Friday, March 24, 2017

Week 11 Prompt Response

Ebooks and audiobooks are a part of our landscape. What does the change in medium mean for appeal factors? If you can't hold a book and feel the physical weight of it in your hands, how does that affect your knowledge of the genre? How about readers being able to change the font, line spacing, and color of text - how does that affect pacing and tone? How about audiobooks? Track length, narrator choice, is there music?  

Ebooks and audiobooks have definitely changed the landscape of readers' advisory librarianship. I don't think that the change of medium really changes many appeal factors, with the exception of the aesthetic ones like feel, weight, smell, etc. The biggest problem that I have with eBooks in relation to readers' advisory is that there is so much that comes out that isn't reviewed, or isn't marketed widely, so I don't know of its existence. I ran into that issue with my romance annotation for Covalent Bonds. Had I not won a copy of that eBook, I wouldn't have even known it existed. It's not really the fault of the publisher. They're small and are doing all they can, like giving out ARCs. As difficult as it is to know all about your collection and everything in it, it's even harder to know about eBook only releases and where they fit in. Access is another big issue. Sometimes eBooks aren't available for titles that patrons request or we only have 1 license for them and there's a huge waiting list. But seeing how waiting lists for actual books take much longer than eBooks, it's not quite as bad. 

To be honest, I never thought about being able to change the font and spacing being a huge issue, but it makes sense. I don't think the font or color will make that big of a difference -- BUT... when you alter the text so that the page breaks happen in different places, you'll lose the pacing and elements of surprise for sure. There are times when I'm reading and the author is building to a climax or reveal, and I have to turn the page. I always go, " more page," and I can see that draw and excitement getting lost if you're turning pages all willy-nilly. 

Audiobooks aren't hugely popular at my library, but I've listened to a few really good ones in my day. A fan made Lord of the Rings audiobook is out there and it's totally incredible. While not available for libraries, I cite example because audiobook creators need to take note. This fan did all of the narration and used different voices and accents for different characters. He added sound effects (such as swords clanging, horses galloping, etc.) and used music from the films. It's beautifully done and I think if all audiobooks were created with this much care, they'd be much more popular with everyone. Of course, they'd also probably cost twice as much. A good narrator will make or break an audiobook for sure. David Tennant does a fantastic job reading How to Train Your Dragon and the audiobook for Jackaby by William Ritter is really great too. (So sorry these are YA recommendations, but I just got hired as a YA librarian so it's kind of swirling around in my brain right now). 

I will always prefer real books to digital ones, but I read eBooks on occasion for ARCs, or just because I need something super fast and can't wait at the library/for it to ship from Amazon, etc. Audiobooks, however, are showing up in my life a lot more. There's something so satisfying about listening to books in the car while I'm driving or when I'm exercising. I can see the appeal of this format moreso than eBooks. It feels like I'm integrating reading into my life rather than just staring at another screen. 

Historical Fiction Annotation

Ill Met By Moonlight by Sarah A. Hoyt


Ill Met By Moonlight is a story of Shakespeare -- but not any story you've ever heard before. William Shakespeare has just married Nan Hathaway (Anne Hathaway is referred to as Nan in this book) and is working as a school master. He walks back and forth to his work and returns home each evening. It's the picture of simple wedded bliss until one day he returns home to find his precious Nan and his daughter have been kidnapped. As the story progresses, you discover that his wife and daughter have been taken by Sylvanus, the son of Oberon and Titania, whom he has murdered to usurp their thrown. This power play cheats his brother, Quicksilver, (the rightful heir) out of his place on the throne. While searching for Nan and Susannah in the forest, Shakespeare thinks he's dreaming when he sees a transparent (yet also marble) castle in the forest. Quicksilver spies Shakespeare and identifies him as a Sunday child, a person who can see fairies. Quicksilver has the ability to change from male to female, and transforms himself into the "Dark Lady" and recruits Shakespeare to kill Sylvanus, since only a mortal can slay him. This is about as much as I can say and remain spoiler free. :)

Historical Fiction Characteristics

A great way to learn history without getting bored. Set before the author’s lifetime with the emphasis on historical fact.  While essentially a fantasy story, you do learn a great deal about Shakespeare's life, from his love for his wife, his life as a school master (apparently it was quite a long journey for him to make each day), his parents and their business, the mysterious Dark Lady that was supposed to be his muse, etc.

World-building: A wealth of historically accurate facts and descriptions frame the story - The story does have a wealth of descriptions that were historically accurate. The author even peppers in Elizabethan language in the story. It's not so much that it makes it intimidating in the way Shakespeare is, but just enough so that you feel immersed in the world.

Tone and mood vary greatly – a vital part of the RA interview with historical fiction is figuring out what mood the reader is looking for - The tone here is mystical and dramatic, but maintaining that lightheartedness of Shakespeare's comedies. There may be some action and high stakes, but definitely not anything quite like his tragedies.

Storyline can be focused on a geographic area, a person, a family, or an event -  This storyline is focused on Shakespeare, not so much Stratford-upon-Avon (although it is mentioned).

Story will teach the reader about the life of a historical figure, the everyday lives of a group of people, or background and little known information about a historic event - As mentioned above, while a fantasy, this focuses on Shakespeare and his life.

Characters should be accurately portrayed and consistent with their time period - I'm no Shakespeare expert, but I felt that this was authentic. The use of language from the Elizabethan era was a nice touch to really transport you there.

Often leisurely paced and LONG - Definitely leisurely paced, but this one wasn't that long. Only 278 pages.

Some writers use historically accurate language, words or dialect to convey time and place - Sorry to sound like a broken record, but yes, Elizabethan language was used. The language use was accessible, which was appreciated.

Epistolary forms are popular - Not epistolary, but worth noting that each chapter has a quick paragraph that sets the scene. In fact, chapters are not referred to as chapters, but rather scenes. This isn't a play, so that was a really cute touch.

Read alikes 

 All Night Awake by Sarah A. Hoyt - This is the sequel to Ill Met By Moonlight.

Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan - Set in Elizabethan era, invovles Queen Elizabeth I and faeries.
Ink and Steel by Elizabeth Bear - Set in Elizabethan era, Kit Marley is the central character and he is mentioned in Ill Met By Moonlight

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Book Club Experience

Book Club: Killer Thrillers Book Club at the Nashville Public Library

For this book club, we read The Holy Thief by William Ryan. This is, apparently, going to be a series of books about a Russian criminal investigator named Alexei Korolev. I took a combination approach between participant and observer. Just like my Secret Shopper experience, no one knew my true motives. Muahahaha...

Who is asking the questions, is there a leader or do people take turns? 

This particular book club meeting was facilitated by a library employee named Bryan. He is ultimately the person in charge, but once the group discussion got going he didn't need to say much to elicit opinions, only to pose the next question on his sheet.

If there is a leader, does the leader answer the questions as well or let the attendees respond first? 

Bryan lets the attendees respond first, but did throw in his two cents a few times. Since this book is super heavy on the Russian elements (it's pretty annoying how characters address each other with first and middle names regularly), it was nice to have someone there to help us decipher it all if we needed it.

What type of questions are asked? Any involving just yes or no answers? 

All of the questions that were asked were open ended in nature. They were the "what did you think about _____?" or "Did you notice the connection between A and B, what did you think of that?" variety. The whole point of the discussion questions were to get people talking, not just have them say yes or no. As someone who hasn't read a lot of mysteries, the questions were a unique way for me to learn about the common elements of the genre.

Do all attendees actively participate? 

That depends on your definition of active. I technically participated on a few questions, but mostly I just listened to the other attendees. It was a larger group that I was anticipating (about 15 people) but most people had at least one or two things to share.

Do any attendees swoop in and steal all the spotlight? 

Sort of? Any group is going to have their more vocal participants and this was no exception. There was one person in particular that had to share their opinion on every question. It was okay though because they weren't hogging all the time. Other people were able to speak and get their thoughts in as well.

What is the atmosphere of the discussion, where is it taking place at? 

This particular book club meets on the third floor of the main library in one of their program rooms, which is, as you can imagine, just a room with chairs and tables.

Are any snacks or drinks provided? 

No. No food or drinks are allowed in the library, but I did see a few people bring their own water.

What types of books does this book club normally discuss? 

With a name like Killer Thrillers, I'm sure you can figure that one out! They discuss mysteries and thrillers and meet once a month.

Even though I didn't really care for the book that we read, the book club experience was pretty fun. It's always nice to discuss what you read with others. Lots of different views and opinions and that just added to my understanding of the book that we read. I think I took more away from the experience with that input than if I didn't have it at all.

Special Topics Paper: Bibliotherapy

As librarians (or future librarians), we understand the healing power of books. When librarians intentionally pick out books for patrons, it's considered bibliotherapy. In my research, I've discovered that a lot of libraries actually engage in some form of bibliotherapy through readers' advisory, they just don't call it bibliotherapy (Brewster, 116). My paper is about making a case for dedicated bibliotherapy in the public library.

After a brief history of bibliotherapy, I described the two different types of bibliotherapy. Creative bibliotherapy involves the use of fiction and other creative writing materials to assist a patron. Self-help bibliotherapy involves the use of self-help books and other non-fiction materials (Brewster, 115). Self-help bibliotherapy as pretty self-explanatory, but I wanted to not one area where it can be particularly beneficial -- cancer education (Turner, 56). Most articles I read dealt with mild to moderate mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. Only one article mentioned the application of bibliotherapy for cancer patients, but I found it to be so important.

In reading these articles from the UK, I thought that it might be difficult to implement a more formal program in the US due to HIPAA regulations and patrons concerned for their privacy. It's much more difficult to achieve some semblance of privacy in a public library as opposed to a pharmacy counter. Pharmacys are regulated by HIPAA confidentiality rules whereas libraries are not. There could be potentially dozens of people see you pick up and check out a book on depression or anxiety. This could be uncomfortable if you don't want people to know about it. In that case, you can do more informal bibliotherapy by using signs and displays. I found a really neat example from a library in Essex, in the UK (Turner, 57).

Signs like these can help draw attention to your bibliotherapy services as well as provide a less invasive way for patrons to get help. 

If you're already doing readers' advisory in the public library, adding these bibliotherapy services seems like an easy way to serve the community. Bibliotherapy has proven scientific results (MacDonald, 2013) and is actually part of the UK's National Health Service's guidelines for treating minor mental illnesses (Brewster, 172). Readers' advisory and bibliotherapy really do go hand in hand and are a wise investment of time and resources for any public library. 


Brewster, Liz. 2008. "The Reading Remedy: Bibliotherapy in Practice." Aplis 21, no. 4:172-177. 

Brewster, Liz. 2008. "Medicine for the Soul: Bibliotherapy." Aplis 21, no. 3: 115-119. 

Detrixhe, Jonathan J. 2010. "Souls in Jeopardy: Questions and Innovations for Bibliotherapy With Fiction." Journal Of Humanistic Counseling, Education & Development 49, no. 1: 58-72. 

Macdonald, J., D. Vallance, and M. McGrath. 2013. "An evaluation of a collaborative bibliotherapy scheme delivered via a library service." Journal Of Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing 20, no. 10: 857-865. 

Sturm, Brian W. 2003. "Reader's Advisory and Bibliotherapy: Helping or Healing?" Journal Of Educational Media & Library Sciences 41, no. 2: 171-179. 

Turner, June. 2008. "Bibliotherapy for Health and Wellbeing: An Effective Investment." Aplis 21, no. 2: 56-61.