Saturday, October 10, 2009

True Adventure/Survival Stories

Did a whole slew of booktalks this week at a local high school. The sophomores have to read a TRUE story of adventure/survival. Here are the books I brought along with me:

Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read
Miracle in the Andes by Nando Parrado
The Lost City of Z by David Grann
Left For Dead by Pete Nelson
A Hole In My Life by Jack Gantos
Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell
In A Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whale Ship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick
Survive! by Peter Deleo
Rabbit Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington
Crazy for the Storm by Normal Ollestad


Hm, at some point I need to take my book talks and type them up on here, mostly so if I ever lose the little slips of paper I have them scribbled on, I won't have to fumble around and write them again! After booktalking all day, you start to figure out the best way to phrase things.

Also, is it wrong that I made a "How to Serve Man" joke while booktalking "Alive"?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

"special areas" and genre collections rant

WARNING: RANT AHEAD! USE CAUTION! ANNOYED LIBRARIAN!

This is something that has been on my mind for awhile now. I know its is part of the great debate among authors, publishers, booksellers, catalogers, and librarians -where to put the books!

The more I work in a library, the less I like genre collections. I know people will say they read "mysteries" but I think everyone's definition of what a mystery is varies. I thought I had read some mysteries, but it turns out they were more suspense/thriller titles, at least in the eyes of librarians. How can we expect patrons to know what is defined as a mystery? In reality, a mystery collection, in a library or a bookstore, usually consist mostly of series authors.

I always feel the Science Fiction collections are slighted because the whole genre has a bad rap to begin with, so is it better to seperate out the science fiction & fantasy books into one area so they can be shunned by people who "don't read science fiction", or to interfile them with fiction so you can catch those people? And what the heck IS science fiction & fantasy anyway? Where does it start, where does it end? What is the magic formula to determine if a book is sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, or fiction? For example, look at the Sookie Stackhouse books - they are mysteries BUT THEY HAVE VAMPIRES! Isn't that fantasy?

And don't you DARE say I should just buy two copies and put them in both places. That is something a bookstore can do, because they have a lot more space and a lot less books to deal with. I can't stand when I see the same book in 3 different places in a library - oh its in classics, oh its in adult fiction, oh and its also in YA fiction, and also in J because it appeals to everyone! Pick a spot.

As for our non-fiction collections, don't teach your patrons how to use the Dewey Decimal system, and then pull out all of the holidays books and put them in a special area. Your catalogers PUT those books in the Dewey spot for holiday items. You don't NEED to seperate them out. When the holiday arrives, you're going to put up a display anyway, why are you so worried about the Christmas books in March? Catalogers should be flexible with their libraries collections - if you know that all of your Martha Stewart Christmas books have always been in the same call number, but the new 2010 copy comes up in OCLC with a dewey number a shelf away, fudge it - change the number.

Cataloging should be like special effects work - if you're doing it well, no one should know you've actually done anything. It should just make sense.

I can't quite get behind the "Down with Dewey!" campaign, mostly because I have worked in relatively large public libraries and I just can't figure out how I would find anything specific in that system and I don't have a better system to replace it. I think it is a step in the right direction though. I am more behind the "to heck with genre labels" movement (well, there SHOULD be one) and just have all the fiction together. Sure, you can put a genre label on the book if you must (but keep 'em small - my next pet peeve rant will be about spine labels that totally obscure the author/title), but go ahead and mix them together.

I guess what I'm saying is that we need to stop organizing for librarians and organize for our newest patron. That adult who walks in the door and wants to find something as easily and painlessly as they do when they go into any other store. It's about consistency. Picking a spot, and sticking with it.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

High School Booktalk list

Here are the books I actually talked about at the high school. Let me tell you, I now have these talks memorized after doing them every half-hour for 2 days straight!

The Death of Jayson Porter by Jaime Adoff

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong (pushed as a Twilight Read-Alike)

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway (Everybody LOVED this cover, it was usually one of the first books the teens asked to hear about)

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell (Another cover that caught people's eyes. Here's hoping they can remember the title!)

