RA FOR ALL...THE ROAD SHOW!

I can come to your library, book club meeting, or conference to talk about how to help your readers find their next good read. Click here for more information.

Friday, July 20, 2018

New Book Club Study Website and Graphic Novel Book Discussion Coming Soon

One of the things I am most proud of in my work with ARRT is transforming one of our members only programs, the literary book discussion program into the Book Club Study. It is a place where I have been able to effect positive change within this long standing networking group.

ARRT had done quarterly literary book discussions for years, but they were getting stale and were not as responsive to the needs of a new generation of book discussion leaders.

The Book Club Study is modeled after our popular Genre Study. It is a 4x a year book discussion for book discussion leaders, giving them a chance to be in a discussion instead of running one. It is also a leadership training opportunity. We discuss the book itself and then have a planned leadership topic that the group can discuss. We also always allow time for anyone in attendance to bring up any other book discussion related questions or concerns.

As I wrote about in this article for Booklist Magazine, it is essentially a support group for book discussions leaders.

One of the other standards I have set for this program is that we have as many different leaders as possible. We have the entire ARRT Steering Committee to choose from and with only 4 meetings a year, we can go a couple years without repeating a leader. This allows us to expose our members to as many leadership styles as possible. There is no one, right way to lead a book discussion, and there is no better way to prove this to show people different leadership styles and tactics, live and in person.

Finally, the last thing I required of this revamped group is that like the Genre Study, while to attend in person you must be a paid ARRT member [only $15], anyone, anywhere, all around the world can have access to the group free through our notes. The notes create a record of the discussion and the leadership topic. ARRT is about helping library workers serve adult leisure readers better. Having the notes available after our Book Club Study serves that goal perfectly.

When the Book Club Study first started being revamped, ARRT didn’t have a great website, so I created a quick Google Site to have a place to store the notes and advertise the upcoming programs.

Now that the revamped ARRT website is well established, and I have completely passed the administration of the Book Club Study over to my colleague Elizabeth, she was able to make her first mark as the leader of this program by getting the Book Club Study site integrated into our wonderful ARRT site. And it looks great.

It will take me some time to fix the old links here on RA for All to redirect to this new page, but all of the information is now here and it is organized even better.

We still have the most important information like the upcoming book discussion right at the front, but now the older discussions and their notes are listed in alphabetical order by title. We have so many in the archive, so keeping them listed in reverse chronological order is no longer helpful. Also, while each leadership topic and its notes are paired with the book discussed, we now also have an alphabetical list of leadership topic here too.

Please check the archive out and add it to your book discussion resources. We have a lot of useful information, crowdsourced books lists and example discussions for you to use with your groups.

And, speaking of the Book Club Study, our next one is coming up soon. See below for the details. I have RSVP’d. I am so excited to be simply a participant.


Please join us for a discussion of My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Vol. 1 by Emil Ferris led by Mike Hominick.

Set against the tumultuous political backdrop of late ’60s Chicago, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is the fictional graphic diary of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, filled with B-movie horror and pulp monster magazines iconography. Karen Reyes tries to solve the murder of her enigmatic upstairs neighbor, Anka Silverberg, a holocaust survivor, while the interconnected stories of those around her unfold. When Karen’s investigation takes us back to Anka’s life in Nazi Germany, the reader discovers how the personal, the political, the past, and the present converge. Full-color illustrations throughout.

The discussion will be held: 
Thursday, August 9th
2-4 p.m.
Northbrook Public Library
RSVP to Mike Hominick (mhominick@northbrook.info)

Please arrange to obtain your own copy of the book for the discussion.

As always, discussion of the book includes a nuts-and-bolts session devoted to sharing practical solutions to the problems and concerns of book discussion leaders. Mary Constance Back will lead the discussion on “Discussing Graphic Novels and Other Unique Formats.”
Also, remember that you can always bring any problems or concerns you have with your group, no matter the topic, so we can all help each other.

Links to Peruse Prior to the Discussion:

Thursday, July 19, 2018

It’s The Best time of Year for Your Graphic Novel Collection Development

Click here for the full Eisner Awards ballot

The Eisner Awards will be announced tomorrow, but readers of this blog know that library workers don’t care as much about who wins as we do about how wonderful the full list of nominees is as one of our favorite resources. As a reminder, I refer you to one of my most popular topics: Using Awards Lists As a RA Tool.

Specifically the Eisner Awards are a slightly different tool because they honor both bound and single issues. Also because authors and artists get their own awards, we can use this list as a more comprehensive collection development tool than other awards lists.  I will explain in a moment, but first here is the link to the full list of this year’s nominees in over 30 categories across all age ranges.

