Author Archives: junes22

Music Advisory goes Local and Social at the Greater Victoria Public Library

Cheryl Landry is a Public Services Librarian and music specialist at GVPL.  She loves being able to combine her former life as a performing classical musician and her current life as a librarian by developing the Local Music Collection and organizing public concerts to highlight these amazing artists.  Outside of the library, she moonlights as a photographer, shooting portraits, including for her blogging-mate, singer-songwriter, Kaya Fraser. View her work at

Kaya Fraser is, by day, a mild-mannered Library Assistant at GVPL, working in Adult Services and the Interlibrary Loans Department. By night, she takes off the horn-rimmed glasses, lets her hair down and assumes her not-so-secret identity as a songwriter and guitarist, performing solo or with a backing band at venues locally and, when she can get the time off, across Canada. She has two albums out and is at work on a third. Check her out at

Cheryl’s section:
GVPL Local Music Collection:

Sometimes when selecting for public library collections, we can become very focused on the business of acquiring the newest titles and biggest bestsellers.  This is one way in which libraries maintain relevance within our communities; by providing material that is currently, or will soon be, in demand.  There is no difference in the area of music selection, where we must always make sure we have the newest chart toppers, iTunes sensations, and overnight successes.  However, if libraries are here to serve and reflect our communities, might we be missing out on a prime advisory and outreach opportunity by not also including and promoting materials that are created in our own communities, by our own community members?


In 2013, GVPL made a commitment to include Victoria’s very active and wide-ranging music scene in a dedicated Local Music Collection. Starting with a modest budget and an ongoing annual commitment within the overall music budget, we put out a call directly to the music community of Victoria, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands asking for submissions. These submissions were vetted for quality and professionalism, and any that met the criteria were included in the opening core collection. There is something very rewarding about connecting directly with these artists; being able to tell them “hey, I loved your music and would love to put it in the collection”, and knowing that the library can provide an avenue of exposure and encourage future audiences and gigs.


Having a locally-based collection brings with it a myriad of opportunities for outreach, advisory, and programming.  In July 2013, we launched the Local Music Collection with GVPL Local MusicFest on the outdoor city hall stage in the heart of downtown Victoria.  The three-hour show featured short sets by eight of the talented performers in the local collection and also included a portable library where audience members could check out local CD’s and even sign up for a library card.  Our second Local MusicFest event, in March 2014, was a more intimate, indoor concert featuring three performers in the acoustically-pleasing Belfry Theatre ( with whom GVPL has a partnership.  While most live music events cost money and usually cater to adults over drinking age, each of these events, which were very well-attended, provided a free, family-friendly chance for people to hear great music and discover something new.

ImageAside from large concerts, library staff can also use the Local Music Collection to provide music advisory, both to patrons who want a “hear-alike”, and to those individuals or community groups who may need good quality live music for an event.  Members of the music community may also be available for song-writing workshops, group instrumental lessons, or in-branch demos for events such as Culture Days, greatly expanding the range of options and contacts available for arts-related programming.

Local music in libraries still appears to be a fairly innovative concept, with only a few adopters showing in a quick internet search. That is not to suggest that other libraries do not include local musicians in their collections; however, when conceived in a dedicated, holistic way, a collection of local music, or indeed, any type of local collection, can become a comprehensive source of advisory, connection, and outreach within your community.

Some Personal Favourites:
Towers and Trees –
West My Friend –
Chris Ho –

Kaya’s section:
Music Mondays on Facebook:

Since the fall of 2013, one of the regular features on GVPL’s official Facebook page has been a weekly posting called “Music Monday.” Posted at the start of every week, this feature aims to highlight a music-related item in GVPL’s catalogue, or a music-related program or resource. The tone is light and accessible, and the fact that it’s a regular posting creates a sense of familiarity and continuity for the library’s Facebook followers—something for the music fans to look forward to each week.

Often the posts have been straightforward reviews, written by staff members, of CDs, music books, documentaries, etc., with a link to the catalogue at the end, so that followers can click through and place a hold. Drawing on the ever-popular “staff picks” concept, these posts always meet with appreciation.


Sometimes the postings have made reference to our digital music collections, Freegal and Hoopla, providing links for followers to click on and gain instant access to the content being reviewed/highlighted. These recommendations have the advantage of being free of wait times and hold lists; also, the technical requirements of digital access are usually not a problem for those already using an online tool such as Facebook. As a platform for promoting our digital music collections, this seemed like a natural.


