24 Hour Library

A Library Blog by Abby Hargreaves

Month: November 2014

LIBR 200: Reflection

I have spent a lot of time in my life on the patron side of the YA/librarian relationship. I am just now starting to have the opportunity to flip that. As a result, I am immensely grateful for the research I’ve been able to undertake as a student in LIBR 200: Information Communities. The most important piece of advice I learned throughout all of the reading and interviewing I did for this class was that it is crucial to personally communicate with your information community about their wants and needs.

Relying on published research can be helpful and used as a springboard, but ultimately, every community is unique. Inner-city teens and rural teens may, in general, be very similar, but their information needs can be vastly different. Their interests, too, may vary depending on geographic location. We can do all we want to try to bring teens in with flashy program titles, switching up our vocabulary, and offering help for school projects. However, the best thing we can do for young adults is listen.

The same goes for adult readers of YA. This population has grown — or, at least, it’s population of openly-YA-readers has — greatly in the last ten years. Little research has been provided on this audience, though. Perhaps we are under the impression that adult readers of YA are no different from adult readers of adult fiction. This doesn’t seem to be the case in what little research is available. In many of the popular articles I’ve explored (some of which I’ve referenced in previous posts) this semester, it has been abundantly clear that adult readers of YA can feel lost with feelings of doubt and even shame. Librarians must take it upon themselves to help diminish these feelings, assuring adults that it is okay — wonderful, even — to read YA fiction.

Patrons may not be experts on finding information, but they are the experts of themselves. It’s time to recommit to communicating with patrons regularly in order to better serve their wants and needs and, consequently, build a stronger community with the library as the hub.

Abby Reads: Gated by Amy Christine Parker

Gated by Amy Christine Parker
Random House, 2013, 335 pages
YA Thriller

When Lyla’s big sister disappears days before 9/11, a charismatic and empathetic man shows up at her family’s home. They’re meant to come with him and help build a community in preparation for the arrival of the apocalypse and the image1Brethren . Distraught over the loss of a child and the chaos of the events of September 11, 2001, Lyla’s parents decide to join Pioneer and his mission. Now, Lyla is seventeen and things in the community are tense. The local sheriff is checking in on them, along with his son, Cody. Now, Lyla doesn’t know who or what to believe as the days between the present and the apocalypse shorten.

Parker clearly did her research when completing this novel. Each chapter begins with a quote, most of them from famous leaders of the past. Pioneer exhibits textbook characteristics of manipulation, making the plot stand strong in the face of any unrealistic moments. The novel takes on a fascinating topic that can lead to a rabbit hole of research for the reader. While the pace and movement of the story feels a bit off, the overall content of the plot carries on well and is well-planned and just plain interesting.

Because of the textbook-like personality of Pioneer, some of his actions and words do come across as slightly campy. Given that readers are not supposed to trust Pioneer, I don’t feel that those moments draw too much on the book. Each other character was fairly well-developed and easily distinguishable from other characters in the novel. Parker also managed to avoid clichés, which I thought particularly impressive given how easy it would have been to fall into them in writing this novel. Lyla’s character development is relatively minimal — we see more of a change in what she knows as opposed to who she is, though it’s there if you look for it.

Parker’s writing style flows nicely with no distractions. If you’re looking for something a bit more descriptive and visceral, like Michael Grant’s Gone series, this might not be the thing. That said, if you enjoyed the Gone series, Gated is worth checking out if you don’t mind being a little underwhelmed in the visceral reaction department.

According to Parker’s website, Gated is followed up by Astray in a continuation of Lyla’s story and the consequences of the previous novel. I plan on checking it out as a testament to my enjoyment of Gated. Happy reading!

❤❤❤❤ out of ❤❤❤❤❤

LIBR 200: YA Readers and Technology

Because many YA readers are teens, most of the group has grown up with the technology they use to find YA materials. Computers in libraries has always been common for them, as has the ability to view reviews of and purchase books on Amazon. Most modern YA readers have never known a time in which libraries used cards in their books to track borrowing rather than RFID scanners. With such familiarity with technology, most YA readers are perfectly comfortable utilizing it to find information regarding YA content and other information.

