Four Great Books That Will Stretch Your Imagination to Its Limits

Today, books are the most introspective and entertaining forms of media available to man—not music, not art and not even movies. Unlike other forms of media, literature has no boundaries. It gets your mind to work, pushes your imagination to its limits and gives you a glimpse of other cultures and places. With compelling books, you can go to any place you want, travel through time and explore the raw emotions of the world’s greatest writers.

Are you trying to build your reading list? Here are titles of great books that will make you cry, laugh and keep you engaged until the very last page.

 

Books can stretch your imagination to its limits, thus allowing you to travel through time and space. Image courtesy of Flickr.

Books can stretch your imagination to its limits, thus allowing you to travel through time and space. Image courtesy of Flickr.

 

 

Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk

While critics believe that Palahniuk had written better stories than Fight Club, this novel actually helped him steal the spotlight. Among all the other great books to read, “Fight Club” is the only novel that inspired a despondent generation to push back. Even ADHD sufferers will keep turning this book’s pages as it narrates a story of anti-consumerism, revolt and the need to go back to zero. Indeed, nobody stirs emotions better than Palahniuk.

Rules of Attraction – Brett Easton Ellis

Every compilation of great books includes at least one of Bret Easton Ellis’s works. “Rules of Attraction” features powerful elements such as drugs, violence, 80s music and lots of run-on sentences. But the book also gives readers more to work with, like a semi-coherent plot, allusions and different narrators. The plot revolves around self-absorbed, horrible people who are trying to quit smoking, get laid or do other superficial things. The gist – no one cares anymore.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz

“The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” made it to the list of great books to read because of its authenticity and unparalleled craftsmanship. It narrates the life of a Dominican-American family, their never-ending struggles in the Dominican Republic and the series of curses that followed them to America. In this novel, Diaz impressively blended Dominican history with elements of humor, sex, death love and revolutions. He also made use of existing pop references along a very refreshing writing style.

Good Omens – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

If you’re looking for great books that will make you laugh until you get stomach cramps, “Good Omens” is your safest bet. It is about Adam, a young boy, who just so happens to be the Antichrist that will set the Apocalypse in motion. It also explores the character of an unconventional angel, an “unintentional” demon and a group of people who are trying to fight against The Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen. This brilliant novel showcases Pratchett’s hilarious antics and Gaiman’s exquisite writing style.

These four great books to read highlight the remarkable talent of the world’s most creative and talented writers. Whether you’re into novels with dark plots, inspiring characters or side-splitting storylines, this short reading list will have something in store for you.

The Alliance Between Book Bloggers and Librarians

The number 288,355 represents the exact number of new books and book editions that were published in the United States in 2011. Even if you took every library in a public library system, you would still be unable to find enough people to read every single book that is published. This makes it difficult for librarians to decide what books should or shouldn’t be added to a public library’s book collection, as they are unable to get a personal opinion on the books. Luckily, an alliance between book bloggers and librarians can solve that problem.

Book bloggers are book enthusiasts that take time out of their day to write detailed reviews about the books they read. Librarians can form relationships with these virtual book reviewers. The relationship can help them determine what books should be considered for a library’s book collection.

The following is a look at how librarians can benefit from forming an alliance or sorts with a variety of book reviewers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stay Up-to-Date on the Latest Books

Publishers are quick to offer top book reviewers the chance to preview books before they hit the market. Librarians are able to use the reviews provided by book reviewers to determine what books are popular, and what books should be considered for addition to a library’s collection.

Author Interviews

Many book lovers like to get a better understanding of their favorite authors, but are unable to because the author doesn’t stop for a book tour in their city. Book bloggers are often given the chance to interview their favorite authors, and post those interviews for the world to see. Librarians can use these interviews to offer library patrons a chance to get to know their favorite authors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Provide an Inside Look at the Public’s Reaction to Books

Libraries often leave the decisions regarding which books to order for a library’s collection to a single person. This can be difficult as that single person is unable to determine exactly what the public will or won’t like about a book. Forming an alliance with popular book bloggers gives librarians a chance to see the public’s reaction to certain books.

Book bloggers often leave their blogs or forums open to public comments. Librarians can read those comments and use the reactions to reviews to judge whether a book is a good fit for their particular library system or not.

Libraries that have formed a relationship with book reviewers and bloggers are able to get the inside scoop on the latest books, offer insight into favorite authors, and even judge how the public might react to a specific book or series. This information can help libraries by generating interest in new books and authors, or helping librarians make a decision if a book should be added to the public library’s collection.

