29 January, 2008

Reading, book clubs and other musings

When people ask me where I work and I say "Yarra Plenty Regional Library" the inevitable reply is "how lovely, you must be able to do a lot of reading!"

Well, the truth of the matter is that I don't do nearly as much as I would like, and certainly not as much as many of our borrowers. My reading is done at the end of the day, and a few pages of a Bill Bryson or a short story is about the extent of it. But the January holidays have given me the opportunity of finishing a wonderful novel, and it reminded me again of the joy I used to have in immersing myself in someone else's life and experiences. The book I have just finished A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry was published by Faber & Faber in 1996 and shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It tells the story of 4 people brought together in mid-1970s India, where a "State of Internal Emergency" has been declared. The book was engrossing - and confronting, funny, sad, tragic and inspiring. I can highly recommend it.

While poking around on the internet, I also found a terrific site for bookclubs - Reading Group Guides. It provides a summary of the book and discussion questions to consider.
As I mentioned in my last post, we now have a reading wiki up and running - have a look at it and add your comments. There's a section there for book clubs too, the Library has been supporting Book Groups for over 20 years. We currently have over 30 registered Book Groups that are either library facilitated Book Groups or independently run Book Groups who use our collections.

Library Book Groups meet on a monthly basis in one of our eight branches and regular meeting times are set and discussions facilitated by our staff.

Independent Book Groups are formed by individuals who meet regularly in a variety of places. Each branch has a staff member who helps with selection and supply of titles to these groups.

You can be involved with Book Groups in two ways:

1. Register you interest in being part of a Library Book Group at your local branch.
2. Start you own Book Group - all you need is a group of friends and a passion for reading. You can register your interest in starting your own group, just ask a staff member.

The library has a wide selection of titles to choose from in our Book Group Kits. Kits hold 12 copies of the same title. Registered Book Groups can nominate which titles they would like to read during the year and collect the kits from their nominated local library branch. It's easy!

And a bit more on my reading of late, I am enjoying Three Junes by Julia Glass on my drive to work - I've downloaded it from our Overdrive site, and its terrific! Beautifully narrated by John Keating with the most delicious Scottish burr, it has transformed the trip down Plenty Road!

I'd be pleased to hear about your experiences with book clubs, and how the library might help you - and you might like to recommend titles for our kits too.

21 January, 2008

Yarra Plenty Reading Wiki

Last Thursday night at the "Reading Victoria" event at Ivanhoe Library author Barry Heard launched the Yarra Plenty Reading Wiki. The wiki is attached to our home page and the direct link is http://www.yarrabooks.pbwiki.com/

The reading wiki is designed to assist staff and borrowers in choosing and selecting their next reading choice and a great opportunity for readers to share their reading experiences with others.

The wiki highlights:

* up and coming reading events at Yarra Plenty libraries as well as events around Victoria

* booklists sorted by author and genre in three categories, children, teenage and adult that give direct links to the library catalogue and to author websites

* lists of new acquisitions and books most reserved at Yarra Plenty

* highlighted author, poet or illustrator of the month who has, or will be, visiting our branches

* links to reader development sites and databases to assist you in choosing your next book

* opportunities for people to share and write reviews of their favourite books.

Each month three books will be highlighted and you are invited to add your comments / review.

The first author highlighted on the wiki is Barry Heard. He presented a fascinating talk on his experiences during the Vietnam war. We have a podcast of his talk on the wiki.
So please, visit the wiki and have a look and add your comments.

14 January, 2008

Downloadable media arrives at Yarra Plenty!

It's always exciting to have a new media available to our borrowers, and we are very pleased to announce that audio books, music and videos are now able to be downloaded from the library's website.
There has been a big growth in digital audio book, eBook, music, and video services available from libraries, and Yarra Plenty is the first public library in Victoria to offer this service. We have started to build a download collection of digital eBooks, audio books, music, and video downloads, including best sellers and new releases.

Here's how it works: you need to first install free digital media software such as Adobe Reader, Mobipocket Reader, or the OverDrive Media Console™. The software is available for use on many devices, such as laptops, Pocket PCs, PDAs, and even Smartphones! Unfortunately, due to Digital Rights Management issues, you cannot download to iPods.

You can then choose from the digital content the library has purchased - including fiction, nonfiction, best-sellers and children's books. Classical music, feature films, movie classics, concert videos and other popular materials are also available.

You can download and enjoy these digital titles anytime, anywhere. Digital media can also be transferred to compatible devices such as MP3 players, laptops, Pocket PCs, and Palm OS devices. Many audio titles may be burned to CD and played in the car (transfer and burn permissions vary by title). The loan period is 3 weeks and there is a maximum checkout limit o 10 items. Best of all, items are automatically returned, so there's no damage, late fees, or replacement costs!
Full instructions are available on the website. It is all quite easy to follow, and I have already enjoyed the Garrison Keillor audio book Pontoon very much, as I am sure that all fans of his Lake Wobegon series will.

So, if you want to see how to make sushi, discover choral music, read German for dummies or listen to Bryce Courtney's April fools day, checkout this new service from the library.

08 January, 2008

Young people and public libraries

The Pew Report: How people use the internet, libraries and government agencies when they need help has just been published in the US. The joint study is from the Pew Internet and American Life Project and the University of Illinois.

The most interesting finding of the study and the one that has been picked up by the press is that Gen Y young adults are the heaviest users of public libraries despite the ease with which they can access information from home using the internet. That's especially true for those who had questions about health, job training and government benefits.

Pew's director Lee Rainie explains this surprising finding by suggesting that young adults are the ones likely to have visited libraries as teenagers and seen their transformation into information hubs, with computers and databases alongside shelves of books.

Last year our library service developed a strategic framework for services to young people, in consultation with stakeholders and young people. As a result of this process, we have identifed the main objectives over the next five years are to:

•Provide more services and collections for young people aged 12 – 24

•Develop strategies to break down barriers and ensure we are meeting their needs.

Some of the services that we currently provide are:

•YourTutor.com is an online chat service that provides one-to-one academic support for students in Years 4 -12 in English, Maths and Science

•Get Loud is an annual event at Eltham library featuring local bands

•Finding MyPlace is a 10 week program for students who may be at risk of not completing their schooling and features a weekly workshop to help improve students' sense of self and esteem.

These students were stoked after their martial arts session!

If you have any ideas or suggestions on how we might be better providing services to young people, we'd love to hear from you!