Thursday, March 30, 2017

Prompt 12

Readers' Advisory Matrix

Title: Gizelle's Bucket List: My Life with a Very Large Dog
Author: Lauren Fern Watt
Publication Date: March 7, 2017

Where is the book on the narrative continuum? 
Highly narrative (reads like fiction)

What is the subject of the book?
The subject is raising a dog (English Mastiff) and the relationship that exists between humans and animals.

What type of book is it?
A memoir of the life of an English Mastiff.

Articulation Appeal
What is the pacing of the book?
The pacing is leisurely, but it is hard to put this book down.

Describe the characters of the book.
The characters are Gizelle, a 160-pound English Mastiff and her owner, Lauren Watt (author). The reader follows Lauren through her early twenties as she goes to college and moves to New York and the life lessons she learns along the way. Other members of the story include: Lauren's mother who struggles with an addiction; Lauren's father who takes a road trip with her and Gizelle; and other family members and close friends.

How does the story feel?
The story is sad, comforting, inspirational and courageous. Anybody who has ever loved and lost a dog can relate and feel the connection with the story.

What is the intent of the author?
To share her experience with loving and caring for her dog and what she learned along the way.

What is the focus of the story?
The focus of the story is making life for Gizelle (and Lauren for that matter) count as her health is declining. Lauren prepares a bucket list for Gizelle as her gift back to such a loyal and faithful companion. 

Does the language matter?
Yes, the language plays a big role in adding to the story. It is very descriptive and reads like a narrative of Lauren's life and her relationship with her dog.

Is the setting important and well described?
The setting changed in the story depending on where Lauren was living or experiencing life, including the activities involved in Gizelle's bucket list. The description of the settings added to enhance the story when needed. The story progressed over a 6-year period beginning when Lauren was nineteen.

Are there details and if so, of what?
The story is full of details, like why her mom wants to get her a puppy, the smell of puppy breath and the reason for the strain between her parents.  The reader sees what it was like to live with this enormous dog with a lot of personality and describes the relationships between Lauren and others.

Are there sufficient charts and other graphic materials ? Are they useful and clear?
There are pictures of Gizelle (and sometimes with Lauren) on the inside of the front and back book covers along with a picture at the beginning of each chapter. The images are useful because it illustrates the size and character of Gizelle through these pictures.

Does the book stress moments of learning, understanding, or experience?
The reader sees Lauren love her dog unconditionally, but also how to love others unconditionally as well. The reader also sees Lauren evolve into an adult as she learns to experience life.

Why would a reader enjoy this book?
1. Love for animals
2. A sentimental journey
3. Learning about yourself and others

Friday, March 24, 2017

Prompt 11

Ebooks and audiobooks are becoming a natural part of library collections. Ebooks and audiobooks are both great when traveling: ebooks for ease of packing and audiobooks are useful for long car rides when getting to and from the destination. I have tried both of them, but I still love and prefer my print books.

Positive appeal factors of ebooks include: changing the font size, adjusting the brightness and reading by using a dark background with white text. You can also download ebooks from anywhere so this can be really useful if you are traveling or stranded and find yourself without anything to read. Another aspect of using ebooks is that it is easy to hide what you are reading. Sometimes people want to keep their romance novel or Fifty Shades of Grey hidden from others. 
A positive facet of ebooks for me personally is that I cannot look at the ending of the book I am reading. I know, it is terrible, but I have this tendency to skip ahead and read different parts of a book, including the ending. Ebooks keep me from doing this, because it is too difficult to go forward and then back to where you left off. 

But not being able to navigate forward and back can be difficult if you want to go back and reread something or if you are looking for when a new character was introduced. This can be a negative appeal factor. Another negative appeal factor is that pacing and tone may be affected in an ebook and the entire reading experience can be hindered. You also can not see or feel the weight of an ebook, so you might not realize how long a book is 
(Dunneback, 2011). It might seem like it is taking a lot longer to read a book, or that you are not going anywhere, especially if you are changing the font size and making it larger. Fonts for some genres might display differently on a device, which takes away from the experience. I would think looking at the frames of a graphic novel with all of the images would be rather difficult on a device.

Audiobooks are very popular at my library location. People can use audiobooks in the car when traveling to and from work or traveling on vacation. They are also great when you are cleaning your house, doing dishes, doing a craft or hobby like knitting or crocheting or out taking a walk or run. "One of the most interesting facts to note is that the majority of people listening to recorded books are not substituting the audio format for the printed one, but rather as a supplement to visual, text-based reading" (Mediatore, 2003). People have found another way to engage with books while doing tasks, by listening to audiobooks..

