email me. Thanks, and I really look forward to getting to know all of you! Happy Monday!