Being by Kevin Brooks

She’s So Money by Cherry Cheva (the title and the cover got a lot of attention)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (I talked the heck out of this one because I really think its gonna be the next big thing. I ended the talk with a "if you like excitement, adventure, and people getting run through with spears - give this a try!" which the boys liked)

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle (movie tie-in made this fun to talk, esp. poking fun at Hayden Pantierre playing a cheerleader AGAIN! I also showed them the pictures of Denis from the cover and then later on when he's bruised and covered in food. Compared it to Superbad.)

Beastly by Alex Flinn (Twilight Read-Alike)

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (rec. audiobook)

A Hole in my Life by Jack Gantos (YA biography)

A Treasury of Victorian Murder by Rick Geary (I think the teachers were more interested in this, but I still had fun saying it was all TRUE and doing the Lizzie Borden rhyme)

Evernight by Claudia Gray (Twilight Read-Alike)

Repossessed by A.M. Jenkins

Just After Sunset by Stephen King (short stories; rec. audiobook, always mentioned the disgusting Port-O-Potty story for the boys)

No Choirboy by Susan Kuklin (YA non-fiction, another popular cover)

How to Dith your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
(I was surprised by how many people asked to hear about this one because of the cover, though many mocked the Bassett Hound as the groups mascot)

Wake by Lisa McMann

Bonechiller by Graham Mcnamee

King Dork by Frank Portman

The Forest of Hands & Teeth by Carrie Ryan
(ZOMBIES! Always popular.)

Unwind by Neal Shusterman (harvesting organs always got their attention)

Boot Camp by Todd Strasser (another good one for the boys, I always ended this talk by saying the last page is the most disturbing part - the author cites his sources - it's based on fact!)

Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan (YA graphic novel; we all assume our parents are evil at least once, but what if you found out they really were? I think the teens appreciated that I talked about a comic book series)

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
(I was hesitant to talk this book because of its thickness but the cover made the teens ask for it and mentioning that Death was the narrator got their attention - even the girl who had been rolling her eyes at my for most of the time actually wrote down the title!)

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

High School booktalks - day 1

So, when I sent out emails in beginning of May, asking the local high school media specialists if they wanted me to stop in and talk about the Summer Reading Program, maybe booktalk a couple books, I did not expect one school to book me for 2 days! But I survived day 1 and I had a great time (even if I did have to drag my butt out of bed at 6am...though I'm sure those kids get up at least that early every day *shudder*)

I brought in a ton of books. At first, I was thinking I would tailor the booktalks to each grade, but that idea was dropped when I ended up with combined classes. Then I realized - they can read whatever they want, why not just tell them about everything good in the library?

So, I set up a display in the front of the room with ALL of the books I brought, which was a lot. About six or seven bags full. I'll post the titles later but I a lot from the 8th grade book talks come along, and then a few more for older teens. A lot more with male protagonists.

The first group is what you'd expect for a group of teens up at 7:30am - zoned out. But at least they were quiet and I ended up babbling at them for more than the 30 minutes I was allotted. But I guess the teacher was enjoying it because SHE didn't want to leave! haha.

The next group I had it was right before their lunch break and they were very restless. Still, I did my best, trying to talk over and around those not paying attention. The school librarian was not happy though. She apologized for their behavior but whatever. They were hungry, there's only like 8 days left of school. I forgive them haha.

I had a huge break as no one had signed up for the session around lunch. Gave me time to eat my own lunch and rethink my strategy for a few of the booktalks. I have little scripts written for each of the books, but I really prefer not to read them straight. Everyone knows what it sounds like when someone is just reading off the page. Even though I write out an entire speech, after I've gone through it once, I tend to improvise a bit, try to loosen up the language to make it sound like I'm talking off the top of my head. I think it's more believable that I LIKE the book if I can talk about it that way - I mean, if someone is just reading a review to you vs. someone talking to you about a book they like: which person are you more likely to believe?

And I'll be honest, I didn't read every single book on the table. I know BLASPHEME! But what are friends for? My friend was on Great Books last year and I had her write up booktalks for me for a few of her favorite titles. After reading them a few time, I made them my own and voila - 8 extra books to talk!

