Thursday, April 20, 2017

Two Or Three Things I Know For Sure Annotation

Two or Three Things I Know For Sure by Dorothy Allison
Image result for two or three things i know for sure
Summary: In this lyrical yet approachable book-length essay, Dorothy Allison examines her childhood in the rural South, where she was born into a poor white family from which she eventually sought to escape after experiencing sexual abuse and beatings at the hands of her stepfather. Allison ruminates on learning to love her body, coming into her own as a lesbian, and eventually understanding what it truly means to love and be loved. Along the way she investigates class identity, the complexities of familial bonds and wounds, and the human ability to heal.

Appeal Terms
-Moving: After experiencing and working through many hardships, Allison’s philosophical realizations on love and family strike an emotional chord.
-Conversational writing style: While Allison writes of heavy subject matter, her conversational writing style makes this book accessible and even gently funny at times.
-LGBTQ: While only one aspect of her identity, Allison’s discussion of her experience as a lesbian is equal parts amusing, frank, and deeply human.
-Women’s Lives & Relationships: From the female bonds found in her family of origin to her later friends, lovers, and community as a whole, Allison’s memoir centers around both the pains and joys of female relationships.

> Extra! Extra! < Want more Dorothy Allison? Her books  Trash, Skin, Cavedweller are all Lambda Literary Award Winners. Her books Bastard Out of Carolina was a National Book Award Finalist.


The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
The Argonauts is a genre-bending memoir, a work of "autotheory" offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. At its center is a romance: the story of the author's relationship with the artist Harry Dodge. This story, which includes Nelson's account of falling in love with Dodge, who is fluidly gendered, as well as her journey to and through a pregnancy, offers a firsthand account of the complexities and joys of (queer) family-making. (NoveList)

My Dangerous Desires by Amber L. Hollibaugh
Presents over twenty years of the author's work examining such themes as the relationship between activism and desire, sexuality and class identity, and the author's own political development as a response to her unique personal history. (NoveList)

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

Recounts the loss of five young men in the author's life to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the misfortune that can follow those who live in poverty, sharing her experiences of living through the dying as she searches through answers in her community. (NoveList)

Week 15 Prompt

One way to market my library’s fiction collection is by making more effective use of social media. By asking librarians to post their current reads on a library instagram or by taking a leaf out of New York Public Library’s incredible pinterest--I mean, book-- library patrons would not only be able to find reading recommendations in the visually attractive, modern format that is more and more mediating people’s media intake, they could also share their own thoughts, opinions, and readalikes.

Another way to market my library’s fiction collection is to borrow Sarick’s excellent idea of putting together a “Good Fiction You May Have Missed” cart. I particularly liked this idea not only because it’s simply a clever, effective marketing technique, but because of the opportunity it affords for amplifying books that may have been marginalized by the white supremacist/capitalist/patriarchal nature of our society. Because it is not as overtly political as a specially-themed display, the Good Fiction cart has the benefit of offering for readers’ consideration books that they might shy away from usually. At the same time, readers could just as easily choose to avoid books not to their taste.

Finally, as I’ve demonstrated before on this blog, I really have a taste for reader’s advisory which ties into programming. I think a library’s fiction collection can be marketed in concert with virtually every program. Offering a lunch-time concert series? Display fiction at the back of the room which features a musical theme. Hosting a knitting club? Put together a booklist of recommended audiobooks for patrons to listen to while they craft. Technology workshops, lectures, and even financial literacy workshops could all be productively tied in to fiction collection marketing--maybe put out a display of gentle reads to accompany that financial workshop, for example!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Week 14 Prompt

The library in which I will be working is in a small town in the deep South. This being the case, I would handle the LGBTQ+ collection and the African American fiction collections differently. Given that LGBTQ+ people are statistically more likely to be the targets of hate-motivated violence than any other group of people (Park), I would be unwilling to flag this collection in any way. If bigoted community members were able to note those frequenting an LGBTQ+ section and then target those patrons with violence or discrimination, a separate section would have the potential to lead to far greater harm than good. That being the case, I would create other forms of passive reader’s advisory to help guide readers interested in LGBTQ+ fiction to this collection--a “recommended diverse fiction” leaflet, for example, which would list many books representing diverse communities and tag the various books with appropriate tags (i.e. “LGBTQ interest” after a Sarah Waters novel). Such a leaflet could be picked up much more unobtrusively, especially if it didn’t even advertise itself as specifically listing LGBTQ+ reads.
In considering an African American fiction collection, however, I would take a different tactic. African American people make up more than half the population of the town in which I will be working (“American FactFinder”), indicating that interest in this collection will likely be high. As a librarian I would like to make sure that this collection is as easily accessible as possible, but would wish to avoid separating the collection entirely given the South’s history of segregation. In order to strike a balance between facilitating access and remaining politically correct/historically sensitive, I would go with the tactic of putting stickers on the books’ spines demarcating them as African American-interest. I have seen this technique used in many libraries, often to indicate not only African American fiction collections but also fiction with various religious themes, or fiction belonging to certain genres. The American Library Associations’s “Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights” page clarifies that “As long as these collections represent diverse points of view within the parameters of the collection and are designed to help patrons find resources relevant to their experience...this practice would be acceptable” (“Questions and Answers on Labeling and Rating Systems.)

