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17

May
2013

In Reading Round Up

By Elizabeth Wroten

Reading Round Up: Twitter

On 17, May 2013 | In Reading Round Up | By Elizabeth Wroten

I’ve decided to do something a little different with these posts for the future. Now that I’m feeling more on top of following blogs and librarians on Twitter, I want to start actually tweeting more. To that end I am going to start actually tweeting the links I would normally include here. Then every Friday, I’ll aggregate them here for anyone who missed them or isn’t on Twitter. I can also add a little more detail to my thoughts on the articles.

Since most of the links I find to share are in blogs I follow, I tend to come across them on Thursdays when I read my blogs. I found a service that allows me to set up tweets in advance (Twuffer, a Twitter buffer) so that I don’t inundate my tweeps. Without further ado:

I agree so much with the idea here that customer service in libraries needs to be top notch and of a type that is more than pointing to the bathroom. I know added value is an irritating buzzword, but I think it’s still a relevant and necessary concept.


I have mixed feelings about this piece. I agree in so many ways, but I also think that undergrads (and other patrons like the general public and younger students) do not always approach librarians. It’s true that the results they get from new fangled, improved search interfaces may not be the best, but are they better than what they got before? I don’t really know the answer to that. I think the issue lies more with marketing reference services and getting students to the reference desk (virtual, real or otherwise). However, I hadn’t really thought of those types of tools in regard to writing librarians out of reference. I think this underscores the importance of digital/information literacy skills.

I didn’t work with these types of teens, but as a new parent I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to be a single, teen parent. The sentiment is really sweet and I think the ideas are really awesome.


I think a lot of people believe technology is some sort of silver bullet. That you can just take a new technology and use it the same way in every situation. But that just isn’t true. As with any program or tool you need to know your culture in order to know if it’s right and how it should be implemented. I’m going to address this topic in more depth next week.

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15

May
2013

In Review

By Elizabeth Wroten

Review: The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez

On 15, May 2013 | In Review | By Elizabeth Wroten

Pregnancy ProjectFrom GoodReads:

Growing up, Gaby Rodriguez was often told she would end up a teen mom. After all, her mother and her older sisters had gotten pregnant as teenagers; from an outsider’s perspective, it was practically a family tradition. Gaby had ambitions that didn’t include teen motherhood. But she wondered: how would she be treated if she “lived down” to others’ expectations? Would everyone ignore the years she put into being a good student and see her as just another pregnant teen statistic with no future? These questions sparked Gaby’s school project: faking her own pregnancy as a high school senior to see how her family, friends, and community would react. What she learned changed her life forever, and made international headlines in the process.

In The Pregnancy Project, Gaby details how she was able to fake her own pregnancy—hiding the truth from even her siblings and boyfriend’s parents—and reveals all that she learned from the experience. But more than that, Gaby’s story is about fighting stereotypes, and how one girl found the strength to come out from the shadow of low expectations to forge a bright future for herself.

This book would make a nice companion to Girlchild in some ways. It read a bit like the real story behind that book, minus actually living in a trailer and the sexual abuse.

I thought The Pregnancy Project had a really wonderful message about being your own person and defying stereotypes. As a librarian, I can see championing this message with patrons or students. Like Gaby says, sometimes all it takes is one person to be there for you, cheering you on. I agree with Gaby that you don’t need to be beholden to what other people think or what the statistics tell you and this is a great story for that message.

However, the book also felt very young. Or rather, Gaby sounds very young and inexperienced. She can be endearingly preachy in the way that only adolescent girls can be. I don’t think this is a bad thing, I was certainly that way in high school, as were a lot of my friends and I love her optimism. Part of my issue is just me as a reader coming to it from the other side of my twenties. I’m not exactly the targeted audience for this book.

