RA FOR ALL...THE ROAD SHOW!

I can come to your library, book club meeting, or conference to talk about how to help your readers find their next good read. Click here for more information including RA for All's EDI Statement.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Resource Alert: NYPL Blog Channels [and not just the RA focused ones]

In our profession, we are experts at borrowing from each other, or as I put it in my 10 Rules of Basic RA Service:
8. Working together is your MOST valuable resource     --both across whole staff and with other libraries
We use resources-- i.e. the work of others-- to answer questions, and no other resource is better for helping library patrons find their next good read than the work of other libraries. Why? Because no matter how big or small, no matter where they are, all of them are serving library patrons. And, the bigger libraries have more resources to help us help patrons. They have more money and more staff to create resources we can also use to help our readers.

No one is bigger in America than the NYPL.  Thankfully, they are very willing to share as much as possible with their patrons, and the world, on their website. But in particular, I am a huge fan of their "Blog Channels" page.

There are over 4 dozen curated blogs available at all times on the Blog Channels page. Some, like "Readers Den" and "Biblio File" are obvious but don't underestimate what you can use to help readers from any or all of these.

For that reason, I have included all of the blog channels for you to explore. The page is worth a bookmark for when you have some down time for both an outside the box RA Service resource and to learn more about larger library issues and even musicals!

Don't worry that your library can never create so much content. Instead focus on Rule 8 and allow NYPL to help you "work together." They are happy to help and we can show our gratitude by using their content to help our readers, wherever they may live.

Blog Channels

Explore targeted blog coverage of specific topics, programs and services across the Library.
24 Frames per Second

24 Frames per Second

Everything and anything to do with with film and film programs at the New York Public Library.
Africa and the African Diaspora

Africa and the African Diaspora

The history and culture of Africans and African descendants around the world.
Archives

Archives: Out of the Box

This blog channel explores the library’s world-class and ever-growing archival holdings. We’ll examine these unique materials and the works produced by researchers consulting them. Open the box and delve into the archives with us!
Barrier-Free Library

Barrier-Free Library

The New York Public Library strives for total accessibility, no matter what our differences may be. Join us as we move down the path toward that goal.
Biblio File

Biblio File

Your one-stop shop for blog posts across the Library about books, reading and literature. Subscribe to RSS Feed.
Career Services

Career Services: Looking for Work?

Let the Library guide your search for employment with everything from resume help to databases to classes.
Children's Literature @ NYPL

Children's Literature @ NYPL

News and highlights from the world of children's literature
Community Information

Community Information

Resources and services for residents of the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island. Can't find what you need? Also try the Community Information Search in NYPL's Best of the Web.
eReading Room

eReading Room: The future of books at NYPL

There are so many new ways to access books and other digital reading matter on personal computers and portable devices. How to keep up? Library staff offer tips and tricks to get the most out of free ebooks online and our own eNYPL 
Facing the Page

Facing the Page: Adult Learning Centers

Exploring adult literacy at the library. The voices and experiences of students and volunteer tutors.
Food for Thought

Food for Thought

Uncovering the edible NYPL in books, menus, and ephemera.
For Teachers

For Teachers

This channel highlights the opportunities and resources for teachers that are available throughout the library system. Learn more about our primary sources, professional development opportunities and student learning experiences.
Hand-Made

Hand-Made

Are you interested in sewing and knitting, book arts and letterpress printing, traditional crafts and the new DIY, sewists of yesterday and today, vintage-inspired design, and all things handmade? Then join in the conversation at Hand-Made. We'll share information on unique items from the Library's collections as well as details on Library events that cater to the curious crafter in us all.
Interviews

Interviews

We talk to patrons, authors, artists and so many other interesting people. Come hear what they have to say about libraries and reading.
LGBTQ at NYPL

LGBTQ at NYPL

Connecting you with the LGBTQ collections, programs, and expertise that The New York Public Library has to offer.
Library Stories

Library Stories

Library Stories is a video series of moving personal interviews that show what The New York Public Library means to our users, staff, donors, and communities.
Library Talks Podcast

Library Talks Podcast

Feed your brain every Sunday with the best live conversations from The New York Public Library. An eclectic mix of voices and perspectives, Library Talks features your favorite writers and the ones you’ll love next. Hosted by NYPL live event programmer, Aidan Flax-Clark.
Lifelong Learning

Lifelong Learning

Part of NYPL's Mission is to inspire lifelong learning. No matter your age, where you are in life or what new thing you are trying to learn, you can follow this channel to get suggested resources as well as support and inspiration.
LIVE from the NYPL Blog

LIVE from the NYPL Blog 

The before and afterlife of LIVE events. Learn about speakers, get background readings, interviews, clips and more. The conversation about the conversation.
Made at NYPL

Made at NYPL

In this series, we focus on projects undertaken using research collections. We hope that other researchers will build on these projects in new ways.
Musical of the Month

Musical of the Month

Each month, a libretto of an important early American musical in a variety of electronic formats, plus associated photographs, vocal scores, and the occasional audio file.
Next Chapter

Next Chapter: A 50+ Library Blog

Don't despair if you are a Boomer, or a Silent, or a Greatest — the public library is with you every step of the way! This channel covers services, programs and other items of interest for the active older adult.
NYC Neighborhoods

NYC Neighborhoods

Five boroughs, 300 square miles, 6,375 miles of streets, 8.3 million people... hundreds of neighborhoods. This channel covers the history, culture, people, hustle and bustle and goings-on of New York City.
NYPL Events

NYPL Events

With 92 locations across New York City, a lot is happening at The New York Public Library: author talks, free classes, performances, and more.
NYPL Labs

NYPL Labs

NYPL Labs is an experimental design and technology team working expand the range of interaction, interpretation, and reuse of library collections and data. Learn more
NYPL Recommends: New & Noteworthy

NYPL Recommends: New & Noteworthy

See which books we can't stop buzzing about! Check out monthly updates about the newest and most exciting titles our librarians are reading right now.
Paperless Research

Paperless Research

The New York Public Library subscribes to hundreds of online databases and other information tools. This blog channel offers tips and tricks on getting the most out of online resources.
Periodically Speaking

Periodically Speaking

A reading series providing a major venue for emerging writers to present their work while emphasizing the diversity of America’s literary magazines and the magazine collections of The New York Public Library.
Poetry Month

Poetry Month

Each April, librarians throughout NYPL post readings, discussions and events celebrating National Poetry Month, a time when publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools and poets around the country band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture.
Popular Music

Popular Music

Libraries are thought of as quiet places, but that doesn't mean the NYPL doesn't know how to rock out. This channel will highlight popular music found in the library's collections.
Preservation

Preservation

News about the Library's preservation efforts and information for those interested in preserving their own collections.
Reader’s Den

Reader’s Den

The Reader’s Den is an online book discussion group offering library readers with busy lifestyles a convenient way to connect with books and The New York Public Library. This virtual discussion is accessible 24/7.
Research at NYPL

Research at NYPL

Updates about research at The New York Public Library for scholars, academics, and researchers.
Short-Term Research Fellows

Short-Term Research Fellows

Short-Term Research Fellowships support scholars from outside the New York metropolitan area engaged in graduate-level, post-doctoral, or independent research with a demonstrated need to conduct research in the Library’s archival and special collections.
SpecialCollections.txt

SpecialCollections.txt

Exploring the digital space of the Special Collections Division, our work with digitized and born-digital material, and the systems that make this work possible.
Spotlight on the Public Domain

Spotlight on the Public Domain

Learn about NYPL's Public Domain Release. Discover the collections and find inspiration for using them in your own research, teaching, and creative practice. 
The Librarian Is In Podcast

The Librarian Is In Podcast

The Librarian Is In is the New York Public Library's podcast about books, culture, and what to read next.
The Ticketless Traveler

The Ticketless Traveler

Travel the world without leaving your chair with these book, film and music recommendations.
Women's History Month