“American FactFinder.” United States Census Bureau. 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2017. Web.
Park, Haeyoun, and Iaryna Mykhyalyshyn. "L.G.B.T. People Are More Likely to Be Targets of Hate Crimes Than Any Other Minority Group." New York Times. The New York Times Company, 16 June 2016. Web.

“Questions and Answers on Labeling and Rating Systems.” American Library Association. 16 January 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2017. Web.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Week 13 Prompt

I focused on graphic novel collections in my response this week!

Both before and during library school I’ve the the good fortune of receiving exposure to graphic novels in such a way as to help me take the genre/format seriously. Prior to beginning library school I heard Art Spiegelman (creator of Maus) give a lecture on the history of comics; during library school, I heard a scholar of graphic novels from Indiana University (whose name, I’m sorry to say, now completely escapes me) discuss the evolution of this particular format as well as its role in libraries. Perhaps because of these educational experiences, I really believe in the importance of improving perspectives on and access to graphic novels.

Offering a variety of programming related to graphic novels and targeted at different patron groups is one way I can see of increasing readership. Putting together one program on the history of comics and graphic novels for adults, one on making your own graphic novel or cartoon art for teens, and playing around with some of the fantastic graphic novels targeted at youth would increase awareness of the format across the board. Partnering with area businesses, like a comic book store or bookstore, to promote Free Comic Day, would be another good programming idea, whether free comics were actually being given out in the library or whether the area partners could simply advertise along the lines of “Looking for more free comics? Check out your library!”

That being said, programming only reaches a certain patron group. How to reach patrons who might never look at a calendar of upcoming library events, but who would perhaps tear through Saga, Ms. Marvel, or any of the other fantastic reads coming out of late? One passive advisory technique that could be extremely effective, should funds allow, would be to have a duplicated collection (or at least, of the most popular graphic novels), which would allow these texts to be shelved in two locations--a discrete graphic novels collection, and one integrated into general fiction/non-fiction. This way, graphic novel enthusiasts could find their reading material all in one place, but those unfamiliar with graphic novels could also simply stumble across graphic novels in the course of their browsing.

Finally, I think being prepared with an articulate response to challenges aimed at individual graphic novels as well as the graphic novel collection as a whole could go a long way. If library staff is prepared as a unified front to respond with a considered, defusing mien to challenges that might be posed, individual patrons will feel heard without necessitating the removal of the graphic novels collection.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Week 12 Prompt: Nonfiction Matrix

I performed the Readers’ Advisory Matrix on the most recent non-fiction book I’ve read, The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter:

  1. Where is the book on the narrative continuum? A mix (combines highly narrative moments with periods of fact-based prose).
  2. What is the subject of the book? How the concept of the white “race” has been historically and culturally constructed, particularly in the United States of America but beginning in the ancient Western world.
  3. What type of book is it? A mix of cultural criticism and kind of “popular ethnography.”
  4. Articulate appeal
    1. What is the pacing of the book? Thorough, detailed, steady.
    2. Describe the characters of the book? Painter focuses on many characters forgotten by history; often offbeat, sometimes foolish or downright misguided folks. Characters are written of in a humanizing but not uncritical manner.
    3. How does the story feel? Critical, amusing, investigative, quirky.
    4. What is the intent of the author? To deconstruct and analyze the concept of whiteness and to demonstrate that “the white race” should be subject to analysis just as surely as any other “race.”
    5. What is the focus of the story? The evolution of one idea (i.e. “whiteness”) throughout history.
    6. Does the language matter? Yes! Painter not only writes humorously, in a style rich with word-play and puns, but also uses carefully chosen language to dissect the concepts around race without replicating the historical racist attitudes she investigates.
    7. Is the setting important and well described? Setting (both geographical and temporal) is important as background information contextualizing the concepts which Painter describes, but is not described in depth.
    8. Are there details and, if so, of what? The book is filled with details. Painter takes pleasure in sharing the odd anecdotal facts and figures encountered during the course of her research.
    9. Are there sufficient charts and other graphic materials? Are they useful and clear? Yes. Well-placed figures punctuate the work and are both fascinating and informative.
    10. Does the book stress moments of learning, understanding, or experience? Moments of learning and understanding are at the center of this book. Moments of learning are stressed as Painter shares little-known historical information, and moments of understanding are provided as she breaks down the complicated concept of race.
5. Why would a reader enjoy this book (rank appeal)?
Learning/understanding 2. Writing Style 3. Detail

