I’ll tumblr 4 ya

Tumblr2Tumblr. Think of it and no doubt you think of the associated phrase F*** Yeah. There are plenty of wibbly GIFs and fan stuff (Is Michael Fassbender a shark?) and a lot more besides. As a blogging platform, it is easy to set up, fast-growing, and has recently been purchased by Yahoo.

If you go to Explore Tumblr, you will get a feel for the type of stuff being posted: LOL, Food, Fashion, Art, Vintage are the current top five tags. You can follow Tumblrs, and tagging is critical as it is the main means of finding stuff.

Excellent background reading is found in two articles:

I love Kate’s description of  Tumblr as “the best baby Twitter and WordPress didn’t know they ever had.”

Central Hawke’s Bay District Libraries is the only Kiwi library doing it at an institutional level, but New Zealand librarians are colonising the space. I’ve been dabbling for a while, in order to figure out how and why a library might want to be in this social space. Here are some observations:

The potent image

There is a strong visual component to Tumblr. GIFs, video, images, photos, and even text itself are all well-handled in all the blog themes. If you have an art or photo collection that you want to promote, Tumblr should be a strong contender.

Even the monthly archive of your blog pulls together posts in a super-visual style:


Literature lovers unite

Publishers, booksellers, literary people, and readers hang out on Tumblr. They share literary news, photos, and snippets of interesting stuff. Often these people or groups will have a Twitter, Facebook, possibly a Flickr, and Tumblr is their publishing place of choice for longer format material.

Things to think about

It is easy to share …

You will find a lot of sites make it easy to post stuff to Tumblr. You can also reblog posts you like. This is super-easy – I especially love how you can get Flickr images up into Tumblr with a simple click. I’ve set my Tumblr up so it fires off a tweet when a new post goes up. It is all interconnected and simple.

– but who does the content belong to?

When you reblog a post, it looks like it is your content which can lead to confusion. Sometimes it is unclear where the post originally came from, or who owns the content. This can be problematic for libraries in terms of copyright and attribution.

An in-between place

Not as short as Facebook and Twitter, not as discursive as your WordPress/Blogspot blog or website – Tumblr can serve as a place where you both share your own content and repost stuff that is useful, interesting, and relevant.

Let’s get together

Tumblr would be a great space for us for the GLAM sector to share content collaboratively. It would be an environment in which to share our historical content and images (remember vintage is one of the top five tags – so there is an inbuilt audience). Some of us keen on making DigitalNZ sets had a go at promoting the gems we found via The DigitalNZ Fan Club.

Tasty Tumblrs

Smithsonian Libraries
A Tumblr of semi-random stuff from the stacks of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries
Millions millions
The official Tumblr feed for The Millions, the online magazine offering coverage on books, arts, and culture.
The Composites
Images created using a commercially available law enforcement composite sketch software and descriptions of literary characters.
Writers no one reads
Highlighting forgotten, neglected, abandoned, forsaken, unrecognized, unacknowledged, overshadowed, out-of-fashion, under-translated writers.
Day-by-day reflections on history and culture

Tumblr tags

Reading list

This article was also published in Library Life’s social media issue, August 2013.

The post in which I gush over Reading Matters 2013

It’s 4 days after the end of Reading Matters 2013 and I still can’t stop thinking about it. It was unbelievably awesome and  the best conference I’ve been to by far. I’ve never had so much fun at a conference or come away so excited and motivated. The Centre for Youth Literature team put together a great programme, with a lineup of some of the best young adult authors from Australia and overseas. You could tell how much time, effort and passion that the team put into making the conference so engaging, thought provoking, and entertaining. I already thought they were pretty damn awesome beforehand but I’ll be singing their praises to anyone who wants to listen.

At every other book conference I’ve been to I’ve bunked a couple of the sessions, but the Reading Matters sessions were so good that I didn’t want to miss a minute of them. The authors, volunteers and the Centre for Youth Literature team kept the energy up the whole time and I was constantly buzzing with excitement. They all must have been pretty worn out by the last session, but it never showed. They were all incredibly interesting sessions and we all learnt a lot more about the authors than we had bargained for. I had no idea that some of them had such dirty mouths, but they had us almost falling off our seats with laughter.

I love Australian young adult literature and some of my favourite authors were there, including Vikki Wakefield (All I Ever Wanted, Friday Brown), Gabrielle Williams (Beatle Meets Destiny, The Reluctant Hallelujah), Morris Gleitzman (the Once quartet), and Myke Bartlett (Fire in the Sea).  I also enjoyed meeting and listening to the international authors, especially Raina Telgemeier (Smile, Drama), Keith Gray (Ostrich Boys) and Libba Bray (Beauty Queens, The Diviners).  I have to admit I hadn’t read anything by the international authors prior to the conference but I certainly will be now. They were all really wonderful people who wrote some lovely dedications in my books.  I’ll be writing some more posts throughout the week about some of the sessions.

I also got the chance to meet some of my awesome fellow bloggers/Tweeters in person. I was so glad I got to meet Danielle (alphareader.blogspot.co.nz and @danielle_binks ) and Jess (www.thetalescompendium.com and @TalesCompendium)  whose blogs and Tweets I follow, and I could have chatted to them for ages. Danielle is a super speedy Tweeter so she kept up with everything the authors were saying. I, on the other hand, was very slow and decided to just retweet Danielle’s. Between all the tweeters there and those who couldn’t be, we even managed to get the official hashtag, #yamatters, trending WORLDWIDE!

To all the authors and the organisers, especially Adele, Nicole, Anna and Jordi from the Centre for Youth Literature, thanks for making Reading Matters an event that I’ll never forget. The next Reading Matters conference is in Melbourne in 2015 so make sure you get there (I know I’ll be there come hell or high water!).

You can read my Reading Matters Highlights posts over on my blog – www.bestfriendsrbooks.com

If you want to catch up on all the #yamatters tweets, check out the hashtag on Twitter.

You can’t say that: Reading Matters

There were a number of panels at the Reading Matters conference. They provided much discussion and lively argument between the panelists and also from the audience. The panelists had obviously all read each others books and so had useful comments to make during the discussions.

There were two that I particularly enjoyed:

Gender less

The panelists were Libba Bray (an American author), Myke Bartlett and Fiona Wood (both Australian authors). This panel discussed the issue of gender in Young Adult novels. The discussion started with a passionate discourse from Libba Bray who feels very strongly about this issue. She attempts to be very inclusive in her writing and feels that anyone can read her books, whether they have a male or female protagonist. All the authors agreed that story is about connection, understanding and empathy and that this shouldn’t be limited to a particular gender.

There appears to be an advantage for publishers and booksellers having a marketing drive linked to a particular gender. They are able to sell more books and therefore covers are often produced in such a way that they seem to appeal to a particular reader. Covers do have a strong influence on readers and peer pressure can make it difficult for a boy to pick up a “girly” looking book. The reverse doesn’t seem to apply in the same way. These three authors agree that they don’t write with a reader of a particular gender in mind.

Keith Gray did have a  different approach that he mentioned in his talk. He has an image of his ideal reader – a boy of about 13 who doesn’t enjoy reading but just needs a book to trigger the love of reading.

The other panel I want to mention was:

 “You can’t say that”

The panelists were Libba Bray, Vikki Wakefield and Gabrielle Williams. Swearing and sex were discussed with the general consensus that gritty realism is more likely to attract attention whereas humour seemed to diffuse criticism. Often the problem appears to be the tone not the actual subject.

Search catalogueGabrielle Williams’ book The reluctant hallelujah was initially rejected by her American publisher as the main plot revolved around teenagers finding the body of Jesus in the basement. The suggestion was made by the publishers that they could publish it if she changed Jesus to Elvis Presley.

They also spoke of the “tyranny of the happy hopeful ending” which was a pressure sometimes felt when writing a novel with a somewhat sad ending.

Overall the conference was a time for listening and discussion. Although the highlight was hearing the authors, the discussions at lunchtime between librarians, booksellers and many other people passionate about YA literature were also invaluable.


Books are for life, not homework: Reading Matters

Search the catalogueI have just spent two days immersed in Young Adult literature at the Reading Matters Conference in Melbourne. It has been a fascinating and stimulating time.

The author I found most interesting was Keith Gray. He is an Edinburgh based author who has won several awards for  his YA books. He came from a non-reading family and didn’t read a book until he was 12 (The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall).

He spoke passionately about the best books being those that allow the reader to think. Fiction should give the reader the freedom to explore ideas and thoughts. He used the example of the instructions on his new ladder as patronising writing that implied that you couldn’t think for yourself. Two examples (he did read out most of the 18 instructions!) “Do not walk or jog your ladder” and “Do not use your ladder as a shelf”.

He feels that “gatekeepers” prevent young adults from having access to much writing that would give them the chance to experience empathy with other people and cultures.

He does receive a few complaints about his novels. All are from people concerned about other adult reactions – such as parents and school boards. These gatekeepers do not allow young adults the chance to explore issues and make their own decisions. His overall message was:


The other part of his presentation dealt with enjoyment of reading. The Machine Gunners was the trigger for his continued enjoyment of reading and for his career as a writer. He feels that teachers hinder the development of this enjoyment of reading by requiring all reading to be followed up by questioning. His quote was:

Books are for life not homework.

I can imagine the talks he does in school would be well received by teenagers as his presentation is a very well prepared, funny and passionate performance.


Reading Matters

I am off to the Reading Matters conference in Melbourne. This is a conference for professions and Young Adult enthusiasts. Some of the sessions include:

“You can’t say that” . Parental guidance recommended with Libba Bray, Vikki Wakefield and Gabrielle Williams. Censorship is a fascinating topic which can provoke vigorous discussion. This will be of particular interest to me as selecting graphic novels can be tricky when looking at the content and if it would be best in YA or the adult collection. There can be quite strong feedback from customers and staff!

“Unleashing YA” Gayle Forman, Morris Gleitzman and Keith Gray on adult encroachment in YA.
Morris Gleitzman is a renowned Australian author. His latest series is the story of a young boy who escapes from the Nazis.

This session may be about the increasing number of well known authors writing for YA as well as the adult market (eg Jodi Picoult, Kathy Reichs, John Grisham, James Patterson) or it may discuss the number of adults reading YA literature. Both of these are noticeable trends in YA.

“My life in comics” presented by Raina Telgemeier. Raina is from America. She presents her novels in comic strip format. Her first novel was autobiographical and is about her difficult years at high school after she had suffered a injury to her mouth.

I have been madly reading books by all of the authors appearing at the conference. This has been quite challenging in some ways. I find that I sometimes tend to read authors I know and genres I enjoy. It has been interesting extending my reading. Do others find themselves limiting their reading in this way?