Sunday, February 26, 2017

Week 7 Prompt

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.

Many books in my lifetime are deemed controversial for a wide variety of reasons. Most of the time, I do not even have an opinion of the book, either because I have not read it, or I don't think it is actually controversial. I am very open minded and I firmly believe every book has a place on the shelves. I do believe there are many books that have morality problems, but there can still be lessons to learn from them.

Recently though, one book has actually made me have an opinion towards the "controversy." Fifty Shades of Grey has turned the book world upside. For years, romance novels have been looked upon as "guilty pleasures" or "trashy" novels many people do not read or only read in secret. Fifty Shades reinvented this idea. I personally knew many readers who openly discussed the novel and read it publicly. Fifty Shades was a great resurrection of the romance novel, but, controversy followed.

Many people fell issue with the sexual nature of Fifty Shades, of course. Sexuality in the United States has always been a hot button issue. The sexual nature of Fifty Shades is especially riveting because of the BDSM factor. Not only is there BDSM, the descriptions of sexual acts are very detailed and paint a picture clearly. The book has been challenged many times and banned in certain areas.

While I find issues with the quality of writing in the novel, it still has its place in public libraries and other areas. It is disheartening to see people who push their beliefs onto others. They can choose not to read the book, but having it banned from libraries is the very stance libraries fight against--censorship. I believe everyone has the right to read any book that interests them. The book may not align with some beliefs, but not everyone has the same beliefs. Keeping controversial books on the shelves allows libraries to be credible sources and stay unbiased.

Mystery Annotation

Image result for eyre affair

Author: Jasper Fforde
Title: The Eyre Affair
Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: 2001
Number of Pages: 374
Geographical Setting: England; Wales
Time Period: 1985
Series (If applicable): Thursday Next

Plot Summary: Thursday Next is the female protagonist in this parallel version of Great Britain in 1985. Thursday is employed in the LiteraTecs department of the SpecOps (special operations) division of law enforcement. The story starts out with Thursday being promoted to help capture a wanted terrorist, Acheron Hades. Thursday was a student of Hades years before, and she is one of the few people in the world who can recognize him. Thursday fails to capture Acheron and returns to her hometown of Swindon after being offered a transfer position.
Hades captures Thursday’s uncle and aunt for her uncle’s prized Prose Portal, which allows original manuscripts, and subsequent copies, to be changed. Hades steals the original manuscript of Jane Eyre and kidnaps Jane from the manuscript. Thursday travels to Wales where Hades is hiding and successfully returns Jane to the manuscript. Thursday finds her aunt still missing with Hades. Thursday successes in killing Hades and rescuing her aunt.
The story concludes with Thursday helping along negotiations to end the Crimean War. She marries her lifelong love, Landon, after years of holding a grudge against him and she faces the new problem at work relating to the new ending of Jane Eyre.
Subject Headings:
Characters and characteristics in literature > Fiction. 
Women detectives > Wales > Fiction. 
Crimean War, 1853-1856 > Fiction. 
Fathers and daughters > Fiction. 
Books and reading > Fiction. 
Censorship > Fiction. 
Wales > Fiction. 
Appeal: The appeal of the genre is the idea of solving the mystery along with, or before, the protagonists. The mystery in the case of The Eyre Affair is capturing famed murderer, thief and all around devious Acheron.
3 characteristics of genre:
  • The solving of a crime drives the plot
  • The story focuses on the investigator
  • The mood of mysteries ranges from dark and gritty to lighthearted and witty with a multitude of variations in between.

3 Read a-likes:
  • The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma
  • The Bad Book Affair by Ian Sansom
  • Re Jane by Patricia Park

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Week 6 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!!

I love the idea of the popular "blind date with a book" program at libraries.In this program, books are wrapped up like presents and have a few words describing the book on the front. Patrons can read the very short (think 10 or fewer words) blurb and decide if the book sounds like an interesting read. The books are displayed and patrons only find out what the book is at check out. 