While I found myself agreeing with her on a lot of points, such as how problematic shows like 16 and Pregnant are, I also think there is a lot more nuance to the topics she tackles. Nuance that you come to see with time, age and experience. Teen pregnancy isn’t always about simply taking a breath and not “going all the way”. There are a lot more emotions and baggage and history that can get tangled up in sex that someone in their teens (and far beyond) may not be able to disentangle. I was really glad she pointed out that abstinence is not always a realistic method of birth control.

Her brief discussions of abortion were another place I think she addressed things as too black and white. I also didn’t feel the topic was especially germane. While she may be pro-life, not everyone is. Abortion a touchy subject and I think it is also a very personal choice. Even if it wasn’t a choice she would have made, many girls do make it to avoid the gossip, lowered expectations, limitations and general disappointment she faced. I think by putting it down she detracted from her own message of being non-judgmental.

As a side note, I think this was a fabulous, if over-the-top senior project. The school where I was working does a similar project although the time allotted to it is much much shorter. Every year I found myself wishing students would choose something more than cake baking and decorating. I don’t think everyone needs to go to quite the extreme of faking a pregnancy, but I do think making a difference and really learning something would be a great goal.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. Gaby’s perspective is something I would be very interested to hear in another 10 to 15 years and once she’s become a mother herself.

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13

May
2013

In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten

Blended Learning and Educational Change

On 13, May 2013 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

I talked briefly in an earlier post about my research into parenting philosophies that had led me to ecuational philosophies, which in turn led me to begin thinking about how I want to teach in the library. I was reading the CUE journal a few weeks back and these connections occurred to me again. I was struck by this quote from one of the feature articles by Ferdi Serim:

“In reflecting back on two or three decades in which the rallying cry was ‘integrating technology into the classroom,’ I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to call the contest. We didn’t win. But the opportunity to learn from failures is how we progress. The classrooms we were trying to integrate into were still ‘stand and deliver, lecture driven, knowledge transmission’ environments. In too many classroom the lecture now shines on a whiteboard.”

So many people think technology is going to be a silver bullet. If you put technology in the classroom all students will be engaged and learning and they will all ace the test. But if you want students engaged in the learning process, technology alone is not going to do this. Technology is a fantastic tool, but it is only a tool.

The issue of On Cue and the article were focused specifically on blended learning and I take Serim’s point in regards to it, but I don’t think the issue is limited to blended learning. One of the biggest failures in (American) education, in my opinion, has been it’s failure to innovate and change on a pedagogical level. Or at least it took a wrong turn and focused on the wrong pedagogy. Like Serim says, classrooms are still lecture based. This is the transmission model of education in which people belive there is a body of knowledge that must be taught to students (and then tested to ensure they have learned it) and I really disagree with strict transmission.

I think educators need to accept the idea that students have valuable contributions to be made to the classroom and to content. One of the reasons blended learning really appeals to me is because it encourages using a variety of ways to interact with information and curriculum. I think it also encourages a mix of transmission and discovery. You engage everyone (or should) and have the flexibility to meet students where they are and teach them in a way that works best for them. It also creates a much more autonomous classroom where the teacher can be both a resource and a facilitator of learning. They help the student gain knowledge through exploration rather than exclusively giving it to them. I think that takes some of the pressure off the teacher, too. It’s okay to say you don’t know and that you will find out together. I suppose in theory this could happen in a traditional classroom, but I have yet to see it.

I realize this isn’t necessarily a library issue, but I do think as central learning hubs, school libraries are well situated to make shifts in their pedagogy and in their programs. They can then serve as evangelists of sorts and even help with integration of new ideas into the classroom. I also think blended learning doesn’t necessarily have to focus on technology. To me it’s so much more than any one physical piece (like an iPad or a laptop), it’s about pedagogical change. Libraries are already champions of knowledge and content creation. They are already facilitators of knowledge. They are already resources for knowledge. It seems a natural step into pedagogical shift and blended learning.

I know none of these ideas are new and I’ve even talked about them here before, but I guess this article really made me realize how important I find it. Apparently CUE really gets my feelings about education and how it needs to innovate.