Sometimes when you hear a story, the narration can add or enhance the story. Certain appeal factors such as narration, music and sound effects can affect the experience and enjoyment of the audiobook. The reader gets a different feel when they are listening to a book rather than reading it themselves. The narrator adds to the enjoyment when he or she uses voice inflections and changes voices between characters. But a downfall of audiobooks is that you can get a poor narrator that takes away from the experience. The narrator can stay monotone, you can find their voice annoying or they are just plain boring. 

I have tried audiobooks a few times but they are not my preference. I tend to get distracted easily and forget to listen so then I have to go back and find my place again. But they have a big fan base and I have a lot of friends who prefer this format. Reader's advisory in both ebook and audiobook formats are important and as librarians, we need to know how to match material to the patron. Libraries (and librarians) need to stay abreast of ever-changing new technology that comes our way.

Works Cited:

Dunneback, K., & Trott, B. (2011). E-books and Readers' Advisory. Reference & User Services     Quarterly, 50(4), 325-9. Retrieved from Library Lit & Inf Full Text database.

Mediatore, K. (2003). Reading with Your Ears: Readers' Advisory and Audio Books. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 42(4), 318-23. Retrieved from Library Lit & Inf Full Text database

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Historical Fiction Annotation

Author: Jennifer Ryan
Title: The Chilbury Ladies' Choir
Genre: Historical fiction
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
Number of Pages: 371
Geographical Setting: Chilbury, a small village in England
Time Period: World War II, 1940
Plot Summary: 

This is a story that takes place on the home front of Chilbury, England, during World War II. Most of the men in the village have already left for the war. The story begins with a funeral service for one of the community members killed in the war. The choir will sing at the funeral for the last time until after the war since there are no longer any men to sing in it. Prim, a new resident to the village, is a music professor. She leads the women in the community to band together and form a ladies' choir. Some people in the community think this is a horrible idea since there has never been a ladies-only choir; prior to this there had only been a mens' choir or a combined choir of men and women. It is unthinkable to have a ladies' choir. Prim, along with some of the other women think a choir would be a great way to boost morale and support the community in a time when the village fears being taken over by Germany. The women in the choir are impacted by the choir experience and the events going on in their lives along with the surrounding worries of the war that is growing closer to them. Prim helps the women in the choir find the music in their lives, "Music takes us out of ourselves, away from our worries and tragedies, helps us look into a different world, a bigger picture. All those cadences and beautiful chord changes, every one of them makes you feel a different splendor of life" (p. 104).

The story is told in the form of journals and letters, primarily by five of the women in the choir whom vary in age and perspective. The five women each share their experiences of the war in different ways:
  • Mrs. Tilling is a widow whose only son has left for the war. She is a nurse and many people seem to seek out her counsel. 
  • Miss Venetia Winthrop is eighteen, the daughter of the Brigadier who has her attention set on the very handsome and mysterious new artist in the village.
  • Miss Kitty Winthrop is thirteen and lives in her sister Venetia's shadow, but still has great determination. She has an improbable crush on a young man.
  • Silvie, a Jewish refugee is sent to live with the Winthrop family when Germany invades Czechoslovakia. She is troubled and keeps a secret from what she has seen.
  • Ms. Edwina Palty, the village midwife, is hired by the Brigadier for an unscrupulous scheme. 
 These women learn to find their voice not only in the choir, but in a society lead and controlled by men during the difficult time of war.

Subject Headings:
   Choirs (Music) - England - Fiction
   Women - England - Fiction
   World War, 1939 -1945 - England - Fiction
   Historical Fiction

  • Story is framed by historical facts of what is happening in Europe: invasions, bombings, Jewish extermination.
  • Written in epistolary form by using letters, journals and diary entries by different characters.
  • Storyline is focused on a small village outside of London during World War II.
  • Story teaches about the lives of everyday people, mainly the women who remain on the home front during World War II. It includes descriptions of the loss of life because of German air raids of area villages including Chilbury.
  • Leisurely paced. 
  • Characters evolve and fit the time period as they try to find their voice.
3 terms that best describe this book: engaging, bittersweet, empowering
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Hiding Edith: A True Story by Kathy Kacer

The true story of a young Jewish girl, Edith Schwalb,  who was sent to live in a safe place during the invasion of France by Nazi Germany. 
-This is similar to the character of Silvie, a Jewish girl from Czechoslovakia who was sent to Chilbury by her parents to stay with the Winthrop family after the German invasion of her home county.

