Tag Archives: RA in a Half Day

Max Wyman on Libraries and Reading for Pleasure

RA in a Half Day 2013 finished with a rich tale of Max Wyman’s addiction to reading and the ways our culture can support this kind of addiction. As closing keynote, Max Wyman, Canadian arts critic and author of The Black Tulip Conundrum, eloquently described his life as a “readoholic”; “I don’t drink. I don’t do drugs. I don’t have to. Language is enough. The intoxication of language is the best kind of state.”

By taking us through his own life from very early childhood on, Max spoke to how reading could infiltrate a life and develop life views that impacted everything he did and wrote himself. He realized early he didn’t just want to be a doer of reading, he wanted to become a peddler, by producing works himself from as early as age nine. Now he is an enabler of readers, contributing to developing other people’s reading habits both in his contributions to the Vancouver Sun and as a board member on the Canada Council for the Arts.

Max also spoke of how “reading begets reading” so that tossing your hands up and proclaiming some types of reading as less valuable is counter productive. To encourage reading, consider it in all forms and consider how it is changing along with technology. Books, he declares, will not disappear, but youth now do not simply read a text left to right along a page. Instead they scan. We need to be flexible in how we use technologies, including books, to encourage reading in all forms. All of these are tool for the ideas we need to inform the heart because, “We live in a thrilling and terrifying world and need every tool we can get to deal with it.”

Challenging RA Questions

This year RA in a Half Day responded to some of the takeaways from last year’s event and included more interactive components and RA interview role playing. Tara Matsuzaki served as the master of ceremonies for a scintillating series of challenging RA questions presented as mock interviews. Questions were presented to the audience and every table was asked to come up with recommendations and ideas for how to solve their reading needs. Imagine a room of 70 talented librarians, MLIS candidates and library allies leaning in and sharing their collective skills and knowledge on readers’ advisory. It was a flood of ideas!

War Films for Dad – Heidi Schiller, North Vancouver City Library

Heidi Schiller acted the part of a patron looking for war films, especially from WWII, for a father who has already seen all the classics. The audience really picked up on looking outside of film towards TV series like Band of Brothers and Foyle’s War. The question also came up as to whether or not he would like a humorous adaptation such as MASH and how far outside WWII he would be interested in going. So some suggestions even looked at the similarities of war films based in the 20th century conflicts to films like Gladiator or Troy based on conflicts in much earlier eras. There were a lot of suggestions for where to find quality suggestion lists, from various library websites to even the genre page on Wikipedia.

Moving from YA to Adult Fantasy – Meghan Savage, Surrey Libraries

Playing the part of a teenage patron wanting to move out of YA fantasy literature into adult Fantasy, Meghan challenged the audience to meet her interest in stand alone novels or short series with a romantic flare. Neil Gaiman’s work came up immediately and universally as a great cross-over author from YA to adult fantasy. Kelley Armstrong was also mentioned as an author who wrote both YA and adult fantasy, though much of her adult works is more urban in focus. Sharron Shinn, author of several fantasy series with a romantic focus, and Jim Butcher, with a more adventure driven series, were mentioned as authors of series that can be consumed out of order without too much disruption of story lines. The point was also made that fantasy contains many sub-genres to consider.

Positive Graphic Novels to Teach – Robbie Burma, Vancouver Public Library

Robbie Burma offered the biggest challenge to the audience by playing the part of a teacher looking for sunnier graphic novels to suggest for a 12th grade general English curriculum. It proved to be proved to be a real challenge to rule out the grittier, more violent and/or darker graphic novels while remaining age appropriate and maintaining literary depth. The end result was the need to dig deeper into the patron’s needs and widen the collaboration by audience members as much as possible to get to the best suggestions. The most consistent mentions were for Escape to Gold Mountain by David H. T. Wong and American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang.

Just a Good Book – Anthea Goffe, Fraser Valley Regional Library

It can be a stumper when the patron’s interests are really broad and vague so Anthea played a male patron just looking for any good read, fiction or non-fiction, but hopefully something that had a little literary merit balanced with a fast paced story. A few questions pulled out her appreciation of Hunger Games and Into Thin Air and her dislike of John Grisham and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The audience found this challenge great fun and indulged a taste for gushing about many great titles and authors ranging from Bill Bryson to Lee Childs and from Margaret Atwood’s series beginning with Oryx and Crake to The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J Maarten Troost.

Pre-loaded E-reader Gift – Barbara Edwards, Vancouver Public Library

Finally, Barbara brought in the factor of eBooks by asking for recommendations including both fiction similar to Amy Tan or Downton Abbey and some quirky cookbooks to pre-load on an eReader gift for her daughter-in-law. The issue of the eReader type was brought up both in the mock interview and by audience members. Issues included the inability of Kindle owners to download library eBooks in Canada and the quality of visuals for cookbooks on a black and white eReader. The existence of The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook seemed ideal, at least on a colour eReader, but the audience also realized a need to ask more questions about what “quirky” meant in relation to cookbooks.