Women's History Month

In honor of Women's History Month, each March, NYPL librarians present a monthlong series of posts highlighting the many amazing women they've discovered through the print and online resources of The New York Public Library.
World Languages

World Languages

Information about library collections and services in Spanish, French, Chinese and Russian.
Across A Crowded Room

Across A Crowded Room: A Musical Theater Songwriting Series

This blog series provides commentary on the musical theater songwriting event we're holding over at acrossacrowdedroom.nypl.org
All Possible Worlds

All Possible Worlds: Conversations on Voltaire's 'Candide'

Based on the past exhibition Candide at 250: Scandal and Success, this blog traces the vectors Voltaire's book has taken through the popular and scholarly imagination.
Design by the Book

Design by the Book

From vintage valentines and textile patterns to fabric samples and turn-of-the-century menus from around the world, The New York Public Library holds a wealth of unexpected sources of inspiration for artists and designers.
Duke Jazz Series

Duke Jazz Series

This channel provides coverage of and context for The Duke Jazz Series and Talks that took place at the Library for the Performing Arts.
The Great American Revue

The Great American Revue

Revues and other topical popular entertainment of the early 20th century.
Three Faiths

Three Faiths

Librarians, curators, programmers, educators, and users share their thoughts on faith, and discuss the past exhibition Three Faiths.
Vandamm

Vandamm

This channel is inspired by the exhibition at the Library for the Performing Arts, Poet of Light: Florence Vandamm & the Vandamm Studio, which was on view from September 2013 through February 2014. The exhibition samples the photographs, key sheets and negatives are becoming available in Digital Collections.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Backlist Book Suggestion: A Tale for The Time Being

I often talk about the importance of the backlist here on the blog, but I also know that I spend a lot of time reviewing fairly new books. That being said, I am going to do a better job of providing actual backlist titles that you can and should be promoting and suggesting right now, including providing you with the information you need to immediately book talk said titles to a patron. In other words, it is time for Becky to live up to the advice I keep doling out.

[Side note: that is one of my personal management philosophies -- to lead by example.]

I want to begin with a title that made my personal list of the best books I read in 2014, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.  You can click here to read my report on the book discussion I led of this title that year.

I chose to begin with this book because it is a title that has stayed with me over the years. To be fair, I had to go back and look at my post to remember the plot of this book-- what happened in it-- but the feel of the story, how it was written, the characters, the way the story was told and constructed, all of that has stayed with me. What happened? Not as much. [And, as I always say, plot is easy to reconstruct, it is the feel of the book, your version of that book, what it meant to you, all of that is what we have to preserve.]

I also chose to begin with this title because over the last few weeks, I have encountered a variety of others mentioning how much they love this book--online, podcasts, in articles, etc... It made me go back and look at my own report on the title, and I even suggested it to someone I know who was looking for "something different,  but still accessible." [By the way, that is a fairly common request for which I have also suggested this book and this book with success.]

But I digress....

Click here or read below to learn more about A Tale for the Time Being. Please note, because I read this for book club, the post is in the Becky review format which many of you are used to, but if you want to find words that describe the book and readalikes, they are still at the end, and this one also has "Watchalikes."

And look for more backlist book suggestions here on the blog on a more regular basis, whether they are my backlist suggestions, or those from others.

And if you have a great backlist read you want to promote, contact me about doing a guest post. I have openings during an upcoming vacation over the New Year and would love to fill it with your backlist reviews. Remember, I am looking for titles that are less than 10 years old, preferably within the 2-5 year sweet spot.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2014

BPL Book Discussion: Tale for the Time Being

Last week we met to discuss the AMAZING novel A Tale For the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.