In a survey of seven YA readers (all between the ages of 18 and 35), the most common place people went to find information was the Internet. This included websites such as Tumblr, Goodreads, Amazon, NetGalley, fanfiction websites, and Google. If pressed, these readers could surely list additional technological resources through which they find young adult content.

YA reader Grace (22) has noted in the past that she relies on author blogs on Tumblr, like that of Shiver author Maggie Stiefvater, in order to keep up with what authors are up to, new book releases, and recommendations. Other Tumblrs allow Grace to find genre-specific content. Sick Lit, for example, provides information for its followers about books regarding illness. For Grace and plenty of other YA readers, there is so much to be found on Tumblr, including those maintained by libraries.

Kacee (22) who also reads YA has used the electronic catalog at her local library since she was eight years old. She has become increasingly comfortable with technology, having learned to do some HTML and CSS coding in college and regularly using the internet to communicate with other lovers of YA. Like Grace, Kacee uses Tumblr as well as the site for National Novel Writing Month, for which she writes young adult novels with help from the forums, the statistics functions, and the validation feature to help her write a young adult novel within the span of one month (November).

Young adult readers are in a good position to take on new technologies, particularly with their ability to adjust to new technologies as they are released. This community uses technology to generate new content, communicate with each other via comments on blogs, forums, instant messaging systems, and statuses (such as those on Twitter and Facebook). Authors sometimes communicate with their readers through blog posts, Twitter replies, or even commenting on content created by their readers. All of this helps to increase the size of the community, help members discover new content, and encourage a thriving and engaging community.

LIBR 200: Think Like a Startup by Brian Matthews – A Review

While Brian Matthews’ Think Like a Startup is directed toward academic libraries and their librarians, the scope of the author’s advice goes well beyond academic libraries. Public libraries, private libraries, and non-library businesses and organizations can benefit from various points in the paper. From dealing with functional fixedness to complete overhauls, Think Like a Startup covers the steps to keeping a library relevant in a fast-changing world.

Again and again, Matthews emphasizes the “vulnerability” of libraries (2012). This is true, of course. As technology changes and evolves and information becomes accessible in different ways, libraries are at risk. Matthews’ emphasis verges on scare tactics, however, inadvertently suggesting that even a complete overhaul of the concept of a library may be futile. This may also be a strategy to encourage readers to think in much bigger ways than they have been in terms of altering library services. But this particular set of reiterations does more to scare the reader out of doing anything — in a sense, paralyzing the reader — than it does to shove the reader into action.

As Matthews impresses upon readers the importance of “redefining and realigning the role and identity of the academic library.” If this is the path a library chooses to take, is it, then, still a library? Perhaps it is necessary to change the name entirely for the sake of a continued existence. Even San José State University’s online MLIS program recently changed its name from the School of Information and Library Science to the School of Information. Maybe it’s time we start calling libraries “Information Centers” or some other relative synonym. There are a lot of important questions to discuss when considering a name change: H-ow does nostalgia factor in? Should the new name try to incorporate some of the old name? These are questions Matthews does not address — while he gives the reader a general guide of things to consider, he does not provide a thorough how-to.

And it’s impossible to do so. To provide a how-to would result in too many similar results. It is not only necessity that promotes innovation, but competition and variety. When all libraries look the same, there is no competition among libraries.

One potentially fatal thing Matthews fails to consider in his paper is that libraries are not startups. Yes, libraries can and should learn a lot from startups. However, libraries do not have the luxury of being new. Matthews forgets that, while startups have nothing to lose (no customers, no reputation, little to no public funding), libraries have quite a bit to lose. Changing the furniture in the library to facilitate collaboration may not be a risky move, but larger changes have the potential to alienate and anger patrons, alter the community’s opinion of the library, and limit future funding. Furthermore, many of these Big Changes for which Matthews advocates requires far more funding than most libraries have at their disposal. While not all big ideas are big drains on the bank account, many are — and those that fail are far more costly than those that succeed.

