Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How much Jane Austen can I cram in here?

My lab was a practice in everyday library life. I created a book list with a librarian, made it beautiful, got it approved, and created a display of books to compliment the list. Now for details.

I went to the adult fiction section of the library I work for. Honestly, I don't have much of a clue as to who does what in the adult areas of the library. Adult meaning not the kids section where I spend my days. I found out who the supervisor was for the fiction section and talked to her about my list. She thought it would be great if I could create a list--she added a book display to go along with the list. I could definitely tackle that.

Next I went to the librarian who the supervisor said would love to work with me on the project. The librarian was fantastically kind. When I asked her for suggestions on book list topics that the library could use, she said I could choose anything. Anything, really? Yes, anything. Huh. Alright. So I asked her if I could do a Jane Austen knock-off list. She thought that was an excellent idea. After she told me the display would be up in April, I ran off to start compiling my list.

To choose the right books for my list, I started with books that I know and love in the Jane Austen spin-off world. Then I looked up those books on LibraryThing. In the recommendation
section for each of these books, I found a listing of 10 similar books. My list kept getting larger and larger, which ended up being a good thing. Not all the books would be on the list, but I would need about 60 books to fill the display enough to look good. I took this huge list and started going through the library catalog to make sure we actually had them. The list wouldn't be of much use if you couldn't find those books at the library, now would it? I pulled in most of the books on the big list from other branches so I would be able to put them out on April 1st.

The making-things-pretty part is my favorite. Next I needed to compile the list in a visually pleasing, patron-friendly list that would invite them to read as many books on the list as possible. The librarians I talked to in the fiction section used software on their home computers that I didn't have access to. So I jumped on the internet and searched the freeware out there for making fliers and brochures. My Brochure Maker turned out to be just the right site for me. It was easy to use with already laid out designs to choose from. I just needed to pop in the words and pictures and I was set.

When I was researching books, three main themes emerged in book type--sequels, spin-offs, and modern versions. The sequels continued a story from where it left off. The spin-offs changed the story a bit or looked at it from a different character's perspective. The modern versions were a modern retelling of one of Jane Austen's books. I used these categories to organize the book titles in my brochure. I chose the more popular books and series (with higher circulation) for the list. When I gave my draft of the list to the librarian, she absolutely loved it and was floored by the quality in design and book choice. She had never heard of any online brochure makers, so I made sure to tell her where I made it online so she could use it, too.

The final touches to the display were signs to get patrons interested. I created two big signs with Jane Austen's name on it to grab the attention of all Janites who might pass by. I also knew of an author visit in April that we had been given posters for. The event poster went under the Austen sign to promote even further involvement in the world of Jane Austen.

After putting up the display, I went by it periodically to replace books that had been checked out and make sure it still looked good. I originally put out 25 brochures with my book list in it. When I took it down at the end of the month, only 9 were left. The fiction librarians said that sometimes less than 5 of their lists are taken. Sixteen seems like success to me!

Here are a couple of annotations to tide you over:

Vanity & Vexation by Kate Fenton
When a big time director uses a small town in Yorkshire for her TV adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, a local writer has a bit to say about it. While Candia Bingham, the star of the show, falls madly for a local named John, his writer neighbor, Nicholas Llewellyn Bevan has unwittingly caught the eye of the illustrious director, Mary Dance. Sparks fly in this modern retelling of the Jane Austen classic complete with sex, money, and romance.

Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Adventure by Emma Campbell Webster
Create Your Own Adventure books are not just for kids! Use this books to redefine the classics you love. Will you fall for the leading man or get caught up with the villain instead? Hours of fun can be had rereading this book for different endings.

1 comment:

  1. I definitely want to check out that choose-your-own-adventure book. I remember loving them as a kid -- so much fun!