Also before we go much further, I realize that some libraries don’t collect a lot of graphic novels, for adults, but these are the two most “book like" categories:

I would suggest that every library purchase at least these 10 titles; in fact most of you probably already have The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui since it made the ALA’s Notable Books List this year, and My Favorite Thing Is Monsters because it has already won many awards.

But in terms of using this list as a Collection Development tool and to use as we help readers, the Eisner ballot is one of a kind for a few reasons:
  1. Although most libraries do not collection single issues, you can use the ballot to keep tabs on which newer series are gaining traction. If they are being nominated for awards in the single issue stage, chances are they will eventually get bound into library friendly editions. You can use the ballot to help let you know which comics are the ones you should be on the look out for in a year or so. With the number of comics out there, this helps cut through the noise a bit.
  2. Artists and authors get nominated separately for their work. The fact that I can use the Eisner ballot to keep track of them separately has been invaluable in my own graphic novel RA and CD work [I have done a significant amount of both]. Why? Well, you can look at the ballots over time and see both established and up and coming artists and authors. Who is consistently being nominated for the award no matter who they are paired with. Even if you know nothing more than their names, you will be able to identify which new series are worth your attention based on those names. I even kept a database of the artists and authors that both got nominations and resonated with my patrons. This meant, for example, that years before Brian K. Vaughan was a household name, I was aware that he was writing great stories that my patrons enjoyed, and anytime I saw he had a new series, I automatically bought it. 
  3. I still hear of libraries, even in 2018, that do not collect graphic novels for children. The Eisner Awards have categories based on age groups, so if you are trying to advocate for adding this format at a youth age level, you have years of nominees to help you justify titles to add to a collection.
  4. All the other reasons any awards ballot is a good resource, especially for displays.
You can click here after the awards ceremony to see who wins, but as you can see from this post, the are all winners to us because the list of nominees is a treasure trove of information for us.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Another Library Reads Diverse Books Resources

Last week I wrote about Kelly Jensen’s database identifying diverse titles that are eligible for Library Reads votes.

In that post I said it was our only resource and encouraged you to help her add to it. However, that was not true, there is another comprehensive, crowd sourced resource that I neglected to mention over on Early Word-- an extensive database Nora Rawlinson is also keeping for all of us here.

This is a wonderful tool for upcoming, inclusive titles worth your consideration, but Nora goes even further.  She moves the previous month to the end of the spreadsheet, adds notes which provide information about series, vendor, and any buzz, and provides info on the print run if available. This extra information makes the spreadsheet a great general collection development tool also.

Please use these resources to both vote for titles for Library Reads but also to build your collections and suggest titles to patrons.

Thank you to Nora and Kelly for their hard work. Like me, they cannot vote for Library Reads [you must be employed by a public library in the United States to be eligible to vote], but that doesn’t mean any of us are going to stop helping you make our list as inclusive and representative as possible. We need to show our colleagues, patrons, and the world at large about all of the wonderful books that they might not know about without us. We need to have a list that reflects the inclusive populations we serve. And to do that, we need to do what we always do....use resources to guide us.

Also don’t forget to visit both Early Word and Book Riot regularly for up to date information about Library Reads and other RA and Collection Development related issues.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Deerfield Public Library Wins the 2018 ILA RA Service Award [Sponsored by ARRT]

Back in March of 2017 I had this Call to Action post asking you to nominate a colleague for an award. Since last year I have made it my personal goal to nominate someone for an award at least once a year. My nominees have not won yet, but I am going to continue to submit nominations because promoting and encouraging colleagues is important. Again read why here.

One of the awards I am associated with is the Illinois Library Association’s Readers' Advisory Service Award which is sponsored by ARRT. Click here for the details and criteria for the award, but here is the summary:
This award recognizes excellence in the planning, development, and delivery of readers’ advisory service to adults and teens and has been created in accordance with the mission statement of the Adult Reading Round Table: “to promote readers’ advisory skills and reading for pleasure through libraries.” Readers’ advisory is the ability to connect readers with materials that will satisfy their desire for something to read for pleasure
The ARRT Chair appoints a subcommittee to go through the qualified nominations, assess them in response to the award criteria, and make a recommendation, each year. This year, I had the honor of serving on that subcommittee. We had 5 qualified nominations and all were very exciting and inspiring. In fact, that might have been the best part of the process, seeing how much wonderful RA Service is happening all around the state.

