Adventures of Knittinmama

Library Student, Knitter, and Mama

Nancy Pearl and Reader’s Advisory 2.0 March 30, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — mryknx @ 6:01 pm
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I went and saw Nancy Pearl speak at St. Kates today about reader’s advisory and she spoke a bit about the use of library 2.0 tools.  Her emphasis was on how to talk with readers about why they love a particular book.  For Pearl, it is not about plot points, but the way a reader relates to a book.  “When people love a book – they do not love it because of its subject .  the love the experience of reading it.” 

She described four ways to connect with,  or experience, a book.  She calls them ‘doorways’.  They are Story, Character, Setting, and Language.  Of course all books contain all of these elements, but different books will stress one over another.  For example, a book with an emphasis on story would be The DaVinci Code.  For character, she mentioned the books of Anne Tyler.  Her example for setting was E. Annie Prouix’s The Shipping News and for language; Michael Cunningham’s The Hours.  Books have multiple doorways, but readers usually have one or two ways that they enjoy connecting with a book. 

Her issue with 2.0 resouces such as LibraryThing’s Book Suggester and NoveList, and  are that she thinks that they compare plot points and not this more subjective experience.  Her example was this: If you like the spy novels of Tom Clancy because of the fast moving and exciting story, you might not enjoy the more character driven John LeCarre, even though it is also a spy novel.  She said that she would use these resources when a person wants a suggestion for a book with similar plot points, but even then you must match the ‘doorway’ within the recommendations, which these resources will not give you.

 While I really like her way of creating a way to compare book experiences, I’m not sure that her criticism of LibraryThing is totally valid.  I do not have any experience with NoveList, so I can’t speak to that.  If I’m a person who likes books with strong and interesting characters I probably won’t rate a Tom Clancy novel as high as a John LeCarre novel.  The power of LibraryThing’s suggestions is that they are created from the data of many many people.  It seems like all the permutations of what individuals enjoy would create a rich tapestry, not many lists of subject headings.  I think this tool, used in conjunction with the interpersonal skills and knowledge of a librarian, can be valuable. 

 By the way, here are LibraryThing’s recommendations from The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy. 

  1. The sum of all fears by Tom Clancy
  2. Debt of honor by Tom Clancy
  3. Flight of the intruder by Stephen Coonts
  4. Flight of the old dog by Dale Brown
  5. Final flight by Stephen Coonts
  6. Red Phoenix by Larry Bond
  7. Blind man’s bluff : the untold story of American submarine espionage by Sherry Sontag
  8. Vortex by Larry Bond
  9. Team Yankee : a novel of World War III by Harold Coyle
  10. Day of the Cheetah by Dale Brown
  1. The spy who came in from the cold by John Le Carre
  2. Run silent, run deep by Edward L. Beach
  3. I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison
  4. Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy by John Le Carre
  5. Sid Meier’s Civilization II [computer file] : the ultimate version of the best-selling strategy game by Sid Meier
  6. Ringworld [computer file] : revenge of the patriarch by Larry. Ringworld Niven
  7. Force 10 from Navarone by Alistair MacLean
  8. Myst : the official strategy guide by Rick Barba
  9. Myst III : Exile : Prima’s official strategy guide by Rick Barba
  10. The California voodoo game by Larry Niven

The Minnesota Book Awards and Library 2.0 March 26, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — mryknx @ 1:49 am
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One thing this class has done is given me a new perspective with which to evaluate the world around me.  This Fall I began an internship with the Friends of the St. Paul Library working on the Minnesota Book Awards.  Last year they made a significant 2.0 improvement to the Awards with the creation of the Readers’ Choice Award.  At anyone can vote for their favorite finalist book.  In the first year they got about 3,000 votes and this year it has doubled.  (Voting is open until March 31 – so if you are reading this before that go check it out)  Other things that they are doing include posting book discussion guides and video author interviews from last year winners.  The goal is to build a library of free guides and interviews for use by any public library. 

This is a great beginning, but my brain can imagine more, such as discussion boards both for the public and a private one for the judges.  It’s the latter idea that intrigues me.  Due to my mother’s health, I took an I last term in User Instruction and I will be completing the work once this class is completed.  The main thing I need to do is create an online tutorial.  (Actually, it worked out pretty well to do this after taking this class)  I had been planning to create a tutorial for the judges about the MBA policies and procedures and tips on how to judge the merit of a book.  Now I think I’ll create a wiki that not only would have the tutorial in it, but a discussion area for the judges to talk to each other – similar to how the National Book Awards run their judge interactions – and a discussion area for the judges to talk to the office.  After all, why answer question one at a time, when there’s probably someone else out there with the same question.  The wiki would, of course, be password protected. 

Currently the Minnesota Book Awards does not want the judges to talk amongst themselves in advance of the offical judging day.  I think this is to insure that their thoughts do not become public and to guard against one judge dominiating the discussion.  When I started there, I didn’t question this policy.  Through the lens of Library 2.0, I question the secrecy.  On judging day, there are faciliators in the room to help insure that all judges get to speak their minds.  I don’t really see where having discussions prior to the actual judging day would hurt the process.  Final decisions wouldn’t be made, but the conversation could get deeper.  Especially when you realize that in the preliminary round of judging, the judges are often comparing up to about 50 books and selecting 4 for the finalist slots.  There is often a wide range of materials in the same catagory and I think a long-term discussion over a lengthy period of time would be a good thing.

 I’m really curious to know what you guys think. 


Reflection on Library 2.0 & Participatory Service February 5, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — mryknx @ 3:04 am
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The two biggest challenges I see for public librarians embracing Library 2.0 services are related – two aspects of the same issue.  1) Librarians trusting the public and their contributions and 2) Librarians becoming comfortable not ‘owning’ or being the experts in a traditional sense within their institution.   What makes this even more challenging is that I believe these attitudes to often exist on a subconscious level.   I don’t think many public librarians would disagree with a mission statement that valued a ‘user-centered’ library.  We all pretty much agree that we work in a service industry.  However when you change the old paradigm to include things such as allowing patrons to add their tags or comments to a catalog, there can be some strong knee-jerk responses rooted in fear.  

 For example, after our weekend, I was pretty jazzed about all the things we were playing with and exploring.  The next morning while I was at work at the yarn store, a local librarian came in for a spell.  She went to school in the pre-internet years and has been telling me from day one, “Take as many technology courses as you can.”  I also know her a bit and would describe her as a pretty liberal kind of gal.  When I started telling her about class, in particular the open-source  catalogs, I could see her shut down a bit.  She doesn’t know much about Library 2.0 stuff, and I could tell that intense resistance set in once I described something that touched upon the sacred cow of the catalog.  She started talking about digitial divide issues as a reason why the library shouldn’t go this direction.  To her, it was going to a) increase the divide and b) take resources away from more traditional services.   

 I had to go wind some yarn before we could finish the conversation, but it made me think about how to initiate conversations with current librarians about Library 2.0 stuff.  From what I knew about this person, I wasn’t expecting this response and if I were do it over, I would start with more foundational ideas, rather than ‘cool applications’.