Welcome to iHCPL: The Next Generation. This site was created as the next step in Harris County Public Library's iHCPL Learning 2.0 Program; a discovery learning program designed to encourage staff to explore new technologies. The original iHCPL program was adapted from The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County's Learning 2.0 Program.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Books, Readers and Beyond: #54 Social Networking Through Books

You know how popular the books are that have just been returned to the library, but do you know why? People like to see what other people have read, they figure if someone just returned it, maybe it was good. Through social networking - both live and online - you can take this further and get and give recommendations about books.

Let's start with "live" social networking, i.e. book clubs. Book Clubs have been around for years and are a popular way for readers to connect with others. There are a wide variety of book groups ranging from genre discussions to anything goes. So, how do you find a book club that's right for you?

Your first stop should be the list of Harris County Public Library branch book clubs. Do you like mysteries? Cy-Fair, Tomball, and Freeman all have mystery-themed clubs. Like to eat? Octavia Fields' Read It & Eat It book club features books with recipies, which they sample. Are you a Jane Austen fan? You'll find others at Tomball's Jane Austen book club. Just want to connect with other readers? Try West University, Crosby, Katherine Tyra, and many others for general topic discussions.

Other resources for book clubs are:

Houston Great Books Council - The local affiliate of the Great Books Foundation, which promotes the reading of great literature. There are 19 Great Books discussion groups that meet throughout Houston. Barbara Bush Library and Freeman Library hose two of the discussions.

ReadingGroupGuides - This site is one stop shopping for book groups. In their For Book Clubs section, they have information on starting and running a book club. They also include information on how to select books for a group and have discussion guides for a wide variety of titles.

Reading Group Choices - selects discussible books and suggests discussion topics for reading groups. Another great resource for discussion guides.

Readerville Forum - This is an online book discussion site. You can connect with other folks and discuss books by title, author or genre.

Readerville is a good place to jump into online social networking (see Thing 18 in the original iHCPL for an explanation of Social Networking) for books. Online social networks for books go a step further than Readerville, in that users can set up an account, add the books they have read, tag them, friend other users, get and give recommendations, and discuss books. Some of the most popular networks include:

LibraryThing (Discussed in-depth in Thing 11 in the original iHCPL)



LivingSocial: Books on Facebook (you must be a Facebook user to access this site)

So, why would you want to use one of these sites? All of them have the same basic features listed above, but each has it's own special features:

- On Shelfari, if you're not sure if you should read a particular title, you can click "Shoudl I Read This?" (it's on the main entry for a book) to check with users who have read it.

- Goodreads inclues author videos, trivia, quotes, and a forum to share your writing.

- LibraryThing (LT) has several new features since our original overview including LT Local, which lists local book events; LT Early Reviews, where you can sign up to get Free Advance Copies of Books (Tip: You need to consistently review books you read).

- Visual Bookshelf by Living Social on Facebook integrates social networking for books into one of the largest social networks. It has all the basics, the main unique thing here is that it integrates with Facebook. Goodreads and Shelfari also have Facebook applications. You can explore it off of facebook at LivingSocial: Books

Exercise One

Post on your blog whether or not you ever been a member of a book club. Also discuss whether you prefer joining a in-person or online book club.

Exercise Two

After viewing the resources above, what ideas come to mind for implementing a book club into your library. Post your thoughts and ideas onto your blog. Using one of the "live" book club resources, also look for a title that your book club could discuss.

Exercise Three

Search for one of the books you selected in the first post on at least two of the social networks. Do the ratings for the book differ on each site, or are they similar? Did you find anything surprising?

HCPL Staff: Have you completed all three exercises in this module? Then Submit your Registration of Completion

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Books, Readers and Beyond: #53 Finding Books Online

Finding a Local Bookstore

There are hundreds of booksellers in Harris County. There are 362 listings for Houston Book Stores in the Houston.com directory. Google returns over 35,000 hits for a search on “bookstores Harris County TX.” You can look for a specialty store, like Murder by the Book, or just find the store that's closest to you.

The larger chains, Barnes & Noble and Borders, have an online search so you can also check the inventory of their stores. If you find what you want in stock, you can request “Store Pickup” or “Reserve in Store” It’s just like the pull-list! The bookseller checks the stock, and sends you an e-mail that the book is ready for pick up. Amazon doesn't have a physical store, but can tell you if an item is in stock to be shipped. Local independent booksellers, such as Brazos Bookstore in Houston and Katy Budget Books also have online search features.

The Best Bargain in Town

Of course, we all know the best place to find books to borrow in Harris County.

