Tag Archives: trends

New Lewes Library and Pokemon Go at the old

I’ve joined the masses who are hooked on Pokemon Go and so far its helped me discover places I didn’t know about and start up conversations.

This past Monday,  I was volunteering at the beautiful new Lewes Public Library which officially opened on June 20th. Every time that I’ve been in either to help out or to look on my own, the library has been full. On this Monday morning, I began by sharing some of the wonderful posters I picked up at ALA Annual Conference to help decorate the space and discuss Pokemon Go. It turns out that there are two gyms near the library, two PokeStops across the railroad tracks at the old library, one was even at the Children’s Learning Garden where Maureen was headed to for a storytime.

Once Maureen went out to run the storytime, I didn’t have time to think of Pokemon as the Children’s section was busy. In the midst of shelving books, I was answering questions and seeing what the right space can do. There was a group of tween girls discussing book series that they love amid exclamations of ‘Have you read this one?’ Little kids were picking books by pulling them out and finding ones they enjoy. I love a busy library and it did take a while to get the shelving done but it was more important to answer every question.

When I finally left, I stopped by the library sign to check out the PokeStop and got into a conversation with two women in scrubs. I showed them where the PokeStop near the sign was and pointed out which was the Children’s Learning Garden was from where we were. After that, I walked around for a while, catching a few Pokemon before lunch then later stopping behind a motel to find a mural and a PokeStop. I think a lot of the set up of the stops is slightly random other than being in public places but for me, they’re getting me exploring. I’m looking forward to seeing how this game builds interaction in other places.

 

A lovely mural I never knew about but thanks to #pokemongo I found it. #mypictures #instagram

A photo posted by Kate K.F. (@ceitfianna) on Jul 11, 2016 at 12:06pm PDT

 

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Halloween-looking sideways

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays, because its a chance when everyone can play openly with their imaginations. For the past ten years, my costume has been simple but I’ve found rather effective:

As you can see, I’ve painted the top half of my face to look like a red fox, which was a skill I learned how to do when I took a theatrical make up class at a local theater in middle school. That was one of my favorite theater classes because I find it fascinating how it doesn’t take much to shift the character of your face and body.

Halloween is full of people who understand that and a chance for everyone to share various sides of themselves. Since the explosion of YA lit and cosplay becoming more widely recognized, costumes based on what someone loves are easier to spot as we share our inspirations. When I was in elementary school, I had two costumes that were my favorites and both of them grew out of my love of books. One was Glinda the Good Witch from the Oz books, I based my costume on illustrations in the original hardcovers that my parents had and my mother and I found all the makings at a craft store. The other favorite was Will Scarlett/Stuteley from Paul Creswick’s Robin Hood, I made myself a felt hat and my father cut me a quarter staff which I carried to school. For most of my life until my parents moved out of that house, the staff rested in the corner and the hat perched on my desk chair, because Robin Hood is a story that I happen to love. As I grew older I got involved in theater and Live Action Role Play which gave me chances to try on various guises and learn more about how to make someone see me differently. When I try on another identity through a costume, writing, roleplay or another avenue, I find myself examining things from more angles.

Now my costumes are simpler but I’ve found that this face paint gets everyone to look twice at me. Today when I went to pick up something, a woman meowed at me and other people smiled in surprise when they noticed that no, I wasn’t looking normal. I think my favorite reactions to this face paint are the quick smiles as that person has had a little bit of weird in their life.

I hope everyone who does something for Halloween enjoys it and remember to look at the world a little sideways sometimes to see that nothing’s ever quite what it seems. As in Celtic mythology, Samhain and the turning of the seasons means today is when the walls between the worlds are thinner. Also its a time to celebrate the harvest of the summer and prepare for the cold of winter. Brew a hot drink and keep your eyes open. Happy Halloween!

