Saturday, April 22, 2017

Week 16 Prompt
How have reading and books changed for me? Well, I'm 45 so of course we did not have digital anything when I was a kid :) I have always loved reading and holding an actual book when I'm reading. So, even though I help people daily to download digital books and my daughter reads digital books - I never have. I've never downloaded a book for myself. I still enjoy just holding an actual physical book in my hands and turning the pages. I love turning the pages :) So, though much has changed around me since I was a child, I guess I have not changed. Books twenty years from now? They will still be here. I agree with Le Guin, I think books are here to stay too. I also agree with what she said about the social quality of literature, "The social quality of literature is still visible in the popularity of bestsellers." I see that at the library when patrons say things every day like, "My friend said I just have to read this book."  And I well remember the social craze over the Harry Potter books. Me and my older children were right outside the door waiting to get a copy on the first day. There were some beautiful things said about books in Le Guin's article. I  loved this: "Yet some kids come out of even the worst schools clutching a book to their heart."  I think in the future readers will be like they are now - some will still fall asleep and some will still clutch books to their heart. I don't think the amount of reading will change much. Unfortunately, there are many people who fall asleep when they read, but I think those of us who are the opposite of sleepy when we read will do all we can to ensure that books stick around. I think reading will definitely become more interactive and who knows what else? I'm sure wild, neat things are coming up. A lot of things come and go though, but I think the book is here forever.

Le Guin, U. K. (2008). Staying awake: notes on the alleged decline of reading. Harper's Magazine, 316(1893). 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Prompt 15 - Some Ways to Promote Fiction
1. A TOOL - I would like to post weekly or monthly RA type posts on our website - one for each genre.  I would choose a great book and provide an annotation of the book (or series, if it's a series.) Then I would include: If you like _____ or (the ________series), try:
and then list some read alike titles or series.
2. A SERVICE -  I would like to provide a service like "The Reader's Advisor is In." I could put out a sign when I'm in the library, like: "Looking for your next great read?" ask for Jodi at the Information Desk. Although I'd be available whether I put out a sign or not, patrons may not know this help is available.
3. A PROGRAM - I would like to have a program to teach participants about appeal factors, articulating a book's appeal and the rule of three. Then, I would let them do that for books that they've read. I'd ask them to write it out and attach it to the books and then I'd make a display of their books.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I think that African American Fiction should not be separated for the reasons mentioned: It promotes segregation and disrupts serendipitous discovery of an author who might be different from the reader. Plus, the following from N.K. Jemisin's website makes me think that it wouldn't be OK with many of the writers of urban fiction themselves because their books are being marketed to a part of the population instead of the whole population.
The following is from N.K. Jemisin's website found here
"I understand why this section exists — because the publishing industry rather notoriously would not publish books by or about black people until the 1990s, unless those books were deemed of sufficient interest to white readers. Prior to the 1990s it was kind of hard for black readers to find these “accepted” black writers (outside of Black History Month), because there weren’t many of them, and because their works were mixed in with the mainstream. So black readers had to rely on word-of-mouth — which, pre-internet, was actually kind of limiting. But — and here I include myself, as someone who’s been a voracious reader since the age of, like, four — we managed. And most of us, because we were just like any other reader, also read plenty of non-black writers, particularly if their works weren’t full of racefail. That’s how I ended up a science fiction and fantasy fan given that SFF is, shall we say, not so much on the multicultural content. (At least not in the case of human beings.) That was okay, though, because many of the stories were universal enough that I loved them anyway.
We’ll come back to this concept of “universality” in a later blog post. Got a book to write, today.
It took black authors self-publishing to lucrative success, with some rather famously becoming bestsellers by hand-selling self-pub’d books from the trunks of their cars, to prove to the industry that yes Virginia, black people do read, and what’s more they buy, and I dunno gee maybe it’s kind of racist to assume otherwise. So publishers paid attention and started snatching up black writers, and later black small presses, in an effort to latch on to this “new” audience. Many of them started heavy-handed marketing campaigns designed to appeal to the “urban” reader (where “urban” somehow = “black”) by using arcane language (e.g. “keepin’ it real!”) and plastering poorly-designed book covers with women who looked like music video refugees and men who looked like ex-cons. Or whatever the industry thought ex-cons looked like. And some black readers were grateful for the attention, after so long a time of neglect.
And instead of dropping that original racist assumption that black people didn’t read, the industry gave it an upgrade: OK, black people do read, but they don’t read like the rest of us (read: white people, because Latinos and Asians and so forth don’t matter). And they don’t have the same need for well-drawn characters, engaging plots, etc., because they’re not very smart or well-read. All we have to do is give them are plenty of examples of people who look like them and speak “the vernacular” and deal with “their issues” (which are not like our issues). Profit! And because the industry also assumed that nobody but black people would want to read all this, y’know, “black stuff”, they decided to dump it all onto a single shelf, usually in the back of the store, and stick a label on it: African American Interest. Which might as well have read, “Everybody But Black People, Nothin’ to See Here. Move Along.”
I am ashamed to say that many black publishers and authors were happy to cater to these assumptions, because there was money to be made. This has perpetuated the problem. But I digress.
Now, let me be clear: there are some good writers in the AAF section. It’s not all “baby mama drama”. I’m a fan of Terry McMillan, who I discovered through this section before she started getting shelved in mainstream, and some SFF authors have been cross-marketed here if they’re big enough: L. A. Banks, Octavia Butler. If you’ve never visited that section of your bookstore or library, I urge you to do what Reader did, and go take a gander. You might discover something new and cool.
As a result of this old and new racism, the AAF section of today is mostly just a constricted, homogenizing ghetto. Writers stuck there — those who aren’t big enough to be cross-marketed — have lower earning potential, because it’s a lot harder to sell books when they’re marketed to 12% of the population than 100% of the population. Let’s not talk about how some black authors have been forced into this marketing classification against their will. And then there’s the problem of content reliability. There is no reason that anyone should look among the “thug love” books to find Alaya Dawn Johnson’s lyrical fantasy Racing the Dark. "

