Virtual Displays from Book Lust 101
Everyone interested in library work already knows that the Internet changes things. This is a basic assumption of the Modern Age of Libraries, and probably most of us are here at the iSchool because of what we see (or want to see) in the dialectical relationship between technology and librarianship.
The students in Book Lust 101 this past winter did their fair share of exploring this relationship in the context of reader’s advisory. As a final project for the class, they were tasked by the much-discussed Nancy Pearl (also see Michelle Wong's interview with Nancy Pearl in this issue) to create a Library 2.0 reader’s advisory tool known as a “Virtual Display.”
“What is a Virtual Display?” you ask? Well, it is akin to the table-top or shelf displays that libraries have long employed to introduce their patrons to new books around a given topic… except, you know… virtual. The idea was to start with a favorite book and then generate, present, and annotate suggestions of other works that a fan of that might enjoy, based on different facets of the original book. For example, if one were to start with Catch-22, one might want to provide suggestions to other works of satire, histories of WWII, classic war novels, etc.
The work that the class produced was exciting and inspiring. Book Lust students are nothing if not great readers, and their suggestions provide enough reading to keep a body busy for years. A handful of examples of these Virtual Displays are linked for your perusal below. What’s even more exciting are the possibilities that this work suggests for the future of reader’s advisory. Imagine libraries maintaining vast, interconnected collections of these websites, available to keep readers busy jumping from one link to the next. Imagine these sites being integrated into the catalog, so when you looked up a book a whole world of reading (and viewing, and listening) possibilities was presented to you. And this wouldn’t have to be a system like Amazon.com, where recommendations are based on patterns of other readers; instead it could be something created by librarians with the explicit intention of expanding the reader’s world and highlighting connections that are not popular or obvious, but are nonetheless compelling.
Forgive me my geeky excitement, but can you honestly tell me that, looking at the following sites, you don’t feel the same?
succulent, manipulate, lackluster, Bacardi, synergy, poseur, bloodshot, technological muscle, litter box, existential, beleaguer, The Wiggles, importune, lascivious, America’s Next Top Model, baby penguin