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10

May
2013

In Reading Round Up

By Elizabeth Wroten

Reading Round Up: Makers and School Libraries

On 10, May 2013 | In Reading Round Up | By Elizabeth Wroten

Just a couple links this week. Two are related and the other is something I ran across through Pinterest.

  • Kollabora is a maker community where people can post and find projects. It’s mostly sewing and knitting with a bit of crafting thrown in. I thought it would be a pretty cool site to promote in a library that has an active crafting/knitting/fabric arts community.
  • David Lankes gave a presentation at the Texas Library Association about school libraries. I thought he made some really great points. “The school library is about exploration, not regurgitation.” I wish that was also true about the classroom, but that’s my topic for Monday. You can see the presentation here.
  • Maureen Sullivan published a piece on the Huffington Post about the state of school libraries. In it she talks about how important school libraries are, but that they are on the chopping block due to budget cuts. It’s a short piece well worth the time to read it.

 

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08

May
2013

In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten

My Gap Year(s)

On 08, May 2013 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

showmetheawesome2This post is part of Show Me the Awesome: 30 Days of Self-Promotion, an initiative started by Kelly at Stacked, Liz at A Chair, a Fireplace and a Teacozy, and Sophie at SophieBiblio. Follow along on their blogs and on Twitter with the hashtag #30awesome. The banner is by John LeMasney at Lemasney.com.

If you’ve read my About Me page (or keep reading this sentence) you’ll know, among other things, that about two years ago I had a baby and quit my job. What you won’t know is how terrifying that prospect was and how difficult the decision was to make. I worried that no one would ever look past that gap in my work history or worse yet, would write off motherhood as a busy, but ultimately easy, job requiring no skill. Even in a profession dominated by women it can be hard for mothers to justify putting their family first. But what I wish I had known then, is how much better a librarian I am for having made that choice and actually staying home.

Now, I’ve never been the kind of woman who believed she could have everything. In fact, I’m not sure I know what that means to me and if I would even want it. But two years ago I had a job I loved in a profession I loved. Sure, it didn’t pay well, but that was fine for starting out.

I also had a husband I loved and wanted to start a family. When we sat down and actually looked at the financial reality of having a baby we realized my job wouldn’t cover quality daycare, not to mention all the additional costs that came with a baby. And deep down I knew it would take a lot more than a financial wash for me to go back to work immediately. I have to say in her infinite wisdom, when I told my boss I wasn’t coming back, she already knew what choice I would make, but thought I would have to see the baby’s face before making it. At least I didn’t have to feel guilty leaving.

I know it sounds terribly trite to say being a mother made me a better sort of person, but I can actually agree with the list of ways everyone says being a parent changes them for the better. I’m more patient with everyone. I’m more empathetic, although I think that’s mostly the hormones talking. I’ve learned to embrace unpredictability and imperfection because you can never be sure your kid won’t melt down in the grocery store or that you’ll handle it well when it happens. I’m great at managing time and often wonder what I did with myself before having a baby. I appreciate community more and want to be a part of it for my daughter’s sake. Considering librarians are essentially customer service professionals, all those characteristics are positive, but not all the ways I became a better librarian were so obvious (or cliched).

One of my first worries when I was home was that I would show up to an interview and sound hopelessly out of touch and outdated. I wasn’t especially connected with the library world and needed a way to stay involved without having a job. So, I started up a Twitter account (@AtomicBeeRanch) and began following other librarians, professional associations, and book sources. I set up a Google Reader account and got my mom to babysit one day a week so I could spend some quality time reading the various library blogs and the professional publications I began subscribing to. I also set up this blog (with a lot of help from my husband, thanks Tom!) to have a place I could leave a record of what I was doing. I joined a couple professional organizations and began attending their conferences (when our budget allows). I take professional development classes through ALA and catch as many free webinars as I can. Now I have a collaborative network I can rely on even once I’m back in the workforce.

