Services for Book Lovers: Goodreads

Posted in App Review, Gesina A. Phillips on February 23rd, 2015 by library – Be the first to comment

Looking for a way to tame your “To Read” list? Obsessive about keeping track of things you’ve already read? For book lovers, social media junkies, and everything in between, Goodreads might be the service you’ve been looking for. A number of our staff—myself included—use Goodreads with varying degrees of fanaticism, so we’ve decided to feature it on the blog so you can join in as well!

"d-221 books" by azrasta on Flickr

“d-221 books” by azrasta on Flickr, made available under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

The best thing about Goodreads is that it gives you a lot of options; you can use whatever functions you want and ignore the rest. If you’re not into the social networking aspect, for example, you can use it instead to very specifically track your own reading habits. While writing this review I consulted my own profile, which devolved into a period of obsessive organization of my virtual bookshelves—by date read, by rating, by shelf. I have lists going for books I’ve read, books I am reading, and books I would like to read. If I put a book down for a time (or run out of renewals at the library!), I can record what page I was on for the next time I pick it up. You can also create custom bookshelves and write public reviews. For the organizationally-minded user, it’s a wonderful tool for generating a lot of lists about your library and reading patterns. There are even some functions that provide statistics on the number of books you read in a given year or the authors that you read the most!

This might be good for someone who wants to use the site simply to curate a personal library, but how about people who are looking for recommendations? Goodreads offers a few different ways for you to find out about new books you might like to read. The social aspect of the site allows you to connect with other users and see what they are reading. From that one friend with killer taste to other Goodreads users you meet while discussing your favorite books, you can develop a network of people whose reading habits are similar to your own. There’s also an algorithmic option for recommendations, which suggests books for you to read based on what you’ve added to your bookshelves.

There are some other functions within Goodreads, some of which are pretty neat. You can set a personal reading challenge for the year (good for goal-oriented types!) or import your Amazon purchases directly onto your bookshelves (this makes a little more sense when using the Kindle app version; otherwise, it seems somewhat intrusive). There are author interviews and curated lists galore for you to read, and if you love vehemently disagreeing with people, you can always check out the user reviews.

Overall, the social networking and personal library aspects of Goodreads work well together, but users can also tailor the experience effectively to their own needs. In addition to the web interface there are free apps available for iOS, Android, Kindle, and NOOK. Reviews are generally good for the apps, although the web interface offers the most comprehensive access to the service’s many features.

Check out Goodreads at goodreads.com, or download the app for your device from iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.

Meet the JKM Library Staff: Amy Lee Heinlen

Posted in Meet the Staff on February 3rd, 2015 by library – Be the first to comment
Amy Lee and a small section of her personal book collection.

Amy Lee and a small section of her personal book collection.

Amy Lee Heinlen

  • is a huge fan of the museums in Pittsburgh.
  • is working on her MFA in poetry with a concentration in publishing here at Chatham and hopes to defend her thesis in spring 2016!
  • was co-captain of the 2009 bronze-cart-winning book cart drill team, The Steel City Kings (watch the video!).

What do you do here at The Jennie King Mellon Library?

I oversee all of the many goings-on at the Circulation Desk. I am the liaison librarian for Falk School of Sustainability, and the departments ofEducation; History, Political Science, and International Studies; and Women & Gender Studies. I am often found at the Reference Desk, too.

What made you choose your current profession?

I love learning and I love books. I’m interested in people and I’m passionate about our access to information. I am inspired by the energy of a university campus.

 When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

 A poet and a zoo keeper.

 What’s your favorite part of your job?

Learning about the varied and wide-ranging interests of our patrons. I discover something new to read, something new to think about, some new connection to the world, every day.

If you could do one thing to change/improve the JKM Library- with no worries about time or expense, what would you do?

I would have every single student, staff, and faculty member on campus visit the library for a series of instruction sessions demonstrating all of the many fantastic resources and services their library makes available to them!

What do you like to do on your days off?

I spend time with my daughter and husband. We play, explore Pittsburgh, and spend lots of time at the museums. I love to read for hours, though that doesn’t happen very often these days. I write. I revise. I write some more.

What’s the last thing you checked out?

