Wednesday, March 31, 2010

PLA 10: Thrilling Tales with David Wright

It takes a lot to get me out of bed, caffeinated, and ready to listen at 8:30am. I've been stalking following David Wright on Fiction_L and Shelf Talk for at least a year, probably longer. I've been intrigued about the storytime he does for adults at Seattle Public Library.

I figured a guy who's been entertaining folks with stories for years would give a pretty awesome talk. I meandered in a few minutes late and I couldn't resist tweeting: Listening to one of my library crushes, David Wright, talk about storytime for grown-ups. #pla10. (Tweets about #thrilling tales.)

Wright has been telling stories at SPL for more than five years, regaling workers and tourists from 12:05-12:50 twice a month at the flagship library. The escapist romps attract between 25 and 80 people per session. Wright mentioned the stories of Jack Ritchie as early and favorites to read.

Initially Wright recruited local actors and "celebrity" readers -- like our beloved Nancy Pearl -- but after a year decided to read all the stories himself. ("Just me and a microphone.") He found that regulars preferred the consistency. For those not wanting to tell tales personally, volunteers can also do the program.

Where find stories? Everywhere!

I'm just going to go ahead and list all the places Wright mentioned, but be sure to see his handout (link below) for more examples: Ghost stories, crime, mystery, western, pulp, Elmore Leonard ("suspense with spurs"), New Yorker, anthologies, Kelly Link, Stranger: Dark Tales of Eerie Encounters, Best Short Stories, Best New Voices. One thing to avoid? Novels.

Ready to start?

All you need is water, light, a clock, lectern, and mic. Wright advised, "Use a mic unless you're reading to one person in a closet." (Now, do you understand my library crush? Funny guy.) Set the mood with dim lighting and pre-show music. Lowered lights send the message that the program is auditory. Wright suggested starting with a short tale, maybe 10 minutes in length, so that late-comers will be able to get into the groove.

Wright tends to stick to suspenseful tales, but there's a lot of opportunity for variation. The program also works great with themes (do a world tour, selecting different countries; bilingual storytime; reach out to the deaf community and arrange for an interpreter to sign the program). The grown-up storytime is also a natural fit for outreach, visiting senior and other community centers, as well as nursing homes.

Broadcasting and podcasting are also possible, though the requirements change when you record something. Wright encouraged attendees to seek necessary permissions and stated it was easier than one might think. He said, "We are libraries, we hold the golden key."

The community library where I worked for two years would have been great for this type of program. Even though I'm not currently doing public service or programming, I knew grown-up storytime was something many of my colleagues would be interested in. (And something I could try once I left my Very Special position.)

Wright offered, "This is a great program to fail at." You can't beat the bargain basement price of you, a mic, and time.

Wright's materials are available on the PLA Conference website: (You can search by last name or session title.)

See also: ricklibrarian: Thrilling Tales and Selected Shorts: An Adult Story Time for Your Library

Monday, March 29, 2010

PLA 2010: Nancy Pearl's Book Buzz

+ + =

I like playing with my Nancy Pearl Deluxe Librarian Action Figure just as much as the next girl, but the real fun comes when listening to Nancy (and the folks she's gathered) gush about books. I'm on the Alex Award Committee, so I am always scouring blogs and lists, eavesdropping on conversations, browsing book stores, and scanning trains for possible contenders. We look for books published as adult that have possible high teen interest. (You can nominate a title here:, but it's a no-no for publishers and authors to nominate their own books.)

And, I just love to read. Humorous P.I. fiction, gritty memoirs, anything YA, pop science, suspense (romantic and otherwise), food stuff. Basically, I go ga-ga during publisher previews and round-ups. I'm not going to list everything, but here's some titles that stood out to me:

  • My Name Is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira. Described as "midwifery gore." May 2010.
  • The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees. April 2010.
  • Under Heaven by Guy Gavrial Kay. Historical fiction + fantasy. April 2010.
  • Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay by Beverly Jensen. I'd love anything with Scrabble in the title. Stephen King sings its praises. June 2010.
  • Salvation City by Sigrid Nunez. September 2010.
  • Think of a Number by John Verdon. Spooky. July 2010.
  • Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts. Murder + humor. May 2010.
  • Elegy for April by Benjamin Black. Crime thriller. April 2010.
Nancy also recommended a business book: Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath. It's out now so I went ahead and put in a request at my'brary.

Portland, My Portland

Just got back from the 13th Public Library Association (PLA) Conference in Portland, OR, and I've decided to shake the dust off my blog for some updates.

The ALAs -- Midwinter and Annual -- tend to be working conferences for me, so I enjoyed the opportunity PLA offered for pure, unadulterated soaking of knowledge.

Over the next few days, weeks, months, I'll be updating H&H with some of my conference experiences. The most notable change in my conference-going habits was that I took almost all my notes on my iPhone. I then e-mailed myself the sessions' scribblings. No copying! No trying to figure out my handwriting! No forming my thoughts into 140-character tweetable quotes and rambles. (I did my share of tweeting, but I liked being able to easily switch between the Notes app and Tweetie.)

I'm not sure if I could ever bring myself to leave NYC and my'brary, but I fell a little bit in love with Portland. The moody, changeable weather; the tasty food and beverages; the clean, deep-breath air; the Midwest-friendly people; the men who dressed like the boys I had crushes on in high school. My friend told me that I had to go to McMenamins. Failure to do so would mean I had not actually visited Portland. I never did. Also, I somehow skipped Voodoo Donuts. I'm not worried, I'll be back soon enough.