Part and parcel with engaging in the library community, I’ve also become a lot more aware of the wider world of librarianship and the many ideas and opinions that are out there. I worked full time through library school and jumped into a library job where there was only one other person working with me. I was too inexperienced and there wasn’t time to worry about the big picture or much pressure to once I was working in a library. Which isn’t to say the future of libraries or the next big technological advance is something all librarians need an opinion on, but I think it’s important to have a philosophical foundation to work from, to guide you and I didn’t really have that before.

I worried, at one point, that being home might make it more difficult for me to find my way in my career, but instead it crystallized it. A few months into motherhood I was surprised to find I was missing the students. I also really missed the energy and excitement they brought to school. I had never felt tied to one particular type of library before, but leaving the kids behind made me realize I want to work with them again. And after all that fretting over staying home, I also decided that I don’t want to work for a company or library that would look at my gap years as a black spot. I know that my family will always come first and an institution that can’t respect that is one I can’t see fitting into. If at all possible, I also want a flexible, part-time schedule so I can still be home, even if it’s just a few hours after school.

I think most importantly though, I know now I made the right decision. I know how lucky I am to have had the ability to make a choice between work and staying home and I am grateful every single day that I don’t have to miss a minute of my daughter growing up; even the not so great minutes. I can see her flourishing right before my eyes and I will never have to ask myself if I shouldn’t have put my career first or if the financial sacrifice would have been worth it. I’ll never feel guilty that I didn’t give my daughter enough time and equally importantly I’ll never have to worry that I didn’t give my library enough time. Which means I’ll never have to resent the profession I love for taking that from me.

In the end, realizing all this doesn’t necessarily make me worry less about rejoining the workforce, but it does make me feel confident in my decision to leave it for a time. Sure it’s a cliche to say that being a mother has made me a better librarian, but it doesn’t make it any less true.

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06

May
2013

In Review

By Elizabeth Wroten

Review: Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

On 06, May 2013 | In Review | By Elizabeth Wroten

Raven BoysFrom GoodReads:

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

Okay, despite reading the blurb about this book, I thought this was going to be a fantasy novel set in another world. Maybe I was mixing it up with blurbs about The Scorpio Races (which I don’t actually think is set in another world, either), but I was very wrong. And also very confused for the first few pages. Every time something modern and familiar popped up, like a car, I would think, oh I guess they have that in this world.

I was also prepared to dislike this book mostly based on the fact that the main character’s name is Blue. I hate it when authors come up with names that are different. I know they usually do it for a reason, but it just always makes me think some overwrought teenager named them. Thankfully The Raven Boys won me over after the first ten pages, which, incidentally was the point at which I thought, hey wait a minute, this is set in our world. Palm to forehead.

The characters in this were all really unexpectedly complex, even if they felt a bit young to me (which I think is more a function of my getting older than anything). Blue especially had a few really naive moments that I probably had as a teen. Besides being a group of misfits, they’ve got a lot of baggage that makes them a bit mysterious and interesting. Plus they’re on a quest to find the corpse road to raise a legendary king and I am all for dark, atmospheric quests.

I loved that Gansey was so manic about this quest, even to the point that he built a model of the city in his living room and keeps a journal of ephemera. If I ever go looking for something, I want to do those things. Adam was a bit infuriating for being so principled about leaving his family. I’m not really sure how true to life his refusal to seek help was just so he could do it for himself, but it also made him rather admirable. Blue seemed a little flat to me at first, but I think she has a lot going on under the surface and some of her plot points (her mother and Neeve, her father) will surface later in the series. I would guess she’ll be the one to change the most by the end of the journey.

Ultimately, though, it was Ronan I really loved. He’s got tons of baggage, but his f#%&-you attitude was refreshing. Punch first, ask questions later. He is clearly intelligent and even though it was a bit ambiguous at the beginning, he is clearly a good person. And he has a pet raven. Anyone with a pet raven is awesome in my book. Read this article about it, you will agree. Judging by the cover of the next book and it’s title, he’ll play a much bigger role.

