Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Reading Resolutions for 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, participating bloggers respond to the given topic with their own top 10 list.  I participate as time allows and as the theme appeals to me.

Running a little late on this one today.  Good thing none of my resolutions have to do with doing things on time.

I’m not that big on making resolutions.  However, I already have several goals in mind for what/how I want to read this year.  All of the goals kind of mingle together, with the general theme being that I want to become more familiar with common authors and genres.

Multiple books by different authors in different genres

A sampling of many different books
Photo CC by Joe Shlabotnik

The ultimate goal is to improve my skills as a future readers’ advisor librarian.  Reading across the board is just the first step.

  1. Read (in general).  When I was younger I used to read all the time.  You would rarely find me without a book.  Entering adulthood, I was overwhelmed with other responsibilities (mostly involving choices that make it seem like I have been in school eternally).  I turned to other methods of decompressing.  As I near graduation, though, I want to return to enjoying reading as a hobby.
  2. Read outside my comfort zone.  I know the authors and genres of books that will be an easy, entertaining read for me, without too much brain power.  These books have fulfilled a need: rest, relax, don’t think too hard (usually after a semester has ended).  But I want to expand my reading selections.  I want to discover new authors and was recently surprised by a book outside my typical genre choices.
  3. Complete the Literary Exploration Challenge.  To complement the previous goal, I want to read from a variety of genres.  Following the Literary Exploration Challenge, I am going to attempt the Insane Challenge to explore a multitude of new books.  I may even throw in aspects from a couple of other reading challenges I have seen, such as choosing a book that meets a certain theme or whose title includes a certain keyword.
  4. Read 50 books.  That number is a little intimidating to me, but I do not think it is unachievable (particularly if I complete the Reading Challenge).  In fact, I hope to read more than that, but I want to aim for some number.  I have seen people participating in the Goodreads challenges in the past.  This year I have pledged my number.  Apparently Goodreads will tell you when you are falling behind (or so I’ve heard; I have yet to experience the “friendly reminder”).
  5. Read new books.  This probably seems ridiculous for most people who keep up-to-date with all the new books.  Honestly, because I have been so removed from most books for what feels like so long, I would not feel comfortable talking to people about books, particularly new books.  If I was to go through the “Must-read” and “Best of” lists from the last, oh… 10 years, the number of “Read” books would be very, very low.
  6. Catch up on old books.   There are household names whose books I never read.  One of my goals this year is to fit some of those books and some of those authors into my reading.
  7. Learn to write book reviews/annotations.  Many of the reviews I read seem to contain the majority of the book review clichés contained in this Examiner article (thanks to Molly at wrapped up in books for sharing this).  I need to find examples of good reviewers and learn what works and what does not work.
  8. Learn appeal factors and what makes a good read-alike.  I follow Becky over at RA for All and plan to use the categories from the reviews on her students’ blog as a guideline for information to include in my practice reviews.  I also love the way Becky chooses books as read-alikes.  She does not just use the theme of the book or the genre (which is an easy trap to fall into), but rather the tone, pace, setting, etc.
  9. Learn to speed read/skim books.  These books will not be included in my total of actual books read for the year.  This will just be an exercise as a method of becoming familiar with more books and authors very quickly, learning the writing style, pacing, and basic format.  There is certainly no replacement for actually reading a book, but there is also no way to read every book ever written.
  10. Don’t stress out about not completing any of the above. I do not need to be perfect.  I do not need to achieve everything.  I have a lot of other hobbies and still at least one semester left of graduate school.  I need to make sure I give myself a break.

What are your goals for reading this year?  If you met your goals last year, share them in the comments.

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Books I would recommend to Aunt Judy

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, participating bloggers respond to the given topic with their own top 10 list.  I participate as time allows and as the theme appeals to me.

My aunt Judy is the reason I started reading any sort of murder-mysteries or thrillers.  One holiday weekend when I was visiting, we were headed to the beach and I had nothing to read, so I grabbed Sue Grafton’s A is for Alibi off her shelf.

I have since found out from speaking to her that she really enjoys crime and mystery novels that have strong women protagonists.  She also tends to read a lot of books in series.  I know for a fact she enjoys Sue Grafton, Janet Evanovich, Kathy Reichs, and Tess Gerritsen.

For today’s top 10, I have come up with 10 crime or mystery series featuring women protagonists that I think aunt Judy should try.

Pictures of five covers of the first books in the series

  1. Inspector Lynley series by Elizabeth George – One of the main characters is Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers who, along with Detective Inspector Thomas “Tommy” Lynley investigate crimes.
  2. … in Death series by J. D. Robb – Although I am not sure the future setting of this will necessarily appeal to her, I think that aunt Judy would at least give the book a try.  If the writing and stories are satisfactory, I think she is able to get past futuristic settings when reading.
  3. Women’s Murder Club series by James Patterson – Featuring four leading ladies of different professions, this series is likely to intrigue her.
  4. Joanna Brady series by J. A. Jance – I’m not entirely sure how she’ll feel about the Arizona setting, it may not affect her at all.  Again, if the story is compelling, I don’t think setting is an issue.
  5. Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell – Reminiscent of Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli and Isles books, or even Kathy Reichs’s Temperence Brennan books, Dr. Kay Scarpetta sounds like a character that would fit in well with what aunt Judy already reads.Pictures of 5 more titles I would recommend to my aunt
  6. Charlotte McNally series by Hank Phillippi Ryan – She seems to go for more traditionally police or doctor-detective type characters, but I think she would be willing to at least try a book about a TV investigative reporter trying to solve crimes.
  7. Jessie Drake series by Rochelle Krich – Another female detective investigating murders that she probably has not read yet.
  8. Irene Kelly Mystery series by Jan Burke – Based in Southern California, much like the Kinsey Milhone books by Sue Grafton, a reporter uncovers secrets as she digs for the truth behind mysteries.
  9. Cordelia Gray series by P. D. James – There are only two books in this series, but I think the character would be one that aunt Judy would really enjoy: a newly-minted private investigator.
  10. Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series by Laurie R. King – The leading female character in this might be a bit young (15 years old) compared to what she normally reads, but, again, I think she is willing to give most books a shot.  I like the Sherlock Holmes aspect of the book, but it would be interesting to see what aunt Judy’s reaction to it would be.

There you have it.  Ten book series I think my aunt Judy should read.  They won’t really expand outside her preferred genre, and that’s okay.  There certainly are plenty of lead female characters to choose from in the murder-mystery arena.

Go for the Gold! – Adult Winter Reading Program

I do not yet work in a public library.  But someday, when I do, I want to make sure that the library offers reading programs for adults.  Even the small public library I worked at in high school had a children’s summer reading program, but nothing for adults.  If the children get the summer, the adults can have the winter.

Olympic-Themed Adult Winter Reading Program

Because 2014 is a year for Winter Olympics (my favorite), I thought it would be neat to plan a Winter Reading Program based loosely on the Olympics.  I looked at several different adult winter reading programs that libraries around the country offer (which I will list below) to come up with an idea that would work with an Olympic theme.  Here is the video promo I created for the program:

The Reading Challenges for the Winter Reading Program

The San Luis Obispo County Library hosted an Adult Winter Reading Program in 2013 that required participants to complete 8 different reading accomplishments and watch a DVD in order to win a prize.  I liked that their challenges required participants to go outside their comfort zones at least a little bit and explored multiple areas of the collection.  They even called it a bit like a scavenger hunt, which is fun, too.  I used some of their challenges and adapted others to create some new ones:

  1. Read one of the books that was on the New York Times bestseller list December 22, 2013 (which would be the list just after the official start of winter).
  2. Read a fiction or non-fiction book with an animal in the title.
  3. Watch a DVD and then listen to the movie soundtrack.
  4. Read a non-fiction book dealing with music, conspiracies, or travel.
  5. Listen to or read a book published in 2011 or later on audiobook or e-book format.
  6. Read a fiction or non-fiction book set in or about a particular season.
  7. Read a collection of short stories.
  8. Read a book written by a Russian or Eastern European author.
  9. Read a fiction or non-fiction book set in the 18th century.
  10. Attend a program from the approved list of programs.

Earning Olympic reading medals

Unlike the San Luis Obispo County Library, my Adult Winter Reading Program does not require everyone to complete all the challenges in order to compete for prizes.  To fit with the Olympic theme, readers can earn medals based on the number of challenges they complete.

  • Bronze medal – To win a bronze medal, participants must complete 5 of the reading challenges
  • Silver medal – To win a silver medal, participants must complete 8 of the reading challenges
  • Gold medal – To win a gold medal, participants must complete all 10 reading challenges

Prizes

Like all good competitions, there must be prizes!  It would be really neat to create merchandise specifically for this program, like cups, pens/pencils, magnets, post-it notes, tote bags, T-shirts and the like that had a fun Olympic-y logo.  However, that can be very expensive and library budgets are suffering.

Instead, this would be a good opportunity to connect with local businesses and try to garner donations in the form of gift cards or other free merchandise.  It is good for them because it gets their name out and it is good for the library because it gives them prizes.

Other Adult Public Library Winter Reading Programs

  • The Normal Public Library Adult Winter Reading Program has adults log how many minutes they spend reading.  I like that parents reading to their children can count towards their minutes spent reading.
  • Since 2009, the Kansas City Public Library has been hosting a themed Adult Winter Reading Program to “encourage leisure reading among adults.”  I like that they encourage people to read beyond their comfort zone and promote potentially overlooked books.  They provide suggested reading lists that support the theme such as:
  • While the City Sleeps entices readers to explore fiction and nonfiction, the interplay of light and dark, the shadows of the human soul and the brightness of the human spirit.

  • The Timberland Regional Library Adult Winter Reading Program from 2013 had several grand prizes which participants could win.  Every time participants finished five books and completed the reading program form, they were entered to win a grand prize.  I like that readers can enter more than once if they have read an additional five books.
  • The Marion County Public Library System hosted a “Let it Snow” Adult Reading Program.  Participants who finish at least one book and submit their reading log are eligible to win a “Literary Latte” basket.  The library also encourage participants to come in on Tuesday mornings for coffee, tea, and treats to discuss what they are reading with other readers.  They also offer help with e-readers during that time (and I’m sure at other times, too).  I like the social aspect included in this program.
  • The Monroe County Public Library combines adults and teens together in one Winter Reading Program.  There are winners drawn for weekly prizes as well as drawings for grand prizes at the end of the program.  I like the weekly drawings because it probably keeps the momentum going for some people.

For even more ideas, be sure to check out these other library winter reading programs:

Does your library do an Adult Winter Reading Program?

If so, how is it set up?  What do you require of your readers?  What has been most successful (or not) for your particular library?  Do you know why something did or did not work?  Share your stories in the comments below.

Adult Programming Ideas for International Games Day at the Library

Happy 11-12-13!

Picture of tiles from Rummikub

It’s 11-12-13!  Like the Rummikub tiles for a post on games?  I do. :)
CC via der_dennis on Flicker

It is easy to fall into the mindset that games are for kids or that adults do not really play games.  But for International Games Day (IGD) on November 16, 2013, don’t forget about your adult patrons!

What is International Games Day?

International Games Day is an initiative through the American Library Association (ALA) wherein libraries from across the world play games on the same day (or a day close to the same day) as a means of connecting with their communities.  As described on the IGD website, ALA coordinates two parallel activities: a national video game tournament and the Global Gossip Game (like telephone but traveling from library to library on all 7 continents).  Check out the IGD site for more information on both of those.

Why would a library promote gaming?

The IGD website hosted a series of talking points over the summer for reasons why libraries should host and promote games.  One of the quotes I like from their introductory post is:

Ultimately what a library is about is providing a place where a community can share culture, information, ideas, beauty – where human thought can be made accessible for people to engage in self-directed study and exploration.

And, as they say, every culture basically has some form of games.  I will let you check out both the IGD Talking Points posts and the quotes and videos featured on I Love Libraries for more information on why games in libraries are awesome.

Games for Adult Programming on International Games Day

Children play games all the time.  Teachers frequently use games to help students understand concepts in school.  Gaming teaches socialization skills, and, depending on the game, cooperation skills.  Techno Sky talks about studies done on the effects of video games on retention and other skills over at Tech2Games.

But kids don’t have to stop playing games when they get older.  There are plenty of games to interest all types of adult players.  Below are just a very few examples of the different types of games you could offer your adult patrons during International Games Day.  And this doesn’t even include video games options!

Party Games

Party games can generally include a lot of people.

Party games can generally include a lot of people and hilarity often ensues.

Party games are typically games that can accommodate many players, generally in teams.  Frequently the games can cause a lot of laughter, so beware, you might just have fun!  Some examples of party games are

  • Say Anything
  • Telestrations
  • Pictionary
  • Cranium
  • Apples to Apples
  • Outburst
  • Taboo
  • Balderdash
  • Scattergories

Card Games

Picture of several different types of card games.

Card games come in many types.

Card games can range anywhere from traditional card games suited playing cards (like Gin, Hearts, or Spades) to specific card games (like Phase 10, Skip Bo, or UNO).

Traditional Board Games

Composite picture of several different traditional board games.

So many types of board games exist to play!

Traditional board games is actually a bit of a misnomer.  I call it traditional board games because the games I consider “traditional” (along with chess, checkers, backgammon, Mancala, and Chinese Checkers), are Monopoly, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit and other fun family games like that.  Again, others may not exactly consider them to be traditional, but there are already several categories of games!

Eurogames

Picture of several different types of Eurogames

Looking for something different? Give a Eurogame a try.

Eurogames, also known as German-style games, can seem very complicated if you are unfamiliar with them.  If you know people who play these types of games, it can be helpful for new players to watch before they play, or to have someone explain the game to them.

If no one at your library owns any of this type of game, you may try to partner with a local gaming store to borrow demo versions.  This will hopefully also encourage potential patrons to partake in your IGD celebration and see what the library is like these days.

The games pictured are truly just a small portion of this category of games.  Some other popular games are:

  • Red Dragon Inn
  • Forbidden Island
  • Dominion
  • Ascension
  • Agricola
  • Race for the Galaxy
  • Small World

What is your library doing for International Games Day?

Is your library participating in IGD13?  What types of games are they offering?  Do you have games for adults to play, too?  Let me know in the comments.

Top Ten Tuesday #2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, participating bloggers respond to the given topic with their own top 10 list.  In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I will participate sporadically, and hopefully more often once I am able to begin reading more regularly again.

This week’s theme is Top Ten Sequels I Cannot Wait to Get My Hands On.  I know that many people will be writing about all the new sequels that are coming out soon or that just recently came out.  Considering I do not get a chance to read as much as I would like, many of the sequels I would like to read are already out (and have been for a while!), or I haven’t even had a chance to start the series yet.  So this week, I am adapting the theme to be the

Top Ten Sequels/Series I Still Need to Read

The first five list items are books where I have read the first book but need to finish the series.

Pictures of the Titles from Veronica Roth, Ally Condie, and Stieg Larsson that I have not yet read

1. Insurgent and Allegiant by Veronica Roth

2. Crossed and Reached by Ally Condie

3. The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson

Pictures of the covers from the Amulet and Good Thief's Guide Series

4. Amulet Books 2-5 by Kazu Kibuishi

5. The Good Thief’s Guide to… Paris, Vegas, Venice, and Berlin  by Chris Ewan

The last five list items are books where I have heard really good things about a series but have not yet been able to read any of the books in the series.

Pictures of the covers of the first book in each series I have not yet read

6. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Series

7. Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments Series

8. Debora Geary’s A Modern Witch Series

9. Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files Series

10. George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire Series

Well, now you all know how very far behind I am in reading. :)

Library Student Day in the Life – Round Two, Day Five

I interrupt your regularly scheduled blog posts to participate in Hack Library School’s Library Student Day in the Life.  For the week of October 28 – November 1, 2013, I will be posting each evening to share with prospective library students what a day in my life as a library student at Florida State University’s iSchool is like.  Regular posts will resume November 2, 2013.

The Job Search

A couple of weeks ago, Julia Feerrar wrote a great post over on Hack Library School about the Tools for an Organized Job Search.  If you haven’t read it, you should go check it out.  It is very informative and has tons of great tips in it.

I am getting to the point in my schooling where I am about six months away from graduating.  I actually started looking at job listings before I even began classes just to get an idea about what specializations may be needed for the jobs that interested me.  That way I was able to tailor my electives towards the subjects that were most important for my career.

I spend a good portion of every week looking at jobs.  I check the local jobs daily.  Now I am looking at job listings for different reasons, though.  I am looking for positions that I want to apply for, searching for tips on writing appealing cover letters, and refining my résumé.

My Job Search Techniques

Many of my strategies coincide with the ones Julia mentioned in her article.

  • I use an RSS feed to follow sites that post jobs.
  • I constantly go to INALJ.com (I Need a Library Job) to see if there are any new and interesting jobs available
  • I keep a spreadsheet of the jobs I have applied for, including information about when the position was posted, when it closed, when I applied for it, where the position was located, the position title, and whether I got an interview or not.
    • That spreadsheet also has worksheets that keep track of individual library job sites.  I go through and open up those sites about once a week.  I have found that sometimes the smaller libraries may not post to the state or regional level and may get missed in the mix.
  • I keep my resumes, cover letters, and job descriptions in the cloud so that if I am ever in a location without my computer, but have access to a different computer, I can still apply for jobs that I may find that are closing soon
    • This happened to me this summer when I traveled to Chicago!  I found a job that was closing before I would be getting back home, but I was able to apply because I could access all of my resume and cover letter information.
  • I keep a document that has all my previous work and education history.  I find this to be extremely helpful when I am filling out application after application.  When I find something on an application that I do not have in this document, I add it.  There is surely another application out there that will ask for the same thing.  It includes
    • address and contact information
    • Number of credit hours and GPA (education)
    • position title
    • organization
    • supervisor and supervisor’s title
    • starting and ending dates
    • job duties and responsibilities
    • starting and ending salaries
    • you get the idea
  • For the libraries in my surrounding area, I have a folder in my bookmarks.  I open up that folder in the bookmarks manager, then open every tab en masse.  Chrome gets angry (“Are you sure you want to open 17 tabs?”).  Yes, yes I am sure.  It is probably overkill to do this because most of the positions end up on INALJ or the state job sites, but somehow it makes me feel better.
  • If you can, you may need to expand your job search radius.  There seem to be a consistent number of recent graduates who stay in Tallahassee and not nearly as many positions opening up.  I have expanded my radius to include surrounding counties.  I wouldn’t really mind the drive most of the time.  It is important to factor in gas expenditures when considering if the salary would be sufficient in this situation.
  • I also look across the country for positions of interest.  Again, this is not always an option for everybody.  I cannot guarantee that my husband would be able to move with me right away if I found a great job somewhere else, but we have discussed this possibility and he is very supportive.  He knows that currently my opportunities are limited.
  • I have started trying to actively network with librarians on Twitter, if only to build up my Personal (or Professional) Learning Network (PLN).
  • For skills I feel I do not yet have, I do whatever I can to learn them.  I have used Codecademy to learn the basics of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.  When I have time and inclination again, I will learn more coding from it.  I work on perfecting my French and improving my Spanish.  I want to learn other languages, particularly German and Italian to improve my chances of becoming an academic music librarian. I try to practice readers’ advisory skills like determining appeal terms, writing annotations, “speed reading” a book, determining Read Alikes.  One day all of these skills will come in handy.  Knowing the small amount of code I know or the French I know or [insert other skill here] may one day be the determining factor I get chosen over other candidates who do not have those skills.

Everybody has their own ways of doing things.  This is just how I do mine.

