Monthly Archives: August 2012

Creative Library Marketing

I have been giving a lot of thought recently to marketing my small library’s services and resources on our campus and our role within the overall college community.  I think that most of the students recognize me as the librarian and then one day I get a wake up call in the form of a student assuming that one of my older student workers is the librarian.

So it seems clear that we can do more (and do it more effectively) to get the word out about what we offer and expand our role within the campus realm. To that end I put in a request and have just become one of the three administrators to our campus Facebook page. That will allow me to reach out to students through a site many of them already use. The trick will be to up the number of fans we have for our page.

Which is another level of marketing. I have been doing more with posters around campus but for students who don’t spend a lot of time in the building, these aren’t too effective so I’ve been musing about emails and Adobe Connect and other online avenues.

I just read Cruise to Success: How to Steer Your Way Through the Murky Waters of Marketing Your Library by Loreen S. Phillips (2009) and one of the tips was to make sure the library is included in fairs held for students on campus. We have a number of events on campus and I suppose I haven’t taken the full opportunities these may present to explain the library to students.  But a few weeks ago we had State Fair Week and I jumped right in (albeit in a non-traditional sort of way).

I volunteered for the dunk tank.

Well, to be honest, I was asked and grudgingly said yes after the coordinator told me proceeds would go to the local animal shelter.

But the dunk tank was a great experience. It really helped to foster a sense of community on campus between students in different programs and terms, between academics and administration, and the barker call “Step right up, dunk a librarian!” really got the crowd going.

The dunk tank got my face and position out there – and maybe it broke down some barriers. I figure a librarian can’t be as intimidating after you’ve seen her drop into a tank of water and bob back up dripping.  It’s marketing the library – in a non-traditional space.

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Summer of Wodehouse

It all started with an actual summer vacation. One with a cabin, and a lake, and lots of hiking and relaxing. A real week of getting away.

My husband and I don’t live in the same state as my parents so usually when we travel we go back to my hometown. And it’s fantastic to see old friends and family but it can be quite exhausting because we’re always trying to cram so many events and people into a few days.

But in June we took  a real vacation. It was with my family but that was a perk. Every year since I was in fifth grade my parents have rented a cabin up by Frankfort, Michigan for a week right after school gets out. Since college my participation has been sporadic but this year husband, dog, and I were able to make the trip. It was something we looked forward to for months.

But at a cabin that does not have TV or any of those media technology conveniences (one of the perks I personally think for that week) books are a requirement. There is almost nothing that beats sitting on the desk of a cabin, shaded by giant trees, on a bluff looking over a clear blue lake and enjoying a good book.

That book cannot be just any book however. It should not be too heavy or serious so as to dampen the relaxing and peaceful mood at the cabin. However, it should not be too frivolous or trashy that I feel my brain is dissolving into mush or am ashamed to be seen reading it in front of my family (which lest we forget includes my English teacher mother).

So the week before we headed to Michigan I was wandering around the aisles of my public library trying to determine what would be the perfect title for my week of summer vacation. As I neared the end of the alphabet in the fiction section I saw it – on the top of the shelving sitting snugly in a book display holder – Laughing Gas.

This began my earnest summer foray into P.G. Wodehouse tales that are not centered around the well-beloved characters of my childhood: Bertie and Jeeves. If you have not had the delight of reading these tales of a young foppish aristocrat and brilliant butler I would encourage you to head straight to your local library and check out the collection. Bertie and Jeeves closed many a night at our house and distracted us through numerous car trips – the brilliance of the stories (in part) being that while it may help to read them chronologically it is by no means a requirement to enjoy the hi-jinks that ensue.

But I digress. Laughing Gas  was not my very first non-Wooster Wodehouse (that honor went to The Girl in Blue) but it did begin a summer theme. I found this tale of a young British aristocrat’s ventures to California in an effort to retrieve a scallywag cousin and who inadvertently switches bodies with a child star completely absurd but diverting with nuanced criticism of Hollywood (where Wodehouse worked for a while) and the snobbery of the British. It really was an ideal read for my vacation.

But as the British idiom goes “one swallow doesn’t make a summer.”

What really built my Summer of Wodehouse was that my public library has an adult summer reading program. As a child I had participated in our local independent bookstore’s reading program every summer and our library only hosted one for children as well (but only for children to my knowledge). I was very excited to learn that some public libraries hold similar programs (with different incentives) for their adult patrons – Score!

Laughing Gas could count on that sheet (it fell within the date range) and as I perused the fiction shelves again I noticed that in its place of display was another Wodehouse book. It was as though someone knew I would be looking for it. And so I decided that the three books I would read and place on my summer reading program would all be Wodehouse. It would be a Summer of Wodehouse.

That second was Lord Emsworth and Others which is a collection of short stories. It starts featuring Lord Emsworth (of Blandings Castle) and continues with several other tales about Drones Club members (familiar to Beertie & Jeeves, or Blandings Castle fans), and Ukridge (a scoundrel whom I did not enjoy as I do Bertie, and Freddie Threepwood of Blandings fame, because although he gets into similar scrapes Ukridge does not appear to have any redeemable qualities).

I next inserted one of my own Wodehouse books that had been sitting on the TBR bookshelf for far too long. I could not include Blandings Castle … and Elsewhere in my library reading program (all books had to be from the library – up those circulation stats!) but after a brief foray into the Blandings crowd I wanted more. This is standard with Wodehouse – you start with a taste and end up wanting the whole cake. But alas, as the title may suggest, this did not consist of enough Blandings tales – the ones included were diverting as were the other stories provided, but I needed an ultimate dose.