I am a little unsure about LGBTQ books having their own spot. I thought no because it also promotes segregation and disrupts serendipitous discovery, plus I thought perhaps some kids might not want it to be obvious that they are in that section because they aren't ready for people to know. But, as the article from School Library Journal below mentions, materials should be available without kids having to ask for them directly. I think maybe a compromise for this could be a list of where the books are that is on display (the list would be on display)? I'm really not sure what would be best in this case.
The following is from:
"With 82 percent of LGBTQ students reporting verbal harassment, among other forms of bullying, according to the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) 2011 School Climate Report, finding a space to feel safe may be particularly crucial for these students. So is finding materials in which LGBTQ students can see themselves—resources that reflect the stories of their lives and the themes that mirror their own questions and concerns. School librarians provide support through their very presence as well as through the services they can provide.

Wanting to make sure materials were available for them—without forcing students to request them directly—

Butler focuses in particular on making sure his students have access to “accurate and age-appropriate sexual health information,” he says. While he makes sure he has materials available, he also watches to see which titles are never returned. Books that mention anything about sex? They often go missing, he says.
They’re not just being checked out voraciously. They just disappear off the shelves,” he says. “The books that are stolen are often the ones most needed in your collection.”
To highlight the books he thinks are important, Butler simply puts up displays on topics about sexual health and education when the Gay Straight Alliance comes in for their regular meetings. While “hanging out” near the check-out area afterwards, Butler says, they discover the titles he has purposefully, but casually, placed there.
They’re seniors, so they won’t admit they need the information. But they do,” he says. “They say they’re going to give the resources to their classmates. They become information vectors.”"

So, I would say no about an African American section and I lean towards no on the LGBTQ books but am not as certain about that.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Young Adult Annotation
Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Scythe takes place in the future; a future where we have conquered many things, including death. Nanites in the body are quick to heal and repair and even accidental death can be reversed. There being no natural death means a certain population control problem. So, the position of scythe was created. Scythes alone have the authority to glean (kill) to control population growth. Sixteen year old Citra and Rowan are selected by the Honorable Scythe Faraday to be apprentices. However, only one of the teens will be chosen to be a scythe. The Honorable Scythe Faraday chose Citra and Rowan because of exceptional personal qualities he saw in them - like bravery and compassion. He, himself, approaches his position seriously and is a compassionate man. However, not all of the scythes are like him and the two apprentices are soon split apart and pitted against each other by the uncompassionate scythes. Scythe takes place in a Utopian world; disease, crime, poverty, war and even death are gone, but what does this mean for humanity? Can there by joy without pain? What significant accomplishes can humans have if they want for nothing? What meaning and purpose would remain? Scythe is a chilling book but also asks the reader to consider these deep questions.