We have consciously tried to keep the postings varied in terms of material types, genres, and approach. A recent Music Monday was not a collection spotlight at all, but rather a review of a free online music-advisory tool called Gnoosic (

Occasionally, we will build a post on a “this day in music history” premise, or a famous musical birthday, or on a current event. In each case, we usually try to link the post back to something in the collection, perhaps something a little off-the-beaten-track (such as a book of artwork by Miles Davis, which we posted on Davis’s birthday). Recently, we used news of an upcoming local music festival to remind our followers of the Local Music Collection, and highlight CDs by two of the festival’s headliners.


Music Monday continues to be a way of reaching out to members of our community online—to those who have library cards, but also to those who don’t yet—showing them some of what we have access to, helping them discover some things they might like, and inviting conversations about all things musical.






Readers’ Advisory: Introducing Nonfiction to the Fiction Reader

June Smith is a Public Services Librarian at Greater Victoria Public Library. She enjoys the challenge of readers’ advisory, and especially enjoys highlighting interesting and quirky nonfiction books. A dedicated fiction reader she is now trying to read more nonfiction for pleasure. This has, unfortunately, only increased the number of books she now wants to read!

When doing Readers Advisory we are often guilty of separating our patrons into two distinct camps when we ask–“what do you like to read, fiction or nonfiction?” We make the assumption that fiction readers only want to read fiction and nonfiction readers only want to read nonfiction. Neal Wyatt in his book Readers’ Advisory Guide to Nonfiction suggests that readers do not necessarily want to read in these same narrow categories.

Because public libraries separate reading materials into two distinct collections, which are often housed on separate floors, it is easy to forget that fiction readers may find items of interest in the nonfiction area. Readers browsing only in the fiction section may not know there are nonfiction books that would appeal to them. So how do we help fiction readers find nonfiction materials that they might enjoy?   Wyatt suggests there are four main elements that are fundamental to all nonfiction. The elements are: narrative context; subject; type; and, appeal (which include pacing, characterization, storyline, learning/experience, language, setting and tone). For the fiction reader, who is beginning to try and read nonfiction material for pleasure, they will probably be interested in material that has a stronger narrative and characterization, and broader appeal.

Here are some categories of nonfiction that will have strong appeal for fiction readers.

  1. Memoirs: This type of nonfiction is often the most accessible to the fiction reader.   Biographies, although sometimes of interest to fiction readers, are longer in length and larger in scope and may be oft putting to the fiction. Memoirs, in contrast, are generally shorter and have a stronger narrative and storyline that will appeal to fiction readers. The language is mainly non-technical and explores more of a personal and emotional subject.The setting may be exotic or one that draws the reader in quickly, and the tone is sometimes lighter. Although learning and/or experience is part of the book – its focus is more on the author’s experiences than on imparting facts.Salinger 2

Sometimes the memoir is significant because it is by an well-known author or somehow related to a significant author, such as the recent book My Salinger Year by Joanne Rakoff – which may be of interest to Salinger readers.   Other memoirs, such as Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking which covers the death of her partner may appeal more to the reader who is looking for material on the subject than someone reading for pleasure. This is where subject can be more important than the author.

Memoirs often explore the relationship with a particular animal or animals. Someone who has enjoyed Sara Gruen’s latest book – Ape House, for example, might enjoy Bonobo Handshake by Vanessa Woods about her experiences about the Bonobo in Congo.Bonobo 2

In addition, many of the latest popular movies have been based on memoirs – so name recognition can provide appeal. Some examples of popular memoirs made into movies recently are: Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort, Monuments Men: Allied heroes, Nazi thieves and the greatest treasure hunt in history by Robert Edsel, Eat, Pray, Love by Elisabeth Gilbert; An Education by Lynne Barber; and, Under a Tuscan sun by Frances Mayer.  Wolf