I think another reason I connected with this book was because I went to a private school that was predominantly wealthy. I was not, so the way Blue and Adam feel awkward about money and infuriated by some of the feelings of entitlement rang pretty true for me. On the other hand, I was really irritated by Gansey beating himself up over comments he would make about money. I always felt that the reactions of Blue and Adam (and others) were not so much about Gansey being insensitive (self-confident doesn’t necessarily equal entitled) as it was about how they were misinterpreting his naivete about money as entitlement.

One of my favorite YA blogs, Forever Young Adult, read this book for their book club and has an awesome post about predictions for the next book in the series, The Dream Thieves. You can read that post here and be sure to scroll through the comments.

It could have been the creepy scene in the graveyard or the entanglement of love and death for Blue that sucked me in. Maybe it was the mystery surrounding it all. Or maybe it was the Tarot card readings and fortune telling. Or maybe it was Gansey’s neurotic obssession with the spirit road and his journal stuffed with ephemera. Or all those things. Whatever it was I am hooked.

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03

May
2013

In Reading Round Up

By Elizabeth Wroten

Reading Round Up: MLIS Debate Updated: 5/8/2013

On 03, May 2013 | In Reading Round Up | By Elizabeth Wroten

I guess I’m hopelessly out of the debate loop in Libraryland, because I had no idea until this week that people were debating the need for librarians to have an MLS/MLIS. I don’t want to turn this into a lengthy opinion piece, but I wanted to add a couple thoughts and share three links to some good posts about the debate that I read this week. First the links:

As I said, I was totally clueless that this was even something up for debate. I always thought it made perfect sense to require an advanced degree to be a librarian if for no other reason that it shows some level of dedication. Plus I think it lends professional librarians an air of credibility and legitimacy outside the library community. Whether or not that’s a good or bad thing is another conversation.

I agree with the Effing Librarian, because library school does give you a good philosophical foundation, just like getting a teaching credential would give you a good pedagogical foundation. Sure it’s expensive, but education is. Maybe we should discuss reducing the cost instead of no longer requiring the degree all together. Although I think Andy’s idea about a certification isn’t bad either, especially for people who already have professional degrees.

Update: While I really agree with most of the sentiments in the guest post on Agnostic, Maybe my own experience with the degree was different. I worked full time in a really poorly paid position. The economy had just tanked and jobs were disappearing. I didn’t have the option to quit my job and find a library job. San Jose State, where I was enrolled, had many internship opportunities but they were all unpaid and in the Bay Area, a good two hour drive from where I was living. Taking one of those just wasn’t an option. I also noticed that many of the other students enrolled were older than I was and married. They either already had a library job or had a second income that gave them the flexibility to take unpaid internships or low paid internships. I wish I had been that lucky. I tried to get library jobs while I was in school, but no one was hiring in my city. I used library school, even if it wasn’t perfect, to get a theoretical background, to get a sense of the directions I could go, and earn the necessary degree.

That isn’t to say only librarians with an MLS/MLIS are good librarians. There are bad librarians with the degree and there are good ones without it. But I ultimately agree with the Effing Librarian that without some sort of educational requirement/certification it potentially opens the field up to a lot of unqualified individuals and when the administration that does the hiring already thinks you just run a book museum, that’s a problem.

 

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01

May
2013

In Review

By Elizabeth Wroten

Review: Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

On 01, May 2013 | In Review | By Elizabeth Wroten

Running DreamFrom GoodReads:

Jessica thinks her life is over when she loses a leg in a car accident. She’s not comforted by the news that she’ll be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. Who cares about walking when you live to run?

As she struggles to cope with crutches and a first cyborg-like prosthetic, Jessica feels oddly both in the spotlight and invisible. People who don’t know what to say, act like she’s not there. Which she could handle better if she weren’t now keenly aware that she’d done the same thing herself to a girl with CP named Rosa. A girl who is going to tutor her through all the math she’s missed. A girl who sees right into the heart of her.

With the support of family, friends, a coach, and her track teammates, Jessica may actually be able to run again. But that’s not enough for her now. She doesn’t just want to cross finish lines herself—she wants to take Rosa with her.

This one was a light read despite the technically depressing subject. It was enjoyable, but it was a bit too upbeat for my tastes. Maybe it was realistic, but I felt like there would have been a bit more of a struggle on Jessica’s part coming to terms with the loss of her leg. Of course, that could just be the cynic in me. That being said, I think it did an admirable job dealing with a difficult subject. I also think it could be really heartening for the right reader while also having a broader appeal. As far as the writing, it took me a little while to get into it. But the short chapters and terse sentences really won me over.

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29

Apr
2013

In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten

New Adult

On 29, Apr 2013 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

I’ve been following the recent chatter over the newish fiction designation of New Adult and thought as someone in the targeted demographic I would like to weigh in. I know Liz Burns and a few other librarians are going to be having a roundtable discussion about it at the ALA annual conference and I would love to be a part of that, but it’s just not practical or financially feasible for me (and my family) to go. I’ve read all of the articles Liz wrote on her blog and one from YALSA too. You can check them out here and here. Liz has links to a lot of other good content about New Adult, not all of which I have had a chance to read because I am busy being a New Adult.

It has taken me quite some time to really pin down what it is I like to read for pleasure. I read a fair amount of Young Adult fiction to keep up on trends and I enjoy a lot of it, but really I enjoy it because I can see myself recommending it to a patron or student, not because I find it to be what I would want with me on a desert island. Of course, I have stumbled across a few titles that I absolutely love, but they are the outliers.

I am, however, a huge fan of nonfiction. It’s much slower going (especially now that I have a baby) and it can be dry. But I am fascinated by history and science and enjoy reading about them. I also feel driven toward nonfiction because I have had a really difficult time getting into Adult fiction. I briefly went through science fiction, fantasy, and mystery phases, but ultimately I wasn’t interested in the formulaic plots and many of the taudry details of mass market paperbacks. There are of course shining examples in all these genres and I read many of those and loved them. They are like the YA outliers I love. Ultimately though, those genres just weren’t for me.

So, what did that leave me with? Realistic fiction and magical realism. (And historical fiction, which aside from the historical setting, I tend to lump in with realistic fiction.) The problem, to me [GROSS GENERALIZATION ALERT!] was that the vast majority of it that I encountered seemed to be about midlife crises and people either cheating on their spouses or getting divorces, or both. Also, depressed women. None of those things was, or is, me. And in pleasure reading you want to identify with the characters, right? I just don’t. I’m not into torrid love affairs. Or divorces. Or depression. Or longing. Or feeling like I just realized 20 years of my life was gone in a blink.

Add to this that, despite the fact that I am married with a baby, a career, a house and mortgage, pets, and the whole shebang, I don’t feel like an adult. I still identify more with the teens I served than with my parents. Even though, in reality I’m probably more like my parents and those teens probably felt that way too.

New Adult, to me, seems to fill a gap. It’s fiction for those of us who aren’t quite at that point in our life where we feel like grown-ups and can relate to middle life. It also seems to me that it may contain a bit of nostalgia for those of us about to exit our 20s. I remember and am still trying to make sense of my last decade. A lot happened. Reading about others in the throes of it or reflecting back on it helps me put my own experiences in perspective. It also make me fondly remember that weird transition time when I was not quite prepared to be on my own, but essentially was. The YALSA article on New Adult mentioned the television show Girls. I’m not that young or free anymore, but I still find their situations completely relatable and oftentimes funny. It also makes me glad I’m not in that weird transition period anymore.

Sure, New Adult has it’s flaws. For starters it’s really just an arbitrary label publishing companies are giving their books. I don’t really think it’s necessary for there to be a New Adult section in the book store. But a label on Amazon that I could click on or marketing campaign, why not? I’m not the target demographic of YA, but I still look for that label to use as a gauge of what I might enjoy reading. There’s a lot of stuff published every year and I need to start somewhere.

New Adult is also pretty narrow. But it’s new! I would bet YA was also narrow when publishers first started labeling books that way. I happen to be part of the demographic that it’s marketed towards now (white, female, middle class, educated). But again, I bet YA was also that way to begin with. New Adult could be difficult because there is a vast range of experiences that can happen in the decade of your 20s, but there are still universal experiences within it. And there is a vast range of experiences in the teen years, but that doesn’t stop us from thinking that a YA label can’t represent a variety of experiences or that YA literature can’t tackle the universal experiences.

There also seems to be an emphasis on sex in these books, at least according to several definitions of New Adult. I don’t think  New Adult needs to or should go down the romance, chick-lit path. That’s why there is a romance and chick-lit label out there. But I find myself rolling my eyes when I read younger YA and middle grade novels where the characters are blushing about a quick kiss. I don’t think sex should dominate the plot or that it needs to be in there, but it can be there so long as it’s natural to the situations and characters and doesn’t devolve into erotica or romance.

A couple of comments I read on Liz B’s discussion of the definition of New Adult implied that adults shamefully peruse the teen section looking for reading material. If that is the reason New Adult is being coined and marketed, then that’s potentially a problem. But it’s also not a problem. So what if it gives adults “permission” to read novels written for a younger set? And by that token won’t there suddenly be a stigma of people in their 40s reading material marketed to 20-somethings? Personally, I don’t really care if I’m reading books marketed for teens or adults so long as I am enjoying them. Because, if I’m enjoying it, it was meant for me; age, class, gender, etc. be damned. But, I know I may be in a minority in that feeling.

However, I think that the “permission” sentiment implies that YA is intended and appropriate for 20-somethings and I think that isn’t correct. As a 20-something, there is YA that I like, but it’s not written for someone in my time of life. Neither are all those midlife-crisis books. So while YA is often relatable and enjoyable because I lived through that time in my life and remember it, YA does not accurately reflect where I am now and who I am now.

I think, too, as librarians we worry a bit too much about categorization and how it might limit what people read. We love ALL the books! And we want everyone else to, too. Even if that isn’t possible. Yes, New Adult might limit some people by making them think it’s what they are allowed to read, but I think those people would be few and far between. I also think, while we should be wary of the effect of labels, the bigger issue is getting people reading. I don’t care if they read graphic novels, romance novels, science fiction novels or new adult novels. As a librarian I want them reading!

Ultimately I believe New Adult could be a useful tag or classification. Just because you aren’t the target demographic doens’t mean you can’t read it. Also it doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself. I’m a new adult, but I’m also newly married, a new mom, a librarian, a world traveler…the list goes on. When looking for another good book to pick up I use a lot information based on my experience as a reader and part of that can include labels like New Adult.

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26

Apr
2013

In Reading Round Up

By Elizabeth Wroten

Reading Round Up: Rights Edition

On 26, Apr 2013 | In Reading Round Up | By Elizabeth Wroten

Over the past couple months I’ve come across several blog posts that deal with the rights of the patron and of learners. I thought aggregated they made for interesting reading.

  • This is a post from Designing Better Libraries about the rights of a patron as pertains to quality of service and experience. They seem obvious, but aren’t. I would add to it this post from Agnostic, Maybe in which Andy talks about there truly not being a stupid question. I think this is important to remember, especially in school libraries, as discouraging students and patrons from asking questions, or simply instilling a fear of asking questions, can be incredibly detrimental to the purpose or mission of the library (or classroom).
  • This isn’t exactly a list of rights, but it is something students should expect to get from their education/library. From Blue Skunk Blog, a list of six skills, broken down into what they entail, that all students should have by the time they graduate EIGHTH grade. Doug Johnson broke them down into separate posts so here are links to them:

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Six

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