Tag Archives: RA in a Half Day

Welcome to RA in a Day 2015 & Literacy Levels Workshop

This year’s successful RA in a Day event (yes, a full day this year!) was held today at Vancouver Public Library’s Central branch. The BCLA Readers’ Advisory Group extends thanks to those of you who joined us in person today, or who chimed in the conversation on Twitter (#RAinaDay). We also offer thanks to Library Bound for once again sponsoring the event.

We’d also like to acknowledge that this year’s event took place on the ancestral, traditional and unceded Aboriginal territories of the Coast Salish Peoples.

RA in a Day 2015 opened with a literacy workshop hosted by Joan Acosta, formerly of The Westcoast Reader and Diana Twiss of Decoda Literary Solutions. Diana began by reframing how we measure literacy, explaining it is not an on-off switch; instead, we should consider literacy as a spectrum of how well readers can read.

Literacy and reading are learned skills that need to be practiced. Diana points out that reading consists of three cognitive processes: analyzing, interpreting, and monitoring. These are the skills and strategies that fluent readers often have. For instance, fluent readers are strategic and selective in their reading, and can make inferences, set goals, and monitor their comprehension. They often have background knowledge to assist them, and can summarize and reflect on their reading. Importantly, they expect to understand.

Meanwhile, struggling readers often read the entire text start to finish, rather than skimming or scanning. They may have more limited vocabulary or struggle with decoding sentences. They may have trouble connecting ideas, or reflecting on what they’re reading. They often lack background knowledge, and may not read widely or often.

It is important to remember that there are multiple and varied reasons for reading difficulty, including affects of aging, poor vision, physical or emotional stress, and learning disabilities, to name only a few.

In the interactive workshop, Diana and Joan asked us to work in small groups to analyze some books to attempt to find a fit between reader and text. Elements of the text that we can consider in terms of literacy levels include: the number and complexity of sentences, the number of words per sentence, multi-syllable words, presence of abstract words or idioms, presence of visual cues and sight words, and layout and organization of the page. Additionally, a personal story or narrative can connect a reader to a text.

It also helps us to know the reader’s familiarity with a topic, their background knowledge, their interest in the topic, reading skill levels, and comprehension strategies. Finding out some of these elements can help us match them with an appropriate text.

Finally, don’t hesitate to ask readers direct questions about their reading levels and comprehension skills. While there can be stigmas associated to literacy levels, we should work towards trying to shed these attitudes as most readers are approaching librarians because they want our support and guidance.

Coming up soon: reports on the inaugural BCLA RA in a Day BookSlam; our perennial favourite Speed Dating Through the Genres; and a keynote from Dr. Brenna Clarke Gray of Douglas College and Book Riot.

Advertisements

Topics in RA for Immigrant Readers

This year the interactive section of RA in a Half Day was led by our guest speaker, Keren Dali who provided us an opportunity to share insights, develop conversations, and exchange ideas about serving immigrant and ESL readers.

Discussion Topic #1

In discussing the use of fiction or films set locally, such as in Vancouver, the thought was that this would generate good integrated programming for newcomers, “old-timers” (immigrants already settled into the community), and native residents. Struggles included how to attract the mixed audience, how to evaluate it, and, in smaller communities, finding specific local materials.

The suggestion when talking about inclusive and integrated book clubs was that you could encourage integration by building immigrant reader opportunities into an existing book club. Concerns included worries about choosing materials translated into enough different languages, who would select the titles, could the library have them available in all necessary languages, and how to promote it. Dali encouraged us to accept the idea that libraries will not always be the place where readers get their copy of the book. Discuss this issue with the book club members, because if you buy the book in many languages, many of those books will never again circulate after the book club is finished with them.