Buying Books Online

Most everyone knows about what Jeff Bezos has done and is doing to bookselling, the Internet and reading, but in addition to the largest retailer on the web, Amazon, there are plenty of booksellers online, including the ones mentioned above. Books-A-Million emphasizes bargain books (also known as remainders). Powell's Books is a large independent bookseller in Portland, Oregon. Alibris specializes in out of print books sold by a variety of booksellers, as does AbeBooks, which bills itself as an “online marketplace for books.” It brags that it searches the stock of “110 million new, used, rare, and out-of-print books … from thousands of booksellers around the world.” It was bought by Amazon in December 2008, but still retains its own website, which has information about book collecting and lists in numerical sequence of ISBN numbers – it’s hard to get more exciting than that.

Book Swapping

Economy got you down? Bookcases overflowing at home and your significant other won’t let you even think about storing them on that nice shelf above the stove? Have we got the solution for you! Swap some of your old books for some new ones. Peruse the sites of BookMooch, PaperBack Swap, Swap Tree, and WhatsOnMyBookshelf?

Free eBooks

Still don’t have enough space? Have you looked at your hard drive? Go ahead, click on “My Computer.” How many gigabytes are listed in the Free Space column? Do you have enough for Beowulf in Old English HTML (1.81 MB; 501 KB zipped; 933/376 KB text file also available) at Project Gutenberg? But if dragons, monsters and their mothers aren’t to your tastes, here are some other listings:

Exercise One

Find and report on your blog the three booksellers that are closest to your branch or facility. Do they have an online presence? If they do, please describe it in twenty-five words or less on your blog.

Exercise Two

Search for one of the books you selected in the previous post. Is it available from a bookstore? Which one, and at what price? (In dollars or in other books.) Can you find an eBook or Audio version online? On which site did your find it? (If you can’t find it online, please list in your blog the sites you searched.)

Exercise Three

Download an eBook. Spend at least half an hour reading it. Write about your experience on your blog. How did it compare with reading a traditional print copy? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of each format?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Books, Readers and Beyond: #52 What to Read

Do you have any good books to read?

Garage Sale In Monroe

South Bank Book Market 4,
originally uploaded by klbw.

Most anyone who has worked in a library has heard that question. Answering with the right books for that particular person is the ultimate goal of Readers' Advisory. Since most of us aren't able to compete with Nancy Pearl in the quantity and quality of our book recommendations, here are some tips and tools to help with readers' advisory. This module (#52, 53 and 54) is worth 3 hours of training credit.

The Interview

To find out what kind of books someone likes, you first need to ask a few questions. Another champion in the field, Stacy Alesi, offers advice on providing great readers' advisory service:
  • Start off simply: if they're looking for a best seller that isn't on the shelf, ask if they've read other books by that author or authors who write in a similar style.

  • Ask them for the name of the last good book they read. This can lead you to the style or author or genre or setting that is appealing to your customer.

  • Always resepect a person's reading tastes. Just because you liked a book doesn't mean everyone will.

  • Be familiar with current and popular books and know your collection.

  • Ask customers to share their opinions about books they've read.

Online Reading Advice

After you've narrowed down what you are looking for, you can consult one of the many websites or databases available to assist you in the quest for that perfect book.

Novelist Plus - Novelist Plus is a library database that is usually your best place to start. It can help find book discussion guides, author read-alikes, series listings and book display ideas, among other things.

Fiction_L Booklists - Morton Grove Public Library provides many ways to search the most popular Readers' Advisory mailing list.

What Should I Read Next? - Enter an author and title and receive a list of recommendations.

Library Booklists and Bibliographies - From Amusement Park Fiction to Murdered by the Toaster, if there's a list for it you'll find it here.

Finding a Series (in order, of course) - the What's Next database can help with adult series or Mid-Continent Public Library can help with series for children.

Other Resources
Librarian in Black: Sarah's Reference Warehouse: Readers' Advisory
Overbooked: a Resource for Omnivorous Readers

  1. How do you find a read-alike? Pick a title by one of your favorite authors. Search Novelist Plus to find a read-alike. Now perform the same search using two of the other sites listed above. Were the results the same? Compare the two searches and the results in your blog post.

  2. Using one of the resources listed above find two books suitable for a fourth grade girl interested in animals and another two books for her thirteen year old brother who is interested in ghost stories. Post which resource you used and the books you located.

  3. A customer tells you that he's read every book written by Dean Koontz and asks you to find an author who writes similar books. Using two of the sites listed above, find three new authors to recommend to your customer. Post the sites you used and the results in your blog.

  4. A customer has read Alanna: the First Adventure by Tamora Pierce. She would like to read the other books in the series in order. Using one of the above resources, post the series title, the order of the books in the series, and the resource you used.

This post was brought to you by Bruce Farrar, Sandra Silvey, Rhiannon Perry, Grace Lillevig and Linda Stevens.