The next class was an honors English class, clearly already made up of some big readers. They were the only class that responded right away to my "anyone see anything on the desk they want to hear about?" and they kept me going for the full 30 minutes calling out which titles they wanted to know more about.

The class after them was a bit rougher (getting into the final sessions of the day) but they actually started calling out titles too and we got so carried away we went over into the next class' session! They too played hard to get, but by the end (when the bell rang) I had a few people look at me like "Wait, what's that one!". I hollered out that the booklist would be at the library and to come visit!

All in all, a good day, though I am exhausted. I will def. be stopping for coffee again tomorrow. Hopefully I have a voice! I'll post booklists tomorrow too.

Monday, May 11, 2009

8th grade booktalks

Last week I visited one of the local middle schools and told them about the Summer Reading Progam, then filled the rest of the hour by talking about books! Here are the titles I booktalked (asteriks denote titles that the kids actually came into the library and asked for the next day!):

Audrey, Wait by Robin Benway*
What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell*
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins*
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Treasury of Victorian Murder true crime graphic novel series by Rick Geary*
- The Saga of the Bloody Benders
- The Beast of Chicago
Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters by Gail Giles
Right Behind You by Gail Giles
Evernight by Claudia Gray (Twilight read-alike)
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart*
Bonechiller by Graham McNamee
Evermore by Alyson Noel* (Twilight Read-alike)
Boot Camp by Todd Strasser
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

I had read most of these. The only titles I booktalked that I had not read (Audrey and the two Twilight readalikes), my fellow librarian/friend Amy had read so I had her write up the booktalks for me, which went pretty well. Halfway through booktalking "Right Behind You" I realized I really didn't like the book and that I couldn't really booktalk it so I stopped.

I read aloud from Graveyard Book in all 3 sessions (the first chapter up until the first break), Audrey, Wait in 2 sessions (the song reveal scene, stopping before I would have to sing!), Litter Brother in 2 sessions (Marcus and friends are picked up by the DHS after the attack) and Hunger Games in the last session because the book was checked out until then (the first few pages of chapter 11, when the games start)!

I've decided I need to find a few more boy friendly books for my next visit, I had far too many girls books, or girls were the main protagonists which is always a red flag for male readers. I think I also need a couple more "normal teen doing normal things" books - all of mine seemed to have dark themes or were just goofy. I don't read a lot of books like that though...or most of the ones I have read and enjoyed are for older high school teens.

But, I'm in luck because next up are the local High School booktalks!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Free and Easy Updates to YA Area

oh my gosh, I haven't updated this blog in forever. Believe me, I'm still alive and kicking.

I've made a lot of simple changes to our Young Adult area, but they have paid off. The biggest thing I did was a big ol' shift that left more room on each shelf. I moved the "Reading List" collection into a more hidden corner, figuring that since these books are assigned for school, patrons will ask for them to find them. The new space suits them a lot better since it is one of the few collections that demands multiple copies, so now I have the room to keep 6 copies of The Grapes of Wrath on the shelf.

Where the Reading List used to live has now become the "New Teen Reads" section. Previously, brand new YA books were just going straight to the shelves, while the adult new books got their own special display. I didn't feel that was fair to our YA readers (or authors!) so now I display titles on these 6 shelves. I've noticed both teens AND adults checking out stacks of new books.

So, now I have the space in the regular shelves to turn book covers outward on multiple titles (the Barnes & Nobles look) and wow, has it made a difference! The circ department tells me that YA circs have really gone up (though I'm sure the economy and that little vampire/romance have also brought a lot of new kids into the building). This month, I've started to pull multiple titles and have them just standing at the end of shelves that have extra space. That seems to be working too! I got 3 copies of the same book to check out yesterday, a book that had been sitting on the shelf for quite some time.

Didn't cost us a dime, just a few hours of shifting and weeding, and the YA section seems a lot more appealing.

Now to figure out how to get all the teens that are checking out my books to attend some programs!