Click here for quick access to all of the materials for the 2014-15 Crime Fiction Genre Study. Please note, some information will be password protected for members only. Click here for information about joining ARRT.


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.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

And The Winner Is...

So, here I am at RAILS in Burr Ridge for the announcement of the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Award Winner.  Just a quick editing note, I created this post as the announcement event happened live.  I will go back later and add more links and clean up any typos, but I figured it was worth the sacrifice of a perfect post.

Click here for more details about the award, the books, and their authors.

Here is a picture of a few of us judges who made it to the event. It was nice that some of us could make it.  I am the second from the left.

As the announcement event went on, the three finalists were sitting in front of us as you can see here. Each was in front of a blow up of the cover of their book.  I felt for them though.  The wait must have been insufferable.  But as you can see in the picture below, they were very happy to be here.

David Vinjamuri got up to talk about how he was surprised, but proud to have inspired a contest that is promising to make someone famous.  He talked, among other topics, about how the public library is one of the most trusted institutions in America.  How great it is that we are confident in our talent to evaluate materials and take a stand publicly to say that this book is good and you should read it.

After 2 representatives from the award committee came up to give background on how we got here today, David came back to introduce each writer and read something from the nominated book.  And then each author had a chance to talk to us.

 First up was the lone male author, Rick Polad, the author of Change of Address: A Spencer Manning Mystery. [Ed note, since I read an author provided Kindle copy of each novel, I have linked each title to Amazon.]

Next we had Mary Hutchings Reed author of Warming Up.

And the last finalist, Joanne Zienty, author of The Things We Save

I got her sitting because she was framed so nicely from where I was sitting, but she too got up and talked to us.

As the rules of this award stipulated, the book needed to be sponsored by a library and it had to be self published, so it came as no surprise to me that each of the authors had a life long connection to the public library.

Zienty, specifically, had her book reviewed by PW Select and was surprised to find it had been purchased by some public libraries, as far away as Maine. She spoke eloquently about how I’m

David came back to remind us all that the announcement of the winner is only the beginning of our job as Illinois librarians.

And then he announced the winner...Joanne Zienty! Here is her initial reaction.

She then shared the story of how she tried to get her local library to nominate her, but due to the polar vortex, at the last moment, she had to nominate herself [she is a librarian].

You can look for more info by following #soontobefamous. There you can find the live stream and lots more photos and links there.

Soon to Be Famous Award Announcement Today

Just a quick update.  The LIVE announcement of the winner is scheduled for 2pm Central today.  I will be in attendance [along with local and national media] and hope to get some pictures and a post up immediately.

For more background on the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Project, please click here.

But before the announcement, at 12:30, David Vinjamuri, author and adjunct professor, and branding expert will be speaking on the publishing world and how librarians have way more influence than we realize.  Vinjamuri is the man who inspired the Soon to Be Famous committee to start the award and he has agreed to be a part of the marketing machine behind what is still to come.

For a taste of what Vinjamuri will be talking about check out this article from Forbes entitled, “How Public Libraries Are Solving America’s Reading Problem."

As I told a member of the committee last night, I can say in all honesty, even before the winner is announced, I am proud to have been a part of this process.

Look for the winner later today.  And after the winner is announced, look for the real work to begin. I will be chronicling those next steps here on the blog as I know there is much interest all over the country in how we leverage this award into tangible currency with the publishing world.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

National Poetry Month

The library is closed all day today for our annual staff in-service.  But I still have a pre-scheduled post.

Besides being tax day, today is also the halfway point of National Poetry Month.  I wanted to share a couple of interesting poetry related links.

First, as I was perusing the NPR Books coverage last week, I came upon this:
Help us make poetry!
April is National Poetry Month: 30 days set aside for the celebration of all things verse. Many of us here at Code Switch love poetry every month of the year, but we can't always make space for it in our coverage.
So this month, we're taking advantage of the national celebration and highlighting great poets and poems that address issues of race, ethnicity and culture.
To kick off our coverage, we're inviting you to help us create collaborative poetry on Twitter. We've invited poet Kima Jones to curate a crowd-sourced poem on the subject of race and identity. (Keep your eyes peeled for a profile of Jones tomorrow.)
This Wednesday, April 9 at 12 p.m. EST, join us on Twitter and tweet out the line you'd like to see added to the poem. Use the hashtag #CSPoetry so we can see your submission.
We'll share the final product, a co-creation of Code Switch readers and Kima Jones, and have a conversation about race, culture, poetry and creativity.