This program would be perfect for romance novels and other media. Romance novels are notorious for the terrible covers and often get judged for these covers and neglected by a large amount of readers. Integrated advisory can be included by wrapping up audiobooks as well as novels. It would be a great program to run in February for Valentine's Day but it could also work year round.

Princeton Public Library's display for "Blind Date with Book" 2013.:

Friday, February 10, 2017

Kirkus Style Review

Image result for the shadow of the wind cover

The Shadow of the Wind

by Carlos Ruiz Zafรณn (Translated by Lucia Graves)

Publication Date: 2005

Publisher: Penguin Books

Page Count: 487

ISBN: 9780143034902

The past of a curious book and the strange author who wrote it are unraveled in this historical fiction novel set in Barcelona in 1945.

The novel begins with the narrator Daniel Sempere, age 11, at a secret library known as the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Daniel is brought to the library by his father, a rare-book dealer. Daniel gets immersed in the books immediately and chooses the novel, The Shadow of the Wind, by Julian Carax. The book Daniel finds is an epic tale of a man who deserted Spain during its Civil War and died in Paris later. Daniel begins an obsession with the book for over a decade, growing up and falling in obsessions with three different women. During this time, Daniel also begins to investigate and learn more about Carax and how he was connected to Don Ricardo Aldaya and his family, and why a faceless stranger in his life calls himself Carax's fictional character Lain Coubert. Daniel's search is hampered by Fumero, a police inspector who does not believe Carax is even deceased and builds the climax evermore. Daniel begins to suspect he is far more than just a reader of engrossing novel he found back when he was 11.

This mysterious, enthralling  and surprisingly romantic novel will keep readers hooked from page one.

Week 5 Prompt

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?

Different publications having different types of conversations can effect collection development in a number of ways. If a librarian only reads one or two publications, the collection could become very one dimensional over time. The collection needs to have a wide enough range to attract all types of patrons. If a librarian reads many different publications with good and bad reviews, she will be able to make more informed decisions about which books should be added to the collection.

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?

I feel both book reviews are reliable enough for me to get a sense of the book. Both reviews have enough detail to show they read the book. I like the second review a bit more because she doesn't seem to have as much of a bias toward Christmas romance novels. The second review also aligns more with my view on romance novels, so I trust the review a bit more.

This ebook could be a good ebook to add to the library's collection. There are many avid readers who enjoy romance novels, especially holiday romance novels. The decision would have to be up to the cost versus how much money is in the budget.

I don't believe this book is a romance suspense. I have not read the book so I cannot be completely sure, but there are key characteristics that make this not a romantic suspense novel. The heroine (Robyn) is not in danger or told only from her POV. There is no choice between two men and it doesn't seem to have an easy tone.

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?

For the library, I would probably purchase Angela's Ashes. There are many good reviews for the book and it is popular among readers as well. It bodes well that the book will circulate well and be worth the purchase for the library. I would still look at reviews of real readers as well as these professional publications.

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?

I don't think it is fair that some books are reviewed to death, especially with professional publications. Popular books will get reviewed by many other sources. I feel professional publications need to give reviews for popular and unpopular books. If librarians rely solely on these publications, collections can become too similar between libraries. In the digital age, libraries can easily do InterLibrary Loans or share books through a consortium of libraries. 

On a personal note, I am one of the few that does not enjoy reviews from publications. The thing I dislike most about these reviews is the amount of information they disclose. I like to go into a novel without knowing the first 50 or so pages of the book. Reading reviews like this makes me not want to pick up Angela's Ashes. The reviews also seem impersonal and I like to get to know the reviewer as I am reading a review.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Secret Shopper Summary


I visited my future local public library for this assignment. We recently bought a home in the area and I was excited to test out the library. I have been there before when I had an Evergreen Library Card because the library had the best selection near me. This library is a large 2 floor library with large sections of underappreciated genres. They have the largest graphic novel selection I have found in the many public libraries I have visited. They also have an expansive fiction selection with plenty of historical fiction novels for me to choose from. I chose to do the interview about a new historical fiction novel. It’s a broad enough topic that I felt I could be asked many detailed questions to really find a great book for me. Historical fiction is my favorite genre and I looked forward to find a new book to read.


