Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Difficulty vs. Discussion Fodder

So I now know that at least two of my reading discussion patrons hate the book I chose for this month.  We're reading Italo Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveler.  I chose it because it's one of my favorite books - probably in my top five - and I guess I wanted to share that with my group.

If on a winter's night a traveler (which I've been abbreviating to IOAWNAT and then, every time, realizing it probably would have been faster to write out the full title) is a postmodern novel that employs metafiction and irritates the hell out of the unsuspecting reader by presenting her with the first chapter of a number of different novels, but never coming around and developing the second chapter of any of them.  The actual story takes place between the novels' beginnings, where you, the reader find yourself involved in an international plot that keeps leading you to another first chapter, then another, then another...

Calvino frequently uses his position as author to cut in and make comments about reading.  As such, I'm not even halfway through, and I'm excited about so many questions:

  • How do you settle down to reading?  What are your reading habits?  Are you very particular?
  • Did you identify with Calvino's description of a bookstore as a battleground?  How big is your to-read pile?
  • How did you feel when you realized each story was not going to end?
  • More than once during the novel, Ludmilla expresses what kind of novel she would like to read.  What is your ideal novel like?
  • From page 49:  "[T]hey teach us to read as children, and for the rest of our lives we remain the slaves of all the written stuff they fling in front of us."  Discuss.
  • What do you think of the professor's statement that all books continue in the beyond?
I mean I really think this is legit; I think it was a good choice!  I find this novel delightful, engaging, and funny.  But the thing is, apparently if you're not me, this is a pretty hard book to read.  At least, that's what my patrons seem to be saying.  So in the future, where should I draw the line between difficulty level and worthiness of discussion fodder?  Should I be pushing my discussion group to expand their reading horizons and try new - perhaps difficult - things?  Or is it better to just let them relax and enjoy the kind of book they'd usually read?

Maybe I'll know the answer to that better after the discussion next week.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Patron feedback.

"Wow, when you leave this job, you could be a social worker."

You know you're a librarian when... #2 online dating site asks for six things you could never do without, and one of your answers is interlibrary loan.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Do you have a garbage can?

We had a presenter come for Summer Reading today.  She did an incredible job.  She is a scientist and the published author of several books - so, we're talking about a pretty damn intelligent woman here.

Then, she puts a bunch of garbage into the recycle bin.

Okay.  Blue rectangular bin full of paper.  Identical to the one to the right, except, with a liner bag, and about half full of paper.  Take a look at this recycle bin.  Notice its shape, and its blue coloring.  Picture it, filled with paper.  Notice the way it does not look like a garbage can.

This happens all the time!  Patrons say, "I'm gonna put this in the garbage" and then throw it into the recycling.  And we have to fish it out and put it in the actual garbage.  And it's not like we have the recycle bin proudly on display in an area where a garbage can should go.  I'm surprised it's even visible from beyond the desk.

The Point:  This is something patrons do that I will never understand, and it is infuriating.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

AV purchasing.

Yesterday I bought 179 DVDs for the library.

Every summer I buy a couple lots on eBay - one of children's DVDs, and one of normal DVDs.  I'm completely buying them blind.  There's no list of what's in the lot.  Sometimes you can figure it out by pictures, but more often than not, those pictures are hard to see or don't zoom in.  So you spend a fifth of your remaining AV budget and cross your fingers.

I've found that the majority of the DVDs that come are usable.  I'm expecting to put 170 of the 179 on the shelves.  (The others will be either too violent or too sexual.)  I've never had one come that skipped or was damaged.  And my patrons are thrilled to see new (to them) movies available.  And I'm really happy to see DVDs taking up the space where the VHS tapes are now, to see those moving on.

That said, it is a little scary to have spent so much money and not know what's coming.  Cross your fingers for me!

Internal debate.

There's one book (actually, an audiobook) on the return cart.  I'm working alone.  If I get down to the end of the day, and there's still only one book there, do I:

  • Put it away:  I'm nice, I want to leave an empty cart for my coworker on Monday.
  • Leave it there:  Why should I put a single book away?  Better to let it get put away with the next full batch.

I suppose it's just laziness, but it's a question I face every time I work alone.  Is this really worth it?  If I were working Monday morning, I'd leave that book for my next large batch of returned books.  Why do something different because it's not me, but her?

Yeah, yeah, I'll put it away.  Jeez.