Characteristics of YA Books found in Scythe
  • The main characters are teenagers.

  • While the story has many unrealistic aspects the teen characters still face challenges and issues that teens really face - like self-identity, fitting in, friendship, interest in the opposite sex, family issues, etc. These issues are not belittled or devalued - even in the face of a serious issue like planned killings.

  • The story has a fast pace.

  • Although it is science fiction it maintains YA characteristics.

Appeal Terms 
Chilling, disturbing, suspenseful, thought-provoking, World-Building

Title Read Alikes
Croak by Gina Damico
The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Week 13 Prompt
I am very surprised that many people don't feel that YA, NA, and graphic novels are not legitimate literary choices and that libraries shouldn't be spending money on them or promoting them to adults. I also did not know that the common belief is that adults still don't or shouldn't read that stuff. Now that I think of it though, I have had several adults ask me for YA books, tell me they like them and seem apologetic about it. I guess I didn't think much of them acting that way because I like YA myself and I was not aware that that was a wide spread belief. I enjoy YA and graphic novels. Many years ago, when I read my first graphic novel it took getting used to but I didn't think it was just for kids at all. The artists who do them are very talented. Of course, I still read chapter books from the children's department too :) I guess my attitude is, "Do I want to read this?" and that's the only requirement for reading it - I want to - there are no limits except that. There are some fantastic YA books. The thought that adults shouldn't read them is just plain silly. Plus, how will we talk with teens about books if we never read any of the same books? We definitely should work to ensure that we serve adults who enjoy YA and graphic novels. We can do this by creating displays just for YA and graphic novels in "adult" areas of the library not just in a "teen" corner and also by including YA and graphic novels in mixed displays - like in a display on a topic or subject - we should remember to just put YA and graphic novels in there too. Additionally, adult librarians should make it a point to be aware of new releases and hot titles in both genres even if they don't personally like reading them. BUT, they should give them a try before they say they won't read them.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Nonfiction Annotation
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
J.D. Vance shares simultaneously both a memoir of his life and a sociological and cultural study of the white working class, specifically the hillbillies, or those in, or from, the Appalachian region. He begins with his grandparents and moves through the years, giving a detailed account of the culture that he was born and raised in. Although not all of the characteristics of his family can be attributed to hillbillies in general, Vance does do a good job of sharing his observations of the culture as a whole. A culture that he says has been slowly disintegrating, so much so that poverty is the norm. It is also a culture, that is so ingrained that even when upward mobility is achieved, the struggles of the culture follow. His grandparents moved from Kentucky to Ohio but the culture followed and so did the struggle. For example, at one point in the story he says his mom and her husband make a combined six figures but the struggle and conflict are still there.
One of Vance's conclusions is that hillbillies have acquired a learned helplessness; a sense of despair.
This and the overall account is a valuable insider perspective, one that everyone should read to understand how this huge portion of our society feels, and to understand that while the culture has many negatives, it also has many positives.
This is an often funny, often sad, but always moving look at a family and the larger culture they are a part of.

Non-fiction Characteristics
Narrative: Non-fiction books have different levels of the narrative aspect. Hillbilly Elegy is highly narrative and reads almost like a novel at times. So patrons who like highly narrative non-fiction may like a suggestion of Hillbilly Elegy.
Type: This is mostly a memoir but also a commentary on a culture and social class. It is not a task-based non-fiction book.
Subject: Working Class Whites from the Appalachian Region plus J.D. Vance's family story.
Appeal: Candid, Insightful, Engaging, Thought-Provoking

All Over But the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg
Belonging: A Culture of Place by Bel Hooks
Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 by Charles Murray
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in Boom-Time America by Barbara Ehrenreich