Thrilling Speed-Dating Across the Genres

There was a whole new crop of genres to speed-date at this year’s RA in a Half Day. These excellent 10 minute overviews offered so much food for thought, we had to include a coffee break mid-way to give everyone time to digest it. But at least everyone was all topped off with ideas and ready to go for the Challenging RA Questions that followed.

These brief summaries will give you a taste of the speed-dating presentations, but there will be more complete reviews to follow. You can also contact us for a full copy of any of the genre presentations.

Noir – Marcus Mendes, Vancouver Public Library

Very first comment from Marcus Mendes on Noir fiction – Noir does not take place in polite society. Through a series of evocative quotes from great representations of Noir fiction, Marcus pulled out the key features of the genre from the swirling cigarette smoke and booze soaked stories to the charter types of the Femme Fatale and the Chump . The basic premise, though, is that things are going to go down hill, seriously and fast.

Chick Lit – Heidi Schiller, North Vancouver City Library

Heidi Shiller reacted to the previous presentation by immediately describing Chick Lit as the “arch opposite of Noir.” At its essence, this literature is addressing issues of modern womanhood in an often humorous and lighthearted. These books have an urban and modern focus (not to mention shopping!), but they also often include romance sub-plots while not being simply a romance genre because the protagonist’s relationship to friends and family are central to the story. However, there is some conversation over whether or not Chick Lit as either a genre or just a label for these titles is dying out.

New Adult – Tanya Thiessen, Surrey Libraries

Right away Tanya Thiessen addressed the fact that with New Adult RA, we have to be comfortable talking about sex. New Adult is a marketing term for (at this time) mostly eBook and online, self-published fiction with 18-25 year old protagonists often in college settings facing issues of identity development and exploring sexuality while still dealing with the fallout of difficult childhood experiences. All of this is wrapped up in a fast paced, emotionally intense story with a focus on a love (and sex) relationship. There are availability issues with these titles in libraries (being mostly eBooks and online titles) but many are available free or very cheap.

Self-Help – Jenny Fry, Surrey Libraries

A clear message from Jenny Fry’s presentation on Self-Help is that you can’t look in one place in your stacks to find it. From the 150s to the 650s, there’s Self-Help across the shelves so find out where the many varieties are at and what they focus on. Three key aspect of self help to remember in providing RA are the kind of tailored guidance, accuracy and included forms and features included. Jenny wrapped up her presentation on Self-Help with the perfect statement of Self-Help – “Life is your biggest DIY project.”

Graphic Novels for Adults – Matthew Murray, UBC – iSchool at SLAIS

According to Matthew Murray, you could just define Graphic Novels as comic book with spines (good audience chuckle on this one). However, you also have to remember that Graphic Novels are a medium, not a genre, so it includes materials in all genre areas. For Readers’ Advisory, its good to be aware of the publishers, because they tend to have a particular style, tone and quality that readers gravitate towards. In addition, ComiXology, while not available to libraries, does provide access to free digital editions of many popular titles.

Horror – Naomi Eisenstat, Surrey Libraries/New Westminster Public Library

The heart of the Horror genre, according to Naomi Eisenstat is emotional, the fright of the reader. While it can have many styles, even humorous, the menacing tone is consistent. Horror often includes elements of thrillers and mystery but there are often unresolved endings. Consider what kind of horror the patron is looking for, either in the storyteller or more violent style.

David Wright Revving Up RA in a Half Day 2013

RA in a Half Day, 2013 was kicked off with a friendly welcome from Robbie Burma, Co-Chair of BCLA’s Readers’ Advisory Interest Group and Branch Head of the Mount Pleasant Branch of VPL, who thanked Library Bound for sponsoring the event.

The thrills and chills on this Halloween RA in a Half Day began with David Wright, Readers’ Services Librarian at Seattle Public Library and frequent contributor to NovelList, Booklist, Kirkus, and so many other review spaces. Demonstrating his talents as a reader and celebrating adult story time, he began with a hair raising short story. This treat was followed up by an amazing whirlwind look at innovation, inspiration and collaboration in RA, with a real emphasis on the fact that just doing RA work is innovative! People are ready to be excited and engaged and amazed by these services.

David_Wright_RAHALFDAY

David gave a particularly strong look at Form-based Readers’ Advisory and using social media effectively in Readers’ Advisory. He discussed the advantages of both these methods for encouraging collaboration across staff and even between patrons. Asking on Facebook “What is the saddest book you ever read?” can develop a rich conversation among patrons and librarians. All of these collaborations can be built upon to help show patrons how the library is hearing and responding to their reading interests.

October 30 is RA in a Half Day: Readers’ Advisory Thrills and Chills! Register today!

www.nekls.org - 470 × 225 - Search by image by Heather Braum

It’s that time of year again! RA in a Half Day: Readers’ Advisory Thrills and Chills! is on Wednesday, October 30 from 9-1 at Vancouver Public Library. To recap the glory of last year’s session, check out this blog post. 

Are you spooked by self-help and psyched about horror? Are you clueless about adult graphic novels and curious about noir? How much do you know about chick lit? What the heck is “New Adult”?