  1. Essays: Essays can be humourous or serious in tone and often cover a variety of topics. Still fiction readers who like short stories may also like this category. They have strong appeal because of possible name recognition. Authors such as: David Sedaris, Nora Ephron, Gary Sheteyngart and Christopher Buckley can offer high name recognition to the fiction reader.
  1. Adventure stories: These may appeal to the fiction reader who enjoys action or thrillers. One recent title, Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everestby Wade Davis has had great interest for both nonfiction and fiction readers. In the same way The Perfect Storm:A True Story of Men against the Sea by Sebastian Junger is a classic in this area and has a high recognition factor because of the movie that was based on the book.
  1. Reading Guides: Often these little books of lists of suggested reading languish hidden in the nonfiction section. Make them known to your fiction readers and you will be surprised how quickly they move off the shelves. Just as fiction readers want our advice about what to read next – they will also enjoy reading about other writer’s ideas on novels that are worth reading or re-reading. Series such as the Bloomsbury good reading guides, by Nick Rennison or Stephen E. Andrews, include such titles as: 100 Must-read American Novels; 100 Must Read Prize Winning Novels; 100 Must Read Life-Changing Books; and 100 Must Read Books for Men. Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust and others in herseries can also be of interest to your fiction reader. Even the mega tome , 1001 Books to Read before You Die (revised and updated), is of interest to the dedicated fiction reader.1001

The idea is to highlight your nonfiction collection so that fiction readers may find books that appeal to them for pleasure reading rather than just for informational needs. Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin, authors of the Novel Cure, even suggest, in an interview with CBC’s Michael Enright (May 25, 2014), that for nonfiction readers, who wish to start reading more fiction, that they should first start with narrative nonfiction.

Wyatt suggests that librarians involved in Readers’ Advisory:

  • Start reading nonfiction if we have not already,
  • Pair up fiction and nonfiction in our displays,
  • Include nonfiction in booklists if at all possible,
  • Focus on both fiction and nonfiction books in discussion groups or blogs
  • And finally try suggesting one nonfiction title to our fiction readers when doing Readers’ Advisory.

Many libraries and librarians are already doing this –but it is helpful to keep these guidelines in mind.

For further reading:

Burgin, R. (2014). Nonfiction Readers’ Advisory.

Enright, M. (Host). Police background checks….the Novel cure. Sunday Edition. (2014, May 25) [Radio broadcast] retrieved from

Hagulund, D. (2012, March 2) “Will there be a memoir move boom?” Slate. Retrieved from

True story?16 memoirs made into movies.

Wyatt, N. 2007. The Readers’ advisory guide to nonfiction. Chicago: American Library Association.

Creating Themed Materials for Adults

Rina Hadziev is the Collections & Technical Services Coordinator for the Greater Victoria Public Library. She has participated in book publicity events and is interested in finding new and different ways to bring people and books/movies/music together. She firmly believes that you should never apologize for anything you read, and loves to read frothy fiction, cozy mysteries, and urban fantasy as a vacation from reality. June Smith is a Public Services Librarian with GVPL. She enjoys reading fiction and non-fiction and connecting readers with both new and classic authors..

Library patrons can become stuck in a comfort zone of familiar authors or topics. Some approach staff and ask “what do I read next?” but not all do – so how do you offer reader’s advisory for the many that don’t ever come to the desk? How about a set of books, geared to adults, on a particular theme or topic!   Building on the success of our “Stories To Go” and “Puppets To Go” theme boxes for young children, and our “Books to Go” theme bags for kids, we decided to offer kits on a particular theme or topic for our adult readers, too. As a result, last year we launched GVPL’s “Staff Picks to Go” collection: each bag includes six books (fiction, non-fiction or a mixture of both) along with a related DVD or audiobook CD We also include a list of “further reading” on the same theme, so patrons can continue to explore the topic after they finish the set.

We created our “Staff Picks To Go” with our core users in mind – adults who love to read and who enjoy both the “tried and true” and the trendy. We drew on our reader’s advisory experience on the desk, our knowledge of what kinds of books are perennially popular, and what genres are currently in demand. Some of the kits we launched last year include African Crime Noir, Christian Fiction, Crimes in Cold Climes, and Fun for Foodies. We’re now expanding the collection with new themes, including Get Your Greek On, Not Your Kid’s Graphic Novels, and Inspired By Austen. To allow patrons time to fully explore the set of books they’ve checked out, the kits are loaned out for six weeks. The kits have proved very popular and they don’t linger long on our shelves; we all know the appeal of convenient, pre-selected, curated material! They’re popular with all types of patrons, whether they’re looking for a new favourite author, heading off on vacation, or selecting materials for others (such as shut-ins and seniors). They can even be used by staff who hit a “reader’s advisory wall” and can’t think of anything to suggest. Want to explore some of the other topics available in GVPL’s Staff Picks To Go collection? Visit and search “Staff Picks To Go”.

