What about nonfiction?

Familiar with doing readers advisory for fiction but not for nonfiction?  Why should fiction get all the attention?  Nonfiction books can be just as fun to read too.  For doing readers advisory for nonfiction, here’s a valuable reference tool: The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Nonfiction by Neal Wyatt, published by ALA Editions.

Why I bought it:  I wanted to learn about how it’s possible to do readers advisory for nonfiction.

My take:  This was an informative and interesting book.  In the first two chapters Wyatt discusses how to do readers advisory for nonfiction, the four elements of nonfiction, and how to offer the service to the patron.  Popular subjects such as food and cooking, science, sports, memoirs, travel, and history are covered.  The remainder of nonfiction subjects receives its own chapter.  (How-to and reference books are excluded)  I liked how the topical areas within a subject are broken out and explained. Well-known titles are presented at the end of the chapters.  (Additionally Appendix B presents those well-known books in a list format by subject)  Wyatt ends with a chapter of  suggestions about how to learn and promote your nonfiction collection and the kinds of aids you can use for patrons to explore more about their favorite subject.  (For example, you can present nonfiction books with a novel based on the subjects covered in the story)    Just as you would for fiction, read nonfiction widely too!  Bridge the Dewey divide, Wyatt writes. 

Bottom line:  Worth reading!  I learned a lot from reading this book.  Great for those new to public librarianship or have been practicing in the field.

Editors note: ($47.70 from Amazon with free shipping – $53.00 from ALA and $47.70 from ALA  *if you are a member *. . . hmmm)

To blog readers: On a personal note, I changed divisions within my library.  After two years of working in fiction, I transferred to the History & Biography section of our Social Sciences Division in early summer.  I had been there before working in our fiction division.  My undergrad degree is in history so its my area.  Because I’m in a specific subject area, it’ll give me an opportunity to relearn the collection and explore what we’ve got on our shelves.

Elisa Babel, MLS

Outsourcing in the Ivy League

 The fiscal problems of main street have reached the Ivy League.  At Brown University Libraries, the answer is early retirements and outsourcing to private contractors. Protesters of outsourcing have set up a Facebook Page here:

Brown University Library Matters

They have set up an on-line petition to allow others to voice their disapproval here:

Stand for Justice

Addendum:  April 28, 2010

Brown University Libraries advertised a new job  today.   Will the savings realized from laying off long-term employees help fund it?

Snowmageddon–DC 2010

Snowmageddon–DC 2010 

Elisa Babel, MLS

Snow—lots of it—fell on the metro Washington, DC-Baltimore area from February 5—10th, 2010.  But this was no ordinary snowstorm. Names such as Snowmageddon and Snoverkill were bantered around.  When the snowfall finally ended on February 10th, it was declared to be one for the record books, surpassing all previously recorded historic snowfalls.

As a departure from our usual library fare, I’d like to share with PUBLIB readers my personal experience with Snowmageddon.

 February 4th: It’s the evening before the snow storm. I stop off at the gas station at our local Costco after getting off work. Because of the number of people filling up, I have to wait a bit.  Interestingly, when I go inside Costco, it’s not packed.  There are lines but they aren’t lengthy.  Later as I exit the parking lot, there were only a few cars at the gas station.  When I get home, I unscrew the radio antennae and slip on my blue car cover.  L’Argente (my French nickname for my Toyota Corolla) is prepared for the snow.

February 5th: I have the day off. I have two DVDs that I’d checked out and some snacks. I’m set!  Snow continues to fall overnight and well into Saturday evening.  Twice I go out to shovel in the evening.

February 6th: I call the library staff weather line and heard our director’s recorded message that we were closed. Also I don’t check work e-mail when I’m not at the library. But given the circumstances, I wanted to be aware of the library closings.

Late morning I open the garage door to find L’Argente surrounded by snow and more on it.  Whoa!  This more snow than we usually get. My dad had bought a snow blower a few years ago so that’s a huge help cleaning up the driveway and the sidewalks.

February 7th: The DC Public Library system remains closed. The snow plow comes to clear our street late morning. The driver leaves our side completely untouched.  Our next door neighbors had parked one of their cars on the street.  Sigh…

Is that a yellow newspaper bag I see in the afternoon?  Indeed!  It’s the weekend “Washington Post” editions!  Thanks to the brave carrier.

February 8th: There’s a break from the snow—a temporary one.  I had previously requested a day of annual leave so I could do something.  It’s my first time leaving the house.  I pull up a little further than usual at intersections because of the high snow heaps. Entire lanes “disappeared” on some of our local roads. Interstates 270 and 495 in Maryland and Virginia were cleared but there were still hardened snow patches.

Although Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (MLK) Library opened at noon as usual, I see from my work e-mail that the library system had closed by 6 pm. (Our neighborhood branches have varied scheduled operating hours depending on the day)

February 9th: A snow warning is issued for the entire metro Washington, DC—Baltimore area on Tuesday afternoon.  That evening, MLK Library and other neighborhood branches close at 7 pm instead of the normal 9 pm.  (Some of our branches already had closed at their normal 5:30 pm time)  Some of my colleagues who live in DC really had to leave because Metro announced it would end its bus service early.  Since I had driven into work, I had a ready escape in our basement garage.  My usual an hour and 10 minute drive home became 2 hours.

I’ve driven in falling snow before but nothing like this!  I went over countless snow patches, a few of them caused me to slide a little.  Fortunately there were few cars going northbound 270 so I had room to maneuver.  Twice I stopped at a gas station and brushed off snow debris on the front windshield and headlights.  Bob Marbourg, Washington’s dean of traffic, and his colleagues on WTOP news radio were awesome with informative reports on all the roadways.

The DC Public Library system remains closed for the next two days and reopens on time Friday morning.

The snowstorm wreaked havoc on everything. The federal government closed for an unprecedented four days; many local governments and public schools gave up opening for the week.  Private and public institutions closed too, adjusting their schedules based the snow.  Maryland, DC, and Virginia deployed many workers to treat the roads and to do snow removal. Twice Metro ran underground service and there was limited bus service.  Maryland and Virginia followed suit with their respective commuter rail services and public buses.  It will be some time before everyone has dug out and streets fully cleared.

Here are some tips for driving in snow this winter:

–       Check your local jurisdiction about street parking during snow emergencies.

–       If you take public transportation, check on service operations when snow is forecasted.

–       If you have garage parking at your library or at a public garage, park there on days that snow is forecasted.  It will help to keep you and your car clean and dry.

–       If you are parking outside, get a car cover from an auto store and use it when snow is forecasted.  Scraping ice off your windshield is no fun.

–       Got that windshield scraper?  Full gas tank? Fully charged cell phone?

–        Tune into your favorite news station for traffic reports and updates

–       If you’ve got a back windshield wiper, use it!  Snowflakes can accumulate on the back windshield too.

–       Be aware of “disappearing” lanes and odd traffic patterns

–       Keep your distance behind road treatment trucks and other equipment.  They don’t go very fast!

–       Stick to the main roads. Your favorite back road or short cut may be too dangerous to travel during a snowstorm.

–       If your library closes early for snow and/or it’s snowing when you leave, take something to drink and a small snack in your car.  You could be in for a longer drive home than usual.

–       Take your time driving.  You will be going slower than posted speed limits. Same goes for taking public transportation.

–       Don’t go out unless it’s necessary!