Personal Note: My mom's side was all from Kentucky. I was told my whole life I was a hillbilly and I did relate to a lot of Vance's book. There aren't many people in my family to have gone to college and I have seen (and personally experienced) the learned helplessness. I related to this line, "Most of us were struggling to get by, but we made do, worked hard, and hoped for a better life." I identified with the religious beliefs of Mamaw, the fierce loyalty to family while everyone else is an outsider and several other big aspects. However, while his book does make poignant and important points on this culture, I felt some of it was more personal biography and perhaps not fair to associate the "hillbilly"culture at large with some of the characteristics of his family. While there is a lot of dysfunction in the culture overall, not every family is as out of control as his seemed to be. I just couldn't help wondering what someone who does not identify with this culture at all would think? I hope they saw the positives over the violence, verbal abuse and addiction because not all "hillbilly" families are that dysfunctional - even if they are poor. For example, my grandpa, who I never knew was admittedly a drunk but my Grandma while as intensely loving as Vance's, didn't act anything like her otherwise. I never heard language like that come out of her mouth. She was like a saint - very clearly a hillbilly, but sweet as could be. So, while I really liked the book,  I didn't think it quite right that he so intertwine his personal story in with hillbilly culture in general because it may give a false and very negative impression to people who do not associate with the culture. It's OK for someone like me because I relate to the culture and can tell the difference, but what about someone who has no relation to this culture? While he does show the intense love... the instability is, at some points, just incredibly dysfunctional and not all "hillbilly" families are like that. It's a complicated subject. As Vance says, "It would be years before I learned that no single book, or expert, or field could fully explain the problems of hillbillies in modern America. Our elegy is a sociological one, yes, but it is also about psychology and community and culture and faith."

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Prompt Week 12
The Readers' Advisory Matrix for
Tools for Teaching: Discipline, Instruction, Motivation
by Fredric H. Jones

1. Where is the book on the narrative continuum?
Highly fact-based (has few or no narrative moments)

2. What is the subject of the book?
Teaching and Classroom Management

3. What type of book is it?
Highly subject-based, how-to, task-based, low narrative

4. Articulate Appeal
What is the pacing of the book?
The book is a how-to book, very subject and task-based, but I brought a great deal of knowledge about the subject to the book and had interest in the topic so that increased the pace for me. The language is down-to-earth and there are many illustrations and examples - these factors increased the pace of understanding the subject being taught and therefore the pace of reading as well.
Describe the characters of the book.
There is Dr. Jones himself as he talks about his observations, the conclusions he has drawn and the system of instruction, discipline and motivation that he is recommending based on the observations and conclusions. There are also many teacher and student examples Jones provides to illustrate his points but he does not say names or whether they are real people - he just uses them as illustrations.
How does the story feel?
The book feels authoritative, highly educational, and useful - you regard Dr. Jone's information with respect. Yet at the same time, it is written in a very down-to-earth manner so even though it feels authoritative, it also feels relaxed, friendly and approachable.
What is the intent of the author?
The author's intent is to pass on information to the reader that the reader will use. It is a how-to book. In this case, how to use the discipline, instruction and motivation techniques that he has compiled in order to have a more effective, smoothly-running classroom.
What is the focus of the story?
The focus is on highly effective instruction, discipline and motivation techniques.
Does the language matter?
Yes, the language matters. It matters because the reader needs to understand what Dr. Jones is advising to do in order to put it into practice, so the writing needs to be highly understandable and practical.
Is the setting important and well described?
The setting is a classroom. The setting is extremely important and very well-described. Dr. Jones is trying to teach the reader how to apply instruction, discipline and motivation techniques in an actual classroom. In order for the reader to understand what is meant (so that they can apply the knowledge) Dr. Jones had to describe aspects of the classroom very convincingly.
Are there details, and, if so, of what?
There is an abundance of detail about many aspects of the classroom. For example, there is a lot of detail about body language and how the teacher should use body language to express limits to the children. There is a great deal of detail about how to organize a lesson, how to arrange furniture in the classroom, how to create an incentive program, etc. The detail is extremely important since the book is a how-to book. If a teacher is going to implement the strategies in the book, then they have to know all the details for doing so.
Are there sufficient charts and other graphic materials? Are they useful and clear?
There is definitely sufficient charts and other graphic materials. They are very useful and clear. Dr. Jones provides ample examples and illustrations to enhance understanding.
Does the book stress moments of learning, understanding, or experience?
Definitely. The entire book is designed to stress learning. It is a task-based book.

5. Why would a reader enjoy this book(rank appeal)?
1. Learning/Educational/Task-Based     2. Understandable/Down-to-Earth  3. Friendly Tone