Here is the publisher's summary [It's a long one]:
Amid the garish neon glare of a district of Tokyo known as Akiba Electric Town, sixteen–year–old Naoko Yasutani pours out her thoughts into a diary. She is drinking coffee in a cafe where the waitresses dress like French maids and a greasy–looking patron gazes at her with dubious intent. The setting is hardly ordinary, but Nao, as she is called, is not an ordinary girl.
Humbled by poverty since her father lost his high–income tech job in Silicon Valley and had to move the family back to Japan, Nao has been bullied mercilessly in school. Seemingly unmanned by his professional failure, her father, Haruki, has attempted suicide. Nao herself regards her diary as a protracted suicide note—but one she will not finish until she has committed to its pages the life story of her 104-year-old great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun named Jiko. 
Years later on the other side of the Pacific, shielded from damage by a freezer bag and a Hello Kitty lunchbox, Nao’s diary washes up on the shore of British Columbia and falls into the hands of a writer named Ruth, who becomes captivated by Nao’s revelations. As Ruth’s fascination grows, however, so does her sense of dread: Has Nao followed through on her suicidal pledge? If not, is there still time to save her? Or has Nao survived her bout with adolescent angst, only to be swept away to her death by the cataclysmic tsunami of March 2011? 
Moved to compassion by the young girl’s words, Ruth ransacks the Internet for a trace of Naoko Yasutani or her father. She finds almost nothing there, but the mystery deepens when she discovers a second document in the same packet: a collection of letters from Haruki’s uncle, Jiko’s son, who was conscripted against his will in 1943 to serve the Emperor as a kamikaze pilot. Slowly Ruth pulls the pieces of the mystery together, learning about the lives of an extraordinary family whose history is both inspirational and tragic. 
Day by day, in her quest to save a girl she has never met, Ruth begins to acquire the wisdom that just might save herself. And above all the mystery and drama stands the presiding spirit of great–grandmother Jiko, an Eastern saint whose prayers and paradoxes point the way to a more settled sense of self.
Unflinching in its portrayal of the deep conflicts in Japanese culture, equally incisive in its assessments of the West, A Tale for the Time Being exposes a world on the edge of catastrophe. Simultaneously, with exquisite delicacy and an intimate sense of human motivation, it reveals its characters as kind, compassionate, and worthy of deliverance from the evils we do to ourselves and to one another.
Ever mindful of the small, A Tale for the Time Being also contemplates the large: quantum mechanics, Zen meditation, computer science, climate change, and the nature of being all pass beneath the author’s thoughtful gaze. A novel about both the near–impossibility and the necessity of communication, A Tale for the Time Being communicates a love of life in all its complex beauty. 

Before I get to the discussion itself, I have a few general comments. This is one of the best novels I have ever led a discussion on.  This is a book that is BEGGING to be discussed. I will recount all of the opinions and ideas expressed in our discussion below, but this is just a tip of the iceberg.  We could have kept going for 2 more hours easily.