In the end we picked the Adult Services Department from the Deerfield Public Library as our winners. From the official press release:
The Adult Services Department of the Deerfield Public Library is the recipient of the 2018 Illinois Library Association Readers’ Advisory Service Award. The award,presented and sponsored by the Adult Reading Round Table, recognizes excellence in the planning, development and delivery of readers’ advisory service to adults and teens. 
Deerfield’s Adult Services Department was selected for their innovative, impactful Read Without Boundaries program. This year-long program was launched in January 2018 to challenge patrons to read outside their comfort zone, with the goal of strengthening the community, broadening understanding of others, and providing insight into different cultures, opinions, and perspectives. Each month of the program features a selected theme meant to challenge patrons to read one title that promotes empathy or understanding. Readers receive prizes for individual challenges and completing the overall program. The program is an adult program, but adults of all abilities are encouraged to participate, regardless of reading level. 
Claire Steiner, Head of Adult Services cites positive feedback from participants, stating:“Many participants expressed that they would never have read a book like the one theychose had it not been for the challenge. The program has provided the Deerfield community with a multitude of opportunities to grow as readers and thinkers.”The impact of the monthly challenges was documented through patron responses: 
January Challenge: Read a Book Written by an Immigrant or with an Immigration Story
  •   “Made me think more about the current refugee crisis and the enormous challengesfacing those forced to flee their homes.”
  •   “It reminded me that immigration is more complex than just "wanting a better life" andthat it's easier to understand anyone when you know more about them. I've had this book on my "to-read" list since 2015 and I'm glad the reading challenge brought it to the top.”

    February Challenge: Read a book with a theme of love, kindness, empathy or compassion.
  •   “Everyone has a need to have someone notice their existence.”
  •   “This is essentially the kind of life I want to lead, making a positive contribution to the
    world.”
  •   “Everyone has a story and is struggling with demons we know nothing about. We should
    not judge others before we really know them.”

    More information about the Read Without Boundaries program can be found at http://deerfieldlibrary.org/read-without-boundaries/.
Congrats to Deerfield Public Library. They should be very proud of their program with or without this award. At ARRT we were impressed with the comprehensive and innovative nature of the program, but also its ease of replicability for other libraries regardless of their size or location. Like we have done with past winners, we are hoping to have Deerfield representatives present on their program in more detail at a 2019 ARRT program.

I am so proud of this award, now in its 4th year. It is one of the best things ARRT does. As Illinois’s largest RA training and networking group, ARRT pays it forward every year by acknowledging and recognizing our peers. You should to. Find a way to promote RA Service where you live. Sure not everyone is part of an organization like ARRT and cannot sponsor an award, but you can nominate someone for something-- an award- national, regional or local.

When you advocate for your colleagues you promote the work that all of of us do every single day.

Congratulations to all of the ILA Award Winners. They are a distinguished bunch. Take a look for yourself. I can’t wait to be there to honor everyone at the awards luncheon on October 9th.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Call to Action: Don’t Shelve You Series in Alpha Order

Today I have a very easy Call to Action, one that a few libraries are starting to do, one that puts the patrons and their needs first, one that there is no good reason for you not to do--
STOP SHELVING SERIES IN ALPHA ORDER MY TITLE AND ONLY SHELVE THEM IN SERIES NUMERICAL ORDER! 
Notice I say there is “no good reason” for you not to do this. I know many of you are literally shaking with anxiety after reading that statement. Putting things in alphabetical order is what most librarians do; it’s what they live for; it is what grounds them, and I am pulling the rug out from under all of them. However, just because that is how we are most comfortable organizing of our materials does not mean it is the best way. Sorry people, tough love here.

Also, and I say this often in my talks to ease some of the anxiety the above statement causes, I promise, you will not go to library jail for not putting every single item in alpha order. [cue nervous laughter and looking over shoulders]

Alphabetical order works great for organizing fiction authors and then for arranging their books on the shelf in many cases. But, for series, it never makes sense because people want to read the series in the order the author wants them to, not because the alphabet sets the order. And when you have an author like Nora Roberts, who has a bazillion different series it makes even less sense.

Let’s take Roberts as an example right now. We should use the KDL What’s Next Database as our model on how to organize series on the shelf. Here is a screen shot of their entry for just first few series Roberts has.


Each series is “shelved” alphabetically in this database. Then as you explore each series [as shown above in the Concannon Sisters Trilogy] those are in numerical order. In other words, in the order that the patron wants to read them.

