Tuesday, August 26, 2014


I am employed here at Decatur Public Library as a Reference Assistant. Part of my job is writing this River City Readers blog. I love to read books, especially Science Fiction. I am left-handed and am an identical twin. I have a lot of tattoos. Halloween is my favorite holiday. Sloths are my favorite animal. Walking and running are the types of exercise I enjoy most. I eat a mainly vegetarian diet but also like to bake fancy cakes. I also spend a lot of time here in Alabama happily sewing and doing crafts.

Instead of using words, if I were to describe myself using the Dewey Decimal System (and books available in our library’s nonfiction collection) I would be:

025.52 MAN
028.9019 NEL
J 152.3 LIN
303.48 ROS
391.65 GIL
394.2646 SKA
J 599.313 GUI
641.5 SRO
641.865 NIL
796.42 MCD
746.44 CHA
809.3876 LEG

Who are you? Come find yourself at Decatur Public Library!

Books Referenced:
The truth about reference librarians / by Will Manley. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., c1996.
025.52 MAN
Lost in a book : the psychology of reading for pleasure / Victor Nell.New Haven : Yale University Press, c1988.
028.9019 NEL
The language of the night : essays on fantasy and science fiction / by Ursula K. Le Guin ; edited and with introductions by Susan Wood. New York : Putnam, c1979.
809.3876 LEG
Tattoo history : a source book / by Steve Gilbert. New York : Juno Books, 2000.
391.65 GIL
Death makes a holiday : a cultural history of Halloween / David J. Skal. New York : Bloomsbury, 2002.
394.2646 SKA
Born to run : a hidden tribe, superathletes, and the greatest race the world has never seen / Christopher McDougall. New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.
796.42 MCD
Sloths = Perezosos / by Julie Guidone.Pleasantville, NY : Weekly Reader, 2009.
J 599.313 GUI
Forks over knives : the cookbook : over 300 recipes for plant-based eating all through the year / Del Sroufe ; with desserts by Isa Chandra Moskowitz ; and with recipe contributions by Julieanna Hever, Judy Micklewright, and Darshana ThackerNew York : The Experiment, 2012.
641.5 SRO
Complete cake decorating : techniques, basic recipes and beuatiful cake projects for all occasions / Angela Nilsen & Sarah Maxwell. New York : Lorenz Books, 2002.
641.865 NIL
Say everything : how blogging began, what it's becoming, and why it matters / Scott Rosenberg. New York : Crown, c2009.
303.48 ROS
Alabama stitch book : projects and stories celebrating hand-sewing, quilting, and embroidery for contemporary sustainable style / Natalie Chanin with Stacie Stukin ; photography by Robert Rausch New York : Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2008.
746.44 CHA
The left-handed book / by Rae Lindsay. New York : F. Watts, 1980.
J 152.3 LIN 76-87180
Double take : the story of twins / Dainel Jussim. New York, N.Y., U.S.A. : Viking, 2001
J 306.875 JUS

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!