Group Discussion

In discussing the solicitation of feedback from immigrant groups including operating multilingual advisory groups, it was easy to list numerous advantages. A multilingual advisory group could crowd source local expertise in literature from various languages, helps the library develop a clearer picture of the need of these readers, mitigates the lack of formal research available on the subject of immigrant and ESL reader communities, and increases awareness of the collections and services libraries offer while building comfort and agency in that section of the community. There were definite concerns over having some local language communities or certain individuals dominate the conversation, a concern that Dali actually stressed on several occasions in her talk. In addition there were concerns about the level of understanding and expertise that the community had in using library tools like BiblioCommons or even in how to analyse the qualities of and recommend reading material.

In thinking about specific ESL communities that our libraries serve, the issue of having staff who speak the language of the immigrant communities was a major theme. Some libraries were struggling to serve smaller foreign language communities when they have a huge dominant foreign language community they have already identified and designed significant services for. A big part of the discussion revolved around how to break into these smaller language groups. Additional concerns revolved around how to assess the literacy level of various local language communities in their own native tongues so that our multilingual collections are representative of their reading level needs.

More Group Discussion

A discussion on multilingual collections including selection, management, and marketing them included some useful suggestions including building community partnership programs, employing pop-up surveys on the website and in house, contacting local adult education programs, and advertising to immigrant families via story time. Concerns included finding a good source for materials purchases, managing the scope including both your staffing and monetary resources, figuring out how to make the contacts, and dealing with a significant lack of knowledge in our communities generally (but yes in immigrant communities especially) about what is offered at libraries. They really encourage perseverance in connecting with these communities and educating them on library collections and services, a point that Dali re-enforced as being critical. Keep talking about your libraries programs and collections and keep working to build trust in with community.

A big thanks to the wonderful RA in a Half Day participants who shared some great conversations and ideas!

Keren Dali Kicks Off RA in a Half Day 2014

Another exciting RA in a Half Day from the BCLA Readers’ Advisory Interest Group kicked off in the Richmond Cultural Centre with on opening welcome from Theresa de Sousa, Librarian at Richmond Public Library. Again this year, BCLA Readers’ Advisory Interest  would like to thank Library Bound for sponsoring the event.

Barbara Edwards, Community Relations Librarian at Vancouver Public Library introduced the first speaker of the day, Keren Dali, a researcher who studies the reading experiences of immigrants. Chock full of practical ideas and positive messages, Dali offered a wonderful amount of insight into how immigrants pursue and think about reading for leisure. She emphasized the interest of immigrant readers in reading in English, genre fiction, and not the obvious “easy reader” materials. However, they often do not understand how the North American publishing industry works (assuming, for instance, that hardbacks are unabridged and paperbacks are abridged), nor have experience in the vast array of genres that we have in the English literature tradition. They need guidance in understanding the landscape of English language reading materials from how the publishing industry and libraries work to the basics of genre designations and the big name authors in these genres. Find out what is popular in literature in their native language and help them translate that appeal into the appeal of various English language literature genres.

Communicating with people new to your own native language will produce interaction fatigue (repeating yourself, consciously simplifying your language, slowing your speech, making them repeat themselves). This is natural, reduces with practice, but can inspire anxiety and cause us to try to shorten these transactions or make us abrupt. Warmth, interest, and positivity in are critical in the Readers Advisory transactions as part of these inter-cultural interactions that are building their comfort and proficiency in Canadian society. Dali suggests that we often think of immigrant readers in our libraries as “newcomers” but many are actually “old-timers” who have been in the country a few years and are already adjusting to the culture. They are ready to move beyond materials on the immigrant experience, easy reader materials, and they want to move away from being served as readers with special needs. Above all, she encourages us to “ASK YOUR READERS!” Develop these conversations actively and via workshops, mixed ESL book groups, and immigrant advisory groups so that we are building relationships in this community and helping this population to develop comfort and build connections here.

Next up, Keren Dali will be leading us in an interactive activity on immigrant Readers Advisory services.

Naomi Eisenstat on Horror

Naomi Eisenstat covers the basics of the horror genre at our RA in a Half Day event at Vancouver Public Library last October:

Definition: Horror fiction’s most basic definition is it’s designed to scare the reader. Its tone can vary from comedic to dour or hectic to suspensful, but all stories tend to maintain an atmosphere of menace. Unresolved or unhappy endings are the norm. Monsters of some kind usually frame the story. Horror fiction also has more graphic violence or sexual situations than most other genres.