With an author like Roberts, who has almost 3 dozen series under her name, this shelving by series alphabetically and then shelving the series in its written order is a game changer. The Roberts shelf is a mess with some books from the same series a shelf or two apart. Why do we do this to our patrons? Why do we make finding the books so harder them? Do we love alpha order more than our readers? Of course not.

Now Nora Roberts is an extreme example. Let’s take her series under the name JD Robb for example instead, currently at 47 books and counting. In this case we have a single author whose series is shelved completely out of order, and it really matters what order you read it in! Eve Dallas is in a different place in book 5 than she is in book 35. Why can’t we put them in numerical order? Why do our patrons have to search on their own to figure the order out? Why isn’t it clear on the shelf. I don’t know why? Better yet, why have we never asked ourselves how confusing and unhelpful this series of 47 popular books in no useful order is?


No wonder people don’t think we want to help them. We don’t make it easy for them. It's like we are taunting them. Seriously, that is how it feels to readers. I am not exaggerating. I have asked patrons, and trying to navigate a new to them series that already has a lot of books in it is a big source of library anxiety.

Okay, now the biggest argument against shelving in numerical order- how else will we make sure that they are marked appropriately in the catalog and on the book themselves in order for them to be easily reshelved and located by patrons and library workers alike. How will we make sure it is consistent and clear.

Yes it is true that our cataloging methods are all based on alpha order, but guess what? The cataloging systems are not the law. Again, you won’t go to jail. We have the right to create local cataloging changes to serve our patrons better.

Luckily here, there are many libraries who are beginning to do this, so I know of some models to share.

The easiest way I have seen it that a cutter is created for the series and then a number appears after it. So a JD Robb book would be under ROB, first and then IND 1 would be added to the title Naked in Death since it is the first book in the In Death Series. It would look like this on that book:

ROB
IND 1

If an author has multiple series, you cutter each series and assign numbers. Adding this one extra call number allows the book to be shelved properly every time and takes up very little extra space on the spine of the book.

Again, use KDL’s What’s Next database as your model. Then you have a standard source to base your cataloging off of. You can insure that if your cataloging person changes, the standard will be kept. It is your professional source material to make your cataloging choices for series.

I am making this call to action-- shelving series in numerical order-- one of my personal goals. Everywhere I go I will be telling libraries to do this. And you know what, there is no argument any one can make against me. It is easier for the library workers, the shelvers, and most importantly the patrons. It puts the reader and their needs first. It shows them with our actions that we want them to be able to use the library easily. It makes us look more friendly and helpful without even talking to anyone.

And the only argument those of you who resist have is that it is different than how we have always done things.

Doing things the way we have always done them is a terrible and lazy argument. Progress has never been made in any arena on the back of that argument.

Often with my Call to Action posts I leave it up to you to try it or not. Today, I am demanding you start seriously considering making this change.

If you need help convincing your supervisors, let me know.

For past Call to Action posts, click here.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Library Reads: August 2018

Editors note 7/16/18: Thankfully I was wrong. Ordinary People is a September Title. Mentioned below as missing out this month. Read my review,  and vote for it! 

Yesterday we got a new Library Reads list and I would like to talk about the progress all of us are making together nominating less obvious authors, but we still have some more work to do on making the list a little more inclusive.

But let me back track for those of you who may be new to this issue and have you click here to get up to speed. In that post I talk about how we need to move toward a more inclusive list how Kelly Jensen, from Book Riot was helping by creating a resource for all of us to use to help everyone identify eligible, diverse titles; books we could test drive immediately without automatically going to the big name people first.

Kelly’s resource worked very well this month as you can see with the 10th book on the list below, nominated by Abby Johnson who was one of the librarians who reached out to us and asked for more resources so she could identify diverse books that needed more attention. Abby found A River of Stars because of Kelly’s list, read it, loved it, and talked it up on her blog, on social media, and during Twitter Galley Chats. Abby used a resource like a good librarian, but then she also worked to help spread the word about a title she believed in. And, it worked. Yay.

That’s the good news, but here is the bad news. I was shocked that a book I have been championing, Ordinary People by Diana Evans [read my mini-review from ALA here], didn’t make the LR list this month. But then I realized, it wasn’t on Kelly’s list.

Not to say that if Kelly doesn’t put it on her list that no one will read it. But, since her database is currently the ONLY place for library workers to go to find the diverse eligible titles, all listed in one place, what can you expect. And in this case, I also dropped the ball by not double checking to make sure Ordinary People was there to begin with.

