Thursday, April 6, 2017

Week Thirteen Prompt

Week 13 Prompt Though this week's group of "genres" all seem very different, they all have in common the fact that many people don't feel that they are legitimate literary choices and libraries shouldn't be spending money on them or promoting them to adults. The common belief is that adults still don't or shouldn't read that stuff. How can we as librarians, work to ensure that we are able to serve adults who enjoy YA literature or graphic novels? Or should we? I can't wait to read your thoughts on this. Thanks!

The discussion about what people should or shouldn't read has been debated for centuries. In the PowerPoint by Joyce Saricks, History of Readers' Advisory Service in America, we learned how these attitudes have shifted over time.

  • Moralistic tone
  • Individual consultations and reading lists
  • Aim of the librarian was to 'move readers toward classic works, to outline a plan of reading that would be educational, not recreational.'
  • Readers' Advisors are non-judgmental about reading tastes
  • Informal interviews, in person or via forms
  • We suggest, rather than recommend
  • Leisure Reading is the primary focus, both fiction and non-fiction"
In the article, A History and Introduction, we learn that 

"Readers' advisors and proponents of the service subscribe wholeheartedly to the philosophy that reading has intrinsic value... public library patrons are interested primarily in talking to librarians about their leisure-reading interests. Rather than 'elevating the masses,' readers' advisors strive to be knowledgeable about fiction and non-fiction--particularly that which is popular in their libraries--and to respond with perception and insight to the reading interests of their patrons."

"The two keys to to providing readers' advisory in any library setting, regardless of library size or staffing, are commitment to meeting the leisure-reading interests of readers and a responsive attitude toward readers, no matter what they enjoy reading."

When I was growing up, comic books weren't on any approved reading lists but, when we were with my cousins, my brother and I spent hours reading their collections. Many teachers don't approve of the Captain Underpants series or graphic novels. They won't "count" them as part of reading goals. Those who have done their research know that finding that first "hook" that sparks a child's interest and grabs their attention is an important step in their becoming lifelong readers. As their skills grow and they become more confident readers, they will naturally gravitate to other genres and topics of interest. My Star Wars, Lego, and Minecraft non-fiction books never sit on the shelf for long, and I am constantly replacing and updating them. 

In her article in Library Journal, Erin Cataldi wrote, "Coming-of-age stories have always been around, but they haven't been as prevalent or 'steamy.' The books appeal to more than their intended audience; just as with the Harry Potter and 'Hunger Games' titles, NA works have mass appeal among teens and adults...While this genre is wildly popular, it is not one that libraries or bookstores house in separate sections; ...Displays, booklists, and bookmarks are vital to help market your growing new adult collection to patrons." 

Many adults today experience hectic, stressful lifestyles. Reading for pleasure, especially library books, may be their one outlet to escape for a while, their "Calgon moment." No money is spent and maybe the time they use is their commuting time which used to be spent fuming about the traffic or napping on the train. 

Our job as librarians and readers' advisors is to provide the variety of materials and formats that our patrons seek as well as to provide non-judgmental, competent, friendly service no matter what they desire. We need to seek out Young Adult and New Adult authors and titles from indie publishers as well as utilize new resources which are available for these genres. 

History of Readers' Advisory Service in America, PowerPoint presentation by Joyce Saricks

Week 1 article, A History and Introduction

Cataldi, Erin. (2015). Betwixt and Between: New Adult Fiction. The Library Journal.

January/February 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine


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  2. Hi Suzanne,

    Great points! I completely agree with the “Calgon moment” reference! Everything enjoys the books they enjoy and no one should make someone feel embarrassed or look down on them because of it. I also like and find interesting your point in reference to Professor Cataldi’s point on coming of age stories. I feel as though each generation experiences literature geared for young adults and perceives it negatively, at least at first. Take Catcher in the Rye or To Kill a Mockingbird for example. I’m sure when those came out everyone was nervous and viewed them as quite steamy. I think I can remember reading something along the lines of when Catcher in the Rye came out back in 1951, it received decades of bans and challenges when it was either read or suggested it be read in the school setting. I think it may even have been more geared towards adults and segued into YA Lit over time. It's all just a matter of taste. It’s just interesting that each passing generation ups the ante, so to speak, particularly with YA Lit and graphic novels, and to see what comes next.

  3. Hi Jonathan,
    Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I didn't include, but could have good old Ranganathan's Laws, especially the modern version by Crawford & German, "Honor the past and create for the future."

  4. Very thoughtful, insightful prompt response. I couldn't agree more! Full points!