RA Tips and Tricks

Instead of recommending horror by which type of supernatural force menaces the protaganists, look at how soon violence erupts and match that to the reader’s taste on the Storyteller vs. Visceral spectrum.

The graphic violence and sexual content in most horror can be shocking to some new readers.

Potential New Horror Reader Checklist

  • Patron enjoys thrillers of any kind.
  • Patron does not mind blood and guts.
  • Patron prefers character-driven plots over action-stories.
  • Patron does not mind fantasy elements in their novels.

Resources for Great Picks

—  The Bram Stoker Awards

—  Weird Tales Magazine

—  MonsterLibrarian.com

—  Raforallhorror.blogspot.ca

—  Hellnotes.com

—  Spratford, Becky Siegel. The Reader’s Advisory Guide to Horror (2nd Edition). 2012.

—  Saricks, Joyce G. Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction (2nd Edition). 2009.

—  Spratford, Becky Siegel. The Horror Readers’ Advisory: The Librarian’s Guide to Vampires, Killer Tomatoes, and Haunted Houses. 2004.

—  Fonseca,  Anthony J. and June Michele Pulliam. Hooked on Horror: A Guide to Reading Interests in Horror Fiction. 1999.

 

Important Horror Authors and a Selection of Their Work

 

 

Stephen King

Carrie

The Shining

Everything’s Eventual

 

Anne Rice

Interview with a Vampire

The Vampire Lestat

 

Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

The Lottery and Other Stories

 

Dean Koontz

Odd Thomas (Series)

From the Corner of His Eye

Phantoms

 

Clive Barker

The Hellbound Heart

The Damnation Game

Books of Blood, v. 1-3

 

Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca

The Birds

Don’t Look Now: Selected Stories

 

H.P. Lovecraft

The Dunwich Horror and Others

Dagon and Other Macabre Tales

The Horror in the Museum and Other Revsions

 

Peter Straub

Ghost Story

In the Night Room

A Dark Matter

 

Joe R. Landsdale

Mucho Mojo

Writer of the Purple Rage

Mad Dog Summer and Other Stories

 

Kathe Koja

The Cipher

Skin

 

Robert Aickman

The Collected Strange Stories

 

Ray Bradbury

Something Wicked This Way Comes

 

Max Brooks

World War Z

 

Mark Z. Danielewski

House of Leaves

 

Neil Gaiman

A Study in Emerald

 

Mira Grant

Feed

 

Junji Ito

Uzumaki

 

Henry James

Turn of the Screw

 

M.R. James

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary

 

Caitlin R. Kiernan

The Drowning Girl

 

Robert Kirkman

The Walking Dead

 

Richard Matheson

Hell House

 

Joyce Carol Oates

Zombie

 

Dan Simmons

Carrion Comfort

 

Robert Shearman

Remember Why You Fear Me

 

Scott Smith

The Ruins

 

 

 

 

Tanya Thiessen on the New Adult Genre

Surrey Libraries’ Tanya Thiessen gives audience members an education on the new “New Adult” genre at our 2013 RA in a Half Day workshop at Vancouver Public Library:

“New Adult” Romance Resources

Description & History of Genre:

  • So what is “New Adult”? Developed by St. Martin’s Press in 2009, “New Adult” (NA) is essentially a marketing term for the post YA reader, a hot subgenre of the larger Romance category. Some say this genre signals an intermediate step for readers between YA and adult fiction because the protagonists/main characters are in the 18-25 age range tackling issues of “new adulthood”. Often placed in a contemporary college setting, these characters deal with issues of identity – exploring their sexuality, often experiencing peripheral issues stemming from family/childhood abuse, substance abuse, suicide, sexual assault. And these titles are usually heavy on romance, sometimes bordering on erotica – many e-titles come with explicit sex warnings, so how much they are actually an intermediate step post-YA literature is somewhat debatable.
  • Storylines are compelling, as the authors work to translate the intensity and passion of new adulthood into their stories. Often these novels will follow a formulaic theme of “Good Girl” meets “Bad Boy” with anger management issues. Many titles told from both the male and female POV, which is one of the reasons why the genre is so popular, as readers are hungry for the male voice (for example, Walking Disaster is the sequel, male “answer” story to Beautiful Disaster, and Charade alternates chapters told by the male and female main characters).
  • Another reason why these titles are so poplar is because of accessibility – most titles are available in e-format, if not exclusively as an e-title. There’s a lot of “word of mouth” advertising for these titles – New Adult book groups and NA booklists on Goodreads, blogs (Maryse’s Book Blog is often cited for reviews), websites, etc. Replacing the old Harlequins, titles are cheap, or free (you can find a lot of free books in the New Adult or Adult Contemporary Romance in iBooks) and read your guilty pleasure in private on your phone/ereader/tablet. In fact, the development of the genre has come from titles that were originally self-published online, for example, Colleen Hoover’s NA novel, Slammed, was originally self-published on Amazon. Slammed was on the NY bestseller list and the author was still getting rejection letters from print publishers. Readers are driving demand – Cora Carmarck wrote her first novel, Losing It, about a college girl desperate to lose her virginity, in 3 weeks. Carmarck’s goal was to make $1000 – at a price point of $3.99, she ended up making about $200,000, and landed a six-figure deal with HarperCollins.
  • From a publishing perspective, the New Adult genre developed from a desire to continue a relationship with all those voracious YA readers who got interested in the YA genre by reading The Hunger Games and Twilight – just like E.L. James’s inspiration for Fifty Shades… was Twilight. (Ah, yes, Twilight – like a gateway drug!) Readers seem to crave this new genre, and it’s creating a new source of revenue in an industry that is looking for an injection. A Publisher’s Weekly article talks about how the avid YA readership is getting older, and there is a hole in the larger Romance genre that NA fills with its more mature themes. Publishers are keen to keep this group of readers happy, and I think that these themes of identity, not to mention the heavy romance, attracts older female readers…after all, who doesn’t want a little romantic escape in their life?
  • Just as with Romance generally, there are lots of New Adult titles that offer the paranormal aspect. Jamie McGuire of Beautiful Disaster/Walking Disaster fame is working currently on a NA zombie/post-apocalyptic novel. There is so much potential in this category that some YA authors are dabbling with the NA genre – Meg Cabot’s new book features a young college woman and more sexually explicit themes.
  • Abbi Glines’s The Vincent Boys & The Vincent Brothers books were self-published in YA, but she recently released uncut versions of these titles that are labelled appropriate only for ages 17 and up. And a NY Times article on the NA boom notes that publishers are looking seriously at the idea of titles coming in 2 versions in the future so that they can be marketed to both YA and Adult audiences – the double dip, so to speak, to include older readers as the majority of book buyers are over 18.

Considerations for Libraries

  • Content and classification. How do we catalogue 2 versions of the same title? How will this impact readers? Sometimes it is unclear whether the title is YA or Adult Romance – the New Adult subgenre essentially covers everything from John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars to the Fifty Shades… trilogy and a lot in between.
  • It’s unclear at this point if the “New Adult” tag will mean anything to readers – online, readers seem to see it more as a sub-genre of Adult Romance than YA. I don’t think we’re going to need to create another pull-out genre of our larger fiction collection at this point, but given the popularity of these titles, you will want to be aware of this sub-genre for those coming in for readalikes.
  • While sex and coming of age themes are not new in YA, the more explicit sex in NA makes it important for us to make sure we can discern readers looking for fast-paced stories in the New Adult age range and those looking for more descriptive/explicit content (erotica).
  • Looking to purchase New Adult titles for your library? The “Romance/Erotica” sub-section of “Fiction” in Publisher’s Weekly lists New Adult titles.
  • Note that many titles are part of a series, often a trilogy.
  • Many titles are self-published, in e-format exclusively, so can be hard to purchase. Although as the genre grows, these will likely be available in print depending on e-sales.

Helpful Resources:

Charles, John. “Core Collection: Adult Romances for New Adults.Booklist, 15 Sept 2013, pg. 46.

Driscoll, Molly. “Is a ‘new adult’ genre the step between YA and adult books?The Christian Science Monitor, 3 Jan 2013.

Hunter, Sarah. “Core Collection: YA Romances for New Adults.Booklist, 15, Sept 2013, pg. 76.

Kaufman, Leslie. “Beyond Wizards and Vampires, to Sex.The New York Times, 21 Dec 2012.

Rosen, Judith. “New Adult: Needless Marketing-Speak Or Valued Subgenre?Publisher’s Weekly, 14 Dec. 2012.

Wetta, Molly. “What is New Adult Fiction, Anyway?Novelist, Aug 2013.

Graphic Novels with Matthew Murray

SLAIS student Matthew Murray explains Adult Graphic Novels at our 2013 RA in a Half Day on Oct. 30th at Vancouver Public Library:

Adult Graphic Novels Resources:

Awards

American Awards:
Eisner Awards
• Most extensive awards
• Many different categories
www.comic-con.org/awards/eisners-current-info
Harvey Awards
• Voted on by comic book industry professionals
www.harveyawards.org
Ignatz Awards
• Generally focus on “indie” comics and creators
• Small press creators or creator-owned projects published by larger publishers

Canadian Awards:
Doug Wright Awards
• Awarded to “alternative” comics and creators
• Best Book Award
• Best Emerging Talent
Joe Shuster Awards
• More “mainstream” comics (ie. superhero)
• Awards for best writer, artist, cartoonist, etc.

Publishers

Dark Horse
IDW
Image
• The third through fifth biggest comic book publishers in America (after Marvel and DC)
• Major sources of genre (science fiction, etc.) graphic novels
• Publish many media adaptations
• Dark Horse also publish manga

Drawn & Quarterly
• Canadian literary/artistic publisher
• Publish manga/international work
Fantagraphics
• “Alternative” comics publisher
Oni Press
• Small, well-respected popular fiction publisher
Dynamite
• Publish many adaptations of existing books and movies
Vertigo
• DC’s “mature readers” imprint
Viz Media
• Leading manga publisher

Best Seller Lists
Comixology
• Website where users (not librarians) can buy access to comics
• Lists what’s currently selling well digitally
www.comixology.com/comics-best-sellers
Diamond Comics
• The biggest comic book and graphic novel distributor in North America
• They release monthly lists on their website of the top selling graphic novels, manga, and comic books
• Reports sales to comic book shops
www.diamondcomics.com (click on Industry Statistics in the sidebar).
The New York Times
• Features weekly lists
• Reports sales through bookstores and websites
• Paperback: www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/paperback-graphic-books/list.html
• Hardback: www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/2010-07-11/hardcover-graphic-books/list.html
Reviews, News, and Info
Comics Alliance
comicsalliance.com
Comics Beat
comicsbeat.com
The Comics Journal
www.tcj.com
Diamond Bookshelf
www.diamondbookshelf.com
Graphic Novel Reporter
www.graphicnovelreporter.com
Publishers Weekly
www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/comics/

Previews
Comixology
• Features free digital previews and sample issues
www.comixology.com
Net Galley
• Offers digital galley proofs of upcoming grapic novels
www.netgalley.com
Developed and Presented by Matthew Murray
thematthewmurray@gmail.com
thematthewmurray.weebly.com

 

Self Help with Jenny Fry

Jenny Fry, from Surrey Libraries, gives us the run-down on Self-help books at RA in a Half Day:

Genre Title: Self-Help

Presented by: Jenny Fry (City Centre Library, Surrey Libraries)

Description of Genre: From Wikipedia: Self-help, or self-improvement, is a self-guided improvement—economically, intellectually, or emotionally—often with a substantial psychological basis. Many different self-help groups exist and each has its own focus, techniques, associated beliefs, proponents and in some cases, leaders. Alcoholics Anonymous, probably the best known self-help culture has given us new language: recovery, dysfunctional families, and codependency. Self-help is about getting information, finding a support group, maybe on the Internet or in person, where people in similar situations join together. Potential benefits of self-help groups include friendship, emotional support, experiential knowledge, identity, meaningful roles, and a sense of belonging.