But, we have a solution, one that helps everyone and it gets back to basics. The Library Reads list is our list. We, the library workers are the ones who make it by nominating titles. This has always been the case. We need to own this list and take responsibility for building it. We all need to work together.  It cannot be just a couple of people making these choices. Everyone needs to own the process as well as the list if we want LR to be the best resource it can be.

So, Kelly has opened up the database she stared in response to all of you asking for a resource to allow everyone to participate. We are asking you to start helping us to build the database. As you come across titles that look interesting, you can now add them yourself here. It’s a simple Google sheet and you just have to type in what you know about the book.

So get out there and find some books, and add them here. Please try to fill in every box you can. Kelly will go in periodically and make sure everything is correct and fix any problems. 

Now you can take control of LR even more both by helping others to identify diverse titles AND with your votes each month. I can’t wait to see what we all can do together. For now though, let’s focus on the progress we are all making and see this month’s list.

********************************************

Yesterday  was  Library Reads day and that means three things here on RA for All:
  1. I post the list and tag it “Library Reads” so that you can easily pull up every single list with one click.
  2. I can remind you that even though the newest list is always fun to see, it is the older lists where you can find AWESOME, sure bet suggestions for patrons that will be on your shelf to actually hand to them right now. The best thing about Library Reads is the compound interest it is earning. We now have hundreds and hundreds of titles worth suggesting right at our fingertips.
  3. You have no excuse not to hand sell any Library Reads titles because there is a book talk right there in the list in the form of the annotation one of your colleagues wrote for you. All you have to say to your patron is, “such and such library worker in blank state thought this was a great read,” and then you read what he or she said.
    So get out there and suggest a good read to someone today. I don’t care what list or resource you use to find the suggestion, just start suggesting books.

    Also, please remember to click here for my Library Reads 101 recap for everything you need to know about how to participate.

    August 2018 LibraryReads

    Vox

    by Christina Dalcher

    Published: 8/21/2018 by Berkley
    ISBN: 9780440000785
    “In the future world depicted in Vox, women are limited to speaking 100 words per day. Readers will want to shout every word in their heads, hoard every book in their libraries, and second guess the words of every person in their lives. A captivating, timely book that explores women’s rights in a fast-paced, compelling story.”
                                                                                                                              Jennifer Gaenzle, Fort Fairfield Public Library, Fort Fairfield, ME

    Our House

    by Louise Candlish

    Published: 8/7/2018 by Berkley
    ISBN: 9780451489111
    “Full of secrets and surprises, Our House poses the question, “How well do you know the person you live with?” An attempt to co-habitate for the sake of the children leaves divorced mom Fiona alone and out in the cold. Readers will have a hard time putting down this twisty domestic suspense novel. Even after the last page is turned, the characters will linger.”
    Annette Herbst, Columbia County Rural Library, Dayton, WA

    Bellewether

    by Susanna Kearsley

    Published: 8/7/2018 by Sourcebooks Landmark
    ISBN: 9781492665274
    “A character-driven story with a nice surprise twist, this gothic-style fiction, set in 1759 Long Island, will not disappoint Kearsley’s many fans. Readers who enjoy good doses of romance, history, and magic will be pleased.”
    Julie Raynor, High Point Public Library, High Point, NC

    Good Luck with That

    by Kristan Higgins

    Published: 8/7/2018 by Berkley
    ISBN: 9780451489395
    “Emerson, Georgia, and Marley met as teens at a “fat camp.” When one of them dies young, the others are forced to confront their own struggles with self-esteem and acceptance. With equal measures of humor and heartbreak, this book sparks questions about society’s idea of the perfect size and explores how body image can have far-reaching effects.”
    Claudia Silk, Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, CT

    The Masterpiece: A Novel

    by Fiona Davis

    Published: 8/7/2018 by Dutton
    ISBN: 9781524742959
    “Disparate decades of New York City are capably brought to life through two strong and resourceful female characters in Davis’s latest work. At the center is the Grand Central Terminal, which served as an art school in the 1920s, is threatened with demolition in the 1970s, and connects the threads of Clara Darden’s and Virginia Clay’s lives. Well researched and captivating.”
    Kelly Baroletti, Wantagh Public Library, Wantagh, NY

    The Other Woman: A Novel

    by Sandie Jones

    Published: 8/21/2018 by Minotaur Books
    ISBN: 9781250191984
    “Emily thinks she’s found the man of her dreams in Adam. But when she meets Pammie, the woman she hopes will be her future mother-in-law, things take a sinister turn. Fast-paced, gripping, and ultimately satisfying.”
    Jenny Moore, Hillsboro Public Library, Hillsboro, OR 

