Sunday Lowdown #39

Interesting Facts From School This Week:

This week we are learning about reference interactions. Happily for me, I work at a reference desk, so the readings and discussion are directly applicable. How do we help patrons answer questions and find what they’re looking for? Reference staff should conduct what is called the “reference interview” — finding out what a patron is really looking for beyond what they say. Here are some interesting quotes from the assignments:

  • “Whether consulting the printed index of a book or searching the Internet for an obscure bit of information, good librarians often model and explain the process they go through to find information.” — from Crash Course in Reference by Charlotte Ford
  • “‘Without speaking, she began to type. . .’ is a common complaint of library users. Librarians need to acknowledge the users’ questions, explaining before they begin typing, that they are going to check the online catalog. Otherwise, users feel that the librarian may not have heard their question, because they don’t know what the librarian is doing.”
  • “In about one-third of Library Visit Study cases, users decided to cut their losses and start all over again with another staff member within the same library or in another library.” — from Conducting the Reference Interview by Catherine Sheldrick Ross.
  • The best way to help a patron find information is by first asking question about what the want to know and how they plan to use the information. If the topic is embarrassing (for either patron or reference staff). Questions that help staff make sense of the patron’s request put the patron in control. — from Conducting the Reference Interview by Catherine Sheldrick Ross.

Our homework assignment for this week was to contact the reference desk of a library (not where we work) and ask a question we truly want to know more about. I asked the librarian to help me find some fiction starring fat women. It was a rather disappointing reference interview; however, I did end up finding some titles on my own after hours of searching, and you’ll see the results at the bottom of this page in my TBR.

This Week’s Blog Posts:

Tuesday I shared my interview with author Jayne Martin. Jane discussed her background in script writing and acting, and how that’s affected her flash fiction. Thank you so much for all your great questions, and thanks to Jayne for participating!

Thursday I was able to post my review of The Summer Queen by Joan D. Vinge. A mammoth yet wonderful novel that I could get totally lost in, but would recommend as an e-book so you can enlarge the font.

Snuck in last minute, I posted my conversation with Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku about Owlflight by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixion on Saturday. We pondered a few basic questions as we finished the first book in the last trilogy of 2019 for #ReadingValdemar.

Next Week’s Blog Posts:

We’ve officially started a new month, so on Tuesday I’ll share my November TBR. Please let me know which book reviews you’ll look forward to! I’ve changed up my reading plans a bit for November and plan to power through several library books, including some new releases.

Speaking of November, have you done anything to celebrate fall yet? I went to a library craft session at which we made book wreaths! Mine looks NOTHING like it’s supposed to, but I still think it’s cute. Ahhh, November.

Thursday will be exciting. Never before have I read an urban paranormal novel, but I did, and it was a got-damn hoot. The narrator is a fat tank of a woman, and she was so rough around the edges — and I loved her. I can wait for you to read my review of Drawing Dead by S.M. Reine. In fact, I was so exciting that I purchased the rest of the series.

Book I’m Reading Aloud to My Spouse:

In The Room by Jonas Karlsson so far Bjorn is so awkward and stupidly cruel, but we’re getting closer to learning more about why he thinks he’s in a room when his colleagues see him staring at the wall like a weirdo.

I’m glad The Room is a novella, as I already have plans to read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens to my spouse next. I’m still listening to The Victorian City by Judith Flanders and was surprised to learn today that Scrooge’s feelings about the poor and their place in the workhouse were actually fairly common. *shudder*

Books Added to the TBR Pile:

As I mentioned, I added books from my search with the librarian. Some of the books I found after speaking with the librarian are part of a series, so here’s to hoping for several wins for my reading fat women goals! I bought the rest of the Dana McIntyre series by S.M. Reine. Also, I added another Joan D. Vinge series, as her writing is so strong. Lastly, thanks to Charles for his recommendation!


    • I’m definitely excited about Unashamed. This is the book my friend Charles recommended to me. He had a friend come visit, and the author of Unashamed was the friend’s teacher. He said he gave her my contact info in the hopes of her reaching out to do a Meet the Writer feature with me.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I have done nothing to welcome fall unless you count decorations for Halloween. Turns out only three people came to the door and I wasn’t even home because I was at the hospital, so it kind of feels like I missed out on the holiday. Is that a picture of your book wreath? I rather like it. Some of these titles you’ve added to your TBR look super cute. I hope you enjoy!


    • That IS the wreath! It was super easy to make: you have a wire that you shape in a circle and crimp off one end. Then, you tear out a page from a book and make into a Z shape and stab it onto the wire. Repeat!


  2. Did someone say BOOK WREATHS????? Can you please post a photo of that? I would love to see it. And I know the Calgary Reads folks I work with out love to see it too.

    It’s funny, I don’t ask libraries for information at their reference desks, I usually just skip around my local library and feel and smell all the books with my kids, but I’ve heard these references desks can be quite helpful too! haha And look at all that new fat fiction you found! The covers look intriguing…


    • The middle picture under the message is the book wreath I made. You take a wire, bend it in a circle, and then you tear a page out of a book and bend it (don’t crease) so it makes a Z shape. You poke that onto the wire and repeat until you’re happy with it!

      I don’t think I ever used a reference before I worked at one, but that’s because everyone looks so busy, like I’d be bothering them. That’s what patrons say to me, too: “sorry to bother you.” And I always reassure them that I’m not bothered.

      I’m start to notice that a lot of fat fiction covers are very cartoony and have a self-published vibe to them, even when they are not.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hmm I wonder why that is? the fat fiction covers? It doesn’t seem fair, almost like they aren’t taking themselves seriously?

        Ah yes, sorry I see the picture now-it’s gorgeous!!! What a great idea…


        • I’m not sure what’s up with the covers, but I also noted in the past that they also tend to be blue, which is associated with sadness and drives me insane. I think you’re right about not taking the books as seriously.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. OK, I’m going to come out of lurking to suggest checking out Sue Ann Jaffarian’s Odelia Grey series, maybe.
    I read Rhythm and Clues and liked it OK (missed that it was part of a series. You can read out of order.) However, this series is “amateur sleuth” or cozy mystery which I find annoying sometimes myself. Which is probably why I rated as 3* (my GR ratings are very loose. I default to “not bad” I’d say).


  4. I hate to have to say it, but I’ve never had a positive, helpful experience with a reference librarian. I think the trouble is, if I’ve gone to the librarian, I’m really stumped. I need resources I’m not finding. But they usually just do a keyword search and point me to the first few titles, even though they’re not what I need.

    I recognize that this strategy probably works for most patrons, since I have noticed a good deal don’t even try the catalog themselves–they just walk straight to the desk. So I see why they do it. But maybe if they’d do a reference interview with me, they’d at least know I’ve already looked at their catalog with various different searches?


    • Based on what I read, when the reference staff look up some key words on the internet or in the card catalog, patrons leave and are NOT happy with the results. However, they don’t report to that librarian that they aren’t happy; instead, they “cut their loses” and find a different librarian. All this is to say even the most basic subject is often misunderstood. Someone who says they’re interested in bats may want to know how to exterminate them, not their life cycle. A person looking for a copy of The Christmas Carol may not be able to find it, but without that interview, the reference staff wouldn’t know the patron really wants to use the book to craft a staged version of the book, not knowing one already exists. Things like that.


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