Thursday, February 28, 2013

Special Topics Paper - Reader's Advisory Class

Implementing Reader’s Advisory in an Academic Library

            When discussing reader’s advisory, academic libraries don’t generally come to mind. Most people associate academic libraries with non-fiction, reference, or text-books, many people tend to forget that academic libraries do contain works of fiction (not always a lot, but trust me it’s there!) and a staff of very knowledgeable librarians. Very little research has been done on the practicality, use, and effectiveness of implementing reader’s advisory in an academic library but I believe it deserves a look, because it is a largely untapped source of potential pleasure readers. Since I’ve been hired on at an academic library, Franklin College’s Hamilton Library, I have tried several different ways to promote reader’s advisory and our small but growing fiction collection. By examining how I’ve used Goodreads, library displays, and book clubs I hope to analyze the effectiveness and potential of reader’s advisory in academic libraries.

            Students these days are more likely to spend time on social media sites then they are doing their homework or doing other “educational activities.” That being said, Goodreads is one of the fastest growing social media sites, right along with Pinterest (another great library tool!) and is becoming a favorite amongst college students. Using this social media platform is an excellent way to reel in this tech savvy generation. Currently, Goodreads is “… a social media site for finding and sharing titles that has 15 million members, is exploding in popularity and rivaling as a platform for promoting new books… [and is] the largest source of independent reviews on the Web, with 21 million and counting.”[1]  Goodreads is an excellent resource for collection developments (the most reliable customer reviews on the web) and reader’s advisory and can help connect librarians, patrons, and students in personalized group pages.

In the past year Goodreads has become quite popular in public libraries and is slowly starting to attract a few academic libraries. A quick search on the Goodread’s website yielded a few dozen academic library group pages as well as several hundred public library group pages. Members on these group pages varied from three to five hundred plus. The Franklin College – Hamilton Library Goodreads page currently has thirty-five members and is steadily growing.[2] Some of the great features that can utilized on the group pages are: events, discussions, bookshelves, polls, photographs, links to other websites, and more. Franklin College has created several events, mainly for book clubs, and it’s a good way to spread the word, invite more people, and get RSVPs. The discussion board has also launched several good discussions ranging from Christmas Break reading lists, favorite book to movie adaptations, and Dr. Seuss books. Students, alumni, library staff, and faculty have participated in these discussions and it’s a good way to interact with the college community and get the library’s face out there. The bookshelves are also a good way to promote new books, fiction and nonfiction alike. Another great feature of the bookshelves is that the first reviews that pop up on featured books are reviews written by members of the group. It’s a good way to get your peers, friends, and faculty’s opinion on many different books.

I promoted Franklin College’s Goodreads page by creating flyers with QR codes and hanging them around campus. Several people have scanned the QR code and discovered the group’s page; others have joined by word of mouth, and some I personally invited because I knew they had existing Goodreads accounts. Overall, Hamilton Library may not have the largest library group on Goodreads but I think it is a step in the right direction. Connecting with patrons through social media is a no brainer these days, it has to happen. I’ve also noticed that books featured on the group’s virtual bookshelf tend to get checked out more frequently, the changes may be small, but they are definitely a step in the right direction.  

Another reader’s advisory tactic I have been implementing with great success is creating displays. Before I was hired on, displays would be changed at most twice a year and they contained little to no creativity and featured nothing but academic books. In the eight months that I’ve been at the library I have had eleven different displays ranging from Graphic novels, Kurt Vonnegut, Motorcycle Gangs, banned books, book to movie adaptations, notable Franklin College alumni, and Dr. Seuss. My goal was to highlight interesting aspects of the collection that people probably weren’t aware we had. The end result was a jump in fiction circulation (especially books that were featured in displays) and patrons asking more questions about what we had in our collections. I was able to do the most reader’s advisory work when I had to the books to movies display; people were amazed we had so many in our collection and invariably wanted to know what else we had. It was hard keeping that display full!

One of the final things I’ve tried to do is promote the book club. On campus one of the professors runs an intercultural book club that meets four times a school year. I asked if the library could partner up and help promote it and they were more than grateful for the extra help. I created a small yearlong display that showcased all the books that were to be discussed in the upcoming year and provided information on the meeting dates and locations. I also made sure to place a campus wide announcement three weeks before each book club reminding people to attend, asking them to RSVP on Goodreads, and to check out the book at the library. I was also to promote interlibrary loans by telling people that I could obtain multiple copies for free. It was good being able to partner with a campus group and show the library’s interest in fiction and discussions. The turn out from the book clubs varies from about six to fifteen people.

