Thursday, April 20, 2017

Week 16 Prompt

How have reading and books changed since you were a child?

First, I think that there is a much greater variety than when I was a child. Audiobooks are becoming more popular. There has been a rise in graphic novels. What graphic novels include has expanded. Graphic novels used to mean super hero comic books. While that is still very true, there are also full length novels. There are adaptations of typical novels. There are nonfiction graphic novels. The variety and availability is astounding. There are also ebooks now. You can get ebooks from a variety of vendors and read them on a variety of devices. They are also more accessible. Not only in terms of being able to get them, but also in the sense that people with disabilities have more options. There are applications that will read text on a page. You can enlarge the font on many devices. Some even let you change the background color. You have the ability to look up a word right there in your device rather than having to run to the dictionary (if people even keep those in their homes anymore). The sheer amount of ways that people can read and obtain books has grown.

Second, I think book use in schools has changed a lot. Over the last three years, I have held various positions in elementary and middle schools. When I was in school, we were always reading a book together as a class. It allowed us to discuss the book. It allowed students with a lower reading level to still be able to enjoy the book. It helped to show students that reading can be very enjoyable. It seems that most schools and classrooms have lost that. The amount of testing that takes place has grown. The importance of standards has made it so that reading as a class is more of a luxury in most cases. This means that the students are expected to read more on their own. I think that his means less students ultimately read or listen to a book. I think that it means that the discussion of novels has decreased and the variety of books that students are exposed to has lessened. I am afraid that this results in less lifelong readers. Maybe that is just me being paranoid, though.

What do you see for reading, books, and publishing in the future?

Unless the way our school systems are evaluated changes, I don't see the use of reading and books in schools changing much. I think that it is a result of our focus on standardized testing that has caused this. I really hope that doesn't mean that less children will grow up reading frequently, but it is a possibility.

I think that there will always be people that read and people that don't. It is a personal preference. I would like to think that the variety of ways to read will get more people involved in reading, but that may not necessarily be the case. If you aren't looking at books in general, you aren't going to pay attention when the formats of books change. There will always be some fluctuation, but I don't think there will ever be a time when reading is in danger. With the amount of public libraries, publishing companies, authors, and reading advocates, there is no way that books will get set aside altogether.

I think that it is very possible that the format and variety of books will continue to grow. How can it not? As we as a society grow and change and learn new things so do our ways to communicate with each and express our ideas and feelings. How they will change is a mystery, but I do believe that change and expansion are inevitable. I don't think the typical, physical format will ever be done away with, but there will be other options besides what we have today. People like the variety.

Week 15 Prompt

I am currently in a small library. We have limited space. The only displays that we have aren't even really displays. We keep the new books wrapped around the side of the circulation desk. This does attract a lot of attention. I really wish that we had more room to do displays since they seem to be the most beneficial for reader's advisory. We have books set up here and there, but not enough room anywhere to do anything themed. We do a few spotlights and some pairings.

If we had room to do displays, that would be my biggest choice. I would do them based around a certain theme. It could be genre, it could be topic, it could be character-related, it could be what the staff are reading. There are so many options available when it comes to displays. You are able to change them as frequently as you like and hit different things with each one. It allows for a lot of versatility.

We have started doing some lists, but there is the space issue there as well. We keep a best-sellers list and have posted some read-alikes for popular authors. I feel like annotated lists would be a better bet since it allows the reader to get an idea of what the book is about. There you have to compromise space, though. You can't fit as many books on an annotated list as you can on a read-alike one.

We have tried bookmarks, but they don't really seem to be a hit with our patrons. It is something that they just gloss over at the circulation desk. It is probably because we always have bookmarks setting out.

In a perfect set up, there would be ample room for displays.

As far as online goes, we do have a Facebook page and a Goodreads account. Through Facebook, we share the new titles available. Through Goodreads, we provide different bookshelves based upon genre and other topics. If we had a bigger online following, this would be much more helpful. Unfortunately, our online presence doesn't get as much traffic as we would like. The majority of our patrons fall into the senior citizen age range and tend to be less likely to check online resources. For a different community, though, this could be a good way to get reader's advisory out there.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Week 14 Prompt

To Separate or Not to Separate: GLBTQ & African American Fiction

I am currently working in a very small, rural public library. The majority of our patrons are very conservative. The majority of them are also senior citizens. Our biggest book circulations include Christian fiction, gentle reads, cozy mysteries, and crime novels. At my library, I could not justify setting aside a separate area for these topics, partially because our collection of them are not even substantial. There isn't any demand for these topics. Does that mean that I purposely don't order them? No, of course not, but they get added if they fit the genres that are frequently checked out.

I have mixed feelings about separating these topics in general. Depending upon your patronage, separating these topics could either increase circulation or decrease circulation. For my library, I think that people would feel self-conscious if browsing sections labeled like this, similarly to how they might feel looking at the YA section. Because these aren't common books for most of our patrons, being singled out so blatantly could have a negative effect on circulation of these materials.

I have mixed feelings about separating these topics in general. I understand that promoting books with GLBTQ and African American characters can be empowering and bring a lot of attention to these books. At the same time, though, isn't our overall goal to be inclusive of all types of people? Would putting them in the spotlight help or hinder this goal?

Ultimately, I think the best decision would be to stick to displays. Libraries could display books specifically of these "genres". This could create some attention and allow for perusal without setting them completely in their own area. I also think that it is important, though, to make sure you include these types of books in your regular displays. They contain a variety of genres. It would be easy to find a GLBTQ or African American book that fit in with a genre, appeal, or topic specific display. This would help patrons to consider them as typical books. By using both of these display methods throughout the year, I think that you would be able to do the best of both scenarios for these "genres".

Monday, April 3, 2017

Week 13 Prompt

Justifying YA and Graphic Novels in the Library

In a lot of the classes I have taken there has been a huge emphasis on the mission statement. Your library's mission statement should be able to support everything you do in a library. This includes providing young adult and graphic novels. Mission statements tend to be very broad. The simple phrase "providing recreational materials for all age groups and interests" can be a simple enough way to justify including young adult and graphic novels in your collection. 

I think it is very important to provide a wide range of materials to your patrons. Some people would never pick up a young adult or graphic novel unless given the chance through proper display placement. It is healthy to have a variety in the materials you provide.

What it really comes down to, though, is your community. Each community is different. Your collection should reflect your community's needs. I think that these collections are worth investing in at any library, but the amount of time and money spent investing in them will depend on your community and patrons. If you get a lot of young adults traffic or you are trying to increase young adults traffic, then you will most likely spend a lot of time and money on your young adult section. If you get a lot of requests for different graphic novels or the latest volumes in a series, you are going to want to focus time on that section. If they don't seem to be circulating much, though, maybe you only need to stick to adding the best sellers and/or award winning titles. Or maybe your young adults really stick to one genre, so you would need to focus your time on that. 

I guess my bottom line is that I think it is important to provide these different genres, but to what extent is dependent upon your individual library. Knowing your patrons' preferences and having a mission statement that supports the growth of these areas will help you justify having young adult and graphic novel collections at your library should you run into any complaints or questions.