 Click here to see the poem they made.

What I took away from this community built poem was 2 things.

  1. What a great tool Twitter is for crafting poetry.  In fact, I did a bit more digging and found this link from Book Riot of 12 Twitter Accounts for Poetry Lovers to Follow.  Twitter and poetry really do fit hand in hand very nicely.
  2. Libraries could easily do something like this on Twitter or Facebook or even on a chalkboard at the library. In fact, I am going to pass this idea on to a few people here at the BPL to see if we can have our own community sourced poem.
If you have some interesting or useful National Poetry Month links or ideas to pass on, please leave a comment.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

The 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Goes To....

...The Gold Finch by Donna Tartt, for which my review is still pending.  Maybe this will kickstart me to actually finishing that review.

Monday Discussion: National Library Week

It is National Library Week.  So for today's Monday Discussion, let's share why we love the Library, as a worker or a patron.

I'll go first.

I love the library because, I can order every single book that even remotely interests me, have it show up in 3-5 days, and then read it or not, all without paying. If I did not have the library, I would be spending a lot of money buying too many books.

I love the library because I am surrounded by books.

I love working at the library because my job involves making people happy. I get to help people answer their questions (just today, I helped someone wade through the bureaucracy to get a death certificate from Texas). I bring joy to people by finding them the right book for their mood.

I love the library because it feels like home.

Now it's your turn.

Help me celebrate National Library Week by leaving a comment on why you love the Library.

For past Monday Discussions, click here.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Library Reads: May 2014

You know the drill by now.  Here is the newest Library Reads List.

I have some great RA news on using these lists though. For the first time, last week, I went through the old Library Reads lists to find someone a "good book" to take on spring break.  She was excited that it was a recommendation from a librarian.  Our seal of approval sealed the deal for her.

I will have much more on this idea of leveraging our power to help promote books next week after I live blog from these programs. But for now, go check and make sure these books are on-order at your library.

May 2014 Library Reads List


We Were Liars

by E. Lockhart

Published: 5/13/2014 by Delacorte Press
ISBN: 9780385741262
“This brilliant and heartbreaking novel tells the story of a prestigious family living on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts. Full of love, lies, secrets, no shortage of family dysfunction, and a shocking twist that you won’t see coming. Though this book is written for teens, it shouldn’t be overlooked by anyone looking for a fantastic read.”
Susan Balla, Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, CT
AlltheLight-200x300All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel

by Anthony Doerr

Published: 5/6/2014 by Scribner
ISBN: 9781476746586
“Set during World War II Europe, this novel is sobering without being sentimental. The tension builds as the alternating, parallel stories of Werner and Marie-Laure unfold, and their paths cross. I highly recommend this beautiful and compelling story.”
Kelly Currie, Delphi Public Library, Delphi, IN

The Bees: A Novel

by Laline Paull

Published: 5/6/2014 by Ecco
ISBN: 9780062331151
“This book is set entirely in a beehive, but the novel and its characters are so beautifully rendered that it could have been set anywhere. Societal codes and social mores combine with the ancient behavior rituals of bees, bringing forth a remarkable story that is sure to be a book club favorite.”
Ilene Lefkowitz, Denville Public Library, Denville, NJ
Delicious-198x300Delicious!: A Novel

by Ruth Reichl

Published: 5/6/2014 by Random House
ISBN: 9781400069620
“Billie leaves college to take a job with a soon-to-be disbanded food magazine. What follows is an intriguing story involving dusty archives, long-forgotten letters written during World War II to the illustrious James Beard, and a young woman in New York City who learns to trust her culinary talents. This novel is a delectable feast.”
Paulette Brooks, Elm Grove Public Library, Elm Grove, WI

The Forgotten Seamstress

by Liz Trenow

Published: 5/6/2014 by Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 9781402282485
“Two women’s stories, separated by close to 100 years, connect through a patchwork quilt. Carolyn finds a quilt in her mother’s attic and is intrigued by its origin, and quiltmaker Maria’s story is told through transcripts. Trenow carefully stitches together a novel about family secrets, using many interesting details about fabrics, needlework, and textile conservation. A strong sense of place and well-told story make this book superior women’s fiction.”
Leslie DeLooze, Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia, NY