Overall, none of the steps I have taken are very drastic but I believe that they are a push in the right direction. College students have leisure time and they are a key demographic in those who read for pleasure. It’s high time we found a good way to serve them with reader’s advisory. Some of the next steps I plan on taking at Franklin College are: adding signage to our fiction collection, most students don’t realize it’s tucked away in the 818.54s, getting a Facebook page (easier said than done, the director is terrified of it), and creating a staff picks section where the library staff show off what their top picks are. According to Libraries Unlimited, I’m on the right track, the article “Reader's Advisory in the Academic Library: Issues and Ideas” recommends book displays, events, and working with students.[3] I’m making a difference one book display at time.

[1] Kaufman, Leslie. " Is Growing as a Popular Book Site." The New York Times. 12 Feb. 2013. .
[2] Cataldi, Erin. "Hamilton Library - Franklin College Group (35 Members)." Goodreads. Feb. 2013. .
[3] Silins, Venta. "Reader's Advisory in the Academic Library: Issues and Ideas." Libraries Unlimited. July 2010.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Maze Runner

People have been raving about this book for years and I feel silly for just now getting around to reading it, but boy am I glad I did!! This book is a must read for anyone who enjoys dystopia novels like "The Hunger Games Trilogy" or "Divergent." It's a futuristic world where kids have to fend for their lives and know one (including the reader) knows what the hell is going on until the very end.

The story opens with Thomas awakening in a metal box and being hauled up to "the Glade." It's a haven full of teenage boys who survive by trying to create order in a world of chaos. The Glade is located smack dab in the middle of a giant maze filled with grievers, terrible slug like mechanical creatures that come out after dark and sting or kill you. No one knows why they're there but every day the maze runners risk their lives by running around the massive labyrinth trying to find a way out. Everyone's memory has been wiped, all they remember is coming up in the metal box. Their life is a hell, paranoia, chaos, and death meets them at every turn. Can Thomas adjust to this hellish nightmare? What is the meaning of the maze? Why are they there? Trust me you'll want to read more! This page turner will keep you guessing til the very end. I can't wait to read the sequel!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Women's Lives - Wings of Glass

Author: Gina Holmes
Title: Wings of Glass

Publication Date: 2013
Number of Pages: 400

Geographical Setting: somewhere in the country
Time Period: modern day

Subject Headings:female friendship, abused wives, Christian fiction
Appeal: engaged, honest, brutal

To say I loathed this book is a gross understatement. I despise domestic abuse stories. That being said I enjoyed the author's writing style and imagery, I just hated her story.

Penny ran away from her folks at age 17 in order to elope with her abusive lover. It's been 10 years of hell, but now that her husband has tragically lost her eyesight and she is with child, she hopes that  it wil turn him into a better man. Her new friends however are doubtful, they want Penny to get away before Trent crosses the line and hurts her AND the baby. What is she supposed to do? She loves Trent and thinks that him abusing her is part of his duty as head of household. Will she ever be able to find God's strength and run away?

Now instead of giving this review only one star I chose to give it three because there are some redeeming qualities.
1. The characters are well developed and you feel as if they are people you could easily run into in real life.
2. The writing style is very descriptive, but doesn't bog you down, I read this book in a record 2 1/2 hours.
3. The author did her research well, even though I despise domestic abuse stories, the author really got into the mentality of the abused and makes it easy for you to empathize with the victim.

Now, why I hated this soo much. For the life of me I cannot understand or relate with the excuses that battered women make. I'm not trying to sound judgemental and I know I've never had to experience what they're going through, but I just can't undestand. Penny makes excuse after excuse for her husband. She even defends him when he drunkenly pushes her friend down the stairs who was carrying her newborn child!! A man pushes a woman carrying an infant and you try to tell the police it was an accident and that your husband didn't mean to do it!? Worst friend ever. Penny's friends keep trying to help her but she's in denial. Her husband beats her, degrades her, cheats on her, and verbally abuses her and she thinks it's ok! Like all the time!! I know this happens in real life but I can't understand it. As one of her friends, Callie Mae, says "The first time a man hit me would be the last time."

If you're into domestic abuse, rising above challenges, or living in denial, then thsi is the book for you.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Press in return for my honest unbiased opinion.

