Monday, July 27, 2009

Tone vs. emotional reading index

At Things Mean a lot, Nymeth blogged yesterday about wanting to read "more books full of quiet intimacy and longing and loss" after reading the graphic novel Slow Storm. She suggested getting a few bloggers together to create an emotional reading index. This is the RA element tone (the way a book makes you feel), and there's a vocab to describe it (although much of this comes naturally and may not even require a library science concept or an index). A few words from Joyce Saricks in Readers' Advisory in the Public Library: bittersweet, bleak, dark, edgy, evocative, foreboding, gritty, heartwarming, humorous, lush, melodramatic, nostalgic, philosophical, political, psychological, romantic, rural, stark, timeless, upbeat, urban. Reviewers, bloggers, agents, and publishers should be dropping words like this into any review, recommendation, or blurb as appropriate.

I wanted to suggest Nymeth visit her local library for suggestions, but that's not a fool-proof path to a good readalike. I cringed to witness an RA fail at my local branch of the NYPL last week. A woman sitting at the desk labeled "librarian" helped a patron put a book they didn't have on hold. Then, the magic words, "Can you suggest any other good books?" I got so excited to witness my first RA interview! The response? "Not off the top of my head. But you can browse over there in the new books section." This makes the patron and anyone who watched this happen think that's not part of a librarian's job, not an appropriate question, which impedes RA everywhere in a big way. Until there's a librarian (or even a paraprofessional) working at all times that can make suggestions or just engage in a book talk, patrons will never feel comfortable initiating one.

On a final note, Nymeth's blog also sparked my interest because I've been thinking about RA and graphic novels recently. Surely it's possible to apply the same appeal elements in a similar way, but it seems like a huge can of worms. In a quick google, I found many library and library-related sites that suggest GN but don't address the appeal elements. The Graphic Novels in Libraries listserv seems promising, although I can't dip into the archives. Will investigate more later, especially after I start reading Skim (Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki).

1 comment:

  1. You know, I actually want to be a librarian (I plan on starting library school in about a year), so this is extremely useful to me. I love the concept of RA. Sadly, my town's public library is extremely poor, and I'd be in trouble if I couldn't use the university library. But that one has its downsides too, as they specialize more in non-fiction and classics than contemporary literature. And more often than not, the librarians would give that same answer you witnessed. I hope to be able to make a bit of a difference some day.