Thursday, April 19, 2007

First experience and thots

I had my first experience of sitting behind a readers' advisary counter to serve our customers this afternoon. Customer service is really a very different experience from office work. When you are facing the public, you must be at your very best! You must be perceived to be fair and know the operations at finger tips. In addition, you must also be able to understand the needs of your customers; especially when they are not able to articulate what they really need help on!

Thanks to Norlizah, my colleague-cum-experienced librarian, for showing me the ropes the whole afternoon. Her gentle and patient manner definitely had a calming effect on me. I was able to stay calm, observe her in action and even attend to two customers.

What really caught my attention today was teenagers do not mind hanging out at the children section of the library! In fact, quite a number of secondary school students were occupying the kiddie chairs and tables. This is contrary to booksellers' report about teens not wanting to be seen at the children books section at the bookstores. The only reason i can think of is that Singapore teens do not have enough space to hang out together after school.

This brings to mind what Patrick Jones said about library services to teenagers when he was in Singapore recently. One important element is to provide them with their own space. Hope that when it is time to upgrade the existing libraries, we can look into re-designing and creating these spaces for them to form learning communities.

What do you think? Do you have other reason(s) on why the secondary school students are at the children section instead of the AYP section? Is this an issue or opportunity for us?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

If you are like me, not very savvy about graphic novels and finding it difficult to understand them, take heart! We are normal. Unlike comic strip, graphic novel is longer and reader needs to divide his time between reading the text and looking at the pictures. Both activities are essential for the understanding of the story and the effect is totally different from reading plain text. Experts advise new reader or reader with difficulty like me to start with black and white as the colours tends to further distract us from the story.

It used to be comics were for kids' reading pleasure. Now, most comics are for teens and adults. It used to be comics were referring to comic strips (3 to 4 panels) found in our newspapers telling a joke. Comic books were longer versions of about max 20 pages such as Superman, Batman or even Lao Fu Zi (Chinese character) that I grew up with. Now, we see comic books in the form of collected comics such as Garfield, Calvin and Hobbes or Peanuts.

Graphic novel is a type of comic book with a storyline similar to those of novels. Japanese print graphic novels have gained an identity of its own. They are known as Manga and are very popular not just in Japan. In our library, we have a large collection of graphic novels for teens and adults. In terms of graphic novels for pre-teens ( J - 8 to 12 years old ), publishers of children books are responding very quickly to the trend.

Graphic Novels for Younger Reader (J)

Existing titles :
Jeff Smith's Bone Series
Baby-sitters Club and Queen Bee by Graphix
Matthew and Jennifer Holm's Babymouse Series
Asterix Series by Goscinny
The Adventures of Tintin Series by Herge

Coming titles :
Avalon High and Warriors by TokyoPop
Sticky Burr: Adventures in Burrwood Forest by Candlewick Press