29/11/2012 § 5 Comments
We drew you in, didn’t we? Well, it’s true: librarian and author Lauren Pressley is working with crowdfunding startup unglue.it to provide free access to her book So You Want To Be a Librarian. Read our interview with Lauren to learn more about the book, unglue.it, and how you can contribute!
20/10/2011 § 3 Comments
During my first semester of school, and into my second semester I read children’s books because I had been told it was an important part of being a children’s librarian. Over the past year I have found that this is true—but it takes more than a belief in this theory to keep reading, to keep blogging and avoid burn out.
Semester One: The Rookie
A year ago I started library school. I began my coursework with a children’s literature survey to balance out the rigor of my metadata class in my first semester. “Literature for Youth” covered historic and current trends in youth literature while also discussing evaluation models for children’s books. Throughout the semester we read top picks across genres, eras and award winners. The class required me to keep an ongoing blog that discussed one or two books I had read each week. The class was great, blogging was even better, and I fell in love with children’s literature. At the end of the semester I made the naive vow that I would keep reading and keep blogging because it would make me a great librarian someday—and it was fun.
Semester Two: Payoff
My children’s literature class was over—finding time to read got a bit harder. In my first semester reading was built into my coursework—it was for school—I had to do it. In my second semester, my courses required a different kind of reading. Keeping up with my blog took time and commitment, but I was still eager and up for the challenge. Eventually my work paid off. At the end of my second semester of school I started part-time work in a children’s library. I owe a lot of the credit to my blog—it was a great source of conversation during my interview and my comfort level with children’s books gave me a lot of confidence in the process.
Semester Three: The Summer of Burnout
This summer I took two classes, I worked a full-time job and I started my part-time library job. I began the summer semester with the expectation that I would read and blog as I had in the previous semesters. I loved reading, I loved blogging, I had a new library job—I would make time for reading. What was I thinking? I’m not sure how other people do with summer courses—the two classes I took were beyond difficult on a 10 week timeline—especially with my workload. Reading and blogging began to feel like a burden. Not living up to my expectations for myself felt worse.
Semester Four: The Rescue and Renewal
At the end of the summer work eased up and I had more time to read. However, I realized that reading children’s literature with the idea of being a better librarian was not enough reason for me. The theory made sense but it didn’t make sense when all I did was read in my “spare time” or chastise myself for not reading. One of the adult librarians at my job recognized my burn out and she rescued me. I was expressing my frustration with adolescent protagonists–she asked me what kind of grown up books I like to read. I responded with David Sedaris. She stepped away from the desk and returned with a copy of Carl Hiaasen’s Skin Tight. I read like a grown up for a while, when I didn’t want to read—I didn’t read. I took a break.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been faced with some serious readers advisory work. My patrons never cease to challenge me. During these readers advisory sessions I have discovered and internalized why I need to read children’s literature. There is a frustration on both sides of the desk when I can’t help a patron find the right book. Yet nothing feels better than a genuine book talk that leads to a happy patron. In the practice of helping patrons, I have found the truth in the theory I learned in my first semester of library school. Being a great children’s librarian takes a commitment to children’s resources. Reading children’s literature is part of the job. At the same time, a job is a job and a work/life balance must be struck. I’m learning to identify when I am bored or bogged down with kids’ books or blogging about kids books. When that happens, I indulge myself with a mystery (written for adults)—or a break.
09/03/2011 § 13 Comments
“Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be” -Walter Benjamin
I work with digital collections and part of what I do at my job is digitize historical documents. As I handle these delicate materials, I see how they transform into a digital format, and I can’t help but wonder if something was lost in its translation. The quality of the digital image is wonderful, and yet very different from its physical form. Similarly, when looking at the difference between a book and a book on an e-reader, the relationship between the reader and the material also shifts. People have varying opinions on the rising popularity of e-books and digital media. Librarians, authors, publishers, patrons–we all see the inevitable digitization of media differently. We’re currently in a transitional phase and in light of recent events dealing with e-books ( Harper Collins anyone?) it’s clear to see that there is plenty of change to come.