Which led me to my final library Wodehouse – an omnibus. Life at Blandings is a compilation of 3 complete books by P. G. Wodehouse devoted to the family of Lord Emsworth of Blandings Castle. This collection includes Something FreshSummer Lightening, and Heavy Weather. By the end of the 800-page volume I almost over dosed on the Blandings crowd. The real issue is that the plots are all quite similar and in the case of the last two books within the omnibus are almost identical with characters and motives. While each story was entertaining in its own standing reading the three back-to-back is not highly advised. Take into considerationthe fact that Wodehouse wrote each book at least  several years apart from each other: Something Fresh  was published in 1915, Summer Lightening in 1929, and Heavy Weather in 1933.

So I ended my Summer of Wodehouse feeling a bit bloated on the Blandings crowd – a little overwhelmed by his characteristic hard edged aunts and simpering young men. But overall pleased that I had broadened my fictional friends to include Freddie Threepwood, and Sue Brown, and Lord Emsworth himself (dottering gentleman that he is).

However, since then I have returned to my Bertie and Jeeves – in video format this time. In the last days of summer I am now making my way through the BBC’s Jeeves and Wooster starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.

Author’s note: My summer reading program rewarded with my an I *heart* my Library pin, a drinking glass, and a voucher for a free book from the Friends of the Library sale –  all excellent incentives in my own humble opinion!

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National Book Lovers Day

When I logged into Facebook this morning (let’s all just admit that’s one of the first things we do when we sit at a computer) I saw a post by my public library that it is National Book Lovers Day. The perfect holiday for me.

 

What a surprise, a librarian who loves books.

 

But how did I come to love books? My mom (who happens to be an English teacher, but wasn’t when I was born and very little) read to my sister and I on an almost nightly basis. I loved that time, right before bed, when we would cuddle up on the couch and listen to at first, picture books, and then chapter books and novels.

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The material would vary (at my Grandma’s I always wanted The Pokey Little Puppy which was kept there much to my parents’ relief) but the experience was always at the core the same. For a half hour or so my mom, sister, and I (and sometimes my dad) would all sit together and spend time as a family being transported. Our nightly reading sessions are where I was introduced to some of my favorite characters: Eeyore, Anne Shirley, and  the March sisters. In high school when Harry Potter was hitting the U.S. scene my mom even returned to reading to us in her excitement of this new find (she read the first 3 books to us all as a family and then continued reading the rest to my dad as they came out and my sister and I went away to college).

 

There are all sorts of studies and articles about the educational benefits of parents reading to their children, and I am sure my mom was aware that she was helping us build language and learning skills, but she also helped to develop my imagination and our sense of family. And, or course, our love of books. Even though my sister is dyslexic she is an avid reader and I believe that is in a very large part to our nightly ritual.

So today I will celebrate those books I have read and those I will read. My goal this year is to read 40 books and according to GoodReads I’m 23 books close to my challenge. But ultimately being a book lover isn’t about the number you’ve read but how you are transported while reading and what you take away from the experience. I used to be very one-note in my reading : for example, through high school other than required texts (which I often enjoyed) my extra curricular reading was primarily historical fiction. Today, I try to vary my experiences reading a novel, and then a book of essays, to be followed by a biography or memoir. It has broaden my experiences, my reading skills, and my knowledge.

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IPA Day

Today, August 2, is National IPA Day.

Beer holidays are always observed in our house. My husband is a professed beer nerd, an avid home brewer, and an aspiring craft/micro brewer who is currently in school to obtain a degree in brewing technology.

It took me several years into our relationship to really warm up to and appreciate beer (all alcohol really, except for mixed drinks and margaritas – I just never liked the taste). My default “adult beverage” was usually a wine spritzer. However,  the hubs patiently and slowly introduced me to different beers, different styles, and different breweries. And I converted to the appreciation of good beer. My mom was stunned when she (an avid wine drinker) learned that her daughter was now a beer enthusiast and almost always chooses beer over any other alcoholic drink.

However, IPAs (India Pale Ales) are a style I have yet to warm to. Originally created with extra hops to preserve the beer until it traveled from England to India (Beer Advocate), the taste is not to my liking. Whenever my husband has me try a new IPA he is drinking I always make a face and complain that it is too bitter. “Beer is bitter!” is his reliable response.

I continue to persevere – after all that is how I made my overall break through with the beverage – but have yet to see the other side.

Double IPAs (also known as “Imperial” IPAs) are a different story. At first glance this matter of taste and preference is confusing. Double IPAs use, as may be obvious, roughly double the hops that regular IPA beers use.  When we first discovered my non-cringing reaction to a Double IPA one evening at our local bar, my husband theorized that to balance out the excessive amount of hops other ingredients such as the malts used in the beer recipes are often increased as well and results in (I find ironically) a more balanced flavor. The Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines (2012) state: “Though the hop character is intense it’s balanced with complex alcohol flavors, moderate to high fruity esters and medium to high malt character” (p.12).

So there you have it – my lack of appreciation for what many beer enthusiasts consider their favorite beer style – and my at first inexplicable but then understandable like (I can’t go as far as love) for the Double IPA.

So tonight on National IPA day I will be raising a glass of the imperial stuff and call it close enough.

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