Submitted by: Cynthia Lambert, New Jersey State Library - Law Library, Nov 30, 2013
I've been creating Pinterest Boards to support my on-going book group 'A Good Yarn'. The group meets the first Tuesday of the month and combines my love of reading and knitting. We read a variety of books--mostly contemporary fiction, but there is a sprinkling of classics and non-fiction titles as well. Many of the group memembers already use Pinterest to track their various craft interests. I started creating boards based on our titles with the board I have linked to about Shanghai Girls, by Lisa See.
'Shanghai Girls' lent itself particularly well for this type of project because it is historical fiction and a great deal of the settings in the book have extensive documentation on the internet. Currently, I use the cover of the book for the cover of the board. Then, as I am reading, I flag images that are strong for me: in this case, images from the author's website of real 'beautiful girl' calendars, really made the book come to life. In addition, I pinned images of the movie 'The Good Earth', which is discussed extensively in the book, historic images of China City, Angel Island, and historic figures who are mentioned in the book. I also include a photo of the author which links to their webpage or the books webpage so people can easily find additional information.
At each book discussion, I show the Board using an iPad and projector. The images really help to enliven the discussion--we discuss casting if we were to make a movie of the film, we are critical when we feel a movie adaptation falls short (everyone is too darn clean in all the Book Thief movie posters!), we are able to use maps and time lines to help place the books into context. While the boards don't always add significantly to the discussion, they never distract from it either. Most often, the images spark our interest in finding out more information about the events or time period depicted and spark unexpected lines of discussion.
Some books lend themselves to the process much better than others. Using maps to show place and time is particularly popular. Likewise, showing images of items metioned--plasters in the 'Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry' for example, help to explain things we probably should have looked up but didn't. For some books. the images can be deeply disturbing--pictures of Hitler Youth, images of the Jim Crowe South, war images, etc. The effort to create the boards is minimal--almost all of the boards I have made take less than one hour and are done while I am covering the Reference Desk. It helps to have sticky notes or flags at hand while reading--but beyond that, there are no special tools or talent needed.
I encourage you to create similar boards relating to the books in your life. Many of my pins have been shared--mostly by people far outside my service area. I have been contacted by an editor saying how much loved the boards for a book that she had worked on. Another fun contact was from the Columbia Univeristy Ornathology department who were thrilled to see one of their images used in my board for the book Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen. While I wish there were more participation by 'my patrons', I feel that the larger community of readers is well served by these boards. It is important to remind everyone of the ways libraries and librarians can enrich thier lives. This is a simple way to expand our influence and hopefully encourage someone to pick up one of these books. Happy Pinning!
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