Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Vancouver Public Library - What Do I Read Next

Last week, the Ontario Library Association hosted a teleconference with staff from the Vancouver Public Library and they were offering insight into the services they offer and how those services might also be popular at your library.

Check our Vancouver's What Do I Read Next website.

VPL's director, Sandra Singh, has provided a clear vision to staff to enhance the library's core brand of books and focus more on the reading rather than the objects.  Staff seem excited about this strategic direction and they are working hard to develop a community of readers.

The staff offer personalized reading lists which can be requested via email and encourage readers to actually approach library staff to get reading suggestions.  The vision is to firmly establish library workers as readers and the source of appropriate and exciting reading suggestions.  They have experimented with twitter and facebook, so they are exploiting new technologies to better support an old idea.

The other unique offering is to focus on the actual fiction reading development of newcomers.  Reading is one of the critical ways that newcomers learn about the society in which they live and they should not be ignored because their reading skills are different.  They also suggest that libraries should provide better readers' advisory in other languages which can be quite a tall order.

Vancouver Public Library is embracing readers' advisory and quickly becoming a leader in Canada. Consider following their efforts and checking in regularly to see what they are offering!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Selecting the Next "Girl on the Train"

Library selectors are a lot like retail buyers in that they have make important decisions about potential trends long before the trend emerges to profit from the increased customer interest.  "50 Shades of Grey" is a good example.  Saavy library systems were buying from the Australian independent publisher long before it was picked up stateside so that they had it on the shelves when the customers were asking rather than weeks later.

The question often becomes, "How do I know what will be popular?"  That is the magic of a great selector!  I've seen people who do it well and others who just get by.  You need to be "of the world" to get good intelligence to inform your selection practices.  You need to know what is popular on television, what is new in the theatre, what people are buying and what social trends are hot.  You need to learn this by going outside, meet people, ask questions.

A colleague pointed out this site to me - Edelweiss: Reading Above the Treeline.  It collects all current publishers' catalogues for easy access.  You could certainly look at multiple catalogues to determine current trends as publishers are also looking to capitalize on the current interests of readers.

Good luck and spend some time doing something other than reading!

Who's Your Reader?

An article in the paper about celebrity readers got us thinking about the trend by audiobook
enthusiasts to follow their favourite reader of audiobooks, rather than the long history of readers following a favourite author. Readers can read across genres, and lead their listeners where they might not have ventured without their lead.
      More and more professional actors are getting into the game, using their vocal talents to make books come alive for their readers, and their readers are noticing and appreciating.
     As the article states, audiobook sales are up significantly, partly as people become aware of the new format of digital downloads. Our library continues to see this growth,
     Book recommendation tools such as Novelist recognize this trend and have including an audio component to the appeal factors in their "The Secret Language of Books: A Guide to Appeal." Their differentiations for this are: audio drama; approachable; brisk; character accents; comedic; commanding; crisp; deadpan; detached; distinctly voiced; emotionally connected; energetic; engrossing; folksy; full cast; gentle; gravelly; immersive; intense; live audience; melodious; multiple narrators; musically enhanced; read by the author; resonant; sincere; somber; sound effects; understated; unhurried; warm; well-characterized; wry; and youthful. Obviously several of these will likely be present in any audiobook publication.
     These tools can be especially helpful when you are serving distant customers through outreach library service.  You often only interact with the customer over the phone so you really need some helpful tools to assist with readers' advisory for these users.  People can have very distinct narration tastes and they can be turned off the reading experience if they do not enjoy the voice of the narrator.
     The audiobook publishers are aware of this trend and often create lists from each of their most popular narrators.  Try the links below for some narrator lists.

Penguin Random House
Recorded Books

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

And the Award Goes To. . .

It is that time of year again, book prizes will be awarded in earnest over the next few months.

Today, the Man Booker shortlist was announced.

Residents of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) will no doubt also be aware that the Toronto International Film Festival is in full swing.  I actually think the election is proving to be an entertaining distraction from all the celebrity news.  The CBC has compiled a list of books which films in the 2015 festival are based.  No doubt your customers will be just as jazzed about these titles as they are about the Booker shortlist.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Reading in Translation

The world has shrunk in many ways in the past few decades. It is now easier and more affordable to travel to far-flung places. Unlike many of our ancestors who came to North America expecting to never return to their homelands or see family left behind, we can go back and discover our family's origins. Or we can travel somewhere completely foreign to our own cultural experience and learn about other cultures (or just stay at the resort and enjoy a laid-back vacation).
We can use Skype or Facetime to talk to people anywhere with an internet connection, going beyond the audio experience of the telephone to see who we are talking to and the environment around them.
Depending on where we live, we may have access to other cultural experiences within our own communities through attending festivals, parades, ethnic restaurants, or just talking to our neighbours.
But reading takes you into the experiences of another in a way that is difficult to do in other ways. You get inside the head of the characters, understand their thought processes and the emotions that they feel. There have been studies showing the increase in empathy and emotional intelligence that comes with reading fiction.
There are many writers who write in English and yet have different experiences and outlooks than ours that we can read and enlarge our worlds through that reading, whether they be from other English speaking nations such as New Zealand, or countries where English is a primary language like India, or an immigrant to one of those nations, or our own, who has taken on English as his language for writing.
But what about those that don't. How much do read that was published first in another language and then translated into English? It's a small percentage of what books are available to us, and many readers miss it altogether.
In 2007, the University of Rochester started Three Percent to help change that. The name reflects the fact that only about 3% of books published in the United States are works in translation. They share information on international literature including news, book releases, reviews, samples of works in translation, and those that haven't yet been translated. The university offers a program for translation wanna-bes, and a press for translated works, Open Letter. It is helping increase the availability of and awareness of translated works and we are seeing more interest.
A recent article on Flavorwire highlighted women writers in translation, recommending 22 women to read. As they say in the article only 30% of works in translation are by women, which for the US market comes out to around 1% of all published books.
I've been reading more and more translated books, which I've heard about thanks to sites like Three Percent and articles like the one in Flavorwire. And I'm glad of it, finding wonderful books in many genres that I both enjoyed and learned from. In 2014, I read 12 books in translation from eight different original languages, and I'm already at 8 books from 5 languages. My favorite so far this year is The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles, translated from the French. What about you? Have you opened your reading to translated works? We'd love to hear about what great books you've enjoyed thanks to the work of translators.