    Rust & Stardust: A Novel

    by T. Greenwood

    Published: 8/7/2018 by St. Martin’s Press
    ISBN: 9781250164193
    “Disturbing crime fiction based on real events that inspired Nabokov’s Lolita. In 1948, fifth grade Sally Horner is kidnapped by a man pretending to be a police officer.”
    Ninoshka Aviles, Osceola Library, Osceola, FL 

    Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding

    by Rhys Bowen

    Published: 8/7/2018 by Berkley Prime Crime
    ISBN: 9780425283523
    “The 12th book in the Royal Spyness mystery series finds our heroine, Georgie, juggling all manner of details as she prepares for her upcoming marriage to Darcy. A fun, breezy mystery.”
    Cori Dodds, Derby Public Library, Derby, KS 

    Meet Me at the Museum: A Novel

    by Ann Youngson

    Published: 8/7/2018 by Flatiron Books
    ISBN: 9781250295163
    “A touching epistolary novel about an English farmer’s wife and a museum curator who may be in for an unexpected second act.”
    Marilyn Sieb, L.D. Fargo Public Library, Lake Mills, WI 

    A River of Stars: A Novel

    by Vanessa Hua

    Published: 8/14/2018 by Ballantine Books
    ISBN: 9780399178788
    “A Chinese woman makes her way to America with her unborn daughter determined to make a life for them both. For readers who enjoy modern immigration stories like Behold the Dreamers and Little Fires Everywhere.”
    Abby Johnson, New Albany-Floyd County Public Library, New Albany, IN

    Thursday, July 12, 2018

    How to Use RA for All: Tags!

    On RA for All I have many pages to highlight longer on going conversations, but I also work very hard to tag posts in order to use the tag itself to create de-facto pages when you click on them.

    Here are a few of my current favorites and why you should use them:

    • Appearances: This is the tag you can use to pull up all of my presentations in reverse chronological order [most recent first]. I go out of my way to make all of my slides and handouts available to everyone, anywhere, at anytime. Yes, you are not hearing or seeing me give the presentation, but they are filled with links to places where I elaborate on the topics I am bringing up. Often many of my talking points have been expounded upon in a longer blog post. If you read the slides and follow the links you can recreate much of the presentation on your own [it just takes a little more work from you].
    • Trending: This is where I write posts about ideas, topics, subgenres, etc..., the things that are emerging that you need to keep on your radar. Again they pull up most recent first, that means the further you go back the less useful the trends are. I have really focused on this tag over the last 2 years and I think the information here is extremely useful.
    • ARRT: This is the tag where I allow for quick access to everything the Adult Reading Round Table does.  As a member of the Steering Committee, I do a lot for and with this organization. Today’s post is late because I was in meetings for ARRT from 12:30-4:30 today. Here is the link to our website. 
    • Guest Post: This is where you click to find every post I solicited someone else to write for the blog. Last year I went through and cleaned up this tag and made sure everything was included. I have 39 right now. I love using this tag because it is someone else’s opinion. Even I get sick of only hearing from me. 
    • Interactive RA: This is one of my newer tags, a topic I am exploring in longer pieces. This tag is a great example of how I explore a new concept or idea in more than just a single trending post. 

    I have many more tags, but I pulled these 5 out to illustrate how I use tags and to encourage you to click around on more and use them.

    I hope you enjoyed this 4 day mini-series on how to use this blog as a resource. As I said at the start of the week, it was time to do this primer both to welcome the new people and remind my long time followers of the breadth of information contained here and how to get at it in ways that help you help readers. It is not just about the newest post. There is plenty of “hidden” material that even I forget about.

    That being said, the only thing this blog has never been is stagnant. As you use my primer to poke around you may notice areas that are lacking or haven’t been updated in a long time. As you can also see, I have not “done business” the same way over these almost 11 years. So, if you have comments, especially those about ways I can improve the blog, I want to hear them. Please reach out to me either in the comments or via email.

    This resources is run buy me, but it is for you. Let me know how it can serve you better.

    Back tomorrow with the new Library Reads and some exciting, brand new ways you can get involved as well.

    Wednesday, July 11, 2018

    How to Use RA for All: What I’m Reading

    Today in my "How to Use RA for All” series, I want to familiarize you with the hundreds of appeal based reviews I have available on this site as well as hundreds more book discussion titles with details notes of what was discussed. Actually, a quick perusal of the reviews, written by me, that I have available between both blogs [including mini-reviews] puts the number of options around 1,000.