The Taste of War: World War Two and the Battle for Food by E.M. Collingham

An examination of the way food was used at the battle front and controlled on the home front. It also looks at the way food was used both by the Axis and Allied powers.
-Food  and the rationing of food and other supplies was mentioned a number of times in The Chilbury Ladies' Choir.

Don't You Know There's a War On? Voices from the Home Front by Jonathan Croall

The personal stories of 35 people throughout Britain during World War II.
-Resembles some of the characteristics of the citizens in the village of Chilbury.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Juliet Ashton, a writer from London looks for the subject of her next book when she discovers the island of Guernsey. Through correspondence with one of the island residents, she learns about the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which was an alibi to cover up why the members were breaking curfew during German occupation.
-Written in epistolary form like The Chilbury Ladies' Choir.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

Taking place in 1940, this is the story of how two women deliver news, one by mail and one by broadcast. It discusses how lives are touched and changed by the events of the war. 
-Relates to how the people in Chilbury village were impacted by how close the war was to them. 

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters 
Follow the story of three women and one man as they cross paths in 1940's London during times of air raids, blacked-out streets and illicit partying. 
-Historical fiction novel that takes place in London in the 1940's.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Book Club Experience

The Mug N' Muffin Book Club met on a Thursday morning in February for an hour. The book club took place in a small meeting room on the lower level of the public library. This group has met together over the past few years. There were 10 attendees including Angie, the librarian, and myself. February's book selection was This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. It was a great atmosphere where this group of men and women came together and shared their reflections.  They are a group who loves to read good literature and enjoy getting together and discussing what they have read.

Snacks and drinks were provided at the beginning and included coffee, tea, water and an assortment of muffins. The group drank their coffee and ate the muffins and had small talk with each other while waiting to get started. It was very obvious that they have been meeting together for a few years. That being said, they were also very welcoming to newcomers and loved to share with the newcomers as well. Besides myself, there was another first time newcomer to the group.

Angie acted as facilitator. She asked everybody what they thought of the book. After the initial response, each attendee went around the table and shared their thoughts and feelings about the book. Usually each person shared for about five minutes.  I had read the book as well so I participated in the conversation. As each person shared their thoughts, other attendees would discuss a point that was made by the person doing the sharing. None of the questions that were asked by Angie or the club attendees were yes or no, but rather open-ended questions. Everybody was very respectful about the opinions and statements of others. All points were considered in a positive manner. The participants really thought out their points and discussions. Some of the attendees even brought prepared notes so they could remember the points they wanted to make. The following are two examples from the discussions:
  • Example one: The first attendee talked about sitting Shiva, a Jewish tradition of mourning. Other people then spoke up about their understanding about Shiva and other Jewish customs. A consensus was made that this book helped them understand Jewish customs and traditions better.
  • Example two: One of the attendees discussed the mother and the role that she played in the story. Others then gave their opinions of what they thought about the mother. One attendee thought she was a good mother while another attendee thought she tried to manipulate situations.
The age variation was interesting. People ranged in age from around 40 to 80 years old. The age difference plus the variety of backgrounds and perspectives added to flavor the discussion. I found it interesting that the oldest attendees were the ones who were least offended by the graphic nature and language used in the book. (The book contained a lot of sexual content and language in it.) In the end, it was agreed upon by the entire group that they really liked the novel. As one attendee said, "We are all adults, when it came to a sexual part that I didn't like, I just turned the page until it was over."

While every member actively participated, there were two attendees who did talk more than the others. They both always had something to say about all of the other attendee's thoughts, but instead of deterring from the discussion, it added more depth and simply complemented other people's thoughts and opinions. These two were also the last ones to share their thoughts and opinions as we went around the table. One of them complained that they were almost out of time and she would not get to share, but ironically, she was probably the most talkative during the hour. She did have time to share all of the notes that she had written though, with time to spare.

Angie allowed the participants to talk about the book before she would answer any questions that other attendees had asked. She also included some open-ended questions when certain points of the books were brought up during the discussion. Angie had used questions that she found on the Internet. One example of one of the questions she asked was about what we thought Judd's reoccurring dream of only having one leg might symbolize. Angie did a really good job of acting as facilitator and when the discussion of a certain point would seem to run its course, she would move on to the next person or ask another question.

The Mug n' Muffin book club reads a variety of titles including nonfiction, historical fiction, mystery and relationship focused books. Other titles they have read or will read in the future include: Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History Making Race Around the World  by Matthew Goodman; On Strike for Christmas by Sheila Roberts; The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton; and Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope by Don Van Ryn. They see a list of available titles (usually from Novel Conversations), then decide as a group which titles they want to read. So, in essence, it is a popular vote from the regular attendees.