Bird Box: A Novel

by Josh Malerman

Published: 5/13/2014 by Ecco
ISBN: 9780062259653
“Close your eyes! Don’t look! Something is out there that will drive you mad if you see it. Is it an alien invasion? An environmental toxin? Two sisters, Malorie and Shannon, embark on a journey seeking safety and other survivors. I was unable to put this book down. Horror at its best, not graphic, but truly creepy and scary. Highly recommended for fans of psychological suspense.”
Mary Vernau, Tyler Public Library, Tyler, TX

Bittersweet: A Novel

by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

Published: 5/13/2014 by Crown
ISBN: 9780804138567
“As unlikely a pair of roommates as you’re ever likely to meet: plain, working class Mabel Dagmar and beautiful, privileged Genevra Winslow. Mabel spends the summer in the Winslows’ idyllic lakefront property in Vermont, dreaming of being one of them–only to discover that being a Winslow is not all sunshine, yachts, and ease. Being a Winslow means keeping very disturbing family secrets.”
Nancy Russell, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Columbus, OH

Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage

by Molly Wizenberg

Published: 5/6/2014 by Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781451655094
“As Wizenberg tells the story of how she and her husband opened the successful pizza restaurant Delancey, I felt like I was hanging out with a close friend. She also shares delicious sounding recipes for the everyday food they made at home during the hectic days of launching the restaurant. Wizenberg’s writing is so sincere and relatable.”
Michelle Marx, Eagle Valley Library District, Avon, CO

Sixth Grave on the Edge: A Novel

by Darynda Jones

Published: 5/20/2014 by St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 9781250045638
“The continuing adventures of P.I. Charley Davidson and Grim Reaper (not as mutually exclusive as one would think) are just as delightful as in previous books, with new characters including a wonderfully snarky new demon. Jones expands on Charley’s existing relationships and supernatural powers. It’s the perfect paranormal-romance-mystery blend that you never knew you always wanted.”
Donna Matturri, Pickerington Public Library, Pickerington, OH

The Blessings

by Elise Juska

Published: 5/6/2014 by Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 9781455574032
“This finely-crafted story is told through a series of Blessing family members’ points of view over a two-decade span of time. A deceptively small book with very big themes, this novel is gentle and wise. It made me look at my own close and extended family with new eyes; now I see the ways in which we are alike, not the ways in which we are different. A transformative reading experience. Highly recommended.”
Janet Schneider, Great Neck Library, Great Neck, NY

Thursday, April 10, 2014

April Crime Fiction Genre Study Notes Now Available

Last week, I led the ARRT Crime Fiction Genre Study as we met at Glenview Public Library to discuss Amateur, Cozy, and Humorous Mysteries.  Click here to see our assignment.

The notes will be emailed to the participants shortly, but for the rest of the ARRT Membership, click here to access the password protected folder for the notes.

Consensus among those of us directing this ambitious project is that things are going well, so far.  I would like to particularly single out Karen from Naperville Public Library, our note taker, for fleshing out our discussion notes with some more detailed information about the series we discussed. This will make the notes even more useful to people as they go back to use what they have learned to help readers in their libraries.

The next meeting will be led by Stacey from the Batavia Public Library on Thursday, June 5th from 2-4 at Berwyn Public Library.  The topic is Mystery: Police and P.I.  Click here for the assignment.

To all the rest of you out there.  Please feel free to use our assignments as a guide for your own genre studies, just credit ARRT.  And remember, what is great about participating in any genre study is that you are getting to share and learn about a genre with your peers AND help your patrons to find new and better reads as a direct result.  It really is a fulfilling activity on so many levels.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Upcoming Online and FREE RA Training of Note

First let's start with the specific.  Booklist is having their annual Mysteries and Thrillers Webinar on April 29th.  It is always one I eagerly await each year, but this year, since I am supervising the Crime Fiction Genre Study, I am going to be paying special attention.

Click here to register for free and to see the other webinars they are offering.  Also, click here for access to past webinars through the archive. Again it's free and it's librarians and publishers sharing information.  You need to be a part of this.