I’m reading Helen Vendler’s, Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries, which is a series of close readings of Emily Dickinson’s poems. Alongside this, I’m devouring The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems, which reproduces, in full-color, the experimental poems she wrote later in life on unfolded envelopes. If you’re perplexed and intrigued by Dickinson, I highly recommend both of these titles.

What book do you think everyone should read? Why?

I think everyone should read voraciously. But if I have to pick just one, I suggest 1984 by George Orwell because it forces the reader think about the importance of privacy, something which we as a society are complacent about and take for granted in the United States. 

What’s your favorite thing about living in Pittsburgh?

The geography. I grew up in Central Ohio which is rather flat and I love the hills of Pittsburgh!

 What’s one thing you think everyone should do while they live in the city?

Visit the museums. All of them!

Tell us some surprising things about yourself:

I am working on my MFA in poetry with a concentration in publishing here at Chatham. I hope to defend my thesis in spring 2016.

I worked as a waitress, a bartender, in used and rare book retail, as a horse-back riding instructor, as a personal assistant, and as a copy editor before I decided to become a librarian.

I lived in Columbus, Ohio; Mobile, Alabama; and Austin, Texas before moving to my favorite city so far, Pittsburgh.

I was co-captain of the 2009 bronze-cart-winning book cart drill team, The Steel City Kings.

Blind Date with a Book Display

Posted in Display on February 1st, 2015 by library – Be the first to comment

IMG_2080Have you ever read a book and thought, “This is true love!”? Well, we’re hoping to set you up with your next favorite book (or film) this Valentine’s Day. Stop into the library and pick up a wrapped book from the display, check it out, and unwrap your date! Was it a dud? Is it getting put in the friend zone? We hope you find new love.

Popular Reading Display

Posted in Display, Kristi Hruska on January 26th, 2015 by library – Comments Off

As we neared the end of the fall semester, we at the library asked our patrons to let us know what they wanted to see on the Popular Reading Display. You suggested, and we listened! The display was filled with new titles in the middle of January, so make sure to stop by and see what made it to the table.

Here are some of our new features:Pop Reading Jan

Have your own suggestions for the Popular Reading Display? Send an email to circdesk@chatham.edu or stop by in person and let us know!

January Displays – Mentoring and Women in Politics

Posted in Display on January 10th, 2015 by library – Comments Off

Mentor DisplayProfessional mentoring is commemorated during the month of January. JKM Library is highlighting the importance of mentoring and leadership in the workplace in conjunction with the 2015 Ready to Run Conference with a book display on the First Floor. Books are available on mentoring, leadership, and women in American politics. If you’re interested in finding more information, ask a Reference librarian for help finding articles and e-books.

Ready to Run is presented at Chatham by the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics. The two-day conference will be held on January 30th and 31st. Registration is required. Day one’s pre-conference focuses on Women of Color in Pennsylvania Politics, and the topic of day two is Campaign Training for Women. Keynote speaker is Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz.

Meet the JKM Library Staff: Dana Mastroianni

Posted in Meet the Staff on January 8th, 2015 by library – Comments Off

DanaDana Mastroianni

  • Wanted to be an archaeologist when she grew up
  • Is a huge hockey fan
  • Was nearly kidnapped by gypsies

What do you do here at The Jennie King Mellon Library?

I’m the Reference and Web Librarian.

What made you choose your current profession?

As an undergraduate I worked in my school’s library for four years.  I loved the fact that I could continually explore information about any topic I could think of at the library.  So I decided to make a career out of it and help others find and understand the information they need.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

It changed a lot!  I ran the gamut from ballerina to veterinarian to archaeologist and a lot more in between.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

The gratification that comes in helping students realize that they are capable of accomplishing great work when they understand how to utilize the resources available to them.

If you could do one thing to change/improve the JKM Library- with no worries about time or expense, what would you do?

Be able to build more group study rooms for students, they’re very popular.

What do you like to do on your days off?

Spend time with my husband and let my children tire me out!

What’s the last thing you checked out? (Brief reviews are appreciated)

The Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick. A fascinating read that begins with why the Pilgrims set sail for America and spans the 55 years after Plymouth Colony was settled, a tumultuous time in which the first war on American soil was fought.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Pittsburgh?