The rising sales of Kindles, Nooks and other e-readers has many people pondering over the longevity of the book. Books can be damaged or misplaced, e-books can be downloaded at your convenience and are less likely to be lost. However, it’s my opinion that people have a special material relationship with their print materials that is hard to replicate in the digital format. I like to write notes to myself in the margins to help me sum up main ideas and the physical act of writing helps gel those ideas in my mind. But the issue isn’t really new, remember when people thought vinyl records would become obsolete? Now there is a niche market for those who see them as a collector’s item, perhaps in the future this will be the same for books.
E-books have plenty going for them, but there are a few issues that need to be worked out. Not all books lend themselves easily to digitization. I love art books and I hope that by the time I’m very old, I’ll have a wonderful personal library filled with them. Some artists see the creation of a book an art, and have done very innovative things with books that would be very difficult to replicate in a digital format. An additional issue, is that not everyone has the money to afford an e-reader, so it’s important and relevant that libraries would still provide physical copies of best sellers. The e-reader market will probably only strive to make up for these concerns by lowering prices and using emerging technology (like E Ink) to make its products seem like the real deal.
Taking all this into account, I also have to wonder about the future of books and their place in libraries, education, and our lives. Will our relationships with print materials transfer over to the digital? How will libraries accommodate these trends, especially with shrinking budgets and publisher’s e-lending policies? It’s hard to make that call now, but as future librarians, these are issues we will have to face.
What do you guys think about all this? Do you relate differently to print material as opposed to digital? Are these issues being discussed in your programs?
28/02/2011 § 18 Comments
Thanks to our dear friend Lauren Gibaldi for another great guest post.
The role of librarian has expanded from simply helping people find books. But still – a good majority of patrons visit the library for just that – books. While it’s impossible to know every single novel out there, I think it’s smart to know what’s popular, what’s up-and-coming, and what many people may be asking about. (Of course, this goes a bit beyond library school, and more so into the job category, but it’s never to early to start paying attention to literature, right?)
So which books should you get familiar with?
- Similarly, ones getting a ton of buzz
- New York Times best sellers
- Any Oprah pick (Okay, her book club is about to end, but brush up on her previous picks.)
- Ones being turned into films or TV shows
- Anything that will be released by a big name
- Celebrity books
How to learn about these titles
- Keep up with awards once they’re announced. (i.e. Pulitzer, Man-Booker…) There’s the Caldecott Medal for children’s books, and YALSA has a ton of awards for young adult books.
- Check out book columns from the New York Times, NY Magazine, New Yorker, and more. A good time to do this would be towards the end of the year, when everyone is creating a “best of” list. Also, keep up with prominent book blogs. (While Freedom by Jonathan Franzen was the BIG award-winner of last year, Room by Emma Donoghue was immensely popular.)
- While it doesn’t change dramatically each week, the list, which is featured on the newspaper’s website, is good to browse every now and then. (For fiction, a lot of books will overlap with the previous few categories. For non-fiction, any presidential memoir will be on the list easily).
- Oprah has her list of winners on her website. She’s the only person I’ve ever known to have Faulkner sell out in a bookstore.
- After True Blood came out, tons of people flocked for the Sookie Stackhouse series. If a show or movie is getting a ton of buzz, look to see if it has a literary counterpart.
- Keep up with publishing company blogs. They’re not shy about showcasing their new releases. Some even have specific library-related blogs.
- Did you know half of the cast of Jersey Shore has book deals? And they (for some reason) sell? Yeah, know about them.
I actually love keeping up with books, so for me, this is an fun task. By just monitoring a few blogs, it’s easy to know what’s hot within the publishing world. It really helps, especially when someone comes in asking for “that book that’s going to be a movie with the girl from Glee in it.”*
* I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore