Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

  • Tag This!

  • July 2018
    S M T W T F S
    « May    
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    293031  
  • Prior Posts

  • Copyright

  • Advertisements

Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

My next career

Posted by lpearle on 4 May 2018

No, I’m not planning on retiring or leaving my job in the very near future, but a lunch conversation with some colleagues this week got me thinking.

We’d been doing the “what did you do this past weekend” thing, and I mentioned that last Saturday was Independent Bookstore Day – professionally obligated blah blah blah.  One person mentioned a bookstore in Chicago she particularly liked, and I said that I’d heard about (but hadn’t visited) a book bar in Denver.  Apparently I wasn’t speaking clearly, because another person heard “book barn” and when we corrected that, the conversation turned to what a book bar might be like.

For example, do you sort the books and beverages by country of origin?  Do you pair things, as in “Scotch and Rebus” or “Maigret and Merlot”? Do you give a discount if a person purchases a series and a case?  Would book recommendations come with beverage recommendations? Could you do a book-n-beer flight?  LFPL is doing a few books and brews events that might provide more inspiration.

All of which got me thinking about my next career… I like to read.  I’ve been known to imbibe.  Why not combine the two professionally?

 

 

Advertisements

Posted in Books, Life Related | Leave a Comment »

What I Did on Spring Break

Posted by lpearle on 27 March 2018

In addition to staying snug during the last three of the March nor’easters, I read 32 books:

Spring Break Reading

Spring Break Reading

And that’s not all!  I’ve cleared my DVR, my taxes are almost done (they’re a little complicated for 2017), I went to an exhibit of maps of imaginary places, got enough loose tea to make it through to Summer Vacation, and the past two days I attended MSLA (more on that later).

What I need to do by the end of this week: finish my taxes, work on my AY19 budget, go through a whole lot of saved links to share with you lucky readers, figure out which books in PW and LJ should be bought now (versus after the new fiscal year kicks in), and – most important – dive in to Research Season, Part II, which is when our Intro History (aka “Class IV” or “freshmen”) come in.  That’s around 12 classes a day, about 150 students.  In three weeks, they’ll be joined by the sophomores, giving us around 20 classes each day and around 300 students to work with.  It will get done… it will get done… I will survive…

Posted in Books, Conferences, Life Related | Leave a Comment »

Simply Irreponsible

Posted by lpearle on 22 February 2018

At ALA’s Midwinter Meeting earlier this month I had limited time to visit the exhibits, but when I was there my focus was on seeing what new books were coming out in the next few months – we have some avid readers and being able to share an ARC with them, or knowing that a great new book that might work well in lieu of another text and sharing that with a teacher is both great outreach and great promotion for our collection.

And, as always, there are trends we see.  My favorite tweet recently was this:

Girl Who Girled

 

Anyway, as I walked through the booths and saw what was available, I also spoke with a few of the marketing people.  Tor, for example, was thrilled about the Alex Award Top Ten’s inclusion of All Systems Red and Down Among the Sticks and Bones.  And then there was one person who was trying to be helpful by talking up some of the realistic fiction the imprint was publishing later this year.  I had to stop the conversation when I was told that “this book is about an apprentice teacher who has a sexual relationship with a student.”

Seriously?

Yes, it’s a tired trope that older male teachers and young female students find love (or at least sex) on high school (and college) campuses.  But… didn’t anyone read the Boston Globe Spotlight article about sexual misconduct in New England private schools? Or the follow-up articles?  Let’s start with the fact that it’s illegal, no matter the age of the older person.  And that many schools – public and private –  now have training for teachers and students, reporting structures and really are aware of the consequences of taking such a stupid step.  And that in many states, this is one of those mandated reporting situations, where Child Services and the police get called in.

And a publisher thinks this is a great “realistic fiction” topic.

I’ve worked in and attended schools where there were inappropriate faculty/student relationships.  It’s not just that couple that is affected – colleagues, classmates and more are all aware of it, and some are still affected years later.  Many schools now go as far as to caution faculty about friending/following students on social media, or do not allow faculty to text or otherwise communicate with students on non-school provided devices.   I’ve seen some of that in recent books and wonder what research the author did, where he or she looked for information on how schools are now treating just social relationships between faculty and students.  This, though?  It’s way beyond that.

How no editor, no marketing person, no beta reader thought to ask if this is really something that should be published?  The blurb mentions the relationship is “possibly illegal” (no – it’s flat out illegal).  It doesn’t matter that the book raises questions about love and boundaries and all that stuff.  It’s irresponsible in this day and age to be publishing a book like this and marketing it to teens.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Books | Leave a Comment »

A Year’s Hard Work

Posted by lpearle on 14 February 2018

I’ll write more about my Alex Committee experience later (although I’ve already written some here) but for now, here’s a photo of our Top Ten Titles and the committee:

 

Posted in Books | Leave a Comment »

Tackling the junk drawer

Posted by lpearle on 24 January 2018

Over the years, as students are doing research and as new books have arrived for the collection, it’s become clearer and clearer that the 300s (“Social Sciences”) are the junk drawer of the library shelves.