I love the atmosphere of the library and it makes me even more excited to use once we move. It is very modern and spacious, but has plenty of computers for public use. There were no signs regarding reader’s advisory. I did not wander into the teen or children area to check for signs in there. There are already so many signs around the library, I couldn’t imaging adding one more! I also don’t believe everyone would know what reader’s advisory means. When I worked in a public library, I had plenty of patrons come up and ask for recommendations, but I now wonder how many more questions I would have received with a sign up.

The reference desk was easy to find. There was one staff member at the desk but the desk looked like it could hold two people. Since I went at 7 p.m., I expected only one person. The staff member who helped me, Helen, was very approachable and friendly. She was dressed professionally but welcoming. There were also book recommendation lists on the reference desk relating to fiction and nonfiction.


The interview process was not as long as I was expecting it to last. There was only a small interview before I received my recommendations. Going into the interview, I decided to provide only the information she asked for so I could see how her recommendations matched up with my tastes.

I initially asked for a recommendation for a historical fiction novel. I did not want to ask for anything to specific to slow the natural interview process down. She asked me if I liked historical fiction novels and I told her yes, it is my favorite genre. Helen immediately asked if I had read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I had read it, but her recommendation made me think she had also read it and she was giving me a personal recommendation rather than from a webpage.

Helen then asked me what historical fiction novels I have recently read. I told her All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. I chose these three books for the variety, but I also wanted to see if she picked up on the era of books I enjoy. She told me she was recommended All the Light We Cannot See but she hadn’t had the chance to read it yet.

After telling her these books, she started her search for a new book for me. While she was searching, I asked her what she was using to find a new book. She told me she used Fantastic Fiction. The three books she gave to me were The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure, The Last Telegram by Liz Trenow, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and The Patriots by Sana Krasikov.


I feel there were many positives and negatives with the reader’s advisory interview. One thing I noticed was she didn’t ask me what era of historical fiction I was looking for. When I am searching for new books in historical fiction, I begin to narrow it down by era. There are so many books considered “historical fiction” and it makes it hard to find a good book to recommend. I did give her three books all set in World War II, in hopes she would search for other books during that time.

She did give me three books all set during or around the era I was looking for, which was surprising. I’ve read The Kite Runner but I did not even know about the other three. I love hearing about new novels so I was ecstatic to hear brand new novels for me to read.

Helen only used Fantastic Fiction to find the books she recommended me. While more than one would be ideal, most of the time I have only had librarians use one resource to start with. If the patron asks for more recommendations or different recommendations, then I would expect the librarian to use different resources.

Overall I believe the interview was a success. I now have three new books to add to my “to read” shelf on Good Reads. Helen was also very friendly and open to listening to me. All three books I have not read sound right up my alley and I am excited to read them. I think the only thing that would have made it better was the interview itself. I feel the interview went about as well as I expected. I never expect a librarian to go into a lengthy interview process initially. Many people are just looking for a new book or author and a long interview process isn’t necessary. I would definitely go back and get more recommendations from Helen. It was a good experience and I will probably be back for patronage soon.


I felt wonderful after the interview. I was mainly excited to have a great library staff at my new library. The library is doing well in regards to money, so I wasn’t shocked to see such a great atmosphere and staff member in Helen. Helen being so friendly and welcoming made the experience splendid.

Helen didn’t seem like I was bothering her or wasting her time. She seemed to enjoy being able to recommend and talk about books, even if they are books she had not read or heard of. She didn’t make me feel judged which is not always the case when I am talking with librarians in my experience. Helen also listened very well and responded with more questions and not just yes/no answers. Helen most likely had reader’s advisory training based on her questions she had asked. She didn’t go into much detail, but I still felt like she had taken a course or session in it. An MLS has been requirements of librarians for a while, and this library requires all librarians to hold a degree which leads me to believe she has had Reader’s Advisory training.