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Why would you read that?-preference vs quality

The area I’m living in at the moment has an older and mainly retired population, younger families are around but they’re not the majority. As my current social life connects to my parents who are retired and active in this small town, I’ve been having conversations that I haven’t expected. Most of the media that I consume is young adult, fantasy or variation or combination of these two, among my friends we might not all like the same works but share a common vocabulary. So its surprising for me to be talking about books I recently read and have someone say, “Why would you read that?” in terms of fantasy, because the characters aren’t human or real enough. My explanation is that I will read anything if I find the characters compelling. This has led to some good discussions in terms of what attracts someone to want to read a book.

It seems like every few months, an article will appear about why adults read YA or how guilty pleasure books can be okay, which starts the conversation up again. A lot of it seems stuck on the idea of what has value and who gets to decide the value for various works. I think this lies at the heart of it and is an important aspect of consuming books to discuss. There are books that jump out from others in terms of their quality across the genres but due to there being all these genres, what matters most is personal preference. In another conversation I have, we talked about the idea of genres and its key to remember that the genres as divined by a literature professor won’t be the same as those picked by a publishing executive and that genres shift over time. As a librarian, part of my job is to find how best to get these books to those who will like them and people who might not think of trying them. In this way genres can be unhelpful when someone says, “Oh, I don’t read fantasy or science fiction or young adult.” The next step is to talk to them for me is to find out what makes them not want to read those books. I find the idea isn’t to convince them to try something, that comes later. Its best to begin by understanding was there a book they didn’t like, why didn’t they like it and was there another they did like. Our personal preferences are built from our experiences and when looking into unfamiliar genre, a difficult but enlightening step is to try. If you’re thinking about wanting something new to read outside your comfort zone, ask someone who prefers a genre you normally don’t read for advice to where to begin. That’s how I got started reading Romance, I read two great book blogs, and and one day I won a book and discovered I actually quite enjoyed Historical Romance.

All these thoughts have been going through my head as I move back and forth from a world where book clubs tend to read the bestsellers, a children’s section of the library and my online world that focuses on fantasy and young adult literature. As a librarian, I feel part of what I do is to help patrons find books they’ll enjoy and a few that will surprise them.

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Where I fit as a librarian and reader: not either/or but and

My last few weeks have been incredibly busy as I had three in-person interviews at three quite different independent schools. I’m not going to go into detail about these interviews but they did get me thinking about perceptions of libraries, librarians and books. Then last night I was reading an article in The New Yorker about guilty pleasure reading, which is a phrase I dislike and I wanted to write about the views of books and technology.

Two of the schools I spoke to have iPad programs and I ended up dealing with many questions that were variations on: we have it all on the ipad, what can you do? These questions weren’t too surprising considering the language that the media and the educational world use in terms of these new technology tools, that its all right there at your fingertips and your students can do it all. This seems rather short-sighted because another discussion that swirls around technology is how there’s so much information, it’s hard to know how to navigate it. I found that my best answer was by talking about two quite different aspects-the library has a third place and community gathering point and how I as a librarian can help navigate the resources available. This seemed to make sense and it was fascinating to see the different ideas that being in the library brought about in discussions, I could almost guess the people who grew up spending their time in libraries and those who didn’t. Then in terms of technology, when I spoke of how my job as librarian was to gather and curate the resources to get them prepared and easy so that the focus in classes could be on education, that made sense.

I found these conversations amazing as I was able to get a sense of how the sense of what is a library is in such flux, this was something that came up, again and again in the course of my degree. We were constantly debating and discussing what is a library, sometimes in comparison-what is a library in comparison to an archive or online or in a school? I found the chance to bring see how those thoughts played out in the arena of schools a reminder that I have found the right career for myself.

Now the other aspect I was thinking about was who I am as a genre reader. One of the quickest ways to make me lose my temper is to call any book trash since it adds an element of shame to reading, which is awful. Last night at work, I was reading an article in The New Yorker called “In Praise of Guilty Reading Pleasures” by Arthur Krystal. I would link it but its behind the paywall but if you have access I recommend reading it because the author didn’t do a good job arguing for genre books in particular mysteries and thrillers.

