Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Genre Reading: Just My Type

According to a recent article in WIRED magazine:
“There are multiple theories for the genre dominance in digital publishing, including the appeal of anonymity offered by e-reader devices, which don’t display the cover of a potentially embarrassing book for all the world to see.  But the digital delivery system also offers immediacy and ease of access for material that often is serialized and written to make you want to know what happens next, as soon as possible. Liate Stehlik, senior vice president and publisher at HarperCollins, subscribes to that idea, at least partially. Genre fans, she says, became “early adopters” of the digital format because e-books are the optimal format “for people who want to read a lot of books, quickly and frequently. Digital has replaced the paperback, certainly the paperback originals. I think the audience that gravitated to eBooks first really was that voracious reader, reading for entertainment, reading multiple books in a month across multiple genres. “ http://www.wired.com/underwire/2013/06/digital-publishing-genre-fiction/

While I find the idea of a “plain wrapper” e-book pretty silly, and I disagree that paperback novels have quite yet gone the way of the dodo (nor do I want them to),  I thought the concepts about genre books and their user base of fast, frequent and, high quantity readers, espoused in the WIRED article, were quite interesting.

We may be Mystery Buffs, History Mavens, or Sci-Fi Fans, but many readers often repeatedly choose to enjoy the same type of book over and over.  Reading not just for entertainment, but also for comfort, we like knowing what to expect from a book, perhaps not the individual plot, but in terms of  the broad feel, style, setup or resolution of a story. As readers, we know what we like, and we know what we want, and that is often a story in a particular genre.
Genre refers to an assigned category which identifies the type of book (also musical compositions and films) through a short one- or two-word subject description.  Similar stories are grouped into categories recognized by both readers and the book industry.  
The majority of our library’s collection is broadly divided between “Fiction” and “Nonfiction”, but DPL does make use of genres to organize a substantial part of the collection. For instance, within Fiction, we have separate shelving for Romance Paperback, Inspirational Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Western and Graphic Novel.  The CamelliaNet catalog also allows readers to browse and filter results for digital material by genre.
Following is a list of some literary genres and sub-genres. Whether available in electronic or print format, we have books from all of these categories available at Decatur Public Library! What are you favorites?  (Personally, in nonfiction, I love reading MEMOIRS, and in fiction I lean heavily toward Speculative Fiction and its various sub-genres.)  If you are ready to branch out beyond old standbys, what piques your interest to try as something new? This is by no means a complete list of genres; can you think of others?


Space Opera                                                           Fiction in Verse
Hard Science Fiction                                           Political Satire
Urban Fantasy                                                       Experimental Fiction
Urban Fiction                                                         Historical Romance
 Amish Inspirational                                           Pulp Fiction
Cyberpunk                                                             Family Saga
Steampunk                                                             Magical Realism
 Travel Adventure                                               Sword & Sorcery
Action                                                                       Fanfic
Brit Lit                                                                      Alternative History
Children’s Lit                                                         LGBT Lit
Dark Fantasy                                                         Humor
Literary Fiction                                                     Short Story Anthologies
Offbeat/Quirky                                                     Movie/Television Tie-In

Cozy Mystery
Crime Noir
Southern Gothic
Contemporary Fiction
Contemporary Romance
Paranormal Romance
Chick Lit
Dystopian Fiction
Conspiracy Thrillers
Military Suspense
Medical Suspense
Historical Fiction
Illustrated Picture Books
Police Procedural Mystery
YA Fiction

 A few nonfiction genre categories:
Photo Essay                                                            Biography
Memoir                                                                    True Crime
Self Help                                                                  Pop Culture
Politics                                                                      How-To
Travel Guides                                                        Playscripts
Poetry                                                                       Crafts &/Hobbies
Sports / Leisure                                                    Narrative History

--Heather W. Ward, Reference Assistant

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

POSTCARDS: a reading challenge update

The READ THE WORLD Adult Reading Challenge is going full steam ahead and will continue until December!  If you haven’t already gotten a passport, there is still time to begin your own reading journey.  Visit the Reference Department as your first destination, and then the world is your oyster!