Similar Works:
Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
What You Wish For by Fern Michaels

More Bitter Than Death by Camilla Grebe

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Fault in our Stars

If I could give this book more than 5 stars I totally would. Holy hell it was fabulous. So amazing in fact that I almost became enraged at my grandmother for interupting my reading so I could get her some much needed groceries. I did not want to put it down, I read it in 1 day. Spoiler alert, this book will make you have emotions. You will care for these characters more than any others you've read in a long long time. And you will cry, if you don't it's possible you have no soul. I sobbed/bawled my way through the last 50 pages. My eyes were on fire (thanks mascara), my hair was soggy, and I'm pretty sure I was the epitome of beauty (not!). This book made me FEEL and I haven't had a book do that in a while. I literally cannot stop thinking about this book, it's just too good.

I will attempt to decribe this book without giving too much away or making it sound depressing. The story follows Hazel, a sixteen year old girl with terminal cancer. Her best friends are her parents and she hasrelaxed into a routine that involves not doing much of anything. Her parents desperate to get her out of the house make her go to a cancer support group for kids and it is there that she meets Augustus. Augustus is in remission but his battle made him lose a leg. He doesn't dwell on it though, he uses his charm (and good looks) to befriend Hazel. In no time at all they're inseperable, they read the same books, help their friend Isaac get through the loss of his eyesight, and try to make the best out of being sick. I think I enjoyed this book so much because it isn't about the poor sick little cancer kid that needs to be pitied, this is the other side if the story, this is what it is really like for these kids living with cancer. They don't need to be pitied, they need to be understood.

Again, this is a must read. It is without a doubt added to my list of all time favorites and I cannot wait to read his other works. Side note, for all you Hoosiers or Vonnegut lovers, there is a Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. reference in here. So it goes :)

Ruined by Reading

I thought the concept of this book was phenomenal but I was a little disappointed with the end result. It was a good read, albeit a little wordy, and the author conveyed her passion for the written word with much zeal and enthusiasm. It had a tendency to ramble on however and there was no clear format or organization. It was just a long essay on a lifetime of reading and how it had impacted the author. One quote that did stick with me, "Yet unlike love, reading is a pure activity. It will gain us nothing but enchantment of the heart." As a fellow bookworm I couldn't agree more.

Wishing on Willows

As I've mentioned before, Christian Romances generally aren't my cup of tea, author Katie Ganshert however, has once again made me change my opinion on this often overlooked genre.

In her second novel (and sequel to "Wildflowers from Winter") Ganshert does an excellent job of breathing life into her characters. They're realistic and face real problems, they don't just breeze past them with God's grace as in many other Christian romance novels. They struggle and fail and pick themselves back up again like real people. It's actually quite refreshing.

This story takes place about four years after "Wildflowers from Winter" and features Robin as the main character tather than Bethany (although she is still in the story). For all those that never read the first book, never fear, this novel easily stands alone and explains things in enough detail that you're always in the know. Anyhow, Robin is struggling to keep her Willow Tree Cafe in business and to raise Caleb as a single mother (her husband Micah died in the first book). As if she didn't have enough on her plate, a developer comes into town and wants to buy her property to tear it down to build condiminiums. Not only would she lose her business, but "One Life" a charity organization, would lose theirs as well. She has to fight the charming developer, Ian McKay, with all she's got in order to save her passion and the well being of the town.

Overall, I found this to be a great read. It's believable and you start to root for the characters as you go along. You know it has to have a happy ending but it keeps you guessing til the very end as to how everything is going to turn out. It's a page turner about love and second chances and you won't want to miss out!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Science Fiction - Orphans of the Sky

Author: Robert A. Heinlein
Title: Orphans of the Sky

Genre: Science Fiction
Publication Date: 1941

Number of Pages: 128
Geographical Setting: Space

Time Period: the distant future
Series: no

Plot Summary: I was due for a sci-fi classic and this slim little novel sure did the trick.
Set far into the future, Hugh Hoyland starts exploring "the ship" a 5 mile long (2,000 feet across) steel expanse that is the only known world to its inhabitants. The people on board the ship have no concept of anything outside the ship, the idea that anything could exist beyond its steel walls is inconcevable. The lower decks are inhabited by the citizens and the largely unexplored upper decks are inhabited by the "muties," deformed creatures that attack anyone who ventures up.

One day while exploring, Hugh ventures too far up and is captured by a dwarf (Bobo) and a 2 headed man (Joe-Jim). His captors are intrigued by him and decide to "educate him" and take him on as his slave. Hugh doesn't mind and soon discovers a forgotten room on the upper decks. With the help of Joe-Jim, Hugh begins to understand that the universe is bigger than the ship and for the first time he sees the stars. The question is, what is he going to do about it, can he make the ship move again?

I thought that this book was quite original and the concept was very intriguing. Hugh's world is literally turned around when he realizes that everything he was taught and believed is false. It's a fast read and has an interesting conclusion. Disclaimer, it's quite sexist (the women are subjected as slave wives, and cannot speak up. they are often beaten and not one of the main characters is female) but if you read past it (hey, it was the forties) you'll be sure to enjoy it.

Subject Headings: Space, Future, Science Fiction

Appeal: fast paced, engaged, unresolved ending

Similar Works: (via GoodReads)
The Green Odyssey by Philip Jose Farmer
Time and Again by Clifford D. Simak
Deathworld 1 by Harry Harrison

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


This was definitely not my favorite Neil Gaiman book. There was a lot of plodding around and not enough character development.

This "fanciful adventure" (not a mystery Molly, not at all!) takes place in London Below. London Below is lurking beneath the streets of London, it's a magical place full of dark lurking tunnels, rat-speakers, moving markets, and interesting underground creatures. Perfectly normal Richard Mayhew (from London Above) finds a young girl hurt in the street, ignoring his fiance's wishes he takes the girl home and helps her. Little does he realize his life is about to turn upside down. Within 24 hours he loses his job, his fiance, his apartment, and ultimately his life. He ceases to exist in London Above and must try to survive in London Below. He goes on a mission with the young girl he rescued, Door (you read that right, that's really her name), the Marqui des Caraba, and a woman named Hunter. Together they try to piece together why Door's family was killed and how to get Richard back home.

Overall, the writing style is nice, Gaiman is always ludicrously descriptive and it's fun to get caught up in his imagination but the overall plot did nothing to steal my attention. It's a merely ho-hum story, not Gaiman's strongest effort.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Horror - Rosemary's Baby

Author: Ira Levin

Title: Rosemary's Baby

Publication Date: 1967

Number of Pages: 308

Geographical Setting: New York

Time Period: 1960s

Plot Summary: I've grown up my entire life hearing how scary the movie version of "Rosemary's Baby" is so I was really excited to give the novel a try. There's nothing more thrilling then being too terrified to fall asleep! I'm sad to say that the book didn't live up to my expectations. It just wasn't scary. Now don't get me wrong, it wasn't a bad book, in fact it was really compelling, it just didn't terrify me like I hoped it would. I set the bar a little too high on this one.

I got really into the novel very quickly because it is so character driven. You can relate soo well to Rosemary (at least I thought so)! Rosemary and her husband move into the much coveted old brownstone and gothic apartment they've had their eye on for years. When a family friend warns them that they should steer clear of the apartments because of the evil vibes lurking there (high suicide rate, cannibals, dead babies, murder and more have taken place in this building) they don't heed his warning and move in. They befriend an elderly couple next door and are practically inseperable, when Rosemary becomes pregnant they take care of her like she was their own daughter. Soon however, Rosemary starts to notice that things aren't right. The first few months of her pregnancy she loses far too much weight and is in constant pain, her husband lands an important acting role after his main competitor "mysteriously" wakes up blind, and she has a violent nightmare in which she has sex with a terrifying being and wakes up with scratches all over her. Are her naighbors practicing black magic? Is her husband involved? The build up on this novel is incredible as Rosemary's life starts to spin out of control and she pieces together what is going on. It has a great conclusion and it's hard to stop reading once you start.

I highly recommend this even though it isn't scary. I will most definitely be watching the movie son!!

Subject Headings: (via WorldCat)Apartment houses -- Fiction. Pregnant women -- Fiction. Satanism -- Fiction.

Appeal: Fast paced, character driven, dark, and graphic.

Similar Works:
1. Fiction: (via Goodreads)
Salem's Lot by Stephen King
The Omen by David Seltzer
The Other by Thomas Tryon

2. Non-Fiction: (via WorldCat)
Satanic Panic: The Creation of a Contemporary Legend by Jeffery S. Victor
Ghost Girl: The True Story of a Child in Peril and the Teacher Who Saved Her by Torey L. Hayden
Strange bedfellows : religion, feminism, and fundamentalism in the satanic panic by Kelley Jo Jarrett

Adventure - The Spy Who Loved Me

Author: Ian Fleming

Title: The Spy Who Loved Me

Publication Date: 1962

Number of Pages: 142

Geographical Setting: American Backwoods

Time Period: 1960s

Series: 10th in the James Bond/ 007 series

Plot Summary: It's hard to go wrong with a classic like this and Ian Fleming didn't disappoint. It's a fast paced action adventure and the low page count makes it impossibly fast to read.

It is one of the shortest and most sexually explicit of Fleming's novels, as well as a clear departure from previous Bond novels in that the story starts off the the perspective of the "Bond girl." In fact, most of the book is from her perspective and takes place before she ever meets 007!

A young Canadian woman by the of Vivienne Michel finds herself traveling across America on a scooter. She breaks for a bit at a motel and is offered a job watching the place by herself until the end of the season. On her first night alone, two thugs come in to rough her up and do who knows what else. Bond himself does not appear until two thirds of the way through the book, when he waltzes in the motel after suffering a flat.

Obviously he saves the day and seduces the girl, but in order to learn all the awesome details you'll have to read this classic for yourself.

Subject Headings: (via WorldCat)
Bond, James (Fictitious character) -- Fiction. Intelligence service -- Great Britain -- Fiction.
Spy Thriller -- Espionage -- Fiction
Appeal: Fast paced, dark, and graphic.

Similar Authors & Works:
1. Fiction: (via Goodreads)
The Last Frontier by Alistair MacLean
The Mataresse Countdown by Robert Ludloom
High Time to Kill by Raymond Benson 

2. Non-Fiction: (via subject heading search in WorldCat)
Her Majesty's Secret Service: the making of the British intelligence community by Christopher M. Andrew
MI6: Inside the Covert World of Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service by Stephen Dorril
British Security Coordination: The Secret History of British Intelligence in the Americas, 1940-1945 by William Samuel Stpehenson

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Life After Death

Holy shit. I haven't had a book depress me, disgust me, inspire me, and compel me this much in a long time. It's a book filled with injustice and I applaud Damien Echols for making it through this insane and maddening ordeal.

I had followed the West Memphis Three case extensively when I was in high school. For those of you who aren't familiar with the case, in 1993 three teenage boys in Arkansas were wrongly convicted of satanically murdering three little boys. It was a very modern day Salem witch trial and Jason and Jessie were given life imprisonment and Damien was given the death sentence simply for being the town "outcasts." I watched the 3 HBO "Paradise Lost" documentaries and read "The Devil's Knot," but nothing touched me more than Echols memoir of the incident and his experiences in prison.

After Damien was found guilty he spent EIGHTEEN years on death row and his life was utter hell. In this book he describes the fellow prisoners, daily rituals, and how hard it is to keep sane when you're in solitary confinement. It is a true triumph of the human spirit.

This memoir is written quite eloquently and goes back and forth between memories of his childhood, coping with the WM3 case, his life in prison, and his life as a free man (he was released mid 2011). The prose sticks with you and you find yourself going on an emotional rollercoaster ride with Damien as he recounts some of the worst points of his life.

This is seriously a must read. Despite all the odds, Damien came through a horrific ordeal that kept him imprisoned for half of his life. Injustice like this cannot be forgotten. Read his story and be inspired (also be sure to check out the Sundance documentary "West of Memphis" produced by Peter Jackson, it's coming out on DVD soon). Corruption exists everywhere, what are you doing to stop it?

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Raven Boys

Kirkus Style Review for my Reader's Advisory Class:

Ancient Welsh kings, energy lines, and psychics aren't normal obssession for pre-Ivy League prep school boys, but then again, these Raven boys are anything but normal.

Gansey has been obsessed with locating the tomb of Glendower, an ancient Welsh king that he believes was brough over to America to lay on some very powerful ley lines (lines of energy). He ropes his two friends Adam and Ronan into his quest and they soon discover that something is amiss. There is someone else messing with the energy and magic. Things begin to get complicated when Blue, a psychic's daughter, starts to tag along and use her amplifying energy to help the boys locate the ley lines and the king.

With more plot twists and side stories in this young adult novel then you can possibly imagine this fanciful and exciting journey will suck you in quicker then a witch's spell. The only downfall however, is having to wait for the sequel.