Well, I don’t live in the city (I’m in Westmoreland County), but I’ve lived most of my life in this area.  My favorite thing is Pittsburgh’s size; it’s big enough that you do “city” activities, like museums, sporting events, the symphony or opera. But you’re not far away from great destinations for hiking, camping, skiing and just enjoying the natural surroundings of Western PA.

What’s one thing you think everyone should do while they live in the city?

Become a sports fan!  There are three professional teams whose seasons collectively span all 12 months of the year.  (I’m biased and suggest going to a hockey game!)

Tell us some surprising things about yourself:

When I was young, I had platinum blond hair that would turn green in the summer. I loved to swim and the chlorine would make my hair take on a very noticeable green tint.  At the time I didn’t believe it since I didn’t notice it, but looking back now at pictures of myself, it was most definitely green!

In Paris, gypsies tried to whisk my friend and I away from each other and who knows where else as we we’re entering a Metro station.  I’m pretty sure they were pickpockets, but being almost kidnapped by gypsies makes a better story.

Dying for a great mystery?

Posted in Display on December 2nd, 2014 by library – Comments Off

Dying for a great mystery? Our mystery-theme book display is exactly what you need!

There are cozy mysteries, detective stories, thrillers, and classics for everyone to enjoy. Authors include: Kathy Reichs, P.D. James, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers, Alexander McCall Smith, and many more.

Not sure which genre you like? Sample a few, or check out one of the non-fiction books on the history of mystery.

Meet the JKM Library Staff: Erin Simpson

Posted in Amanda Miller, Meet the Staff on November 25th, 2014 by library – Comments Off

ErinSimpsonErin Simpson

  • Loves Thai food and jazz music
  • Has worked in several libraries prior to her position at JKM
  • Graduate student working on her Master’s of Counseling Psychology degree

What do you do here at The Jennie King Mellon Library?

I assist the Access Services Librarian, Amy Lee Heinlen. This means that my main job is to fill Interlibrary Loan requests for our students and faculty members.  I also assist in keeping the Curriculum Collection tidy and you may see me behind the desk checking books in and out as well.

What made you want to get a job at the Library?

I have a lot of experience in libraries. I worked as the Teen Librarian of a town in Indiana, and took quite a few graduate courses in Library Science in order to uphold standards and provide the best library services I could. I worked through High School and Undergrad in my hometown library as well, and spent my elementary years helping my mom shelve the books in my small private schools library. Even though my degree is in Counseling, I want to always have a foot in the library because that is home!

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A Librarian.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I really enjoy helping students and faculty find articles and books to advance their education. I can’t help but wonder if one of these articles might save a person’s life or change the world!

What do you like to do on your days off?

Spend time reading, sit on my porch, learn new things, and laugh a whole lot.

What’s the last thing you checked out?

The Genogram Journey: Reconnecting With Your Family – In the counseling psychology field, genograms are introduced as a way to learn about and understand our heritage and who we are. It’s basically an elaborate family tree. This particular book is interesting as it includes multiple genograms of famous people. For instance, the Bronte Sisters are highlighted and their ancestry is included, complete with mental health history, affairs, talents, etc… It’s incredibly interesting.

What book do you think everyone should read? Why?

Till We Have Faces  by C.S. Lewis.

So many reasons. I wouldn’t even call it my favorite book, but I would call it one of the most important and incredible books I’ve ever read. It’s a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche from the point of view of Psyche’s sister. Jealousy, loss, and what to do with all of it is a central theme. I could read it 100 times and still not fully grasp all of it’s layers of meaning and wisdom.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Pittsburgh?

Thai Food and Jazz

What’s one thing you think everyone should do while they live in the city? (This includes restaurant recommendations, of course.

Go to Jamestreet Gastropub and Speakeasy on Tuesday night for a jam session. Get a burger and some fries and listen as some of the up and coming jazz musicians in Pittsburgh take the stage. 

Meet the JKM Library Staff: Kristi Hruska

Posted in Amanda Miller, Meet the Staff on November 15th, 2014 by library – Comments Off

Kristi HruskaKristi Hruska

  • Spent four weeks in Taiwan
  • Once endured eight hours of reconstructive jaw surgery
  • Won a national dance competition with her Hawaiian dance group

What do you do here at The Jennie King Mellon Library?

My official title is a Library Access Services Aide, but I’m better known as one of the students at the Circulation Desk that helps you check out your library books.

 What made you want to get a job at the Library?

I worked in the library in high school to get out of my study hall. When I found out that I was eligible for work-study in college, I was glad to find that my previous library experience could come in handy.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I love the wide array of people I get to interact with here. Chatham has such an eclectic student body, but the one thing we all have in common is that we all need to go to the library.

If you could do one thing to change/improve the JKM Library- with no worries about time or expense, what would you do?

I wish we had comfier chairs, more tables, and an infinite number of group study rooms. Longer hours would be great, too – especially opening earlier on Sundays.

What’s the last thing you checked out?

I checked out 10 Things I Hate About You from our Media Collection…it’s one of my favorite movies! In terms of books, my patron account is pretty boring. I currently have a cookbook, some of my textbooks, and a few books for tutorial. I wish I had more time for leisurely reading.

What book do you think everyone should read? Why?

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. It’s about the rise of the Taliban and the Afghan revolution from the view of a young boy growing up in Afghanistan. I only ever learned the American viewpoint about these things, especially after 9/11, so this book really put things into perspective for me.

I also love The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s such a quick and easy ready, but it’s so realistic and relatable. It makes me cry and reevaluate my life every single time I read it. Each time, something different stands out to me.

Both of these books are in our library – I try to sneak them into the Popular Reading section when they’re not already checked out!

What’s your favorite thing about living in Pittsburgh?

EVERYTHING! I’m such a Yinzer, born and raised. It’s a big city with a small town feeling. I love going to the Pirates games, being able to walk across the Roberto Clemente Bridge, and listening to the Sax Guy. I love how close the suburbs are – you’re outside of the city, but close enough to be there in twenty minutes. I’m open to leaving for a bit and experiencing other places, but I ultimately want to raise a family and grow old right here in Pittsburgh.

What’s one thing you think everyone should do while they live in the city? (This includes restaurant recommendations, of course)

You must, must, must go to the West End Overlook. Mount Washington is overrated and usually crowded, and the view from West End is much better. Then, you have to get a Primanti’s sandwich – and no asking for the fries or slaw on the side!

Meet the JKM Library Staff: Jill Ausel

Posted in Amanda Miller, Meet the Staff on November 5th, 2014 by library – Comments Off

Jill Ausel

  • Alternative dream jobs from childhood include an archaeologist, ballerina, or President of the United States
  • Loves many things about living in the great city of Pittsburgh!JillAusel
  • Outside of the library, Jill enjoys shopping (especially for shoes!) and going to the movies

What do you do here at The Jennie King Mellon Library?

I’m the Library Director

What made you choose your current profession?

As with many librarians, I have a life-long love of books and places where I can get them – for free!!  While in college I discovered I very much enjoyed research – writing, not so much.  When I learned I could become a librarian and work in an academic library and stay in college, it was a complete “Aha!  This is perfect” moment. 

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Oh a great variety of things.  I wanted to be an archaeologist, a lawyer, the President of the United States and a ballerina.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I love to see people grow and learn.  

What do you like to do on your days off?

No surprise I love to read.  I also enjoy going to movies, Pirate games, the symphony, shopping (shoes!!) and hanging out with friends. 

What’s the last thing you checked out? (Brief reviews are appreciated)

The Ancient Oracles: Making the Gods Speak by Richard Stoneman

I have been interested in ancient Greek history since I was 8.  It stuck.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Pittsburgh?

Everything!!  I love the sports and the theater.  The symphony and the opera and the ballet.  The museums, the restaurants and the amazing music scene.  I love the rivers and the parks and the Phipps Conservatory.  The strip district and Mt. Washington and Carson St.  It’s just a great city to live in. (No, the Chamber of Commerce did not pay me for the endorsement)

What’s one thing you think everyone should do while they live in the city? (This includes restaurant recommendations, of course)

Depending on one’s interest of course, but I think touring the Nationality Rooms at the Cathedral of Learning on Pitt’s campus is a must.  Each room represents a nationality with a presence here in Pittsburgh.  From those groups we get not only great restaurants, but that neighborhood feel that is so remarkably Pittsburgh.