    First, I am going to explain to you why my reviews are more useful to you as you help readers in the wild at the service desk than the reviews by others and then I will give you the links to access everything.

    I do not write a review to tell you why a book is good or bad. Rather, I share what makes the title in question suited to its best reader. My focus is on why someone would like it and how you can most easily articulate that to the patron in front of you. I care about getting the book in the hands of a reader who will enjoy it. My opinion is not part of that equation.

    I also work very hard to give you a wide range of readalikes for every title. Often just mentioning a readalike is all you need to hand sell a title to a potential reader. In fact, if your patron has a favorite author, type their name into the search bar in the top left corner of the blog and see what shows up. You may find a rabbit hole of options.

    And that is the point of my reviews- to use them to actually match a book with a reader, and quickly. Patrons often just need a reason to give a book try. A readalike minion alone can be all you need to nudge them to check out a title.

    Every review also has “Three Words That Describe A Book” to help you cut to the chase on the essence of the feel of the book. Every review is appeal based, not plot based. What happens doesn’t matter, it is how the story is told which determines if the reader will enjoy it or not. These three words are the most glaring appeal factors, but the entire review focuses on the feel of the book first and foremost.

    I don’t like very book I read, but I can assess and articulate why someone else would and that is really the crux of our work. We are not here to judge the books or the readers. We are here to help expose readers to the books they would love if only they knew about them. I like to tell people that I am a matchmaker between that book languishing on the shelf and its perfect reader. If only the two knew of each other’s existence. My reviews are a way to reach across that void.

    You will also see that I read diversely, across genres and from various points of view. I also read graphic novels and listen to audiobooks. I do not only read books about middle class, white, jewish, married ladies from urban American settings with kids [me]. Actually, I rarely read books about that come to think of it. Ha.

    I read across the landscape of options for myself because I enjoy it, but I also know that by writing these easy to use reviews, we can all use them to connect readers with a diverse set of offering.

    Okay, so that is my reviewing philosophy.  Here is how you can easily access all of my reviews:

    • What I’m Reading Tag: This will pull up 334 and counting posts of books I have read and written about at length. Many of these posts contain a review of more than 1 book.
      • All of these posts contain at least 3 readalikes for each title [see above on the use of readalikes with patrons]. 
    • Book Discussion Books: This tag pulls up all of my posts on this topic but the majority are notes on the discussion of specific books by a group I led. These cannot be used as quickly as the books in the previous category but for the patron who wants a little more information about the title in question, they are perfect.
    • Horror Review Index: On the horror blog I have an alphabetical [by author] index of every horror book I have reviewed.
    • Becky’s Original Horror Content: I have many annotated lists of horror books and articles about books.
    Even I don’t remember every book I have read and I often surprise myself when searching the archives. If there is a book or author you want more information about, try typing it into the search bar in the top left corner of this blog and see if I have had anything to say about it.

    But most importantly, use what I say to help a reader find their next good read.

    Tomorrow we will tackle how to use my presentations to help you, even if you never get the chance to see me in person.

    Tuesday, July 10, 2018

    How to Use RA for All: Call to Action

    Day 2 of my series of primers on how to use this blog as a resource is about my “Call to Action Posts.

    As I mentioned yesterday, some of my RA Service philosophies are considered a little radical by your average library administrator, but they are only radical in that they eschew tradition and bureaucracy and put the patron first.

    If you are going to follow this blog and use it as a resource, you need to spend some time in the Call to Action posts archive because the issues and concepts I post there are NON-NEGOTIABLE. If you disagree with much of what I have posted in that continuing series, this may not be the resource for you.

    Everything I tell others to do, I have done myself. Every service or concept I promote is to better serve all patrons in every situation. However, as we all well know, library workers, especially those in charge don’t really like change.

    Here’s the thing, I am a consultant now, but I have been a supervisor and department head, run a friends group, AND I am currently a 5th term library trustee. I have also spent time at dozens of libraries all over the country working with them to handle their specific concerns and issues. So don’t tell me I don’t understand the intricacies of running a library because unlike most consultants and most library workers, I have actually experienced the library world from every possible angle and continue to do so to this day.

    [Ed note: I get accused of not understanding the plight of the average library a few times a month, but the truth is, I know better than most employees of any given library because I have seen more and done more than just about everyone I come into contact with, from big cities to tiny little, middle of nowhere towns, who, side note, don’t get enough credit for what a good job they are doing on a day to day basis with very little money.]

