Author Archives: Dana

A Reader’s Guide: British Columbia’s Literary Festivals

Vancouver Writers FestReaders all across British Columbia are busy scanning programs and buying tickets, brushing up on old books and devouring new ones. What’s all this preparation for you ask? Why it’s the season of Writers Festivals of course!

Book festivals are the ultimate night out for the reader. Imagine a chance to see several notable authors, peer under the fictional hood and maybe even exchange a word or two with someone you’ve only encountered on the back side of a dust jacket.

Elephant Mountain Literary Festival

Now, imagine that book festival taking place in Sechelt, along the Sunshine Coast or nestled in the Rockies at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival. British Columbia has an unparalleled line up of literary festivals ranging from intimate to international. To get you ready for the Fall, and  maybe even start planning for next year here is a list in chronological order of BC’s amazing writers’ festivals:

Or if you’d like something off the beaten track why not take a trip to the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival in late October? Or check out the Cinematheque’s Visible Verse Festival in Vancouver in October for a twist on the regular festival experience.

Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival

These festivals were gleaned from the Book and Periodical Council list of Canadian Literary Festivals and Canada Council for the Arts’ English Literary Festivals list.

We’d love for you to weigh in, which festivals have you been to? Which ones are missing from this list? Can you share a favourite literary festival memory?

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MythBusters: Readers’ Advisory Edition

Hint: Answer to all questions is sign up for RA in a Half Day!

For new library staff, or even those out of practice Readers’ Advisory can seem like a practice shrouded in mystery, especially as we watch our colleagues pull brilliant ideas from the crystal balls that seem to reside in their brains.

Crystal Ball Shaped DisplayMyth#1: Patrons walk into the library with one book in mind. You just need to guess it.

Contrary to the wily charms of books like The Novel Cure we all know that as complicated human beings there are several books which would “cure” our curiosities and satiate our appetite for narrative at any point in time.

To get away from this notion the Ohio Library Council has an online module focused on Readers’ Advisory which emphasizes the process over the result. The Ontario Public Library Association’s Readers’ Advisory Committee has also developed core competencies which include Reader Service Skills and the Readers’ Advisory Conversation. Moral of the story? It’s about the conversation not the book they leave with.

The Novel Cure

Myth#2: You need to read piles and piles of books to be good at Readers’ Advisory.

While most librarians are indeed readers, contrary to popular belief we may spend our time outside of the library doing things other than, well reading. And thanks to some amazing tools we don’t have to spend every waking minute with our noses in books, making us, well more interesting people.

Still need something to read? Here’s an exhaustive list of RA resources from OCLC’s Webjunction, as well as the list of tools from last year’s RA in a Half Day.

Myth#3: You’re either born with awesome Readers’ Advisory skills or you’re not.

False! We think RA skills can be developed and develop them we shall at RA in a Half Day. Get inspired by our keynote speakers David Wright and Max Wyman, learn from some serious local genre experts and then put it to the test with our difficult RA questions.

Now that all your Readers’ Advisory myths have been busted, we hope to see you on Oct. 30th to learn, practice and maybe even conjure up some RA skills. No crystal balls allowed.

Speed-Dating Through the Genres

Whew- after being inspired by Sean Cranbury and firing up the social networking engines with Tara Matsuzaki and Heidi Schiller, RA in a Half Day kept right on going at full speed…well, speed-dating that is! What follows is a brief summary of each presentation, please contact us for a full copy of any of the genre presentations.

Romance- Desiree Baron, Vancouver Public Library

The romance genre is defined by a developing love relationship around which the plot is based. And happy endings of course! Romance books are a massive industry with several subsets and incredibly prolific readers. Think about using author readalikes to help readers branch out but be careful to listen to patron’s preferences within the genre. This genre has become very popular in the ebook world with more genre blurring and  connectivity.

Mystery- Christine Miller, West Vancouver Memorial Library: 

The vital elements of a mystery are of course a murder and the ability of an intelligent investigator to get to the bottom of it. There should be a sense of fair play by the author and the reader is often delighted and satisfied by the ingenious ways in which the crimes are solved. There are several subsections in mystery books and it is important to focus on what appeals to the patron. In this way librarians can match books of similar appeal in theme, setting, character, and plot to the patron’s next read. Christine suggested using popular mystery websites like Stop, You’re Killing Me and Fantastic Fiction.

 Science Fiction and Fantasy- Stephanie Kurmey, Surrey Libraries:

There are several classics or pioneers in science fiction and fantasy to be aware of based on subsections like sword and sorcery, myths and legends, humour and urban fantasy. Readers of this genre tend to be serious about their series and some tools which can help you keep up to date include Fantastic Fiction, NPR’s Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books and various science fiction and fantasy award websites.

Thrillers- Olivia Anderson, Greater Victoria Public Library

Thrillers are a relatively new genre, compared to some of their literary contemporaries, but are rapidly gaining popularity among readers. They involve a great deal of cross-over with other genres but are defined by a fast pace and high level of excitement as the author throws challenges at both the protagonist and the reader. They can be villian-driven and often contain flat or less dynamic secondary characters, but at the pace you’re reading who cares?! Some resources for recommending thrillers are The Big Thrill and Halifax Public Library’s Guide to Thrillers.

Western Stories- Paul Hayes, Vancouver Public Library

When Paul first asked the crowd “Who reads Westerns?” he received a luke-warm showing of a few tired hands. A genre that is plagued by misconceptions, Paul explained Westerns are stories which take place during the settlement of new frontiers. There are several notable examples of books as frontiers expanded across North America (and other lands!) These books contain themes like the lack of and then establishment of law, cultures in conflict, unlimited opportunities and a sense of pervading optimism. Within westerns there are neowesterns which mark the end of periods of settlement as well as weird westerns which integrate the best (and worst?) of other genres like aliens, magic and technology! So when Paul asked again “Who reads Westerns?”  the whole room seemed to be able to recall a read which took them to a new frontier.

Online Bookmarking and Promoting Readers’ Advisory

Tara Matsuzaki and Heidi Schiller lead this session and began by sharing some of their favourite bookmarking sites when it comes to Readers’ Advisory. Of those mentioned were Library Thing, Fantastic Fiction, Amazon, Good Reads, and NoveList.  These sites are so wonderful because they harness crowd-sourcing and have users create lists and tags as well as containing the more traditional booklists and read-alike tools.

When it comes to promoting readers’ advisory Tara and Heidi were big fans of:

  • NextReads e-newsletters which allow patrons to sign up for monthly booklists based on their favourite genres.
  • North Vancouver City Library’s blog The Top Shelf is an excellent example of a blog which has short chunks of information and is visually appealing. It features Community Reader Profiles which connect community members to the library through a peek at their favourite reads.
  • Many libraries are beginning to use Pinterest which allows them to create visually delightful booklists with cover images and short reviews and link them all back to their catalogue.
  • While BiblioCommons is not new to some, it has real value in terms of integrating the catalogue with what is referred to as the “social discovery layer.”
  •  Facebook continues to be a place for librarians to be where their users are, promote readers’ advisory resources or services like Seattle Public Library’s Your Next 5 Books.

Welcome to RA in a Half Day!

After being warmly welcomed by Jenny Fry, Co-Chair of the Readers’ Advisory Interest Group, and thanking Library Bound for making today possible we got started with the keynote speaker Sean Cranbury. Sean’s background in independent bookselling and publishing lead him to create Books on the Radio.  This blog became a hub for other projects, including the Advent Book Blog and the Real Vancouver Writers’ Series and several other online book-talking communities.

With a rallying cry of “Libraries are Awesome!” Sean’s presentation (which can be found here) discusses why libraries are uniquely positioned to “be in the place, where people are, who are interested in the things you do.” Libraries have a physical space, internet access, local connection, not to mention expertise on great books! They can use blogs as hubs, and then target their audiences through channels like Facebook and Twitter. Sean emphasized how valuable these tools are because they can provide opportunities to measure online activity and interaction. So, share openly and globally, provide opportunities for interaction and archive! His final challenge to the librarians gathered was can libraries host robust and civil online discussions on books and reading with policies to support this? Stay tuned to RA in a Half Day to find out!