Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Annotation #5: YA---The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
Written By: Suzanne Collins 
...And the basis for the new hit movie
Genre: Young Adult Fiction/Science Fiction
Series: The Hunger Games Trilogy
  •         Action-packed
  •         Bleak, menacing tone
  •    Character-driven
  •    World-building
  •     Strong sense of place
  •    Descriptive language
  •    Fast-paced, suspensful, & engaging
    Time Period:  Futuristic
An alternate or future North America known as Panem

Plot Summary:
A twist on the idea of survival of the fittest "The Hunger Games" is a fight to the death on live TV. There are twelve districts surrounding the capital of Panem, and each of the twelve districts has one boy and one girl that are sent as "tributes" to participate in the "Hunger Games," and represent their districts. Once someone turns 12 years old, their name is entered once in the drawing for the "Hunger Games," and an additional entry is added on each year until they turn 18.  

When Katniss Everdeen's 12 year-old sister Prim is the first name drawn, Katniss decides to protect her sister and volunteer for the games. She faces 23 other "tributes," including her fellow male "tribute" from District 12, Peeta Mellark. The two become known as the "star-crossed lovers" of the games, after Peeta publicly announces his love for Katniss during his pre-game interview. However, eventually they will be  pitted not only against bigger, meaner tributes but also against one another. 

Read-Alike Titles from NoveList:

Variant by Robison E. Wells
Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Hole in the Sky by Pete Hautman

Read-Alike Authors from NoveList:

Margaret Peterson Haddix
Jeanne DuPrau
Paolo Bacigalupi

As School library Journal states, "This book will definitely resonate with the generation raised on reality shows like 'Survivor' and 'American Gladiator."  This is perhaps why this has become such a huge "must read" for many because of the similarity to many reality TV shows.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Annotation #4: Historical Fiction --Traveler by Ron McLarty


Written by Ron McLarty

McLarty’s first book is Memory of Running

Genre: Historical Fiction/Historical Mystery
Location: Providence, Rhode Island

Time Period: 1960's

  • Relatable characters
  • Mystery Elements 
  • First-Person narrative, descriptive writing style 

Plot Summary: This story is told through the eyes of protagonist Jono Riley, who is now a middle-aged bartender and part-time actor. When Jono receives word that his childhood crush Marie has died, he decides to return to East Providence, Rhode Island for the funeral. McLarty weaves the re-telling of Jono's upbringing in the working-class neighborhoods of East Providence in the 60's with his current life as a struggling actor. Jono performs mostly single character plays in front of dismal, single-digit audiences. Growing up, he had three close friends Bobby, Cubby, and Billy. He reconnects with them upon his return decades later. While he is in Providence, he also reconnects with former school officer Kenny Snowden. Kenny was one of the original officers investigating the shooting of eleven year-old Marie. Jono and others later learn that Marie died from a "traveler." The bullet was never removed, and it began moving in her body, eventually killing her. Jono and his new girlfriend Renee get wrapped up with an investigation that eventually links Marie's shooting with several other mysterious shootings and/or killings around the same time. Read "Traveler" to discover the truth behind these mysterious events. McLarty also weaves in details of life in and around East Providence, Rhode Island in the 1960's.  

Author Read-Alikes from NoveList:

  •          Jonathan Coe
  •         Elizabeth Hay
  •         David Gilbert

Title Read-Alikes from NoveList:

  •        The Crow Road by Iain Banks
  •         For the Love of Money by Omar Tyree
  •        Scooter by Mick Foley 
More About the Author:
   Ron McLarty is an award-winning and well-known actor and playwright. He has appeared in many popular television shows including: The Practice, Law & Order, Spenser: For Hire, and Sex in the City. He is also married to actress Kate Skinner.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Special Topics Paper--Reaching Out to Patrons with Disabilities

