Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Week Sixteen Prompt: The Future of Reading

My adult reading habits share a few similarities with the reading habits I had as a child. I will read almost anything at any time. I read for pleasure or professional development, and I look forward to graduating so I can increase my time spent doing the former. I panic if I don't have something to read in case I have to spend some time in a waiting room or can't sleep.

Technology has changed my reading habits some. I read a lot online, and that is the source of most of my news as well as satiate my endless appetite for scary stories and folklore. I tend to read print books almost exclusively, though I now listen to audiobooks and e-audiobooks.

I think reading and publishing will largely continue on the road they're currently heading: more access and more accessibility for both creators and consumers. Self-publishing will continue to develop as more platforms are created and blended in with library discovery layers and services. E-reading will continue and may see gains, but I do not foresee print dying in the next twenty years. Recent PEW studies show that while e-reading increases, most Americans, particularly millennials, prefer to read in print.   

Friday, April 21, 2017

Week Fifteen Prompt: Marketing

We as librarians know how great our collections are, but often collections don't see the use they probably deserve. A combination of physical displays, social media and traditional media presence, and tying in programming are good ways to market fiction collections and increase circulation.  

Physical displays are a great starting point to grab your users' attention. Use color, humor, and tie-ins to create fresh, flexible displays. In 20 Rules for Better Book Displays, Susan Brown recommends displays based on popular culture, current events, jokes, and anything that "reflect[s] your patrons' interests (2013). Chris Rippel recommends taking a page from bookstores in designing space to accommodate large displays and allow judicous browsing. "Librarians should observe how patrons move through [the] library" to determine where displays should be (2012).

Physical displays are limited to the geography of the library, therefore engaging social media platforms is a must. Many libraries post photos of displays or reading lists on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. It's a quick, continuous way to market ever-changing collections and interact with potential readers.

Traditional media is another way to promote collections. My local library publishes new books and the month's highest-circulated books in its largest local paper. I know this is effective because at the library I work in, we often help patrons find the books the read about in the adjacent city's paper.

Finally, programming built around collections promotes usage of those collections. Book discussion groups from traditional book clubs to genre lunches, where attendees meet over a lunch hour to talk about what they're reading in their preferred genre. Book clubs may also be run online though Goodreads or Facebook. Libraries can also host author talks which promote both works by that author and read-a-likes.  

Brown, S. (2013). Twenty rules for better book displays. Novelist. Retrieved April 20, 2017, from

Rippel, C. (2012). What libraries can learn from bookstore. Web Junction. Retrieved April 21, 2017, from

Monday, April 10, 2017

Week Fourteen Prompt: To Separate?

Deciding how to shelve collections can be a very difficult decision. On one hand, we want to "save the time of the reader". On the other hand, we may actually be making titles more difficult to find by putting them where a library user may not think to look. I am ultimately opposed to treating GLBT and African American titles as special collections including labeling and assigning separate shelving locations.  

It's true that shelving is a method of passive readers' advisory, but I think it's beneficial for librarians to examine their motives for separating fiction. GLBT titles are often the most frequently challenged books, admittedly usually children's and YA titles, but adult titles may be challenged because they may fall into the hands of a child. Moving "undesirable" titles to a separate collection is often a compromise when materials are challenged, as well as a method of keeping materials from their intended audience.  

Separate shelving may have a chilling effect on reading. The American Library Association is opposed to labeling, thus presumably opposed to separately shelving, GLBT collections. Identifying books as GLBT "may prevent library users from accessing them for fear of being outed" (American library Association). Shelving African American collections separately may also keep readers away from checking out titles because they assume the books "aren't for them".

I question whether GLBT and African American fiction really separate genres, and I think it's reductive to ignore the diversity of GLBT and African American authors and shelve them together regardless of subject matter. N.K. Jemisin wrote an excellent take on this issue upon finding her science fiction/fantasy series shelved in the African American fiction section of a public library.

Joyce Saricks wrote in a 2006 Booklist article that sometimes we focus too much on genre and get caught up in how to classify a book that seemingly defies classification. This dilemma often is resolved by shelving materials where we think our users would look. (Saricks, 2006). What about Beverly Jenkins? Should she be with Romance or in African American fiction? Does James Baldwin go in the GLBT, African American, or classic section?

I think good cataloging and readers' advisory, including passive RA techniques like reading lists, social media posts, and finding aids are the best way to promote these collections.

The American Library Association. Open to all: serving the GLBT community in your library.

Saricks, J. (2006). Thinking outside the genre and Dewey boxes. Booklist. 1 March 2006.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Week Thirteen Prompt:

People have the freedom to read what they want without fear of ridicule. Libraries have a responsibility to serve their patron base by building collections relevant to their interests, making them available, and promoting them.

If there are books intended for a younger audience that have mass appeal to adults, they should be available to adults. If those titles are in a YA section where adults are not allowed to enter, perhaps acquisitions staff should consider adding a copy of those titles to the adult collection. If budgets or space don't allow that, readers' advisory materials should point patrons to those titles. Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games are all series that my library has added to the adult collection.

Graphic novels are a format rather than a genre, but they are treated as such despite the diversity of genre and style. Many people think of Sunday comics and superheroes and assume that all graphic novels are for children. I think that the focus on how graphic novels impact reluctant readers contributes to this belief, too. It never fails to amuse me that people think graphic novels lack literary merit; many of them are quite complex works of art.

Since so many graphic novels have been adapted into popular films and television shows, libraries should be collecting them, yet many do not, believing that their patron base has no interest. How do they know that? Perhaps there is a whole patron base that stopped coming to their libraries because they never found what they were interested in reading. Additionally, graphic novel collections should be shelved according to their intended audience.