Finally, Matthews suggests, “Most startups fail; learn from the ones that didn’t.” This is good advice to an extent. Absolutely, libraries should look at what successful startups have in common that made them thrive. But it is just as important to study the failures of unsuccessful startups in order to avoid falling into the same traps. There is an adage that says we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. But libraries don’t have to just count on their own failures for education — they can draw from the failures of others.

 


Works Cited

Matthews, B. (2012, April). Think like a startup. Retrieved from http://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/18649/Think%20like%20a%20STARTUP.pdf?sequence=1

Abby Reads: Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
Pocket Books, 2009, 245 pages
YA Romance

After a traumatic beginning to her adolescent years, Meg takes on a new style. Now, it’s getting her into trouble with IMG_2612the law and she’s taking her friends down with her. When the cops find Meg, her boyfriend Eric, Meg’s friend Tiffany, and Tiffany’s date Brian on a dangerous bridge, they arrest the four teens. Meg, Tiffany, and Brain are assigned to ride around with one of three options for their spring break: police, fire department, or ambulance. But they don’t get to choose — the law does. Meg is paired up with Officer After, who is attractive but has problems of his own. Meanwhile, Meg struggles with her relationships with Tiffany, Eric, and her parents.

I went into Going Too Far expecting the title to be a reflection of Meg pushing the limits with Officer John After in terms of the appropriateness of their relationship. Although this was a shade of a theme in the book, this was not what the title was referring to. Instead, it is more about how the pair pushes each other to hazardous points in the name of fixing each other. Like many other YA novelists, Echols deals with growth and maturity in Meg’s journey. However, in one of Meg’s final acts of “maturity” she completely abandons herself, leaving the readers with a sense of betrayal. This change is a clichéd one, too, joining many other clichés in the novel such as the “tortured artist” trope and “got to get out of this small town” theme.

Echols’ writing is similarly repetitive. There is never a moment when the reader even has the chance to forget that John has “dark eyes” or Meg has “blue hair.” Though not unreadable, the rest of the prose is unremarkable. It’s clear at best, but dull and unimaginative.

With some clichéd characters, other characters show more promise, like Purcell. Unfortunately, Echols never fully delivers on Purcell or Meg’s parents, who are another pair of intriguing but underdeveloped characters. The remainder of the cast is full of stereotypes — the virgin valedictorian, the softy best guy, and the fatherly law enforcement officer. Echols does make an interesting move with Eric, who is irredeemably misbehaved but constantly bailed out by his rich parents one way or another. However, he’s incredibly unlikable.

I will also take a moment to note that there’s a good deal of slut-shaming in this novel. I had hoped Meg would turn out to be a character who shows her readers that it is acceptable for women to be sexual beings, but she and others regularly make comments that suggest her opinion (and the author’s) is otherwise. I will also emphasize that authors are not their characters — however, in this instance, I found no trace of anti-slut-shaming philosophies from the author in the novel.

❤❤ out of ❤❤❤❤❤

LIBR 200: What I Really Do Meme

We’re all familiar with the “this is what my mom thinks I do, this is what my friends think I do, this is what society thinks I do,” and so on meme. This week, I was challenged to take on the perspective of my information community (readers of YA) and develop my own. Check it out below and then read on for some additional commentary!

Meme

With all of the controversy around adults reading YA literature (see here and here for a few thoughts on it), I figured I’d start with the perspective of that particular part of the YA-readers community. Understanding how adults may feel when approaching librarians for assistance in finding a YA book can help us to better serve them. Even as a teen, I remember being terrified that the librarians or circulation staff would judge me (silently or otherwise) for picking up books that I considered “brain candy” (Twilight, for example — certainly not spectacular literature, but enjoyable all the same) or books that may be considered inappropriate for my age by some (nonfiction on the psychology of sex, for instance). So it wasn’t too difficult to imagine adult readers of YA seeing librarians as a sort of judge. Of course, we’re trained to not be judgmental, but patrons don’t necessarily know this.  So this skeptical, judgmental woman is likely an accurate representation of what many adult YA readers perceive or imagine us to be. If only they knew we read YA, too! (Hey, adult YA readers — let’s be friends, okay?)

I drew from my own experience a second time when I chose the second image. YA authors — or, aspiring ones, anyway — may see the librarian as a sort of teacher. My public library regularly held teen writing clubs and the librarian hosting them was expected to do some sort of creative writing exercise and lead the group as a teacher and mentor, whether or not they had any kind of creative writing background. Of course, some YA authors may also expect librarians to not only teach them the ways of writing well, but how to engage the YA audience, who the YA audience is, how to get an agent, and perhaps even what content will best catch the attention of YA readers. Of course, we do teach in some ways, but creative writing instructors we are (for the most case) not.

Let’s face it — everybody likes to eat. You know who likes to eat the most? College kids. After that, high schoolers. And a program is no good if there’s no food. This is something I’ve learned both during my coursework for my MLIS and my work as a resident assistant at Hollins University (a women’s college in Virginia where I also earned my BA). If you wanted your residents to come to a program, you better be sure there’s a pizza or chips or something. Otherwise, there was no incentive for them to come out for your little party, even if it was an event they had specifically requested. And we all love pizza, don’t we? Maybe being a pizza delivery person wouldn’t be so bad — no one is ever unhappy to see you, unless you’re late!

I can’t tell you how many middle school, high school, and college class periods were spent in the library learning for the umpteenth time how to correctly cite my sources in MLA. Hours and hours were wasted because (a) I wasn’t listening — why should I? I could look it all up online later and (b) most of the time the librarians didn’t seem to enjoy it much, either. They were mostly just glad to see someone using the library, I expect. Yet teachers set up these class periods time and time again and the librarians tried so hard to get us excited about putting periods after incomplete sentences in our works cited page. And remember, kids, it’s not a “bibliography” anymore! This sums up the librarian in the fourth image, instructing some students on a computer. By the way, I’d put money on those kids knowing how to use the computer better than the woman in the picture.

In addition to all of us liking pizza, we also all like to think we are crusading for some better good. Whether we employ our hobbies, our discussions, our volunteer work, or our jobs to make the world a nicer place, most of us humans want to leave the Earth better off than when we got here. Particularly in America, we strive for Freedom of Speech and Intellectual Freedom among other freedoms. Those things are hard to have when other people challenge and ban books for their own personal agendas. As an MLIS student and future librarian, I hope I’m doing my part to do just as this little girl in the fifth image: tell the world, “Don’t ban my books!” Or anyone else’s, for that matter.

And of course, the reality of it all — paperwork. Isn’t that the truth with every job? Well, except pizza delivery person. (That job looks better and better!) While the paperwork is split up among the staff and the majority of it is left for directors, there’s always enough to go around. Submitting orders for books, making note of disturbances, filing maintenance requests, it’s never ending. But we do it anyway because even ten hours of paperwork is worth that one happy patron with the book they’d been searching for.


 

Works Cited

Arnold, Karen. (n.d.) Yellow polka dot background. Digital image.Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1tQQa3v

b$/ram. (2008). Don’t ban my books. Photograph. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1wCz36s

cybrarian77. (2011). Teacher at chalkboard. Photograph. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/13SIdkz

marcusbep. (2009). Dogimos 1. Photograph. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1u7iazL

megnificent! (2010). So much paperwork. Pphotograph Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1tJ9v5j

Mullins, C. (2010). @velveteenmind aka “judgy Megan face”. Photograph. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1u7iHBI

UBC Library Communications. (2008). IKBLC group study43. Photograph. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1u7iXAQ

 

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