How do we provide reader’s advisory services to a diverse population of library patrons including those with physical and visual disabilities? Brochures listing suggested reads for a particular genre or online suggested reading lists may work for some patrons, but not others. Similarly, promoting browsing within the fiction stacks may be beneficial to some patrons while others may find that it greatly limits their accessibility to the materials that interest them most. This is frequently the case when working with patrons with visual and/or physical disabilities.
There are several ways libraries assist visually and physically challenged individuals with obtaining reading materials that meet their needs. The two most common programs are Talking Books and homebound services. Other possible resources include the large print, audiobooks, and braille collections. This paper will primarily examine the Talking Books and Homebound library services but will also explore some important aspects of the other collections mentioned. In conjunction, it will investigate what is currently being done regarding reader’s advisory for patrons with disabilities and offer some suggestions for improving upon these services.
One of the programs available to assist visually impaired and other disabled patrons is Talking Books. This program provides digital and audiobooks to library users with temporary or permanent visual and/or physical disabilities. According to the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Talking Books originally began in 1931 as a result of an Act of Congress and has expanded over time to include other materials, formats, and user groups. While this is a valuable program, in the past it has struggled to remain current with the use of newer technologies and therefore lost some of its relevancy among users. Until just a few years ago, the only format available to Talking Books users was the cassettes that required an awkward, non-mobile friendly device to listen to them. Users now have the option of checking-out digital talking books that are contained on a small flash drive type cartridge but also require a special playing device to listen to them. The next best possibility for updating this service and appealing to a large group of disabled users may be the use of e-readers and a vast e-book collection.
As Forsyth (2009) notes, e-books can be beneficial for readers with poor hand strength or other physical disabilities or visual impairments. With an e-reader, readers can increase the font to a larger size or can often even choose to have the book read to them. E-books also help expand the options for large print and/or audiobook users, as there are a limited number of fiction genres and nonfiction titles available in large print or in audiobook formats. In addition, books can take a much longer time to become available in these formats; whereas, the e-book is often available at the same time or soon after the paper version (Forsyth, 2009, p. 136-137).  
When a library patron registers for Talking Books, they can specify subjects, genres, and specific authors which interest them. They can also specify if they do not want materials that contain explicit sex, violence, or strong language. Additionally, Talking Books patrons can choose to select materials themselves from a catalog of available titles or have books selected for them based on their reading preferences listed on their application for the program. The Indiana State Library also provides a toll-free number that Talking Books users can call for reader’s advisory services to help them select materials that match their interests. I contacted a librarian from the Talking Book and Braille Library at the Indiana State Library, and she stated that each patron is assigned a Reader’s Advisor who works with him or her the entire time he or she is using this program. There are only two reader’s advisors at the State Library though, so it seems as though they could easily get bogged down. However, these two reader’s advisors have been working with many of the same patrons for several years. Therefore, they have become better familiar with their patron’s reading preferences.
How do readers find materials that match their interests through the Indiana State Library’s Talking Books program? It seems the most common way is to have the ILS pick items for them or for the librarians to hand-pick their books. These materials are generally picked solely on the basis of the reading interests and preferences that the patron has listed on his/her application. In addition to having some basic reading interests and preferences stored for each patron, the Indiana State Library’s ILS can also search for books based on subjects. This helps increase the librarian’s ability to continuously match readers with books. However, this may not be the best way to meet a reader’s interests, if books are selected solely on the basis of subject matter. Another common way for patrons to find materials that interest them is to review the new books list in the bi-monthly catalogs sent to them. To further assist patrons, these catalogs can be received in large print, on cassette, or in Braille. Additionally, patrons can receive books that interest them by calling the toll-free reader’s advisory assistance line mentioned earlier.
The Indiana State Library’s Talking Books Program also receives several calls from patrons that do not have any specific titles, subjects, or other reading interests in mind. Therefore, when a patron calls to request books, they will often receive more in-depth and specialized assistance through a thorough reader’s advisory interview. During this interview, the reader’s advisers will ask questions such as what subjects or genres they are interested in and if they have read anything that they enjoyed recently. The Indiana State library however, does not make use of any specialized or specific reader’s advisory tools such as NoveList. I also spoke with a librarian from the White River Branch library of the Johnson County Public Library system, and they also do not use any specific reader’s advisory tools. While, a subscription to a database such as NoveList may be too cost prohibitive for some smaller libraries; there are many free reader’s advisory resources that they could make use of. Some of those free resources include for romance readers, for mystery readers and for horror readers, among many other great reader’s advisory resources available for free online
Another popular library program that increases the accessibility and use of the libraries collections by disabled patrons is the homebound or home delivery program.  In her article “Homebound Services: Old Ways and New Ways,” Theresa Gemmer (2003) explains that we should also watch our word use in the naming of such programs, since a large percentage of the users of this program are able to go outside of the home.  She suggests “Home Library Service” instead of homebound service, which could unintentionally exclude some patrons who think it is not for them (Gemmer, 2003, p. 36).
