Last week was the very first meeting of Books on Tap, the Northbrook Public Library's first book club to meet in a pub. Of course, I love all of my book clubs equally, but this was a big day for me. Starting a book club that meets outside the library is a big undertaking. I had no idea how many people would show up, or really whether the months of effort, planning, and promotion were going to pay off.
I am pleased to announce that the first meeting of Books on Tap had 23 attendees, of varying in ages from 20-somethings to several women in their 60s. That's one of the reasons I love running this type of club - how often does a 55 year old woman and a 20-something man sit in the same room to talk books? Unless the 55 year old woman is his mother, probably not that often.
Anyways, I will save the "how to start your own library book club in a pub" post for later. For now, I am going to stick with a recap of the discussion.
We discussed the book Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, a beautifully written but very divisive book about a family who runs a failing alligator wrestling amusement park in Florida. The book is fairy tale-ish but definitely the kind where Cinderella's sisters cut off their toes to fit in the glass slipper - not the one where Cinderella sings about dreams to little furry animals. It's strange, creepy, and very darkly humorous - full of allusions to Dante's Inferno.
When we went around the room to give general impressions of what people felt about the book (did you love it, hate it, etc.), two people flat-out hated the book, three loved it, and most were left somewhere in between enjoyment and bewilderment. Some words used to describe the book were: quirky, engaging, hipster literature, a slog to read, unoriginal, aggressive, and bizarre.
We spent a good amount of time discussing what genre the book is - is it magical realism? There are many elements of the book where the reader isn't quite sure what's real and what isn't. This lead of to a discussion about reliable narrators - the book is told from the perspective of two of the children in the family. The other issue we talked about in great detail is the ending of the book, which is such a huge spoiler alert that I cannot write it out. But if you check out my discussion questions, you can find info about it there.
When I asked about similar authors or works, Carl Hiassen and John Irving were brought up. But I would compare it to Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, a book that I'm hoping Books on Tap will read in the future.
I would absolutely recommend this book to other discussion leaders. This book has so much to discuss, simply because it evokes strong feelings on both sides of the spectrum - those who loved it and those who do not. You can find the publisher provided book discussion questions here, but I think they are particularly awful for this book, so I made my own, which you can access on this Google doc.
Happy Monday, and happy reading!
When I started at the Northbrook Public Library, one of the things they really wanted to explore was creating an Adult Graphic Novel collection. This is the second time I have built up a Graphic Novel section with an adult focus and I thought it might be useful to share some tips and tricks from my experiences.
First of all, I'm a comic book and graphic novel reader, and that in itself helps significantly. If you are in charge of creating this type of collection, I would recommend that you get yourself in a comic book store stat.
Not sure where the closest one is? Use a Comic Shop Locator. I know they can be intimidating but any truly good comic shop will not make you feel bad for being a newb. In fact, you should tell them you're a newb, and that you want to start reading some core, entry-level comics and graphic novels.
Once you start reading, you can look into building up your collection. The fact is, most comics and graphic novels just aren't going to be reviewed in the regular places, like Publishers Weekly or Library Journal. While our regular resources cover some things, you need to think outside the box for collection development resources. My personal favorites are:
I'm not saying you have to obsessively read every single thing posted on all these sites. But be familiar with them. Use their reviews. And check back on them on a regular basis.
Now let's talk about core materials, which are extremely important to building up any collection. My all-time favorite resource for graphic and comic book core lists are produced by Graphic Novel Reporter, a truly awesome resource. If you are super busy and only have time to peruse one of the sites I mentioned above, this is a very reliable resource. This website has pretty much everything a newbie librarian needs to jump head first into a graphic novel collection, including (zomg!) discussion guides!! (squee!!) You can find their core lists here:
A few things to keep in mind for your collection:
How are you going to organize these?
Schedule a meeting with your Tech Services department and the person who will be cataloging them. In many Youth Services departments they tend to do a character call number system - for example, all books about Batman will have a call number: Graphic Novel Batman. And this makes sense for Youth Services because as we all know, some kids just want to read absolutely everything about Spiderman or Batman or if they're particularly awesome kids, Wonder Woman. *grin*
However, I would advise against this for an adult collection. There are many different versions of characters written by different authors. I prefer to keep the entire collection together, both Fiction and Nonfiction, and call numbers reflect the last name of the author. Keep it simple.
Graphic novels and comic books are different, but you should include both in your collection.
Comic books are not just for kids - just as important and read by just as many adults. However this doesn't mean putting single issues into your collection. You will be buying something called a Trade: this is single issues bound together in paperback or hardcover format.
When you're buying an ongoing series of comics, there will always be a specific order.
Use Wikipedia to find the order, especially for long series. It
always correct, contains issue numbers, will give you info on omnibuses, and if you're really lucky, will even give you the ISBN. VERY useful tool.
Think hard about shelving and your budget.
Graphic novels are generally more expensive and much bigger than the average book. So plan your budget and space accordingly.
Don't forget about Manga!!
Teens read Manga but just like comic books, so do adults. That said, depending on your space and budget, manga can have many, many issues. I would recommend checking out the Core List provided by Graphic Novel Reporter, picking one or two out, and then observe.
Most importantly, HAVE FUN!
Adult graphic novel collections are so much fun to be in charge of - enjoy the experience.
Are you in charge of this type of collection? Do you have advice to pass on or resources that you particularly love? Please share in the comments!
At the Northbrook Public Library, we use a Social Media Committee to run our various social network presences. This is a relatively new committee for the library, and we decided it would help a great deal because with social media, you really have to be posting and responding frequently and constantly.
Everyone on the committee has different things they are in charge of - I tend to be most involved in the library's Twitter and Foursquare accounts, for example. But we all contribute and try to brainstorm new and awesome ways to get the library more social.
At our most recent meeting, the chair of our committee and my partner in crime, Gwyn Stupar, invited the person in charge of the Northbrook Parks District's social networks to our meeting and WOW was it useful! He has a MBA and specialized in digital marketing. It's amazing how much you can learn from someone outside of the library field! First, the Northbrook Parks Department does great social networking stuff. Check them out on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Here are a few of my favorite things he passed on to us:
There was SO much to learn. This just goes to show that we can learn a great deal from people who might be in our communities but aren't in the library. Look outside the walls of the library! And get social!