The second training announcement is more broad, in a good way.  Please see this press release about the next upcoming RUSA CODES Conversation:

Ask Us (the 500) Anything: An Open, Free-for-All, Forum on Anything Related to RA

April 22-23, 2014

The success of these CODES Conversations has gathered a community of over 500 people who participate in or monitor the two-day discussions on readers’ advisory services. One of the great attractions of the conversation is the way participants share ideas and their own experience in providing RA services. For this next discussion, we are opening the floor to all 500 and will host an expansive version of a Q&A session on RA. Ask us (all 500 of us) anything. Pick a topic; raise a question; and the rest of us will chime in, sharing our wealth of experience and practices with all. Some of the people who will participate include (I thought we could list a few of us from the committee and then some who are not – if we can email and find out if x,y,z were going to be on – and who should x,y,z be?)

Any question is the perfect question but to get the ball rolling we thought of some starter ones:

What are some no-fail sure-bet suggestions?
How do you talk with a reader who has no idea what she wants to read?
How do you talk about a book you thought was awful?
How do you incorporate RA into staff evaluations?
What makes a review useful?
What are the best sources for keeping up with new titles and genres?

This free, moderated discussion is open to all—just subscribe to the discussion at, then follow and contribute (or lurk!) as you wish.
CODES Conversations are focused electronic conversations on current issues facing collection development and readers’ advisory librarians—or anyone interested in those areas.  
How to unsubscribe: 
Go to Put in the email address you used to subscribe and hit the unsubscribe button.


Look, I know there are some people who try to participate in these conversations and can't stand all of the emails, but I have to say, I have never been disappointed by one of these conversations.  I have come out of every single one having learned something and it was well worth the barrage of messages.

And this new's like a dream come true!  I love these opportunities for people to bring their questions about anything.  As a presenter and trainer myself, I sometimes feel boxed in by the constraints of the prepared talk.  I would much rather someone bring me in to facilitate a sharing of ideas session like this one. I like to share my thoughts, yes, but I also love to hear what other people have to say, especially if it challenges my opinion.  That's the only way to grow, learn, and improve.

I am quite excited to see this conversation.  I am going to try very hard to participate.  But at the very least, I will get a better sense of the issues you all are thinking about by following along and I can tailor my posts and programs to your actual needs after this.

I highly recommend both of these RA training opportunities. Hope to [virtually] see you there.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

ARRT Reboot Your Book Club Program Featuring ME...

Oh, I am such a liar.  I said 2 posts today, but here is number three.

ARRT just announced our spring program.  Here is a photo of the flyer for quick reference, but for a printable PDF, click here.

As well as speaking on this panel, I will be moderating too.  Rebecca, Lynnanne, and I will each speak for 15 minutes on our assigned topic.  We are going to bring 5 new ideas for your book club to the conversation.  Then, I will moderate a  Q &A where you the audience are encouraged to bring us your book discussion questions, concerns, issues, etc... and with the help of everyone in the room, we should be able to come up with some answers and solutions. So it is part lecture, part book discussion leader networking.

We hope you will join us for what promises to be a fun and informative event. You do not have to be a member of ARRT to join us at this program.

But, in keeping with ARRT's commitment to improve access to information for members, a link to the slides from all 3 presenters and a least some notes on the discussion portion of the program will be emailed to current members. The second part is still being worked out, but at the very least, I will have my notes to share.

Not a member of ARRT? It's only $15.  Click here for info. Don't want to join us as a member? At least like us on Facebook.

PLA 2014: Top 5 of the Top 5 Nonfiction

As promised here, there is a second quick post today.  I separated them so each could be more accurately indexed and retrieved at a later date with more ease.  I may be tired and digging out from under a neglected pile of things to do, but I am still a librarian for goodness sake.

Rebecca Vnuk, friend of RA for All and Booklist's Editor for Reference and Collection Management, recently shared her slides from the Top 5 of the Top 5 Nonfiction program from PLA last month.

Click here for access to everything through the Self Renewal blog [which by the way, you should be reading and/or following already anyway].

On a side note, the authors, titles and categories can be used both for nonfiction leisure readers and as great options for book discussions-- especially for groups that don't normally read nonfiction but are feeling a bit adventurous.