Yea or Nay to the Library Fine

Almost every patron of the American public library system has had to face the dreaded overdue book fee. Whether the fee is a few cents a day, or a dollar a week, every library patron knows that library materials must be returned or renewed by the due date or the fees start accumulating and the library card could be blocked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Library fees have long been used as a source of income for many cash-strapped library systems. However, as more and more people are facing tough economic times, both library patrons and the library system are contesting the concept of implementing a fine for overdue books.

Some libraries have met the public’s demand and eliminated the overdue book fee, while others continue to operate on a system that has worked for years. Here is a look at some of the supporting arguments for why a library overdue book fee should or should not be implemented.

For the Fine: It Helps Keep Materials Flowing from Patron to Patron

Library fine supporters believe that implementing a library fee for overdue materials encourages people to return books and movies on time. When the materials are returned on time, they can go to other patrons who are waiting to read or watch the materials. It is argued that no library fee would not entice people to return materials quickly, and could cause wait times for books and movies to increase dramatically.

Against the Fine: Tax Money Goes to the Library, so Why Pay

Most public library systems were established using taxpayer money. Library patrons who are against the library fine believe that because their tax money went to establishing the library, there is no reason they should be fined for returning a book a few days late.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For the Fine: Helps Develop a Budget for New Materials

Libraries are facing extreme budget cuts. Supporters of the overdue book fine argue that implementing the fine gives libraries a way to generate a form of income. Even though it might be a few cents a day, the money can quickly add up and can be used to purchase new books, movies and other materials for the library collection.

Against the Fine: Collecting the Money is Tough

Library resources are already stretched to the limit. Patrons against the fine argue that those precious resources are being used to collect the library fines. Many libraries will issue warnings, send letters through the mail, and even take library patrons to court if a fine has not been paid. This whole process can sometimes cost the library more money than what they would get from the fines.

The argument regarding whether a library should or should not implement an overdue book fine is one that will continue as long as there is a public library system. Libraries must make the decision to fine for overdue materials based on the interest of the public and the entire library system.

The Power of the Media: Attracting Attention to the American Public Library System with Multimedia Collections

Ask any random person what the first image that pops into his or her head is when you say the word “library”, and nine times out of 10 the answer will be something along the lines of books, quiet places to read, or shelves filled with old, dusty books and magazines. This common misconception of the library is presenting librarians with a complex problem: How do you generate interest in the public library when the world is extremely fast paced, and technology driven?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Attracting attention to the American public library system when people are so obsessed and driven by smartphones, iPads and iPods, and the Internet, can be difficult, but not impossible. Many libraries are able to create a renewed interest in their library system by offering a diverse multimedia collection.

Library multimedia selections can include a variety of the following items:

  • DVDs or Blu-ray DVDs
  • Downloadable music
  • Video games for Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo
  • E-Books

Offering these materials allows the library system to attract the attention of members of the public who might not otherwise visit a library. The following is a quick look at some of the reasons why diverse multimedia collections attract new people to the library.

Providing Entertainment During Tough Economic Times

Before TVs, DVDs and the Internet, people used to entertain themselves by sitting down and diving into a good book. The entertainment options never ran out because the public library systems would offer these people with hundreds of books to read.

Technology changed what people use for entertainment, and the library must change with the times. Providing a variety of multimedia selections for library patrons allows people to depend upon the public library system for entertainment, just as they used to before technology.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Attracting a Younger, Hipper Generation to the Library

Some children are reluctant to read. After all, there are hundreds of new video games and TV shows just waiting for them. Public libraries hope by offering video games, computer games and the latest DVDs, they can attract the attention of a younger generation that has been fairly reluctant to pick up a book and read.

The belief is that children will want to use the library to borrow a movie or video game, but while they are at the library they might slowly adapt to exploring the thousands of books and reading materials in the building. The multimedia collection is almost used as bait to attract children to the library system. Once in the library, librarians will use colorful displays, contest, and other resources to attract children’s attention to the books.

There is a general belief that the public is not as interested in the American public library system as it was 10, 20 or even 40 years ago. Offering diverse multimedia collections might just be the key to renewing the public’s interest in the library.

Filling Library Shelves With In-Demand Titles

Librarians and library collection specialists engage in a delicate balancing act between meeting the public’s demand for certain book titles and series, and complying with an extremely tight budget that is set by a library board of directors. With more than 290,000 book titles published each year in the United States, libraries are faced with the extremely difficult task of deciding which book titles are worthy of taking up valuable shelf space, and which are not.

Budget restrictions, book topic controversies, popularity of a specific book title, and current trends must all be assessed and taken into account before a book is added to a library’s existing collection. The following is a brief look at how libraries can start the process of determining what books and other materials should be added to a library’s collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Develop a Full Picture of the Average Library Patron

Libraries are extremely diverse meeting grounds for people of all sexes, ethnicities, religions and backgrounds. This melting pot of beliefs, customs and interests can make it difficult for libraries to fully meet the demands of every single library patron, as there are so many different wants and needs.

Libraries that are trying to successfully meet the demands of their patrons must fully understand who exactly is visiting and using the resources provided by the library. A full picture of who is visiting the library can be drawn by collecting information from the patrons.

Some examples of how libraries have collected patron information include:

  • In-library surveys filled out by patrons who visited the library.
  • Online surveys sent to all registered library cardholders.
  • General profiles on library card applications.
  • Using the general census to determine the area’s population demographics.

Taking the information provided by these surveys and applications, a library can develop a better understanding of who uses the library and what resources they need to meet their literary needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Assessing a Book Title for Possible Addition to a Library’s Collection

There is no right or wrong way to assess whether a book title is a good addition to a library’s existing book collection. Librarians can narrow down which titles might be good additions to a collection by asking a few simple questions. These questions include:

  • Is there a demand for the topic or material provided by the book?
  • How many copies of the title does the library already own?
  • Have existing library patrons asked for the book?
  • Is the book a part of a series that is already popular with library patrons?
  • Is the book written by a well-known author?
  • Is there room in the budget to purchase a copy?
  • Have other books that are similar to this title or topic been popular among library patrons?

The answers to these questions can help librarians assess if a book title should or should not be considered for addition to a library’s collection.

Filling a library’s shelves with books that people want to read is extremely difficult. Libraries that have taken the time to assess who visits the library, and if a book is a good addition to the library’s collection have found success with filling the shelves with thousands of books people want to read.

A Brief History of Libraries in America

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Libraries have been part of the world’s history for more than a thousand years. First, as private libraries of the rich and learned and then as libraries for academic and/or monastic purposes, the library was a necessary part of saving, as well as gaining, important information and classical thought. These libraries helped preserve civilizations and cultures through the ages.

Although it is thought that the first documented library existed around 700 BC, it wasn’t until almost 1600 AD that one of the first known public library came to be. In Lincolnshire, England, the Francis Trigge library was opened to the community. By the mid 1800s, England’s Parliament made it a law that all cities with a good-sized population were to have a public library.

Public Libraries in the U.S.

Although Colonial America had private and academic libraries, the idea of the public lending library came from Benjamin Franklin. Franklin put together a group of 50 investors who were interested in forming a library. Together they each invested 40 shillings to buy books and sent an order to London. Thus, the Library Company was formed and a subscription library was established, which led the way to the establishment of lending libraries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Carnegie

One of Andrew Carnegie’s most famous donations to the American people was the funding of 1,679 libraries that were scattered across America. Costing somewhere to the tune of more than $40 million dollars and taking more than 20 years to complete, these libraries opened to millions of Americans that were suddenly able to read great books and to become engrossed in some of the greatest literature available. These public libraries were free to the community and put in place by Carnegie because of his respect and admiration for books. Completed in 1919, many of these libraries stand today and are still used for education and information in today’s modern world. Now, besides the books that so heavily influenced Carnegie, many of these libraries are modern information centers with computer labs, research centers and even online blogs.

Today, libraries in America have changed and grown with the advancement of technology and the necessary use of computers and Internet for research and learning. However, they still stand as beacons of education, culture and great literature, proving that learning is always important, whether from a multimedia project or a great book.

The Importance of the Library in Modern Society

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The public library is one of the most important education centers in the United States. Besides a library’s vast collection of great literature and academic stimuli, the modern library also provides technical knowledge and service, from free Internet to multimedia resources.

Technology and Learning

For those with vast Internet experience, capabilities and knowledge, the addition of technology to the modern library is an added benefit that helps in research and discovery. To those that are without the luxury of the Internet and advanced computer technology at home, the library can offer not only an education in literature, but also a quantum leap in understanding the computer, the Internet and how to gain information from worldwide sources.

Contrary to popular opinion, there is still a significant percentage of the population that does not experience the Internet at home. With libraries offering internet services along with technical support in some areas, those that are computer-challenged have a chance to learn the basics of how to search and gain information quickly and easily. With free internet access and programs to help with basic computer use, the modern library adds a completely new dimension to learning and searching information to students of all ages.

Libraries as Information Centers

Today’s librarians are well trained in the use of the Internet and how to search and gain information. As they help and guide library users in the skills of intelligent computer and Internet use, this becomes another advantage of the modern library and its many resources to help advance education in the local community.

Although a vast collection of books and reading materials will always be important and irreplaceable in the continued push for literacy and culture, the use of computers and technology is an absolute necessity in the aspect of today’s learning modes and access of information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coffee Shop, Learning Resource Centre, Edge Hill University (Photo credit: jisc_infonet)

Libraries as Media Centers

One aspect of modern libraries that is becoming prevalent is the use of media and arts as learning tools. From podcasts to videos to LCD screens with continual information, the library is becoming an outstanding tool for media learning. Librarians are becoming quite skilled in many aspects of media, as libraries continue to grow in computer and media experiences for library-goers. Online library use has grown tremendously and library websites are an important destination point for users who can’t always make it to the library itself.

Because modern society is so information based, the library has become a bastion of finding information, continued learning, and skilled technology in the 21st century. Yet, when all is said and done, even in today’s modern and advanced world, there is still nothing that can quite beat curling up in a favorite chair with a terrific book.

And, happily, that is still quite modern.

Technology in the Library, a Synergetic Experience

 

 

 

 

 

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What is Synergy?

The synergetic library…what does that mean?

The definition of synergy is: when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

This means that when certain elements join together, they become even greater through their combined energy, than if each had been left to do their work alone. This can be seen in a superb play or film, where the whole of the cast and crew, combined together, becomes something much greater than if each were left to do his creative thing alone.

This explanation of synergy also applies to the blending of the latest technology with the culture and significance of a great library.

For instance, it is a well-known fact that a great library can be the center for incredible advances in literacy and culture. For a reader, the library stimulates the love of reading and learning in a non-compulsory atmosphere of excitement and positive reinforcement. For a non-reader, the library can be overwhelming. This is why many libraries today are combining the beauty of discovering a good book with the advancement of technology that can help synergize the library experience.

Information is Everywhere

In the past the collecting of information was a long and drawn out experience. Today, information is close-up and personal; it is right at your fingertips. At the click of a mouse, information can be had on almost any subject known to man. However, because it is so close, the art of searching out correct information can be lost. This can create a double problem of not recognizing factual or correct information, even when it is so easy to obtain. Technology in the library can help combine correct information with the skills to recognize it when one finds it.

For the true book lover, great books will never be replaced; however, it is important to understand that technology is now a part of everyday life and can be used to enhance a great library experience.

High-Tech Library Learning Centers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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High-tech libraries are now calling themselves everything from concept centers to idea stores. From video games and podcasting to music and art galleries, these innovative versions of libraries are attracting many who might not otherwise visit a library. Librarians are becoming astute in the world of technology and can help with Internet, multimedia, computer stations and even video production. Some libraries now have digital downloads for books and have their entire selection online.

Synergized with the atmosphere of a coffee shop, an art gallery, a high-tech multimedia center and a vast collection of the world’s greatest books, these modern libraries are attracting a huge community of learners who might not otherwise be found at a library.

And this is what synergy is all about.

Literacy and the Library

What is Literacy?

Generally, one considers the definition of literacy as the ability to read and write. Literacy can also mean the quality of education or knowledge one has in a certain field or ideology. It is also important to be able to function in the real world in such things as applying for a job or explaining how something works. Having common sense in these kinds of everyday situations is known as functional literacy.

Literacy is something that is vital to success in learning, business and life in general. It is also an area where any individual can continue to grow and develop.

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What is the Role of Libraries in Increasing Literacy?

Libraries are one of the greatest tools for continuous education and life-long learning. Not only are libraries easy to access in most communities, the wide range of materials can make learning a joyous experience. For thousands of years libraries have been at the center of knowledge and cultural awareness for many different nations, creeds and peoples. All of this knowledge is still available at a modern library for just the small cost of time and research.

In today’s world, good libraries are usually at the center of an educated community’s learning efforts.

Great libraries are:

  • Learning centers that help support and include quality education as part of their mission.
  • Technically up-to-date and able to coordinate the world of books and the world of innovative technology and internet learning.
  • Cultural centers that can raise the bar of education to include great literature, arts and interactive resources.
  • Community centers of literacy for all ages and abilities.

Libraries are also a great resource for families to be able work together in areas of education and skills. A family can build a foundation in literacy and culture together. There are few places in the world, besides the home, where this kind of experience is available.

Comfortable Seating, Learning Resource Centre, Edge Hill University (Photo credit: jisc_infonet)

The Library Outreach

Many libraries also reach out to their communities by providing services in literacy and educational growth such as:

  • Weekly story telling
  • Tutoring
  • Computer assisted learning
  • Afterschool literacy programs
  • English as a second language
  • Materials to hospitals, group homes, prisons

Libraries are a convenient, and certainly a cost-effective way to gain knowledge, while improving reading and writing skills. Here one can learn how to use technology and interactive learning, along with enjoying a wonderful collection of books that will have a lifetime effect.

This is what it means to be cultured and literate and this is exactly what a great library does for the community it serves.