Author Archives: Laedee Chai

Reminder! … Submit A Challenging RA Question For a Chance to Win $30 in Coffee or Books (and To Benefit All Us RA Ponderers!)

Image courtesy of Drab Makyo (Flickr)

Image courtesy of Drab Makyo (Flickr)

Hi everyone! A reminder to submit any challenging Reader Advisory (RA) questions you’ve had come your way to us at the BCLA Readers Advisory Interest Group. We are collecting these questions for upcoming events and other RA professional development initiatives. Your questions (and preferably answers as well!) would not only benefit us all. …

Prizes for coffee and books await you!!

Is there a stumper you remember, a question that came from left field, challenging and maybe even intriguing you?

Please submit your questions by April 15th, 2013 for a chance to win 1 of 3 gift cards  to Tim Horton’s, Starbucks, or Chapters.

Questions will be submitted into a draw for a chance to win of one of these $30 gift cards!

To submit your questions, reply in the comments field below this post, send a message to our brand new email address, head over to our Facebook page, or create a video clip starring you and your colleagues dramatizing your challenging question. Post your video file to our Facebook page or upload it to YouTube. In the case of the latter, please send us the link.

 We’d love to see your questions! 

Those entries already sent, thank you! They will be included in the draw. 

The Graphic Novel as a Vehicle for Immigrant & Refugee Stories

Image courtesy of State Library of New South Wales

Image courtesy of State Library of New South Wales

A Museum of Vancouver event titled Uncovering Gold: Chinese histories through graphic novels, video games, and data visualization raised the question for me of where the graphic novel format fits within the context of immigrant and refugee stories. Held this past January, the event in part featured a conversation with author David H.T. Wong about his graphic novel Escape to Gold Mountain.

A story about Chinese immigration to Canada and the United States spanning over a century, as I learned more about it I became curious about the graphic novel as a vehicle for telling immigrants’ and refugees’ stories. Largely situated in the realm of oral storytelling, their stories lend themselves heavily to visual accompaniments – be they photographs or realia in the form of clothes, letters, and the like.

Beyond this tendency for accompaniment by visual representation, Duncan Jepson makes a very interesting observation in his explanation of storytelling as occurs more generally in the context of storytelling across the Asian subcontinent. In “Why Asia is Obsessed with Graphic Novels and Comics”, Jepson points to an inherent tradition of illustration and other forms of visual representation such as puppetry.

Saying that there has been a long-standing custom of reliance “primarily on the power of oral storytelling to communicate wisdom and ideas”, he goes on to say that aids such as puppetry “were used for centuries in villages and towns up and down the continent, from Indonesia to Mongolia, India to Japan”. He further comments that “the use of striking images and graphic representation to accompany oral accounts was part and parcel of everyday Asian life”.

Image courtesy of Musee McCord Museum (through Flickr: The Commons)

Image courtesy of Musee McCord Museum (through Flickr: The Commons)

In more contemporary times, we have the likes of Wong’s novel and Shaun Tan’s The Arrival (the latter entirely illustrated) conveying the enormous potential of the “illustrated text” to relate experiences of leaving one home to make another home in another land.

So where are the other such stories told in this format? More graphic novels from newcomers from other lands, across time, making Canada their new home?

Looking into this subject, I’ve realized that I’ve essentially come across a new project for myself. While there are many written for Young Adult audiences, those published for Adult Collections seem a “slice” of what’s out there. While I have found one other novel –  a story of Irish immigration to the United States, in Derek McCulloch’s Gone to Amerikay – as of yet, I have not found other graphic novels about immigrant and refugee experiences to Canada, or to other parts of the Commonwealth, Europe, or the United States.

I am convinced that they are out there. If any of you know of titles and authors, please share with us.

For the moment, I leave with you with an intriguing partnership between Asia and Europe. Called Lingua Comica,  it “promotes the discovery and the building of new  relationships between Asians and Europeans in the Comics and Graphic Novels field”. While outside of the Canadian realm, it looks exciting and could lead to some discoveries on a more global stage.

Regardless it be relatively new literary territory as far as this particular thematic strand in the graphic novel format or not, for those interested in exploring or indeed in writing and illustration itself, exciting discoveries are likely to be made!

Submit Your Tough RA Questions (For Mutual Benefit & A Chance to Scoop Up A $30 Gift Card for Books Or Coffee!)

A reminder to all that The Readers’ Advisory Interest Group is collecting challenging real-life RA questions. We have all likely had a stumper that had us thinking outside the proverbial box and from which we gained our own valuable insights on the range of readers’ advisory tools out there – some we may’ve never thought of before that question came along.

The questions will be of benefit to us all.  We plan to use these questions at our upcoming events and as part of other readers’ advisory professional development initiatives.

Please send us tough RA questions you have been asked by April 15th, 2013. Even better if you include the answer! Coffee and books await three lucky question entries! …

Image courtesy of Drab Makyo (Flickr)

Image courtesy of Drab Makyo (Flickr)

Questions will be entered into a draw and three lucky entries will be drawn for a $30 gift card each to Tim  Horton’s, Starbucks, and Chapters.

To submit your questions, reply in the comments field below this post, send a message to our brand new email address, head over to our Facebook page, or create a video clip starring you and your colleagues dramatizing your challenging question. Post your video file to our Facebook page or upload it to YouTube. In the case of the latter, please send us the link.


 We look forward to seeing your questions! 

Those entries already sent, thank you! They will be included in the draw!

Webinar Professional Development Opportunities from the OLA’s Education Institute

Need some new programming ideas for your library? Want to know more about the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) to better serve patrons with print disabilities? Thinking about how to better implement Roving Reference?

These are only 3 of many professional development questions addressed in the webinars offered by the Ontario Library Association’s Education Institute. If you haven’t registered in any yet, these learning opportunities are being offered through the remaining days of February and into March.

Amongst the topics covered over the next month are:

  • readers’ advisory
  • some of the latest on Goodreads
  • understanding QR Codes
  • screencasting
  • using Digital Scrapbooks in libraries

There’s still time to enrol. Check out the Education Institutes’s Winter 2013 Calendar for more information.

Reading a City’s Past: Exploring Local History Collections with a Look at Vancouver’s Hogan Alley

Cities, towns, and the neighbourhoods within them often make for fantastic discoveries. Imagine walking past the same barber shop, the same shiny new building, or the same empty parking lot day after day. The area is well-known to you. You can easily describe it, you can easily direct people to it or through it.

Yet beyond those brick and mortar buildings or that parking lot sitting vacant year after year, we may have little idea of what was once there or how these very spaces could once have been used radically differently, occupying a radically different space in the cultural life of that neighbourhood.

Histories of our cities and towns make for rich and contemplative reading housed in libraries’ Local History sections. Book displays and guest speakers can be accompanied by our own photos of landmarks in our library’s environs or of unique little side streets nearby. Placing these displays in unusual places where we wouldn’t expect to find Local History material could very well expand the audience for this collection, creating dialogue as well as an increased awareness of the city in which we live.

Image courtesy of Notman photographic Archives - McCord Museum (through Flickr: The Commons)

Image courtesy of Notman photographic Archives – McCord Museum (through Flickr: The Commons)

What are some local areas that you’d like to showcase more in your library?

Vancouver’s Main and Georgia Street viaduct area linking the Strathcona neighbourhood into the city’s downtown core is one such place to celebrate. Known as “Hogan’s Alley”, this area stretched within the vicinity of Union Street to roughly Pender Street, between Gore Street and Columbia Street (City of Vancouver, 2011Lazurus, 2013). Home to the city’s black community from the early 1900s to the early 1970s, the area was a fascinating cultural mix of nightclubs, gambling joints, a Methodist church, cottages, and even horse stables (Lazarus, 2013; Mann, 2010). It was where many black families lived and owned businesses. Its most famous resident was Nora Hendrix, grandmother of guitar whiz, the late Jimmy Hendrix. Yes, Jimi Hendrix.  🙂

The 1972 installation of the Georgia Street Viaduct brought the dismantling of Hogan’s Alley as well as the unique character of this once bustling neighbourhood.

The past two decades have seen an active movement to revive the history of Hogan’s Alley, with literary works, talks, and an annual poetry festival. Most famous of these initiatives was the 2009 opening of the Jimi Hendrix Shrine.

Amongst those leading this revitalization is Wayde Compton. Vancouver Public Library’s 7th Writer-in-Residence, Compton is a local writer and co-founding member of the Hogan’s Alley Memorial Project. He has researched and written extensively about Hogan’s Alley, publishing poetry and essays about this neighbourhood both in its own right and in the context of Vancouver’s urban development. Amongst his works are poetry and short fiction in 49th Parallel Psalm (Arsenal Pulp Press, 1999) and a history collection he edited, Bluesprint (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2003).

Are there parts of your city or town you’re excited to tell others about? Who are the authors who have kept the memory of these places alive? Any ideas for libraries to commemorate them more through Local History or Special Collections? Love to hear about them!


Readers Advisory for Multilingual Collections

Japanese and Korean booksEver wonder about what’s sitting in the pages of foreign language books gracing our library’s Multilingual Collections? Are the plots of novels layered, is the writing fluid and metaphorical? What do they say about periods of history in faraway lands? Are there memoirs and poetry contained in those pages?  Biographies of figures that may have profoundly impacted courses of history in other lands and the cultural pulses of generations?

From a reader’s advisory perspective, how do we as librarians being outside of these linguistic and cultural groups familiarize ourselves with the range of these collections? What can ease the process of our familiarization?

The power of cataloguing is a great tool to this end. We have likely experienced the situation of a patron giving us a title which we ponder over as to the spelling given foreign sounding phonemes. Yet, there you go, entering the words in the author or title fields and: BINGO. “Is this the one?” you ask the patron tentatively, and his face lights up. It’s contagious and there you are, two faces grinning ear to ear, all content. (Okay it may not always be exactly like that, but I’m pretty certain it’s something close!).

Yet there are challenges when libraries are aiming to keep pace with serving populations which speak languages for which they don’t yet have catalogued materials. How can we connect patrons to uncatalogued foreign language materials? Aside from browsing, how is the patron to retrieve them?

As our patron bases become more diverse linguistically, the library is in a unique and exciting position to fill their literary and recreational reading needs. Further, we serve as a welcoming place from which they can browse and borrow movies and music.

Reading “Welcoming New Immigrants into Your Library”, an article by Sanhita S. Roy about initiatives in Queens, New York  to reach non-English speaking populations, an idea comes to mind after reading about posters in “harder-to-reach” communities.

What about reading clubs in which patrons from non-English communities are invited to do book, movie, or music talks? If they aren’t confident in their English language skills, how about asking immigrant agencies to partner in translation capacities to take the pressure of the patron? The power of such a gathering can also help in creating “read-alike” displays for these collections. The same can be done with the movies and music (which I see circulating well, particularly on Friday nights!).

Additionally, the power of browsing these collections and borrowing from the music or DVDs cannot be underestimated – thank you very much subtitles for the latter, and what are pretty exquisite tunes for the former. We may be underestimating ourselves in our own abilities to recommend by a movie’s theme, by recognizing actors & actresses, and by melody. Patrons LOVE it and despite not being to speak their language, you’ll have done some reader’s advisory right there.

It would be great to see more research into this aspect of Reader’s Advisory. If you have any suggestions or questions or wouldn’t mind sharing experiences in this area of Reader Advisory, it’d be great to hear from you.

Oh and for moments when you could use a handy tool to translate basic library information, I came across this Multilingual Glossary created by the State Library of New South Wales when I was reading the Multilingual Librarian’s  blog.  Good idea to bookmark for those moments!