We currently have issued a grand total of 109 passports to reading challenge participants.  Our 100th passport was issued on 6/19/2013 to Sarah Klimko; congratulations, Sarah! Additionally, there are also a dozen DPL staff members taking part in the challenge (we do collect passport stamps, but are ineligible for prizes).

Remember, this doesn’t have to be a short trip; think of it as an extended cruise, rather than just a quick weekend getaway.  When you complete one passport level (Tourist or Explorer), you can always UPGRADE to a higher level during the year.  So far, there have been 7 readers upgraded and two intrepid Globetrotters who have finished their 40 book passports and started off around the world for a second tour!


Will Bynum was our first patron to complete the Globetrotter level.  For this honor, he was informally presented with a copy of the novel “Around the World in 80 Days”.  Jean Coquilt has also reached patron Globetrotter status! On the staff side, Rhonda Bolan also speedily completed her Globetrotter passport!  (I’m almost there, but not quite home yet, with 35 books read!)

Just a reminder about passport validation: Please have all book information properly recorded in your Passport, and have the corresponding circulation receipts with you, before stopping at Reference for a stamp.

For reading suggestions, be sure to check out the Book Display cases located next to the DVD/CD Media Room. I’m going to try to keep these going with a variety of travel themes and challenge suitable books identified by country.  Additionally, there is also a binder in Ready Reference listing more available titles and their associated countries.

Our challenge goal is to visit AS MANY COUNTRIES AS POSSIBLE.  Currently, 127 countries around the globe (and around the library) have had travelers. 

Where will you go next?

Thursday, April 11, 2013


 The staff of DPL is glad to be back open to the public and is settling comfortably back in at home!  We hope you enjoyed the recent open house activities. Three months was a long time to be away.

Did you miss us while we were gone?

No, the staff wasn’t out of work (thank goodness) while the library was closed December-February. Neither were we on extended holiday (although that would have been nice)!

After closing to the public, but before renovation and repair work could actually start at the library, there was a lot of frenzied packing and storage.  All the computers had to be taken down, boxed up and stored off site.  Staff had to decide what they needed to have and take to work productively outside our usual environment. The furniture had to be moved.  Some of the books and materials had to be taken off the shelves and packed away.   The rest of the stacks had to be wrapped and sealed with shrink wrap, to keep the debris and dust of construction off the books.
Once all the prep work was accomplished, we continued hard at work behind the scenes and in various locations. The Circulation staff was relocated to the Community Room, next to JC Penney, in the Decatur Mall.  This temporary mall branch was open with a small circulating collection of books, audio, and DVDs.  The Children’s librarians also actively continued doing their programming.  Reference, Technical Services, and Administration took up residence in a house on Ferry Street and worked from there.  Catalogers continued to process library materials. Reference answered some patron questions via phone and email, caught up on department projects such as grant writing, plans and initial registration start up of the Read the World Adult Reading Challenge, as well as organizing and scanning historical papers and a photo collection. Maintenance was still present, working with and overseeing the renovation work, in the library building, and all staff rotated taking shifts of door watch security duty at Cherry Street .

And, of course, once the repairs were finished, the new carpet installed, and the floors waxed, it was also a multi-day chore to fine clean the library and get everything moved back and into place!

Ferry Tales:

Working at the house on Ferry Street was very different from the normalcy of being at the library; this was both good and bad for staff.
On the plus side, there was an increased sense of staff camaraderie, all being together in close quarters, and it was easy to communicate with everyone.

We took advantage of the opportunity to catch up on some projects that were previously more difficult to find the time for while also providing patron customer service.

The change of scenery was nice, the house’s retro kitchen design was very cool (and the coffee was ALWAYS on!)
Oh, and there was “Cat TV” to keep us amused. This was via a small window in the reference room;  at eye level with the roof of an outside shed, where the neighborhood  kitties liked to frolic. They’d peek in at us; we’d peek out at them.

Yes, we missed our patrons, but it was a perk as well to have a break from working evening or weekend hours for a while.
But it wasn’t all roses at Ferry Street. The traffic noise from Highway 20 was loud and annoying. Additionally, there was all the inside noise of us hens clucking away. The house wasn’t cramped, but it was cozy. It was harder to concentrate and there was a lack of privacy. Also, you try having that many women in one house with only one working bathroom to share!  We tried to make do, but it was inconvenient not having all our books and supplies easily at hand. We regretted not being able to serve our patrons as well and fully as we’d like, but again we did what we could. We also missed the sense of community, lacking social interaction with our patrons.