This was my first book club experience and I really enjoyed it. I liked the discussions and reflective thinking that went on by group. It was a very relaxed and delightful atmosphere where everybody shared their love for reading. I look forward to participating in more book clubs and actually starting my own book club.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Special Topics Paper: Passive Readers’ Advisory

Readers’ advisory is an important part of the daily services that libraries offer to patrons. Assisting patrons in finding books that appeal to them is the primary goal in readers’ advisory services. Librarians work to get readers connected to these great books. Readers’ advisory can come in the form of an interactive, face-to-face approach where readers receive assistance from librarians in the form of discussions and interviews. Librarians also look for other ways to reach patrons to get them connected to books, especially those patrons who bypass the information desk, never asking for any assistance. This can be in the form of a passive readers’ advisory, which is an indirect approach to help patrons find appealing books. Passive readers’ advisory does not require contact between patrons and library staff.

Ideal goal of readers’ advisory is to get readers to connect with books (Ross, 1991). Many times, patrons will come into the library knowing exactly what books they want. These patrons already know the titles or the authors that they are seeking. These patrons will go directly to the shelves to get their books, only coming for assistance if they need to place a hold. Other patrons will go directly to the information or reference desk and seek help almost immediately from the librarian. Then there will be some patrons who do not come into contact with any staff, preferring to remain self-sufficient.

All patrons can benefit by passive readers’ advisory services and they may not even realize it. Patrons who know exactly what they want may see a title that catches their interest as they are walking by a display on their way to get that particular title. The patrons who are self-sufficient browsers may see a title that interests them either on a display or in a shelf alert. The person waiting for the librarian might start reading the bulletin board and find a new title.

“Passive readers’ advisory is an essential part of any library’s readers’ advisory service because it reaches a group of readers who cannot or will not take advantage of real-time or face-to-face services” (Staley, 2010, p. 73). Sometimes readers just like to find material on their own (Towey, 2005). Patrons do not want to ask for help as they are independent and want to find their own books without any assistance (Saricks, 2001). Patrons can also be embarrassed to ask for help from librarians (Ross, 1991). They might be embarrassed by the genre of books that they like to read. Patrons also feel that librarians are too busy and so they do not want to bother the librarian with questions (Saricks, 2001). Patrons also have the viewpoint that librarians will not be able to help them find a good book (Ross, 1991). Passive readers’ advisory is a way to reach these patrons and provide them with services.

Readers’ advisory in any size library can be challenging. It requires a lot of time and training to do an effective advisory service (Stover & Trott, 2005). With an increase in workloads, passive readers’ advisory services are becoming more necessary in public libraries (Stover & Trott, 2005). Passive readers’ advisory can be a beneficial option when there is lack of time and/or adequate staffing. Librarians may have a long line that patrons may not wish to wait and there may be only one staff member present to assist patrons. Towey states, “Passive forms of readers’ advisory not only help patrons get to books they may like more quickly, but also establish the library staff as experts in suggesting books” (2001, p. 135).

There are many techniques that can be used to portray passive readers’ advisory services in the library. Ideas abound and are ever-changing about what works and does not work. Displays, bookmarks and booklists are among the possibilities of strategies that do not require face-to-face interaction between patrons and librarians. The role of the librarian is by no means thought to be passive throughout this service but rather, very active. It takes work on the part of the librarian to create and maintain booklists, bookmarks and displays. The librarian is actively searching for materials to use for displays, bookmarks and booklists. Readers trust the judgment of the librarian and expect books to be worth their time to invest in it (Saricks, 2001). Our patrons expect books to be thoughtfully chosen. Bookmarks, booklists and displays can often be created and used at the same time over the same themes (Staley, 2010).

Some ideas:

  • Create displays that are visually appealing. Susan Brown shares ideas in Twenty Rules for Better Book Displays.
  • “Book of the Day” located close to the checkout (include bookmark with the author and title and include a sentence of staff recommendation. 
  • Create annotated booklists of popular titles (Saricks, 2001). Fiction_L is a great resource.
  • Use bulletin boards to highlight titles, authors, publishers, staff recommendations.
  • Create shelf alerts to highlight various authors. 
Patrons will always be looking for that next good book. Librarians need to help patrons find that book, whether it is through direct contact or through passive approaches like displays and booklists. The ultimate goal is to get readers connected and keep them connected to library materials.