  • psychology 150s
  • co-dependency 158.2, 362.29, 613.8, 616.86
  • success/healing/change 158.1
  • depression/mental illness 616.8527
  • anxiety 616.85233, 152.46
  • relationships 158.2, 306.7, 362.837
  • memory 153.1, 616.89
  • addiction/recovery 616.8527
  • techniques 158.1, 305.42, 616.85223, 616.8527
  • emotions 152.4, 158.1082
  • grief 155.937
  • dating advice 646.77
  • parenting 649
  • business books have a lot of self-help for people who don’t want to read self-help books 650.1
  • novels & poetry

Important titles and authors:

  • 50 Self-Help Classics – Tom Butler-Bowdon
  • How to Read How-To and Self-Help Books: getting real results from the advice you get – Janne Ruokonen

Well-known authors: Dale Carnegie, Robert Atkins, Dalai Lama, Stephen R. Covey, Suze Orman, Anthony Robbins, Wayne Dyer, Eckart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Gail Vaz-Oxlade, Mitch Albom

Helpful resources

BookLists:

Other tips:

Common misconceptions:

  • “It’s a cult” – good self-help is not a cult
  • I’m too smart to need self-help” – take a chance that it will cover the basics, embrace humility and the power of simple ideas repeated, you don’t know everything, you can’t, no one can
  • “I read it and it didn’t work” – there is no magic, you have to make it work.

Criteria for Evaluating Multicultural Self-Help and Guidance:

  • Tailored guidance: does the author offer advice that is special to the targeted audience?
  • Accuracy: does the author offer advice that is accurate, ethical, feasible and appropriate?  Does the advice conform to established norms in the field?
  • Form and features: non-fiction readers have an expectation and a preference for checklists, forms, self-tests, lists, and examples [From: Non-Fiction Readers’ Advisory, edited by Robert Burgin, Chapter 10: Books That Inspire: Nonfiction for a Multicultural Society by Alma Dawson and Connie Van Fleet, p 191]

Self-help is the development of your potential, including beliefs, goal setting, learning new habits, making positive changes re: your mental attitude and your ideas. We live in a state of constant learning for new skills and habits. We need to have a healthy dose of realism: if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

The most successful people seek new knowledge, internalize it and turn what they know into effective action. You often need someone else to tell you what you already know because it reinforces the ideas and the message, which helps you internalize it. Taking action doesn’t guarantee success but it boosts the odds.

There are not necessarily clear-cut answers or solutions to certain issues – at best, you learn you aren’t alone, that you can live with it and look forward despite reality. Does it seem too simple to be true?  Does it seem like just commonsense? It will nonetheless require motivation and discipline to achieve.  A great deal of effort has gone into making it easily communicated and understood. Yes, there are scams, as there are everywhere.

The dirty little secret of Self-Help: everything works….for a while (placebo effect).  Just by intervening in the current situation or the status quo by focusing your attention, consciously paying attention will get some results.

The value lies in actually doing it, taking the advice, and making changes.  The most important thing: get started.  One book isn’t enough, use several.  Beware the quick fix – the quick fix may is rarely sustainable.  Jump-start your system.  Use your commonsense and be open to discovering new things.  Action produces initial changes.  Habits produce permanent changes.

When we are drowning in information, we benefit greatly from someone who can provide succinct key ideas in a structured and organized manner. Structure brings better results than willpower. Great ideas are not necessarily new ideas. Focus on the message, not the messenger.

Good self-help asks you a set of questions which leads to a diagnosis of your present situation and then sends you down the right course of action.

Life: your biggest DIY project.