The BCLA Readers’ Advisory Interest Group invites you to a workshop to help you improve and share your knowledge across the genres by learning about key authors, sub-genres, classic titles and interesting new trends.

The workshop will kick off with keynote speaker David Wright from Seattle Public Library, who will talk about innovation, inspiration, and collaboration in readers’ advisory services. Our closing keynote is Max Wyman, who will talk about the impact of libraries and reading for pleasure.

When?
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
9 am – 1 pm
(*Doors will open at 8:30 am)

Where?
Alice MacKay Room, lower level, Central Library, Vancouver Public Library, 350 West Georgia St.

Cost:

Students: $20
Members: $30 (Log in for this rate)
Non-Members: $40
*Light refreshments will be provided.

Registration:
Registration is open! The deadline to register is Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 at 9am! Register here.

Please bring a digital phone, laptop, or device if you have one to join in on some of the RA activities! Bring your VPL card to access the Wireless network.

Bring a refillable water-bottle too, please.

For further information or details, please contact Jenny Fry jjfry@surrey.ca or Robbie Burma Robbie.Burma@vpl.ca

RA in a Half Day Takeaways

What happens when you corral 100+ excited and innovative librarians in one semi-cramped room in Surrey?

Well, for starters, you get:

Keynote speaker Sean Cranbury, waxing enthusiastic about how awesome libraries are. . .

 

 

 

 

Myself and Tara Matsuzaki promoting our favourite online RA tools and crowdsourcing others from the audience. . .

 

 

 

 

And genre superstars like Desiree Baron and Christine Miller enlightening our understandings of niche collections like Romance and Mysteries.

 

 

 

 

You also get a wealth of ideas from the collective genius of the audience. And as promised, here are the results from our crowdsourcing activities:

Popular Online Tools for RA:

(From Tara and my presentation):

(From participants):

What the BCLA RA Group should focus on for the Spring Conference and next year’s RA Half Day workshop:

Spring Conference:

  • Combine fictional genres with non-fiction subjects and do something similar (ie. “if you like these mysteries, you may like these true crime books”)
  • Invite the Dewey Divas to speak
  • Invite a local writer who supports libraries such as Bill Richardson or Gail De Vos to speak about graphic novels
  • RA for ebooks
  • Focus on a genre trend (ie. zombies, steampunk) and explain toolkit/RA for that genre
  • Focus on Goodreads/LibraryThing
  • Live “find me a book” 3 RA interviews with members of the audience
  • RA for “special users” (ie. the elderly—how to build lists and recommend titles, readability and literacy)
  • Libraries discussing the RA programs they’ve delivered
  • Repeat Speed Dating through the genres 

Next RA in a Half Day Workshop:

  • Half day preferred!
  • More time for each genre/expanded talks
  • Include Children’s, YA, NF, graphic novels, historical fic, humour, international or translated fiction, biographies, YA crossover, literary NF, gentle reads, inspirational
  • More audience sharing & participation, more stretch breaks
  • Include role play in RA service (RA interview)
  • Have participants send in their top 3 books—match them up with their opposites and have them try to recommend books to each other
  • Full day of speed dating—have the experts at the tables and the audience rotates
  • More RA tools (ie. blogs, NetGalley for ARCs online, Early Word for publishers’ information on upcoming titles)
  • Invite a speaker from Novelist
  • Larger, quieter room
  • RA Boot Camp
  • Include live audio-video conferencing/filming next time
  • Discuss crowd sourcing for good books
  • Discuss book club favourites

Thanks to all who came and participated, and stay tuned for more!

–Heidi Schiller

RA in a Half Day

Welcome to the first official post of the What Are You Reading Blog! Bookmark, subscribe and RSS us for weekly updates on Readers Advisory trends, topics, crowdsourcing, musings, and tales from the front line.

For our inaugural post, I want to shamelessly promote our upcoming workshop — RA in a Half Day, featuring:

* Keynote speaker Sean Cranbury, who will talk about the role of social media in connecting readers to books and building communities of readers,

* Online Bookmarking Tools and Tricks for Promoting RA, with Tara Matsuzaki and Heidi Schiller,

*  Speed dating through the genres,

*  A tour of Surrey’s new Central Library,

*  And delicious refreshements, including local chef-made parfaits and breads!

Here are the details:

When?
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
(*Doors will open at 8:30 am)

Where?
Room 120, City Centre Library, Surrey Public Library
10350 University Drive, Surrey, BC

*There will be a guided tour of this amazing new library after the workshop.

Cost:
BCLA Members: $30
Non-Members: $40
*Light refreshments will be provided.

Registration: Registration is currently open but will end on October 15, 2012.
Register here:  http://www.bcla.bc.ca/rasecrets

For further information or details, please contact Jenny Fry jjfry@surrey.ca or Robbie Burma Robbie.Burma@vpl.ca

See you at the workshop!

— Heidi Schiller

(Photo: On the Platform, Reading, courtesy of Moriza, http://www.flickr.com/photos/moriza/96724309/)