    I am confident that I know what’s best to serve leisure reading patrons and have both balanced and considered it in relation to the limitations and concerns of the public library as an institution. This is the place from which the Call to Action Posts come. I also seek out the options of others I trust to share their thoughts, and the archive includes some of those guest posts too.

    I use these posts as a wake up call. A way to get your attention. A way to stop you from simply doing things the same way just because that is how they have always been done.

    But even more importantly, these posts are also there to help you to articulate how and why you should go about things differently to your supervisors. I have written the argument out for you and all you need to is present it to your boss.

    I have heard back from many readers that they have done just this. Some bosses have come back to me with further questions while others have just allowed the staff member to give what I suggest a try because that staff member did research, sought the advice of an expert [me], and is doing it for the right reasons [serving patron better].

    So yes, these Call to Action posts are meant to rile people up. They are purposely confrontational, but they are also well reasoned and useful.

    Spend some time looking through the archive today, and find something new to try out at your library, tomorrow.

    Speaking of tomorrow, that’s when I will tackle my largest archive....my reviews and how to use them to help patrons.

    Monday, July 9, 2018

    How to Use RA for All: A Primer

    In the las few weeks, I have not only gained many new readers but I have also had quite a few people reach out to ask me questions about the blog, so I thought now was a good time to remind everyone how to use this blog as a RA resource. This post, and the ones to follow in the coming days, are not only meant to help my new followers, but also will serve as a reminder to everyone, even those who have been here for the last [almost] 11 years, of what this blog can do to help you help readers and yourselves.

    First I should state what RA for All is NOT: This blog is not the place you go for the most up to date news about the book world. Others do that much better than I do. You can see my Twitter feed in the right gutter of the blog where I often retweet things like interesting articles, award winners, and books news. You do not have to be a Twitter user to access this.

    I do however have this post, where I talk about the three daily newsletters I subscribe to which do provide the most succinct up to date book news. I use these to keep myself in the know. I do not waste my time duplicating what they do very well already, rather I encourage you to use them to educate yourself. Again click here for a full description of how to stay in the know with minimal effort including links to my go-to resources.

    Now on to what RA for All IS: This blog is first and foremost a place where I strive to inspire and assist you in your wonderful work of helping adult leisure readers in the public library.

    The best place for you to begin, and honestly, for you to return to anytime you need to brush up your skills, train someone new, or just inspire yourself is my Ten Rules of Basic RA Service page. This is where I keep the most succinct and up to date information that lays out my version of RA Service.

    If you go to that page and follow the links [warning some will take you down a RA rabbit hole], you will get a very good self-guided tour of the blog and my RA worldview. In the header of that page I also list the last time it was updated, which is about every 3x a year at least.

    Actually, this brings up something important I should point out about the blog too. My RA worldview is very different from others. I call my blog and my company "RA for All” because I truly believe that every single person who works in the library can be a part of your service to leisure readers. No, not every person on staff is qualified to provide a professional book matching service, but everyone on staff [from the Director to the Janitor and all in between] has a part to play just by being a combination employee/user of the library. I train “library workers” not only “librarians” to serve leisure readers and help your staff find their place in the larger mission.

    This blog is a repository of ideas, lists, reviews, and information published to promote my brand of RA Service, but I cannot deny it is also promoting me, the consultant. I am very honest and upfront about this at all times. It is how I make my living and I am not ashamed of it; in fact, I am proud to be out there ringing the RA bell, demanding better service to our patrons, and inspiring you to get so good at it that I put myself out of a job.

    I understand that not every library can bring me out to train their staff. This is why the blog is filled with links, presentations, information, tips, etc.... for free. I am trying to give you as much of me, for free and accessible from everywhere, at anytime, as possible.

    You can read the blog everyday for new ideas, but please do not lose site of the backlist of information that is available. I have worked very hard to catalog and tag everything here so that it can be searched and used as easily as possible. To help you, I am going to spend some time this week pulling out some of my more popular posts, pages, and tags from blog, in order to encourage you to poke around on your own. I am going to illustrate how to use this blog to help you train yourself and your staff, and how you can use it to help readers.

    Finally, I am always interested in what you are doing at your library. Feel free to use this contact information to let me know both the things you are doing that I could share with others or to ask me to look into something for you. There is always something new we can all learn from each other, but I need your help to identify the wonderful things that are happening all over the country. Let me know and maybe you will get a guest post on RA for All.

    Tomorrow, I will be back with the next installment of “How to Use RA for All."