Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hooked on Audiobooks!

For as long as I can remember, I've been hooked on audiobooks.  Perhaps it's the fact that I grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, where we spent a lot of time in the car.  Or maybe it's because some of my strongest childhood memories are of listening, repeatedly, to an old tape of my father reading Old Mother West Wind stories that he recorded when he had to be away for a few weeks.  I loved the tape so much, that he recorded several more and I remember listening to them every night, even when he was home!  Audiobooks got me through library school and the many commuting hours that I spent in my car driving from way the heck over here to way the heck out there in and around Los Angeles.  And now, even though my commute is hardly much, audiobooks are getting me through marathon training.  Nothing makes a 19 mile run fly by more quickly than finishing up a great book while you do it!  So with all that said, here are a few of my favorite stories to listen to:

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
There is something magical about Jim Dale's reading of the Harry Potter books that manage to make the already enchanting series even more of a treasure.  I recommend the earlier books, as the later books in the series get rather long for audiobook form.

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Dairy Queen is just such an excellent piece of YA realistic fiction.  It's funny, it's heartwarming and D.J. Schwenk's character is so endearing.  The story is paced perfectly for listening and D.J.'s voice is brought even further to life with a perfect Midwestern accent.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Another book that instantly feels like a classic, especially as a listen.  Audiobooks read by the author can sometimes be dreadful, but Neil Gaiman's voice is perfection!

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
I just listening to this one, which is probably why it's on my mind, but it was such an excellently read audiobook that I had to put it on my list.  The characters are brought to life with voices that embody them so well, it's almost like listening to a play.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Test Me!

Recently, I was asked by my boss to run a pilot of a standardized test that assesses "digital fluency."  The test, though designed for undergraduate and working adults, runs testers through a series of real-world information literacy challenges, such as ranking the authority of various information sources, determining the best information source to complete a certain task and so on.  I was excited to pilot the test, though I have my doubts about how well the activities will actually assess information literacy skills.  After administering the test to several students, interviewing them about their experiences and writing about my experience as a proctor, I decided to take it for myself, because, really, how well can I judge a test without experiencing it myself?  Here's hoping that, as a Librarian and a Director of Information Literacy (my official title), I will ace it!