Meanwhile Out at the Mall:

The Circulation mall staff was very pleased to be able to provide continued (if reduced) service to the public.
In addition to the library materials available, they also were able to keep up with library card registration and updates.

It was a nice benefit that the library was able to give extended due dates (with no accumulating fine) during the closure!
Other enjoyable aspects of Mall life were the change of pace and place for the staff, and the added perk of having the food court and Mall shopping during lunch hour!

Among the frustrations were the limited selection for checkout, and the inability to provide any computer access, as well as the lack of space and usual Circulation equipment.
We were also bothered by the lack of Tax Forms, but (Really!) the IRS and State government were extremely slow in printing and delivering forms for distribution

Behind the Green Door:

The Friends of the Library Book Sale room got the same pack up, storage, shrink-wrap and protect treatment, as the rest of the book stacks in the library. Thank you to the Friends’ volunteers who did the bulk of the work needed in the Sale Room, both before and after renovation. 

 With the room closed, donations were discouraged during the closure, but there was LOTS of wonderful stuff arriving soon after opening for the Friends to get processed and out for sale as soon as it was possible.


There’s NO Place Like Home:

The entire staff of Decatur Public Library hopes our patrons are pleased with the improvements to the library. We thank you for bearing with all the annoyances and stress accompanying the unavoidable length of time the library was closed. As well, we deeply appreciate your returning to us once the doors were open. We are so glad to see you!


This year, DPL is holding its first adult reading challenge!  Participants “travel the world”, and explore our library, by reading books and counting countries.  Countries may either be the setting where the story takes place, or be the birthplace or residence of the author.  Library travelers may choose to be either a “Tourist” reading 12 books, an “Explorer” with 20 titles, or become a “Globetrotter” by finishing 40 books during the challenge.

Remember, it’s not too late to get your Passport and join in; just see Reference for more information and sign up!
When first packing our bags for this adventure (that is to say, choosing what books to read) the Non-fiction collection comes easily to mind.  It’s relatively simple to find factual books about different countries and their history, geography and culture. Although it is a good number to start with, don’t  limit yourself to just the ranges of Dewey 900’s —branch out and find  appropriate art books (700’s) or books about social issues (300’s) dealing with various world nations.

And who doesn’t enjoy a novel set in an intriguing location abroad? Naturally, Fiction is also chockfull of travel options!  Don’t forget the genre fiction collections either.  For instance, it is possible to complete up to the Globetrotter level, with 40 countries in 40 books, just by reading books from our Mystery section!
However, what about the Science Fiction/Fantasy shelves a few aisles over? I love science fiction! But how (in the world) would that fit within the reading challenge?  Doesn’t Science Fiction depict off-world space travel, with alien beings and unknown civilizations?  Isn’t the purpose of Science Fiction to “explore strange new worlds”.  Likewise, isn’t Fantasy simply the creation of fairytales and imaginary places?

Keep calm and keep reading!  The worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy, jointly referred to as Speculative Fiction, may indeed sometimes be recognizable as our own and can be counted as part of the READ THE WORLD challenge.
Within science fiction, there are novels with stories that take place on in the future, but still recognizable and similarly mapped Earth.  To recommend a few, perhaps one with advanced cyber technology (as in Cory Doctorow’s MAKERS) or robotics (such as Daniel Wilson’s ROBOAPOCALYPSE )or  dystopian/apocalypse tales  where the setting is a dying Earth in the aftermath of a global disaster or holocaust (for example James Braziel’s regional novel BIRMINGHAM, 35 MILES)  There are also time-travel books, which may send characters either into the future or the past. (For instance, Kim Stanley Robinson’s GALILEO’S DREAM takes past in both future and past Italy) Look for alternate histories as well, where things are almost like factual history- but with a fictional twist that spins the plot off toward a  different  timeline and a different history. (Harry Turtledove is well known for his multiple series in this subgenre).
As for the Fantasy genre, one can read novels of Magical Realism and Urban Fantasy.  (An example is Charles De Lint’s novels of an alternate Canada) In these books, the location of setting is real, the characters contemporary, but what happens is somehow supernatural or magical. There is also fantasy fiction set directly in the past world, where there is no time travel involved but there is still a magical element (such as Stephen Lawhead’s PATRICK: SON OF IRELAND).