Sometimes, it’s the fault of the catalogers at the Library of Congress. Years ago, at a previous school, I purchased the series “The President’s Position: Debating the Issues”  and discovered that half the series was in 973.* (American History) while the other half was in 321.8 (Presidents).  Which meant, of course, that I had to figure out where my students would best find the books.  Sometimes it’s the fault of the publishers for not providing enough information to LoC (the book Islam and democracy in Indonesia : tolerance without liberalism  is really more about Indonesia and Indonesian politics than the religion, yet it was supposed to be shelved in the 200s).  Some things just baffle me, like finding a book on Watergate in our True Crime section, or a book on slavery in among books on Woolworths and LLBean (yes…. but really, no). And that’s only a few of the books ordered over the years.

In going through our collection at Milton, we noticed little things, like Marcus Garvey being in three different places.   And we knew that we had more on China that was in 951, but students weren’t using those books because they were scattered around the collection.  So, in a burst of energy and excitement (or boredom, you decide) we tackled the junk drawer.  It’s difficult to do as a solo librarian, but if you have a team?  It’s really instructive to have the conversations about topics like slavery, LGBTQ issues and history, abortion, etc..  It’s also helpful to go through the shelves and really look at things from a non-librarian’s perspective: where will our students best find the materials?  is it more useful here… or here?  And that’s not even starting to take into account the fact that OCLC occasionally changes DDC (we learned that 329 had been discontinued, but we had several books there.  Whoops!

Our overarching goal is to ensure that the books we have are both useful and findable, which sometimes means adding to the MARC record. Yes, it took a long time to get through the 300s… this time.  And yes, it’ll be an ongoing project.  The overlap between the 300s and other areas of the collection is huge, much like the overlap between the junk drawer in the kitchen and other areas of the house.  We now have a Google Doc that enumerates our cataloging norms so we can, as we get new books or find things on the shelves, put them together.  It’ll also help as we look at which books we need (at one previous school, to support the 11th grade History class, we had many books on the Treaty of Versailles but when that project ended, we didn’t need as many as we’d had, freeing up shelf space for other topics we needed for their new research papers; at another, there were nearly 1,000 books on Nazi Germany, many of which could be weeded or moved back into other areas of the collection when the course on the Nazis ceased to be offered).

To paraphrase a popular commercial tagline, what’s in your junk drawer?

 

Posted in Books, Collection Development, School Libraries | Leave a Comment »

Blessing or Curse?

Posted by lpearle on 4 January 2018

Several years ago Doug mentioned that he did most of his reading on his Kindle (he still does whether it’s on an actual Kindle or the app on another device) and that one of the blessings was the ability to quickly search for information while reading.  Back in the “good old days” you had to remember what you were interested in, or confused about, and then look it up rather than quickly go to your browser and – voila! – answers.

My Kindle is rarely connected to wifi, and I use it mostly for longer articles (uploaded via Instapaper) and ARCs, but I take Doug’s point.  The other day I was reading an ARC and wondered about one of the facts mentioned – I’m being a little vague because 1. it was an Alex book and 2. I honestly don’t remember exactly what it was I was wondering – so I picked up my iPhone and looked up… whatever it was. 30 minutes later, I’d found my answer, checked my email and looked at Twitter.  30 minutes later.

Which is, of course, both the blessing and curse of having one of those fancy ereaders that allow you to quickly go online: the rabbit hole and the added distractions.  It’s one of the things that several of my star reading students prefer about print, that lack of distraction and the ability to focus on the book and world it’s creating. But if we’re being honest, the problem isn’t the device (or lack thereof) it’s more about willpower.  Is your phone one of those always on, always notifying ones?  Do you have a tablet right next to you?  In the early days of ereaders, we didn’t have those additional tools and unless your laptop or desktop was always on, going online immediately was difficult.  Today? Those 30 minutes I “lost” could easily become an hour… two hours… and then where was I in the book again?  What exactly was going on?

My resolution for 2018 is to be less easily distracted from my reading.  Who knows how much more I could read?!

Posted in Books, Student stuff, Techno Geekiness | Leave a Comment »

Books… so many books…

Posted by lpearle on 2 January 2018

Thanks to Alex reading, my total last year was 378 Books Read. Of course, I can’t talk about those books until the committee meets in February and decides our Top Ten and Vetted Lists (links are to last year’s, in case you wanted a taste of what I read in adult books in 2016) – and not all of the adult books read in 2017 will appear on those. Still, take my word for it: some very wonderful books were read!

But, those non-adult books, or those adult books published before 2016? Well, those I can talk about! I’ll just point you to my GoodReads reviews, as well as show you the covers of the five star (IMVHO) books read in 2017:

Not too many, admittedly. But if you know me, you know I’m pretty hard to please, book-wise. And there were an additional 42 books that were thisclose to being five stars, which is not bad at all.

On to 2018’s reads!

Posted in Books | Leave a Comment »

Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 27 December 2017

A holiday gift of sorts from me to you: linky goodness from the past few months.  Enjoy!

Books, Reading, etc.

School Life

Tech Stuff

Miscellany

Posted in Books, Collection Development, Links, Privacy, School Libraries, Student stuff, Techno Geekiness, Work Stuff | Leave a Comment »

The Reader’s Advisory I Hate

Posted by lpearle on 16 November 2017

The other day, a student came in asking for a new book to read.  She’d read a book and enjoyed it, so did we have any other books like it?

Well… yes… probably.  What was it about the book she liked?  There were several things going on in the book, and any of them might have been what appealed.  The last thing you want to do, when recommending a next book, is to assume that the thing that appealed to you about a multi-layered book is what appealed to the reader about the first book.  In this case, I got the infamous preteen shrug coupled with “I dunno…. everything I guess.” Ooookay.  Did you like this aspect?  That theme? The writing style? Which character?  “I dunno…”  Eventually, we found a book that she seemed happy with, although I couldn’t tell you whether there’s anything there that relates at all to the first book.

Now, that’s ok as long as she enjoys the second book.  As long as there’s something for her to connect to, enjoy and keep her reading, it doesn’t matter if there is or is not a connection to the previous book.  I do a lot of genre switching, a lot of reading that doesn’t feel connected except by one thing: is the writing good (a purely objective thing)?  do I buy the world and premise that the writer has created?  And those are totally objective criteria.

But wow, do I hate not being given more direction from readers as to what they liked, so I can recommend books that will continue to appeal to them!  The last thing I – or anyone doing Reader’s Advisory – want is for them to stop asking.

Posted in Books, Student stuff | 1 Comment »

Uncomfortable Reading

Posted by lpearle on 5 October 2017

The other day, mk posted that she’d hit a personal best reading:

I’m on Book 263* for the year, aiming for about 300 for 2017 (which seems to be about my average recently).  I’m on the 2018 Alex Award Committee, so I can’t talk about all the books I’ve read, just the adult books published before 2016 and those that are for children and young adults.  But I can talk a little generally about reading, particularly for a committee.  Or, as my friend Anastasia has been, for a reading challenge.

One of the challenging things about reading for a book award committee is that we all have our reading comfort zones.  It could be cozy mysteries.  It could be inspirational memoirs.  It could be Regency Romances.  And if you’re reading for a Best Cozy Mystery of [year] award, then it’s easy to stay in that comfort zone.  I have my personal comfort zone but often stray outside when reading YA books so I can do Readers Advisory for my students and to help teachers find new books for their classes.  My adult books can stay comfortably in that zone… but they can’t for Alex!  Since January 2016, I’ve been reading a lot of books that are outside that zone, in genres I wouldn’t naturally gravitate to or books I would prefer to ignore based on the blurb/summary.

Here’s the thing: much of the time I’ve been pleasantly surprised and gone on to rave about the new find to my friends, students and colleagues who are avid readers.   Between my Alex and my other reading, I’m almost done with the reading challenge (one that won’t get crossed off: the audiobook – I try, but my brain just doesn’t hold audiobooks in the way it needs to, and going back is such an annoyance I’ve just given up on it; my sister and nephew, on the other hand, “read” audiobooks with glee).  Looking at the advanced challenge list, I probably won’t buy anything at a used book sale in the next three months, so there’s that checkmark left unchecked.  But – again, no details! – the other categories?  Almost all done.

And those books that my esteemed committee members have requested and nominated that aren’t in my comfort zone?  Those books that, given my druthers I wouldn’t be reading?  I’m glad I’m reading them.  Some authors are going on my “to watch out for” list.  Some series are either going to be followed or I’ll be backtracking to earlier tomes.  It’s expanded my comfort zone.

That’s one of the blessings of uncomfortable reading: sometimes, unexpectedly, you find you are comfortable.  And that’s the best reason to do a challenge or serve on a broad-reach book award committee.  I don’t know what 2018’s reading will bring but I’m willing to get a little uncomfortable while doing it.  Are you?

* of that 263, several are YA, Children’s, pre-2016 reads and even a few 2018! That number is not only Alex reading!

Posted in Books, Life Related | 1 Comment »