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Week 11 Prompt: Ebooks and Audiobooks

The landscapes of e- and audiobooks absolutely represent my growing edge in terms of librarianship and reader’s advisory. My experience with ebooks is limited: I turn to ebooks only out of necessity (the book isn’t available in a print version) or convenience (the print version is huge, and I can’t practically carry it with me throughout my day). I don’t have a portable e-reader, which has further curtailed my use of ebooks.
Audiobooks are somewhat more familiar to me. I have had a lot of fun exploring the audiobooks available through the Hoopla platform at my local library, and will often try out multiple different narrators, when available, before settling on the one I’d most like to listen to--the impact of narrator as appeal factor is real! I’ve found that the audiobook format encourages me to read more international novels and classics than I naturally gravitate towards. The liveliness of a good narrator brings more stodgy classics to life, and I appreciate hearing the correct pronunciation of names in international novels.
But while I have some experience with both of these formats, I’ve thought little about how they affect reader’s advisory practices. Dunneback (326) points out that, just as it is important to be aware of the books in one’s print collections, it is equally important to develop an awareness of the e-books in one’s collections. The challenging nature of developing such an awareness had never occurred to me, and I was grateful for Dunneback’s suggested resources for learning more about e-books of various genres and eras.
The ability to serve as not just an advisor in terms of content but also technology and access is another matter Dunneback raised which I’d never before considered. She brings up the great point that “ Library patrons come to us for help in figuring out the best possible reading experience” (327), and that this necessarily includes the format of the book as well as its genre, pacing, tone--placing format squarely in the “appeal factor” category. I’ve had a subconscious awareness of format-as-appeal-factor ever since I listened to the incredible audiobook version of The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis, narrated by James Avery. When I was recommending the book to a friend one day, I found myself specifically recommending the audiobook as narrated by James Avery: my reading experience had been so completely influenced by his rendering of Curtis’ moving, hysterical text.
I feel motivated now to increase my exposure to e-books and audiobooks, and familiarize myself more thoroughly with the pros and cons of the two formats. It was interesting to read, for instance, that many e-book readers gravitate towards the format because it saves them from having to look at an ugly book cover! While I’m not sure how to incorporate this tidbit of knowledge into my reader’s advisory practices--yet!--it effectively demonstrates one of the appeal factors of e-books, and reminds me to bear the unique qualities of these formats more centrally in mind.

Westerns Annotation: Blood Meridian

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Image result for blood meridian
A young Tennesseean known only as the Kid finds himself wandering the vast reaches of the barren landscape of the Western U.S. in the 1850s. After some brief stints in jail, in a ragtag, volunteer army corps, and eventually roughing it across the desert on his own, the Kid joins up with the brutal Glanton gang, a crew of violent adventurers actually drawn from history. The Glanton gang not only journeys boldly from the US and into Mexico, they leave a bloodstained trail in their wake as they seek plunder, conquest, and, most chillingly of all, human scalps in exchange for a bounty.

Appeal Terms
-Western: This historical novel details the early days of US expansion into the “wild West,” and is complete with shootouts, Indians, cowboys, and ghost towns.  
-Gritty: Vivid to the point of being brutal, McCarthy’s descriptions of the tough life led by those brave enough to settle or journey through the deserts of present-day Texas will leave readers gritting their teeth!
-Literary: While McCarthy’s poetic prose is complex and beautiful, it also displays a hardness and raw edge that could appeal to a broad range of readers.
-Atmospheric: The bleak Western setting is as much a player in Blood Meridian as any other character--one can almost see the tumbleweeds rolling across the plains and feel the deadly heat striking upon one’s skin.  

> Extra! Extra! < Featured on Time’s list of 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.

The Winter Family by Clifford Jackson
Follows the adventures of a group of outlaws from their formation during the American Civil War to 1900. (NoveList)

Fallen Land by Taylor Brown
A couple races through the destroyed South, relying on the kindness of strangers and foraging from abandoned farms, as they flee a slave hunter, tracking dogs and ex-partisan rangers during the final year of the Civil War. (NoveList)

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

Three Americans drifting through postwar North Africa encounter the limits of human existence in the form of a land and a people utterly alien to them. (NoveList)