What got in the author’s way from the start is the idea that any book is a guilty pleasure, this brings shame and I shouldn’t be reading it into the equation and is insulting. My view has always been if a book brings you pleasure, its worthwhile. If someone wishes to criticize a book there are many other ways to speak of them that don’t make the reader feel as if they’re not good enough such as talking about the quality of the writing, the characters, the plot, the world-building, the cover or even the editing. All of these elements exist in every type of book and create a level playing field. The author was trying to argue that these genre books can be well-written and are good in their terseness and effectiveness and talked about the fascinating history of the novel, which hasn’t always been the darling of the literary establishment. It was at the end of the article that this all fell apart. I’m going to quote the first and last lines of the final paragraph that I tweeted last night to show what I mean about the author destroying his own point.

Apparently we’re still judged by the books we read, and perhaps we should be.

And, if we feel a little guilty for getting so swept up, there’s always “Death in Venice” to read as penance.

I just don’t get this attitude and its so prevalent that people enjoy that on their e-readers, no one knows what they’re reading. If we’re to continue nurturing readers, we need to make it clear that reading is wonderful and we all have different tastes. I think my biggest issue with this article is how it brings in strong and harmful religious ideas about penance and almost a diet analogy in read your veggie books, do your penance instead of enjoy what you like.

To end on a happier note, today on Tor.com I read an article about genre fiction that completely got it about how genre can be fun and deep and complex called Why Genre is Synonymous with Pop. I also highly recommend Tor’s Genre in the Mainstream series as it looks at why some books are literary and some genre and how the lines blur far more often than we expect. Usually what puts a book on one side or the other is the author or the publishing house and how they’re considered. That’s another longer discussion about how publishers decide where a book fits and best left for another time.

In the end, I see myself as a librarian as someone who connects resources and helps makes sense of all that’s out there. We don’t have to do either e-books or print, its a matter of and. The library is a place to meet as a community and talk about what we love. Just as books aren’t a matter of either literary and good for you or a guilty pleasure, a book that you get lost in is a worthwhile book.

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The Worth of a Book

The price of e-books has been in the news quite a lot due to the Department of Justice suit and has created a huge amount of amazing posts. To begin with, I’m going to link a few of the posts that helped me make sense of the issue and then I want to write about some of the intangibles of what makes a book and what defines a book’s worth.

Today is not Tomorrow-a great article about Amazon’s weaknesses
The Department of Justice and Publishing from Smart Bitches Trashy Books, one of the best round ups of links and explanations that I’ve found so far.
Why e-books cost so much? from CNet is a highly informative article and part of the genesis of this post.

What I wish to look at is the question of who is putting value into the books and what do we as readers and librarians need to be thinking of as the world of publishing keeps shifting. This breakdown is based on the classic model of an author working with a publishing company but I will try to work in some of what has changed.

The Author-Every book begins with an author and to that author, their book is the culmination of an idea that they have worked on for possibly years. As the book is being published, that means that they have had the joy of hearing a publisher go, yes, we want to make sure this is made available to the public.

The Editor-They have taken on a book and helped an author through the journey of preparing their book to be released upon the world. The editor is an ally for the writer as they help them polish and craft their work so it can be the best shape possible.

The Publishing House-The editor and the author are within the publishing house but they are only a small part of what it takes to see a book come together. Cover artists, marketing, other editors, they work with the author to figure out how best to share the book with the world. Publishing houses come in all shapes and sizes, the same considerations occur whether the publisher is a dedicated group of five or a huge company with hundreds of staff. One of these considerations is how to profit off of the book finding its proper audience. They are all the allies of the author and they will make certain that the final result of the book in whatever format is the best that it can be.

The Intermediaries-I consider the intermediaries the ones who get the book into the hands of the perfect reader for the book. This grouping is where the world has changed because for a long time intermediaries were only bookstores and perhaps libraries. Publishing houses aimed most of their publicity at them and still do as they will see the right book put into the right hands. Due to the advent of the internet, the intermediaries have grown to include bloggers, online retailers, friends, the author who promotes the book on Twitter and Facebook and many other variations. Now a publishing house and author have a harder time knowing who should they be aiming their publicity at and how many formats should be possible for this book to be read in.