Following is a list of Speculative Fiction novels that are included in our library’s Science Fiction and Fantasy collections.  I will provide the Title, Author, and Country which the story is set in. (I have also marked with a *, titles that I have already read and would recommend.) I attempted to find as many different nations as possible, but I’m sure I missed some. I have not included ALL the books set in the United States or Great Britain; those are quite numerous. Some of the books listed are actually shelved on our general Fiction, but these titles could have just as appropriately cataloged in the genre areas.  For more details about an individual title, specific shelf location, and current availability, please consults our card catalog.
Zoo City*  by  Lauren Beukes       SOUTH AFRICA 
Memory and Dream*   by Charles DeLint   CANADA
On the Beach by Nevil Shute  AUSTRALIA
Lost Horizons by James Hilton  TIBET
Bones of Time by Kathleen Goonan    TIBET
Neverwhere* by Neil Gaiman   ENGLAND
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo  Ishiguro  ENGLAND
Kraken* by China Meiville ENGLAND
Wind Up Girl* by Paolo Bacigalupi   THIALAND
1Q84 by Neil Stephenson  JAPAN
River of Gods by Jean McDonald   INDIA
Sagramara by Alan Dean Foster   INDIA
Night Watch by Serge Lukyanento    RUSSIA
Dervish House by Ian McDonald   TURKEY
Year of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson  SOUTH ASIA
Gallileo’s Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson    ITALY
Antarctica by Kim Stanley Robinson   ANTARCTICA
The Futurist by James P. Othmer    SOUTH AFRICA
Wild Reel by Paul Brandon  IRELAND/AUSTRALIA
Birmingham, 35 Miles* by James  Braziel ALABAMA, USA
Iron Heart by Harry Turtledove GERMANY
1632 by Eric Flint  GERMANY
Blonde Roots by Evaristo  AFRICA/AMERICA/ENGLAND
Middle Kingdom by David Wingrove  CHINA
Midnight Robber by  Nalo Hopkinson  CARIBE
Idoru*  by William Gibson    JAPAN
Aftermath by Samual Florman   MADAGASCAR
Flood by Stephen Baxter  SPAIN
The Anubis Gate by Tim Powers   EGYPT
The Wild Ways by Tanya Huff    CANADA
Pashazadeby   Jon Grimwood    PERSIA/IRAN
Black Ships by Jo Graham   GREECE
Hand of Isis by Jo Graham  EGYPT
Dreaming Down-Under ed. By Jack Dawn   AUSTRALIA
Eifelheim by Michael Flynn   GERMANY
A Princess of Romania by Paul Park  ROMANIA
Blindness* by JoseSaramago    PORTUGAL
Makers by Cory Doctorow  RUSSIA/USA
Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom *by Cory  Doctorow (USA- Disney World)
On the Beach by Nevil Shute AUSTRALIA
Santa Olivia by Jaqueline Carey   MEXICO
Half the Day is Night by Maureen McHugh   CARIBE
Imaginary Magnitude by Stanislaw Lem    POLAND
Patrick: Son of Ireland by Steven Lawhead   IRELAND
Wild Reel by Paul Brandon  AUSTRALIA
Roboapocalypse by Daniel Wilson  USA/AFGAHNISTAN

 Or, if you want to work the other challenge option, these are books of Speculative Fiction listed by Author’s birthplace or residence.

Arthur C. Clark  SRI LANKA
Charles D. Lint   CANADA
Lauren Beukes   SOUTH AFRICA
Stanislaw Lem   POLAND
Haruki Murakami   JAPAN
Nalo Hopkinson   JAMAICA
Jasper Fforde    WALES
Julie Marllier   AUSTRALIA
Lisa Tuttle  SCOTLAND
Sarah Hoyt  PORTUGAL
Jules Verne  FRANCE
J.R.R. Tolkein   b.SOUTH AFRICA
Margaret Atwood   CANADA