My Final Job Search Recommendations

The last bits of information (and two songs) that I will share:

  • Stay positive.  It is not always easy when you know you would be great in a position and you don’t even get an interview.  It is not easy when you DO get an interview, which you think goes really well, and then you don’t get the job.  This is the one that I have the most trouble following.  But I try to Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.
  • I have to believe that everything happens for a reason.  If a job didn’t work out, it means there is a better one out there for you.  If life seems to be giving you lemons, make lemonade.  If one door closes, another one opens.  Choose your own cliché.
  • Something better will come along. Although the theme in this song is about relationships, a lot of it is still true: “There’s no use complainin’ / It’s pointless to holler.”  And most of all “I hope that something better comes along.”

Library Student Day in the Life – Round Two, Day Four

I interrupt your regularly scheduled blog posts to participate in Hack Library School’s Library Student Day in the Life.  For the week of October 28 – November 1, 2013, I will be posting each evening to share with prospective library students what a day in my life as a library student at Florida State University’s iSchool is like.  Regular posts will resume November 2, 2013.

On Being a Music Librarian for an orchestra

A photo of the center of a violin

Violins are the signature of an orchestra
Photo by dyet on RGBStock

I joined the community orchestra almost two years ago.  When I told my fellow horn players that I was going to go back to school to become a librarian, they told me to talk to the music librarian at the time.  We’ve chatted a few times while I’ve played with the orchestra.  In May, she told me she was going to resign because she had a lot of other things going on.  I offered to take over, if the board would approve.  Thus began my volunteer work as a Music Librarian for a community orchestra.

Duties of a Music Librarian for an orchestra

Clearly these apply to my specific community orchestra and probably do not go across the board for all orchestra music librarians.  So take from them what you will.

  • Finding out if music the conductors want to play is in the public domain
  • Posting the parts into a password protected site so that only our players can access the music
  • Printing out and binding scores for the conductors (well, actually only one)
  • Ensuring that the rehearsal marks from the players’ parts align with the rehearsal marks in the score
  • Verifying that all music on the repertoire and library list is actually in the library
  • Ordering or renting music that the conductors want to play that is not in the public domain

Other insights about being a Music Librarian for an orchestra

Violin sheet music

Making sure everyone has their music is the most important thing

There were many things I did not know going into this gig.  Don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoy it, but it can be a difficult at times to play and be the librarian.

  • The same people will always forget their music.  To help alleviate costs for the organization, before I started they had instituted a policy where players would print their own music (in general) and bring it to rehearsal.  For a while they had even instituted charging $0.10 per page for the librarian to make copies.  When she was passing me the torch, she told me it never really made much money and did not seem to be worth it.  So I am not doing it this year.
  • Printing on the small little printer the orchestra owned ate a lot of toner.  For the first rehearsal of the season, I needed to have the scores prepared for the conductors.  Little did I know that one of the conductors has copies of most of what we’re playing, or he obtains it elsewhere.  When I printed the score for one symphony from the public domain, it ate whatever was left of the cartridge from before I started, plus some of my personal cartridge.  Another score we were using used another cartridge plus some.
  • Some weeks, no one forgets their music.  As a brass player, I am not needed for all of the pieces we are playing (some are strings only).  The player in me wishes I could come late or go home early, depending on what order we rehearse.  The librarian in me knows that there may be someone who forgot to ask me during break for a certain piece.  Or that at the end of rehearsal someone will remember they were sharing with their stand partner and they actually need their own copy.
  • Finding out what we are playing for a concert can be like pulling teeth.  The previous librarian had warned me that the conductors have a habit of not finalizing our pieces until even a week or two into rehearsals.  This can make it difficult for me to make sure everyone has access to the music.  So the first few weeks are certainly the most hectic.  Also, because we are generally still recruiting players, sometimes the reason people don’t have their music is because they were never given the password to download it.
  • The librarian doesn’t get to keep track of the music in the library.  Weird, I know.  I’m not really sure why, but there is someone on the board who is in charge of maintaining a list of all the repertoire the organization has played as well as all the music that is in the library.  I had to ask him to send me his spreadsheet in order to go to the library and double check that everything is present.  And the absence of authority control on that list is bewildering to behold.

Although it wasn’t quite what I expected it to be, it is definitely a neat experience.  I will be creating a manual so that whoever takes over after me does not have to start from scratch or try to remember what I tell them.  It’s not a typical librarian position, but it’s a necessary one.