Staff Picks To Go: African Crime Noir


Staff Picks to Go: Madcap Travel Adventures



Reader’s Advisory for Adults Reading Teen Fiction

Sarah Isbister is currently an Auxillary Librarian at Greater Victoria Public Library and has just accepted one year position with GVPL as a Children’s and Family Literacy Librarian. Sarah has her B.Ed. as well as her M.L.I.S. and is interested in programming and reader’s advisory for adults, teens and children. She also has an interest in education in developing countries and has volunteered overseas in an educational capacity.

Young Adult Fiction is being read widely by adults, across a variety of demographics. As librarians and library staff, it is important to understand both why this is happening, and also how to recommend young adult fiction to adult readers. There has been an increase in adult fiction writers who are choosing to write young adult fiction. It is interesting to explore the trend in adult writers marketing their work to teens. In this post, I will provide you with the names of some authors writing both Adult and Young Adult Fiction as well as some recommended and popular Young Adult authors and titles.

While there are many adults already reading Young Adult Fiction, there are others who may be avoiding the genre altogether. As librarians and library staff, there are some encouraging statistics that we can employ to inspire reluctant readers of Young Adult fiction to try it out. According to Hope Schreiber of Complex Magazine, “Young Adult isn’t really just for the 12-18 age group anymore—it’s the fastest growing publication category right now. In fact, 55 percent of readers who buy YA are actually over 18. If you still feel guilty picking up Harry Potter, don’t.” (

It is essential to question what the adult reader gets out of reading these novels. Which should lead us to ask, what does a reader get out of reading any novel? One obvious response is to consider appeal factors, which include pacing, characterization, story line, and frame (background detail, mood, setting, tone). When adults were polled about reading YA Fiction, responses ranged from: “I enjoy the immediacy of the stories and the sense of being at the beginning of the path of who you’ll become.” — @sesinkhorn to “I like the mash-up of genre & style” and; “Unpretentious/literary, fast-paced/big-ideas, fantasy/mystery…” — @ErinSatie. The subtext of many of these responses seems to be that YA Fiction is being compared to Adult Fiction. In comparison to Adult Fiction, “YA fiction often delivers accessible, emotional, fast-paced stories with an optimistic or hopeful outlook.”

Eleanor & Park

If we choose to take a more academic approach, we can discuss reception studies. The point of reception/media/cultural studies is to, “study the audience (of a TV show, movie, etc.), not the creator of the media. A lot of reception studies focus on how consumption of a media product (TV show, book, etc.) is tied into an individual’s identity formation.” It has been argued that most cultural consumption in contemporary society is about identity. It’s about reaffirming one’s identity or challenging one’s identity or trying out new identities. While there is not necessarily anything wrong with this, it is intriguing that so many adults these days are drawn to narratives about teens. It begs the question, “what does [this] say about adult identities in contemporary society?”

Pretties Uglies

Or is it simpler than the academia suggests? Kelly Jensen, librarian and blogger in her Book Riot post, states: “Listen. The only justification for why adults read YA books is this: they choose to. That’s it. That’s their reason. Adults read YA books because they as adults choose to do so.” (

In a New York Times Book review, A.J. Jacobs describes John Green novels as, realistic stories told by a funny and self-aware teenage narrator with, “sharp dialogue, defective authority figures, occasional boozing, unrequited crushes and one or more heartbreaking twists”( Green is one of the most popular writers of young adult fiction who also has a strong adult following. He currently has four novels on the New York Times best-seller list, has an online cult topping a million, and he actually plays Carnegie Hall.

It is legitimate and important to ask why adults read YA, just as it’s legitimate to ask why people read or do anything. The problem is, the answers to these kinds of questions are never simple, but of course, that’s also why they’re so interesting and can be studied and explored.

Two Boys kissing

Authors writing both Adult & Young Adult Fiction:

  • Douglas Adams
  • Sherman Alexie
  • Meg Cabot
  • Susan Juby
  • David Levithan
  • Patrick Ness
  • James Patterson
  • Jodi Picoult
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Philip Pullman
  • J.K. Rowling (pseudonym Robert Galbraith)
  • J.R.R. Tolkien

 Recommended Titles:

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
  • Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang
  • Crank by Ellen Hopkins
  • Eleanor & Park & Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • The Fault in our Stars & Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling Series) by Megan McCafferty
  • Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  • Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
  • Winger by Andrew Smith

For more reading on the subject: