Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How Do You Kill 11 Million People? (Annotation 5)

In the latest book by author Andy Andrews the question the author asks is How do you kill 11 million people? In the pages that follow you learn the importance of honesty and just how those in leadership that are even a little dishonest can mislead millions of people by telling them little lies along the way. This is exactly what Adolph Hitler and his Nazi regime used to killed so many people before they even knew what was happening to them. It begs us to question the leadership of today and think about why the truth matters more than we may think. This is a very short but very thought provoking book.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Reader's Advisory Evolution or Revolution (Special Topics Paper)

Reader's Advisory Evolution or Revolution
Jeanette A. Sherfield

Let me start out by defining some terms for you. Is reader's advisory experiencing an evolution, defined as the gradual development of something, esp. from a simple to a more complex form or is it experiencing a revolution as defined as a sudden or momentous change in a situation. Some might say it is indeed gradual while others may say it's sudden. And what exactly are we evolving or revolving into at this point? Is ti something good or something bad? Let's explore this idea together.

A lot has happened in the world of reader's advisory over time. Meeting in a quiet room and having an interview with a patron finding out interests and current knowledge may seem like a thing of the past. In our fast paced society in many ways it is a thing of the past and may even seem inconceivable to some. However, this doesn't stop many from walking up to an adult services or circulation desk for assistance in finding a "good book". Or does it? The world of social media, including chat, blogs, and reader's advisory online has created a totally different atmosphere in the world of reader's advisory. I wouldn't call these "anonymous" forms of reader's advisory but there is somewhat of a barrier between the reader advisor and the reader advisee. For some this may seem a more comfortable way to explore different genres outside their social mores norms or for discussing and exploring areas of interest without a unconscious facial expressive feedback from the librarian behind the adult services or circulation desk. Something else that these social media tools provide is a sense of security in not seeming obtrusive to the librarian by walking up to the desk and asking a question. If you're asking a question via chat or e-mail if may bring more of a sense of , you can answer my question at your leisure. These services also seem to be helpful for those that may be home bound and unable to visit a brick and mortar building to have their questions answered.

I consulted with Carmel Clay Public Library, Allen County Public Library, Indianapolis Marion County Public Library and Monroe County Public Library to see just how much reader's advisory was performed via Ask-a-Librarian chat services or e-mail services. I received responses from each library and discovered that they did receive some questions asked via those mediums were general reference questions rather than questions specific to reader's advisory. Allen County seemed to receive the most with 25 questions between January 1st and February of 2012. Something else interesting is that some of these services provided instant answers and others said they would have an answer back within 48hrs. Unfortunately more often than not you have to dig deep into a library's website to even find these chat or e-mail services that can be an access point for patron's needing reader's advisory services.

Something else that may be helpful with the use of these online tools is the fact that it gives the reader's advisor time to reflect on how they can help the person asking the questions. This is something that Barry Trott, Adult Services Director at the Williamsburg Regional Library, discusses in his article Building a Firm Foundation Reader's Advisory over the Next Twenty-Five Years. Barry says, "As we look toward the future of reader's advisory with the goal of becoming reflective practitioners, there are numerous areas that offer us both challenges and opportunities to expand our practice into new areas and to do so in a thoughtful way, responding to new opportunities by considering past practice and applying the lessons learned there to our future practice. Doing so will certainly assure us of the continued success of reader's advisory services."

Even if you don't have library chat or e-mail services, what about reader's advisory tools available on you own library's website. I know that we used to have a reader's advisory link on our library's website linking patrons to sites like Fantastic Fiction, Stop You're Killing Me, Genreflecting and Novelist but it seems to have disappeared. Why? Is it because the reference librarians are now assuming everyone is getting their advice from Amazon? Do they feel it's an under used service? According to Barbara Hoffert in her article Taking Back Reader's Advisory she says "librarian: unite, It's time to take back reader's advisory from the online behemoths, which can sell stacks of books at a click but can't necessarily say what's in them or why you might like them." Mary K. Chelton, a professor at Queens College, CUNY, is even blunter. 'We can all buy from Barnes and Noble online, she warns, ' but libraries have one very valuable thing going for them, which is local support and interest. If they don't establish a local identity, how are they ever going to ask for money?' David Wright a Seattle Public Library librarian observes, "Indeed, the delicate act of connecting reader and book in some respects a type of counseling, cannot easily be mechanized, and librarians make a big mistake when they abandon it to Amazon." Wright also goes on to say, "Reading an online recommendation from your librarian or a neighbor is a great angle for us, It's a way to remain viable in the community."

There are some communities that are taking this advice to heart and promoting active reader's advisory services and links on their websites. These links are available right on the main page of their websites rather than being buried under several layers never to be found. If you go to North Carolina's Charlotte Mecklenburg County Public Library website, right on the front of their webpage you'll find a link to "reading recommendations." Once you click on that link it takes you to a page where there are 3 major links at the top of the page. The first link is called "The Book Hive" which has book reviews and reading related activities for children birth to 12 years. Another link called "Reader's Club" contains adult and teen book reviews by staff and celebrities. Finally a link called "Boy's Rule, Boys Read" a place for boys to find terrific books and tell other boys about great reading. There are several other links on this page to lists and online book clubs. Hennepin County Library in Minnesota also has a link on their website called BookSpace which is prominently displayed. Once you click on BookSpace you can sign up for an account which appears not to require you to be one of their library users. You have opportunities to write reviews or comments on what you're reading. You also have access to book lists and have the opportunity to be e-mailed when your favorite author has a new book available. There's a link to research books and authors giving you access to multiple reader's advisory materials. Having resources like these allow patrons to access valuable resources without having to stumble around the internet wasting valuable time.

So are we experiencing evolution or revolution? From what I can tell it's a little bit of both depending sometimes on your locale one is more prominent than the other. While we are not necessarily always experiencing face to face reader's advisory we are coming up with different tools, sometimes patron driven, to assist our reader's with what they might be wanting to read. We need to be exploring other library websites to see how they are marketing this service if they are marketing it at all. If libraries are not marketing this service we should be asking why. There is definitely more than one medium being used in order to inform our patrons of what they might enjoy reading.

Works and References Cited

Trott, B. (2008). Building on a Firm Foundation: Readers' Advisory over the Next Twenty-Five Years. Reference & User Services Quarterly,

Hoffert, B. (2003). Taking Back Readers' Advisory. Library Journal (1967), 128(14), 44-46

Petersen, C. (2009). Readers' Advisory on the Run. Alki, 25(1), 22-23

Allen County Public Library

Carmel Public Library

Charlotte-Macklenburg Library

Hennepin County Library

Indianapolis Marion County Public Library

Monroe County Public Library

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rise and Shine (Women's Lives and Relationships Annotation)

Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen is set in New York and tells the story of sisters Meghan and Bridget Fitzmaurice. Both sisters are in their 40's with Meghan being the eldest of the two sisters and is a successful news anchor for the morning show Rise and Shine. Meghan and her husband Evan live a jet set life. All of this comes apart after Meghan makes the worst mistake that can be made during an on air interview. Thinking her mic is off, and they've cut to a commercial break, Meghan blurts out the profane statement "Fucking Asshole" in reference to interviewee Ben Greenstreet. This was nothing less than career suicide for Meghan. Just before this life changing event Meghan's husband Evan decides to leave her because he's tired of their marriage being all about her. In the end the victim of their messed up life ends up being their son Leo who is shot in the Bronx. Bridget, Meghan's younger sister, is a social worker who runs a women's shelter for domestic abuse victims and addicts in the Bronx. Bridget is there to help Meghan pick up the pieces after all the fallout.

The Cat Who Talked Turkey (Mystery Annotation)

Not being a mystery reader by nature but having a love of cats I thought any mystery that involves cats might actually be enjoyable. I chose to read Lillian Jackson Braun's book The Cat Who Talked Turkey.
The story is set in the fictional town of Pickax. James Qwilleran is a newsman who goes by the name of Qwill. Qwill has two Siamese cats named Koko and Yum Yum. These are not your typical cats, they actually help to solve murder mysteries. In this case a new bookstore is to be built in the town of Pickax. Of course the local retired librarian Polly will be managing the store with her newly acquired Marmalade colored kitty named Dundee. While spending a quiet evening with his cats Qwill noticed that Koko the male cat let out a meow that he referred to as the "death howl". Little did Qwill know that within 24 hours he would get word that a man was found shot execution style on the same property where his lake cabin stood.
I enjoyed this story because it didn't involve a lot of blood and gore. It was light and was very much character centered.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bram Stoker's Dracula (Horror Annotation Classic)

Bram Stoker's Dracula takes you through a series of journal entries and letters of the young English solicitor Jonathan Harker. His journey takes him from England to a castle in the Carpathian Mountains where he is to provide legal support to Count Dracula concerning his castle real estate. Through many twists and turns you encounter struggles with love, fear and redemption.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Kirkus Style Review - A New Song by Jan Karon

A New Song is the fifth book in the Mitford Series by Jan Karon. Father Tim Cavanaugh has just retired as Episcopal Priest of a small parish in the North Carolina town of Mitford. New adventures await as he agrees to assume the post of interim priest at a small church on Whitecap Island with his wife Cynthia. While the story seems like a clean break from the life he'd been living before leaving Mitford, don't be fooled. The story is just a mere extension of the life he'd been living for years. The only difference is the location and characters. While the 4 previous books were a delight to read and left you caught up in Mitford's town life. A New Song in reality should have been the beginning of a new series rather than trying to make it an extension of the old.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The List by J.A. Konrath (A Technothriller)

Tom Mankowski , Chicago Homicide Dectective Second Class just arrived on the scene of what appears to be a hideous homicide. The victim has been decapitated and the head has rolled under a desk. If that's not enough for you imagine each finger being systematically cut off one at a time. This wasn't your average Joe that was dead. This was Thomas Jessup who worked at the main branch of the Chicago Public Library. As the Medical Examiner and 2 cops begin to lift the body on to a cart the Medical Examiner sees something strange on the bottom of the victims left heel. After a closer look it appears to be the number 7 tattooed on the heel. What does all of this mean? It's the beginning of a coast to coast investigation involving 7 people marked for death.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Secret Shopper

Well, I must say my experience with secret shopping belongs in the R.A. hall of shame. I went to my hometown library where I have not been for a long time to see how things are progressing. I was in hope that the Shelbyville/Shelby Co. Public Library would be further along since my last visit. I was sadly mistaken.

I entered the front door looking for any sort of brochures that might discuss certain genres or collections. There were none to be found. I did come across the library newsletter which featured a read with the community program. The featured book is Rocket Boys by Homer H. Hickam Jr. The movie October Sky was based on the book. Within the newsletter they did feature other books dealing with space travel, rockets and astronauts that were age appropriate for school age children.

After looking around a little more I approached the sole staff person at the circulation desk and said "Hi, I'm looking for a good book to read." "Do you think you could assist me?" I thought the staff person might respond with "Well, let me think a minute." or possibly "Do you have a favorite author?" All hope was lost when the response I received was "No, no I don't think I can help you, I really don't read books anymore because I can't see." I thought to myself, you can't see but you're working the circulation desk. Does the director know about this? Then the staff person went on to say that they did listen to books on audio. I asked if they could assist me with a good audio book. The response I got was, "Well, the last audio I listened to was a Carol Burnett biography." "It's over there about 3 shelves down." Well, I went and looked "over there" and had no luck.

After that fiasco I pretty much left the scene.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Jeanette's Personal Profile

Hello Everyone,

Over my lifetime I've read mainly non-fiction books. I don't think this makes me a nerd. I just like reading about true to life things more than fictional stories. Of course, I haven't abandoned fiction altogether.

Here are a few of my favorite fiction titles.

The Mitford Series

It wasn't until my early thirties that I started reading fiction. My mother's best friend loaned me a copy of Jan Karon's At Home in Mitford to read. My mother just had a stroke and instead of keeping the story all to myself I decided to read it out loud to her. Well it didn't take long until we were both hooked on the characters and life in the small town of Mitford, North Carolina. Father Tim the Episcopalian priest and his parishioners could make you laugh and make you cry all in the same chapter. What can I say, we just had to read all the books in the series until we were done.

A Walk To Remember

The next fiction book I enjoyed was A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks. The story takes place in the late 1950's and tells the tale about Landon Carter, rogue teenage boy and Jamie Sullivan, the good girl next door and their budding romance that turns into true love. Have kleenex on hand, you'll need it. And by the way, the book is much much better than that stupid movie with Mandy Moore. Other books I've read by Nicholas Sparks include: The Notebook, The Rescue, and Nights in Rodanthe. I've actually driven through that Outer Banks North Carolina town.

The Walk

An author I finally decided to check out in the last couple of years is Richard Paul Evans. The first book I read by him is entitled The Walk. This books tells the tale of Alan Christoffersen and his fall from pinacle to pit. To cope with his loss and grief he decides to set out on a journey that takes him from the west coast of Washington State to Key West, Florida. He meets many colorful characters along the way. Some of them speak into his life and others have the opportunity to have him speak into their lives. It's a time of personal growth and testing. The second book in the series is titled Miles To Go. Oh yeah, did I mention you have to wait a year between each title being published. Book 3 entitled Road to Grace is set to come out on May 8th. I can't wait!!!