According to the article, “Readers Advisory Services for Older Adults,” “most libraries select books for their home delivery patrons based solely on author and genre preferences, while some libraries conduct detailed readers advisory interviews and still others simply use a checklist” (Forsyth, 2009, p. 131). I also discovered this to be true for the Johnson County Public Library system, as they frequently make book selections for their patrons based solely on genres and authors. Forsyth helps paint a clearer picture of why this might be problematic, when she says: “imagine the consequence of them getting it wrong, (i.e. selecting the wrong books for you) and you running out of reading too soon with no way of getting more titles to read until the next delivery at least a week later.” Forsyth suggests talking with patrons, and recording the appeal characteristics of the genres, titles, and authors that the patron enjoys reading. (Forsyth, 2009, p. 132). What appeals to the reader? Why do they read mysteries, what is it about the mysteries they enjoy reading that appeals to them? Is it the characters, the language, the story line, or simply the length of the book? Keeping confidential patron profiles that include not only genres, authors and titles but also appeal characteristics will help enrich the reading experience for these patrons.
Some other valuable reader’s advisory interview questions that came up in a review of the literature, included: “what television programs they prefer, what hobbies they have, and what current events have they found interesting lately” (Ahlvers, 2006, p. 308). Asking about television programs that a patron enjoys may prove valuable, when you are working with a patron who is physically unable to get out and obtain new reading material. Particularly in the fiction genre, there are several book series that are based off of or are very similar to a television series. One example is Kathy Reich’s Temperance Brenan Series which is the base for the hit television series “Bones.” Asking about hobbies or current events could also help expand the reading profile for your disabled patrons. They may enjoy reading more self-help books, or non-fiction about current events, or possibly even fiction books that are based on current events. This is one area that is not frequently explored in reader’s advisory services. However, these questions could be particularly helpful for disabled patrons who may have more life experiences than individual reading experiences that they can relate to.
Another collection that greatly benefits visually challenged patrons is the braille collection. Braille collections are most commonly used by blind individuals. However, some patrons will begin reading large print or possibly even e-books but may be forced to learn and use braille due to a progressive or sudden loss of vision. The latter is usually less common though as Burrington (2007) points out, “in common with many people who lose their sight later in life, lack of sensitivity in my fingers has meant I found learning this particular tactile format too difficult.” He also points out that as of 2007, there were only 300 titles available in the National Library for the Blind; therefore, not providing a large variety of books to choose from. In addition, Burrington mentions that he often downloads books and uses assistive software like JAWS to listen to them. Audiobooks are another option for braille readers that may help expand their reading options. However, this format still offers a more limited number of titles than what can be found in regular print or e-book collections.
An area that is greatly neglected in the literature and is rarely found in the repertoire of many librarians’ professional experiences, is working with younger patrons that have visual or physical disabilities. A majority of the literature seemed to state that patrons using Talking Books, homebound services, braille, or large print collections were fifty or older. Having had a very close friend with extensive physical disabilities, I know that there are young people who could benefit from such services. One program that I found that is available for free to students from K-12 all the way through to adult students, is a website called Bookshare. Bookshare is an online library of digital books, magazines, newspapers, etc. for patrons with print disabilities. Patrons can access reading materials in accessible formats through Bookshare almost the same day or soon after the release of the print version. While providing reader’s advisory for a younger person may be very similar to providing it for those fifty and older, younger patrons may be less aware of the services available to them or embarrassed to seek out and use such services. Particularly with Talking Books, many younger patrons are reluctant to use this program that employs a lot of outdated technology. Additionally, the reading interests for younger verses older patrons can differ greatly. This is an area that needs to be explored further to fully understand what different needs these patrons may have.
Perhaps, most important to keep in mind are the different format types and the individuality of each user. With such a vast array of formats available for books, librarians must educate themselves on the advantages and disadvantages of each, but also solicit feedback from their patrons. Equally as important as format, is the individuality and unique reading interests of each patron. The librarian from the Johnson County Public Library system stated that they did not really do anything different for patrons with disabilities. They simply tried to treat everyone as an individual. Along with that guiding principle, we also must avoid making assumptions about our patron’s reading preferences based on their age or physical abilities. As Ahlvers somewhat humorously points out, “When asked what she liked to read about, ninety-three-old Sadie stated that she wanted to read about “sex, sex, sex,” to the surprise and delight of a colleague” (Ahlvers, 2006, p. 309).  Keeping format and patron individuality in mind with each reader’s advisory transaction can ensure a more complete and effective service.
In conclusion, many of the same questions and service guidelines for reader’s advisory with non-disabled patrons also apply to deploying this service with disabled patrons. There are numerous programs and resources for assisting disabled patrons in their book selections, but there are also many overlooked and/or hidden resources that rarely get used. For disabled patrons, format and individual reading needs and preferences are just some of the important things to consider. Perhaps, the best advice is to know your patron’s needs and reading interests and be willing to go that extra step in meeting their individual needs.

Ahlvers, A. (2006). Older adults and readers’ advisory. Readers’ Advisory, 45(4), 305-312.
Bookshare. 2012.  Retrieved from
Brownson, A. E. (1993). Readers’ advisory services for persons with disabilities. Collection Building, 12(3-4), 67-71.
Burrington, G. A. (2007). A user’s perspective. Library Trends, 55(4), 760-766.
Forsyth, E. (2009). Readers advisory services for older adults. Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services, 22(3), 128-140.
Gemmer, T. (2003). Homebound services: Old ways and new ways. Bookmobile and Outreach Services, 6(2), 35-39.
NLS factsheets: Books for blind and physically handicapped individuals 2011. (2011). Retrieved from
Talking Book and Braille Library Collections. (n.d.). Retrieved from