One of the most worrying parts of many e-book discussions is how often these intermediaries are taken out of the picture instead the ideal seems to be the reader finds the book. This is certainly possible but its not as simple as it seems. Every e-book reader is a device that requires time to learn how to use it properly, if there are no intermediaries to help a reader understand their device, there are more steps to the book. Also one of the greatest voices for a book is a reader who has read it and says to their friend, you read it too. With a print book, this step is easy, you lend the book to your friend or tell them where to get it, yet with an e-book, there might or might not be multiple steps before it can be lent. This is where I believe the first article I linked presents some of the best ideas of how to make sure that a company like Amazon doesn’t dominate the conversation. E-books shouldn’t be anymore complicated than they need to be or else they become something that gets in the way of the reader getting to the book.

The Reader-To a reader the book might be many things; a chance to discover a new world, a return to a world they enjoy, a way to connect with a friend who said read this and know me. The end result of the work of the author, editor, publishing house and intermediaries is to get the book into the hands of a reader who will enjoy it. One of the amazing aspects of how the internet has changed the book world is now a reader can become an intermediary as well. They can praise a book on multiple platforms, connect to the author on social media and thus find the best audience for the book.

The digital world of e-books, social media and other venues of publishing all present new and fantastic opportunities for the book world along with confusion. How can a self-published author best connect with their audience? How can a publishing house stay connected to their readers? How can an author balance their public and private lives? How can the steps between each piece be done well and easily for all involved? How can we get the right book into the hands of the right reader?

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Last Class Reflection-Librarians Always Educate

At the end of the semester, we looked back over what we’ve done and how it all connects. I think that this course, Professional Practice has been one of the most immediately useful of all my SI courses. Today at America Reads I was putting together another screencast and a series of How To guides for how to use the library program that I found for them. As I was working, I made sure to go back and add in steps that aren’t obvious to me but need to be understood. Professional Practice has really given me the tools to think about how do I in my role as a librarian no matter the setting make sure that I’m helping my patrons get the information they need. Also how do I keep myself up to date and I think that’s such a challenge as the world communicates so quickly now and librarians are very connected. Its so key to know who to ask and where to look to figure out what’s going on, what matters and who to listen to.

I think the aspect that helped me the most were all the various hands-on assignments because they showed me places to start. I know that when someone asks me if I know how to run a book club or a one shot workshop I’ll say yes. If the semester was longer, I would have liked to have time to polish some of the assignments but I feel like I have a start and a good base knowledge.

One of the best lessons I took away was making sure that everyone who might come to your library has a way to learn and feel connected. I think this is one of the trickiest parts of being in the world of public libraries and one of the most important things. Libraries have to be safe and welcoming.

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Reflection-Twitter and the power of background networking

I started on Twitter last year thanks to 624, where we looked at blogs and Twitter feeds. Since then its always on for me either in the corner of my browser or in a tab when I’m not on my own computer. I appreciate it since it leads me to links and people that I might not think of.

One of the things I enjoy a lot is how things get retweeted and Twitter suggests people that I might follow. That way I’m seeing the networks of the organizations I follow and so my own network grows. In terms of my professional life, the various ALA tweets combined with librarians lead me to new ways of thinking about being a librarian.

Though I always find it interesting how something will pop up in one of my other feeds like the whole complication over a YA editor denying a same sex relationship within a story. Its something I’ve seen in other avenues and thanks to Twitter, I’ve been able to follow the cascading effect as other authors pull stories out that are connected with that editor. I first found out about this through a blogger who focuses on fandom issues but its spiraled out and I think is a powerful thing to look at in terms of how powerful social networking can be. The blogger is Cleolinda and her recap of the situation can be found here. I retweeted one of her updates on this as she’s been keeping track of which authors are dropping out of anthologies.

In terms of what the class has been retweeting, its fascinating the wide range of things that are appropriate for this class. Its been a wonderful reminder that being a librarian covers so many different things and Twitter is just one way of getting access to a lot of them.

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