Here are the discussion notes:
  • This is a challenging novel, but I had warned the group about that in advance.  Still, I was a bit nervous asking for a group vote on the book.  I should have known better than to underestimated the ladies.  10 Liked, 2 disliked, 2 so-sos. [2 votes were came in via email or phone as they had to miss the meeting but loved the book too much not to vote.]
    • One of my so-sos voted that way because of how long it took her to "get into it." This comment caused another to say, that was why she voted liked-- once she got to the Jiko character she felt like the book was worth the wait.
    • No matter how people felt, we all agreed it took until part 2 starts (about 100 pages in) until we felt comfortable.
    • I liked the spiritual experiences here.
    • I felt like the book portrayed the Japanese personality well.
    • I loved how the lines between "fiction" and nonfiction blended in the novel.
    • It was an uncomfortable read at times with the horrific bullying, sex industry, and talk of suicide, but it was never gratuitous.  It made you think about these issues.
  • Right at the start a few people mention asking themselves, "Why did I have so much trouble getting into this novel?" I thought this needed to be discussed:
    • It is an entire book about the collaborative nature of reading.  There is a key quote about it on page 109.  The novel's story line is a study in a reader and writer working together to unravel a story. Ozeki involves us by making us experience it too.  We all agreed that this active participation by us, as readers, improves the story and our experience reading it.
    • We talked about this for a bit and then came to the conclusion that the end of the novel was perfect because the end wasn't the end. It keeps going, like life. Very satisfying.
    • I think once we talked about how the novel is constructed in a way that is challenging but for an ultimate goal of our enjoyment of the story, people felt better about how hard they worked.
  • As I am sorting through my notes, I am remembering how philosophical our discussion was.  here are some topics we brought up and discussed at length:
    • What is reality?
    • What is my reality?
    • How does my perception of reality shape my reality?
    • What is the present?
    • What is time?
    • We had a discussion about Quantum Physics using the Appendix which explains the theoretical physics of  the Schrodinger's Cat Paradox. Click here for more on that. This led to discussions about how we think and create in the "time being." and how what is happening around us is dependent upon who is observing the happenings.
      • It is NOT coincidental that a key action in the book involves a box being opened at different times and people finding something different in it at different times.
  • Now, this is a book where what is happening on the page is open to interpretations, As a result we all posited different thoughts as to what was “really” going on:
    • Ruth and Nao are not 2 separate people but rather 2 halves of the same person.
    • Or they are 1 person but one of them conjured the other to cope.  Who conjured whom though?
    • Ruth is a writer in the beginning stages of Alzheimers and the whole novel is her story of the novel she is writing and the process of writing it.  Clues from her husband’s comments as they “read” Nao’s story together, the slow speed at which she “read” Nao’s diary, and the blank pages at the end.
    • This truly is a story told on different planes of reality a la quantum physics
    • Everything that happens can be taken literally and it is a magical realism story.
    • In the end we decided that it means what you think it means and that THAT comment is the entire point of the book.
  • We all loved the Jiko character. 
    • She unites everyone, both readers and those in the story.  That is why she is there.
    • When the stress or conflict in the story escalates, Jiko comes back to calm things down.
    • She is there to nourish the soul.
    • We wish all children could be given a “supapawa" like Jiko gave Nao.
  • We did talk about the ending at length.
    • The ending was very happy, but was it too happy?
    • Ruth needed a happy ending.
    • The reader deserved one too after working so hard
    • The ending was very “quantum” as we had a few possible endings here.
    • The ending is happy because Ruth is celebrating the end of writer’s block and finishing the book
  • We talked about the theme of loss in this story
    • There are many times when they lose power or communication with the outside world
    • Things being erased from the Internet
    • Alzheimers
    • A lost cat
    • A lost child
    • Lost homes (America vs Japan; NYC vs the Canadian island)
    • Whaletown lost its whales but kept its name
    • The free store-- the dump where lost things go
    • Life is an accumulation of losses
  • Of course we talked about time:
    • It’s a “tale” for the time being. The entire book is a tale not the truth. It is not meant to be taken literally.
    • “Tale" invokes fairy tale
    • Time itself cannot be more than a tale because it has no beginning or end.
    • Someone shared a quote from Thich Nat Hahn: "The present moment is where life can be found, and if you do not arrive here, you will miss your appointment with life.
  • Other issues we brought up briefly:
    • Pacifism
    • Environmentalism-- contributed to the theme of loss as we are losing the health of our planet.
    • Radiation issues with Fukushima.
    • Social media and bullying
  • We started to wrap things up with a return to the beginning-- Why was this book so hard to get into?
    • Because it a book that is like life and life can be hard and difficult but is worth it.
    • This book fanned out.  As book went on it blossomed and opened up and turned into a beautiful contemplation of Life.
  • Words or phrases to describe this book:
    • zen
    • spiritual
    • Supapawa
    • writer-reader combo
    • ugliness of human nature vs the redeeming nature of other
    • thoughtful
    • intricate
    • layered
    • mind-blowing
    • magical thinking
    • supportive relationships
    • 4th Dimension
    • challenging
    • loss
    • life- live
    • passage
    • unforgettable
    • philosophical
    • time
    • beauty of pacifism
Readalikes: This one was easy for me. Although the novel was unique, it also reminded me of other metafiction books and/or authors that were thoughtful, stylistically complex, and character driven:
Finally, for watch alikes we had two movies about alternate realities and popular quantum physics applications come up: