CLICK HERE for quick access to the materials for the 2016-17 Speculative Fiction Genre Study.
The website now features UNRESTRICTED access, including notes from our meetings; however, in order to attend the meetings in person, you must be a member of ARRT. Click here for information about how you can join.


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, December 8, 2017

RA for All Roadshow Visits Addison [IL] Public Library With Tips on In-Service Planning and Avoiding Jargon

Today I will be at Addison [IL] Public Library as one of the presenters for their in-service day. Addison, like a few other libraries I have visited recently, is using the “Conference” model for their staff training: planners have arranged for a variety of presenters on a wide range of topics and staff are encouraged to explore those topics that most interest them.

I love this idea because it allows staff to learn about something, whether or not is is specifically tied to their every day job. As we all know, working at the public library in one capacity does not mean you will not be called upon to help out somewhere else at some point; in fact, that’s pretty much the only thing you can count on at the public library, having to know a little bit about every job.

Of course, administrators can direct certain staff to a particular training session, but the idea that every staff member can choose their own CE adventure is a great way to make staff more invested in their own learning and continuing education. It will energize everyone to get the most out of the in service day. And it will be more fun. More fun means people pay more attention which should translate to more learning.

I don’t think this model would work for every library out there, but it is something to consider for your next in-service day. If you are a small library, this would would very well if you combined in-service training to do with other libraries. [Another trend I see quite often in more rural locations].

But back to day and my second point in this post. I will be offering my signature RA for All program followed by the Booktalking program for the staff at Addison who choose to join me. However, because Brooke, the Assistant Director of Addison Public Library, didn’t want the jargon [what does RA for All or Booktalking mean to non RA staff?] to confuse people and keep them from trying my sessions simply because they didn’t understand what was being offered, she asked if she could rebrand them. I eagerly said yes, not only because I have known Brooke for years and trust her, but also because it is an excellent point. How will nonprofessional staff be able to make an informed choice about which sessions to attend if they don’t even understand the title of the the program.

So today instead of RA for All and Booktalking, I will be presenting....

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to keep participating in #LibFaves17, it will go on throughout the weekend. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

What I’m Reading: Zero Day to Commemorate the Final Meeting of the ARRT Speculative Fiction Genre Study

Today I have a starred review of the final book in a trilogy. The star I gave this final book is really a star for the entire series. I have enjoyed the other books in the series which I wrote about here and here, but with the publication of the final installment I can 100% tell you that this is a must buy and a must read.  

Even though this review was published last week, I held it for today because it is the final meeting of the two-year ARRT Speculative Fiction Genre Study.  You can click here for all of the notes and assignments

Specifically this is our [final] assignment for later today:

Lunch, Book Talks, and Wrap-Up

December 7, 2017, 2-4 PM
Glenview Public Library
  • Come prepared to share a 90-second booktalk on an author or book we didn’t cover the course of the genre study. Please bring a printout of the booktalk so we can include it in the notes.

Which brings me back to the review for today, this book is the perfect title to showcase speculative fiction today. It is fun, draws from different genres, and can be read by a wide range of readers, even those who don’t think they like speculative fiction. 

[On a side note, today is also my final time in 5 years where I had some type of leadership responsibilities for the genre study. I will not be a part of the team running the 2018-19 Romance genre study, but I will still be posting notes and assignments here on the blog.]

Here is the draft of my Booklist review which I will be presenting as my book talk:

Zero Day.

Boone, Ezekiel (author)

Feb. 2018. 336p. Atria/Emily Bestler, hardcover, $26 (9781501125102); e-book (9781501125133)First published December 1, 2017 (Booklist).

Following directly on the heels of THE HATCHING and SKITTER, Boone brings his excellent spider-apocalypse thriller to an exciting conclusion in ZERO DAY. Back is the same realistic, fast paced, edge of your seat action from the first two books, as the story continues to bounce around the world, following the cast of well developed and diverse characters readers have grown to loathe and love, as they inch closer to figuring out the key to defeating the spiders who are systematically destroying humanity. This final installment has everything readers crave in a solid thriller series, speculative or realistic, but it is the spiders, the inherent fear they invoke, their ability to reproduce efficiently, and their evolution as actors in this drama that raises the stakes, the suspense, and the enjoyment here. Also, unlike most adventure stories, this one is not fueled by testosterone; in fact quite the opposite, as it is the women here who posit that the key to saving the world might be in understanding the spider queens. In particular it is a female scientist and US President who fight the men to be heard, take over, and lead the final charge, hoping that their intuition will save all of humanity, but fully knowing that if they are wrong, the world as we know it will end. Readers will race to the trilogy’s finish with our heroes, and be glad that they went along for the entire ride. ZERO DAY cements the entire series as one you will be handing out for years to come for fans of all high action thrillers, but especially for those who like the speculative frame in titles by Mira Grant, Jonathan Maberry and Ben H. Winters. But more importantly, it is a series worth rooting for. In a landscape where the adventure thriller seems to be dragging, it is clear all we needed were some spiders to revive it.
Further Appeal: I cannot stress enough how this is a perfect thriller with or without the spiders. To prove this point, I gave it to a patron who loves Baldacci and doesn’t really like apocalyptic or speculative fiction. She literally couldn’t put the first two books down. Well, let me rephrase that, she only put them down when she started to feel things crawling on her. She took a break but went back to it as soon as she could. Yesterday I gave her my ARC of this third book. She cannot wait to finish the series.

As a reader, I also liked how this series shows the apocalypse as it unfolds, in real time. Many apocalyptic series start post apocalypse and then they go back and show you how things got to be destroyed through flashbacks while they concentrate the “present" action on how people are surviving. Here, in Boone’s series, we watch the apocalypse happen in real time and the focus is on the battle to stop it. Choices, both good and bad, are made, and they are made urgently as things are unfolding quickly. We the reader can see all over the world and know things the local actors do not. All of this adds suspense, drama, and intrigue to the story.

Finally, I have to say it.....SPIDERS! Seriously, is there anything people in general are more scared of than spiders? Nope. It’s genius to have them bring the apocalypse.

Three Words That Describe This Book: fast-paced, speculative thriller, fun

Readalikes: All three mentioned in the review above are the best matches as they are all series that share the fast-paced, speculative thriller, and fun appeal factors, but many realistic political thrillers would work also work, like Baldacci.

World War Z is also a good readalike, and that is a book that also had cross-over appeal for people who don’t normally like supernatural aspects to their geo-political thrillers. However, World War Z  is told entirely in flashback. If you really liked the speculative apocalypse in real-time aspects of the Boone series, I would suggest The Fireman by Joe Hill instead.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Becky Three Favorite Non-traditional Best of the Year Lists Make the Best Resources for All Year Long

With the overwhelming number of best books lists that come at us at the end of the year [by the way, click here for the best archive for just about every list in the world], it is not only hard to manage the volume of information, but it is hard to know which lists are the most useful for us as we help patrons who are looking for a good read.

First, you need to read this post from 2015 where I discuss what patrons actually mean when they come to us asking for a “best book.” Go on. I’ll be here when you get back.

Okay, now second, you need to find resources that not only include older “best” books [because if you read that post you would see that patrons don’t care when a book was “best,” they just want assurances that someone thought it was good enough for them to invest their time in it], but also are easy for you to use as you are having the RA conversation with the patron.

Patrons can look up best lists themselves. The ones who come to the library want a little more help. They want to talk about their options and they want our opinions on what they should read, not because we read it too, but because we know more about books than they do.

That is why every year I celebrate the release of my three favorite best lists, which all came out this week. They are:

  • Goodreads Choice Awards: This is the only list that is 100% driven by readers. Yes it’s a popularity contest and not always the “best” book wins [Stephen and Owen King’s only so-so book won best horror], but that’s the point. The people get to chose their favorites for whatever reason they have. And like when we help readers in real life, the reasons for their choices don’t always make sense to us. But who cares? I love this list because it is for the people, by the people, and as a result, it more closely matches what we encounter each and every day at the public library. 
  • NPR Book ConciergeThis annual list is a favorite of mine because it puts all of the best books into a single pile and then allows the user of the list to customize the results-- thus making the results list itself driven by the specific reader who is using it at that moment. The filters are not just genre labels, but rather, based on actual reader tastes.  So, you can click on "the dark side," and get a list of 71 choices, and then go even deeper by adding the "rather long" filter on top of it and get 4 choices. That list can be created by one reader. But another readers could apply the filters,  “for history lovers" and “ladies first" and get 12 different-- yet still "best"-- titles. Each list is "best" for the reader in question. No need to worry about creating a one size fits all best list. I love that readers can interact with the NPR Best Books Concierge and make themselves the perfect list of the year's "best" offerings.
  • The Millions Year in Reading: This is not a best list at all, but rather essays by the authors of the most talked about books and/or the most important books of the year about what they read this year. This list has double the use because the authors are part of the “best” conversation themselves, but then to have the next level suggestion for patrons of the “best” authors’ favorite reads of the last year makes you look like a genius. Patron loved Sing, Unburied, Sing by Ward or is waiting for their hold to come in, why not also read what she read and loved this year? This option of reading what the patrons’ favorite authors read is a great way to showcase how helpful we can be to readers.

These lists are non-traditional in that they don’t simply give a best list, rather they all incorporate something a little different which also makes them the absolute BEST resource to help readers. We start with Goodreads 100% reader driven “best” lists and move to NPR’s editor picks for best but then a way to narrow it down for each reader based on the feel they are looking for and finally we can move to the opinions of the authors who themselves are tastemakers.

All three also make their backlist of previous year’s lists easily accessible from the main page of the current year’s list. You can’t miss them even if you weren’t thinking of using older lists. I love that.

All three of these lists can be easily used as you help patrons. They will encourage conversation about books and what the patron is looking for in their next read and, even more importantly, they can be used anytime throughout the year- using the current list of the plethora of older lists. Don’t just use these resources [old and new versions] at the end of each year. Keep them bookmarked as an option for every RA transaction you may have.

Seriously, try it out today with the next few patrons. You will have some of your best RA conversations of the year and everyone [you and the patron] will have a ton of fun!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

RA for All Virtual Roadshow Presents Demystifying Genre for PCI Webinars

This morning, I have my first of two genre webinars for PCI this month. You can think of them as helping genre readers 101 and 201.

Today’s-- Demystifying Genre-- is the overview of the most popular genres as they are written today, including the most recent trends. Here is the program description:
Nothing is scarier than trying to help a fan of a genre you yourself don’t enjoy. You want to help that, for example, Romance reader find the perfect book, but you are having trouble knowing where to begin because…eek!… you don’t read Romance. You are afraid they will find out you are a fraud. How can YOU possibly help THEM?!? Never fear, in this program, Readers’ Advisory expert, Becky Spratford, will teach you the basic appeals of the major genres, give you the inside track on what a fan of that genre is most drawn to, and provide you with talking points to get your genres readers to tell you what they want. You will leave this webinar with the confidence and skill to help fans of every genre, regardless of whether or not you have ever read a book in that genre yourself. And that will leave a trail of happy patrons in your wake.
You can click here for the slides and here for the handout with all of the links.

This presentation is very text heavy so that you can use it as notes, meaning even if you don’t hear me present this one, you can learn something from the slides and handout.

Please visit PCI for a list of all of their webinars. They offer a wide variety of library training options. You can also view archived webinars. For example, click here to see every webinar I have done for them.

But first, check with your local library system because many have a contract with PCI which allows you to view webinars for FREE. I know that this is true for anyone reading this from my local library system, RAILS [click here for those details].

Having worked with PCI for a while now, I can tell you they are very professional, pay their presenters fairly, and care about putting out a great product. You get top notch training for a very good price. And, they have the technical experts to make sure it looks and sounds good too.

Now let’s do this webinar and demystify genre for you so you can help every type of reader.

Click here for slide access

Monday, December 4, 2017

Call to Action: Countdown Your Top 10 of 2017

Today’s Call to Action is important whether you use Twitter or not, so if you are not on Twitter, don’t stop reading. I promise there is literally something for every single library worker in this post.

Today begins the annual countdown of library workers' favorite titles published in 2017 on Twitter. Using #LibFaves17, everyone in library land is encouraged to tweet out their favorite books published in 2017 beginning with #10 and counting down to #1. This is a facilitated conversation so all of the Tweets will be compiled and an overall Top 10 will be announced. There will also be a list of every title that even gets 1 mention.

This last point is why I choose to use this annual countdown as a way to highlight the best horror for libraries. Like I did last year, I will tweet my top 10 horror titles that were published in 2017 for the next 10 days. [Here is the link to today’s title] When it is over, I will have the entire list on my horror blog with more commentary and links to my longer reviews. This way I an ensuring that horror has a seat at the table.

Now back to my promise about including those of you who don’t use Twitter. First, a reminder that you don’t need an account to view the tweets, you just can’t participate. Click here to view #LibFaves17.

But everyone reading this, Twitter user or not, why not use this countdown as an inspiration to get your staff to do a countdown of their favorites from 2017. Anything released in 2017 that you circulate is eligible, so for example, if someone on staff is a big movie buff, they can countdown their favorite DVD releases of the year. Or maybe someone likes multiple formats; their list can have books, music, DVDs, etc....

The simplest way to do this would be to send out an email to all staff asking them to contribute to a library wide countdown. Ask them to send you their top 10 lists [ordered] by the end of the week. Then you can unveil a library-wide top ten in the building-- make a poster and uncover the next one each day. You can also release the countdown on all of your social media.

Not only is this  a super fun way to allow all staff to share their favorites with the entire community, but it also advertises that everyone on staff cares about providing quality materials for them to checkout and enjoy.

You can do a library wide countdown, but then each department can do one too. So the AV materials with the highest votes can be unveiled in the department, the kids materials there, etc.... Heck even each staff member who wants can post theirs.

Now this works best with a staff of 20 or more, but if you have fewer people, work together to make lists for each department.

Finally, so that I leave absolutely no one out and you have NO EXCUSES for not doing this, you could simply do a top ten countdown of the items with the highest circulation in 2017.

The point here is that I am calling you to action to do something to showcase your hyper-local “best” of the year. You can use any criteria for best. Don’t get so mired in arguing about the minutia that it doesn’t get done. Just do it.

For past Call to Action Posts click here.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Library Reads: Favorite of Favorites 2017

Here is the year end list of the best of the best from library reads.  I am forgoing my normal monthly Library Reads preamble to make some comments about this annual list.

But before I share my thoughts, I am sure you have some too. Starting on 12/4 you can share your favorite books of 2017 on Twitter using #LibFavs17. The Library Reads Steering Committee will be moderating that hashtag. Countdown from #10 to #1 for ten days beginning on Monday. [FYI- I usually try to share my favorite horror titles that way. I hope to have my list ready by then.]

Now back to this list and my comments.

First, after calls by many, including me, to all of you library workers to make this list more diverse, this years list is definitely better than in the past; not perfect, but better. The top book features Asian Americans as the lead characters. There are books about women forgotten to history, Native Americans, and Jodi Picoult’s honest looks at racism. But all three of those are not own voices. So again, better, but still room for improvement.

Second-- where are the speculative titles?!?!? I know there were SF, FSY and Horror titles on the voting list because I voted for them! This prove a point I talk about all of the time in my training programs: readers love speculative fiction but library workers as a whole are not fans. *Sigh* Seriously not a spaceship, elf, or monster in the bunch here. And no romance either. Same issues there too. Hmmmmm.

Third, News of the World!!!! Such a great book. And it proves my year long point that Westerns are hot.

Fourth, I am also so proud of Radium Girls. As you can see here, I read it months before it came out and loved it. I literally shouted about it from the RA rooftops. I am so glad others liked it-- enough to make it #2 for the year and one of only 2 nonfiction on the list.

Fifth, this list [except for the glaring absence of speculative titles] makes a good general holiday gift giving list.

Finally an overall theme I notice here is that all of these books, no matter their genre would all make great book club suggestions. Since this was a library worker picked list, this does not surprise me.

Click here to pull up every month’s list using my Library Reads tag.

Favorite of Favorites 2017

Little Fires Everywhere

by Celeste Ng

Published: 9/12/2017
by Penguin Press
ISBN: 9780735224292
Little Fires Everywhere delves into family relationships and what parenthood, either biological or by adoption, means. We follow the members of two families living in the idyllic, perfectly-planned suburb of Shaker Heights, Ohio: Mia and Pearl, a mother and daughter living a less traditional lifestyle, moving from town to town every few months, and the Richardsons, the perfect nuclear family in the perfect suburb…until Izzy Richardson burns her family home down. Ng’s superpower is her ability to pull you into her books from the very first sentence!”
Emma DeLooze-Klein, Kirkwood Public Library, Kirkwood, MO

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women

by Kate Moore

Published: 5/2/2017 by Sourcebooks
ISBN: 9781492649359
“This is the story of hundreds of young, vibrant women who were sentenced to death by their employers. The so-called “Radium Girls” painted luminescent faces on clock and watch dials using a paint mixture that contained radium. Instructed to “lip-point” their brushes as they painted, they absorbed high doses of radium into their bodies. When the effects of the radium led to horrific disfigurement and pain, the company refused to take responsibility. This heartrending book was one I could not put down.”
Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel

by Gail Honeyman

Published: 5/9/2017 by Pamela Dorman Books
ISBN: 9780735220683
“I loved this book about the quirky Eleanor, who struggles to relate to other people and lives a very solitary life. When she and the new work IT guy happen to be walking down the street together, they witness an elderly man collapse on the sidewalk and suddenly Eleanor’s orderly routines are disrupted. This is a lovely novel about loneliness and how a little bit of kindness can change a person forever. Highly recommended for fans of A Man Called Ove and The Rosie Project – this would make a great book club read.”
Halle Eisenman, Beaufort County Library, Blufton, SC

News of the World: A Novel

by Paulette Jiles

Published: 10/4/2016 by William Morrow
ISBN: 9780062409201
“Readers fortunate enough to meet Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, an old ex-soldier who makes a living reading the news to townspeople in 1870s Texas, and Joanna, the Indian captive he is charged with returning to her relatives, will not soon forget them. Everything, from the vividly realized Texas frontier setting to the characters is beautifully crafted, right up to the moving conclusion. Both the Captain and Joanna have very distinctive voices. Wonderful storytelling.”
Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY

Glass Houses: A Novel

by Louise Penny

Published: 8/29/2017 by Minotaur Books
ISBN: 9781250066190
“A new threat arises in Three Pines as a mysterious masked figure stands watch on the village green. ‘It’ refuses to communicate in any way, which is just the start of another thrilling adventure in this long-running series. Gamache is still trying to restore the Sûreté du Québec back to what it was before it was corrupted under the previous regime. Choices are made that will forever change our hero in ways we can only begin to imagine. The next book can’t get here fast enough.”
Joseph Jones, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Brooklyn, OH 

Small Great Things: A Novel

by Jodi Picoult

Published: 10/11/2016 by Ballantine Books
ISBN: 9780345544957
“A black neonatal nurse is charged with causing the death of a white supremacist’s newborn baby. The story is told from the points of view of the nurse, her attorney, and the baby’s heartbroken father. As always, Picoult’s attention to legal, organizational, and medical details help the tale ring true. What sets this book apart, though, are the uncomfortable points it makes about racism. The novel is both absorbing and thought-provoking, and will surely spark conversations among friends, families and book clubs.”
Laurie Van Court, Douglas County Libraries, Castle Rock, CO

Magpie Murders

by Anthony Horowitz

Published:6/6/2017 by Harper
ISBN: 9780062645227
“Susan Ryeland is a London book editor who has just received the latest manuscript from one of her most irascible authors, Alan Conway. But the manuscript’s ending appears to be missing and she learns that Conway has committed suicide. As Ryeland learns more about his death, she starts to question whether a murder has occurred and begins to investigate. Magpie Murders is a delightful, clever mystery-within-a-mystery. Horowitz shows real mastery of his craft. This is a terrific, modern take on the traditional mystery with ingenious puzzles to solve.”
Andrea Larson, Cook Memorial Library, Libertyville, IL

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

by David Grann

Published: 4/18/2017 by Doubleday
ISBN: 978o385534246
“In the 1920s, a string of unsolved murders rocked the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma.  Made rich by oil rights, the Osage were already victimized by unscrupulous businessmen and societal prejudice, but these murders were so egregious, the newly formed FBI was brought in to investigate. Immensely readable, this book brings a shameful part of U.S. history alive and will keep readers thinking long after they have finished the book.”
Jenna Persick, Chester County Library, Exton, PA 

The Dry: A Novel

by Jane Harper

Published: 1/10/2017 by Flatiron Books
ISBN: 9781250105608
“’Luke lied. You lied. Be at the funeral.’ These eight words will change everything for Agent Aaron Falk, summoned by the father or his former best friend. It appears Luke went on a rampage, murdering his wife, son, and then himself.  At Luke’s father’s request, Aaron agrees to look into the murders/suicide and learns that the small town has long held grudges and secrets that may be best kept hidden in this atmospheric, chilling complex tale of anger and revenge.”
Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library, Flemington, NJ

Beartown: A Novel

by Fredrik Backman

Published: 4/25/2017 by Atria Books
ISBN: 9781501160769
“Backman’s most complex novel to date takes place in the small, hockey-crazed village of Beartown.  He deftly weaves together the stories of the players, the coaches, the parents, and the fans as Beartown’s hockey team chases its dream of winning a championship.  Weighty themes are explored.  How high a price is too high for success?  How deadly is silence?  Who can you trust with your secrets?  How far will you compromise your beliefs in the name of friendship?  There are no easy answers.  A great book club choice.”
Janet Lockhart, Wake County Public Library, Cary, NC

RA for All Road Show Visits Fountaindale Public Library with Jez!

Today I will be in Bollingbrook, IL at the Fountaindale Public Library. They are closing until 1 to have a 2 program in-service morning with me and Jez who has appeared on the blog before talking about audiobooks, here.

Jez and I will stay put in our locations and the staff will rotate to us in two groups. We will deliver our programs twice, but to two different audiences.

I am doing my signature RA for All program which follows my 10 Rules of Basic RA Service. You can click here for all of the information and links.

Jez's presentation is entitled, Beyond Booktalking: Whole Library Promotion. She has shared her slides here.

I also wanted to pass on Jez's speaking engagement page. She speaks on different topics than me, but she has a similar approach. I highly recommend her as a speaker and as a person. Check her out for your library.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Reader Question About Listen-a-Likes

Here is another real life question from a librarian in the trenches of RA Service. I have received permission to share this question from Pat at Crystal Lake [IL] Public Library. Below I share the question and my response.

If you have a question about a specific patron-- contact me and let’s work on it. I might use it here on the blog to help others.

My colleagues and I work with an avid reader with visual difficulties.  At this point she is only able to read via audiobooks and goes through about 10 books a week.  She loves the readers George Guidall and Simon Prebble and mostly wants to read spy fiction or thrillers (no Patterson!).  We are starting to exhaust our supply of audiobooks narrated by these two narrators.  She realizes the situation and is starting to soften on trying other readers, but she is fairly particular about it. My question for you:  Is there a place to go to find sound-alikes for a particular narrator?  Novelist has listen-alikes, but I don’t think the focus is on a specific narrator.
Beckys Answer:

You are correct, there are no specific “listen-a-like” sources. Some of this is because of the fact that people like a narrator for many reasons- some of which as you note in your question have to do with fact that narrators don’t stick to one genre. Prebble and Guidall are two excellent narrators who do read many types of books. 

So while I don’t have a specific sound-a-like resource that will solve her problems magically, I do have a couple of suggestions on ways to help her that she can participate in with you. The result will be more titles for her to enjoy.

First, figure out her favorite books narrated by these two men. Then help her find straight readalikes for those series. But, look them up on Audible before suggesting a title.  This way you can not only listen to a snippet of the narration with her, but you can read her customer reviews that speak about the narration specifically.  Make sure to look at the 5 star and 2 star reviews so that you can see the lovers and the critics. This will help you narrow down the type of book she is looking for first and then select the narrator second.

On Audible you can search by genre and narrator. So if you use NoveList and Goodreads to find readalikes based on the story, then you can go into Audible to refine it a little more. 

Second, in this case Prebble and Guidall are Golden Voices on Audiofile Magazine. The Golden Voice database is an excellent place to begin helping her. Let her know that these are other narrators deemed the best of the best, just like her two favorites. You can start there by listening to others and reading interviews with them about their work. I have had great luck using this page as a starting point to help my audiobook readers who care about the narrator as much as, or even more than, the story itself.

From my experience with patrons who have similar tastes I think she would probably also like Simon Vance and/or Dion Graham. I would start with them. Both read suspense and thrillers.

In general, however, Audiofile Magazine is the only place where you can read critical information about narrators, from reviews to interviews to essays. It takes a little more digging than a simple NoveList search, but everything has an audio clip. Both you and your patron will love using it together. There is so much information there, and since she is willing to try something new, you are bound to find something she will enjoy.

This two-pronged attack will settle the listen-a-like issue because you are considering both the story she wants to read and the style of narration. It is clear that you cannot divorce one from the other with this patron. I am similar. There are narrators I adore in general, but when they narrate a book I don’t like, I still don’t like it. 

Also, since she is such a voracious consumer of audiobooks, this strategy will work well over time. You will never “run out” of books by a specific narrator again because you are considering the content and the narration together. There are always new books coming out, and she will find new series and narrators she enjoys. All of which create more connection points to match her with her next good listen. This strategy broadens her options and will allow you to keep helping her indefinitely. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Make All of Your Displays Interactive-- Both for Staff and Patrons

Today's post is inspired by one of my new favorite tips to share with the staff I work with in person. I often say these things so much to the people I actually come into contact with that I worry I am repeating myself. And then, I remember that the vast majority of you interact with me here and not in person. So, today I am passing on my love of building a patron friendly library where conversation is not only encouraged, but runs rampant, and it all starts with making sure every single staff member and patron/user at your library has a chance to participate in your service to leisure readers.

That is my overall goal for all of you in your service to leisure readers. It is the thesis statement behind everything I say, do, and teach.

Displays are one of the easiest ways to get this participation bonanza going, and the end of the year is the best time to start. Why? Well it’s because everyone has an opinion on what THE BEST thing they read or watched this year was. And these opinions are varied and different. And that is AWESOME for a display.

Let’s start with the concept first and then a specific example second.

You need to make every single display you do participatory in some way. Patrons are used to seeing displays, they are used to browsing them, they are used to taking books from them, but they are never asked to help build them.

Likewise, while specific staff members or departments are responsible putting up and taking down displays, why aren’t all staff members asked to help with ideas or to fill the display?

The more voices and opinions we include in building the displays, the better our displays are because they represent a wider view of the “topic.” You cannot and will not think of every possible book that could work on any given display. But the collective brain-- you, staff, patrons-- working together will by default have a wider view of the topic at hand, thus creating a better and more responsive display.

Here is a specific example that works very well at this time of the year and can be a great starting point to creating more participatory displays all year long.

Take an empty display shelf, one near a service desk and put a sign on the top-- WHAT IS THE BEST THING YOU CHECKED OUT OF THE LIBRARY THIS YEAR? Send an email to staff and ask them to put a few things that answers this question for them in the display.  Then sit back and watch patrons and staff fill it for you!

Now, a couple of problems right off the back that I will address.  One, yes, you might get kids filling it with sex, poop, and fart books. But, if it is in a high traffic area you can monitor it. Two, if you ask people to take books off the shelf and put them in a display that means the item may not be where the catalog says it is. This is valid, but to answer it I always say, “Has there every been a day when everything you looked for was exactly where it was supposed to be?” The answer is always NO. So take a deep breath and get over it. If you are doing this type of display, you will know to check the interactive display if an item is not on the shelf before declaring it “missing."

Here’s why this display is awesome:

  • This display becomes a community created best lists where everyone’s voice and opinion counts. As the organizer of this display make sure you are keeping a record of the items that show up in the display. You can then release the community best list-- in print, online, heck even let the newspaper know. I know my local paper would LOVE this as an article. And you did nothing. You simply asked them to tell you what was “best."
  • A display of this kind allows ANY ITEM you carry to be considered best. From book to video to Go Pro camera-- whatever that patron thinks was the best thing they checked out this year is included.
  • This best list is not dependent upon the items released in the current year. At the library, the year something came out is not as relevant as other places. But every other outlet will be focused on the best of 2017. 
  • You get a real time sense of what in your collection is deemed the most useful by your patrons. If they are telling you they loved it, you should probably get more of that “it.” Also, you should probably get readalikes for that “it.” When do we get such honest and useful feedback? Um, never.
  • Don’t overestimate how much fun patrons will have adding books to a library display shelf. You seriously might never get them to stop. And I would argue that you shouldn’t even ask them to stop. They should always feel free to add to our displays. In fact, it is weird that this is NOT a thing. [Side note: in 2018, I am going to make this a thing so that in the future people will think it was weird that we never let patrons add to our displays. Stay tuned.]
  • People now know that you care what they think. You might be the nicest most helpful library in the world, but patrons think of the library workers as experts who don’t want their regular person opinions. I know we do want them, but they don’t know we do. And who can blame them? It’s not like we ever asked. 

Now to keep this going all year long----

Every display should have an interactive element. Sometimes it will be big like the above example, but other times, it may be smaller and more subtle.

To include staff going forward, let them know ahead of time your upcoming topics. Ask them to contribute [if they want] titles to that display. Not only will you get a title you might not have thought of, but also, you may find out that a staff member really likes a genre or type of book and you had no idea. That not only helps you to identify another resource when you get a reader with similar tastes, but it builds camaraderie between staff members. It helps to remind us that while we all work in a specific department, we have likes across all departments and we are all a single team working together to help all patrons. As we stay in our specific departments, this team attitude often gets forgotten.

You can also move on to soliciting topics of future displays from all staff too. Having been part of a team that did multiple displays a month for 15 years, I know that we all run out of new ideas. Why aren’t we asking staff from other parts of the library for ideas too?  For that matter, why aren’t we asking patrons what topic of displays they want to see?

Which leads me to an easy way to make a display interactive for patrons. You don’t always have to invite them to add books to the displays to include them [but in general, I think this is a great idea for every display, every time, as I mention above]. But, you can always have a question to go with every display, a small pile of paper, and a box for them to leave the answers. So if you have a display of historical fiction, for example, you could have a sign with a question like-- What is Your Favorite Time Period to Read About? or What Time Would You Travel To If You Could? or even, What Historical Eras Do You Want Us To Have More Books About?

All of these questions will help you to serve your readers better. You can put these out with the physical display and on your social media channels. People get to express their opinions and we find out what truly interest them. The result is that we can develop our collections to better suit their wants AND our displays go from ho-hum to must visit by patrons. They will want to come back to see what we are asking them.

Again, staff should be encouraged to participate too.

When we ask people-- staff or patrons-- to participate in our service they feel like they are important. And they always have been, but we do not show them that we believe this nearly often enough . We can’t do our jobs of helping leisure readers without our fellow staff members or the patrons. All are vital to our success. They have value and can truly help us elevate our service-- but we have to ask.

Interactive displays are fun. They are a slight twist to a core service. And the results both physical and psychological are priceless.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

LibraryCon Live! Coming to a Computer Near Your on Dec. 6th!

Click here to Register for FREE!!!!
I realized that I signed up for Library Journal’s virtual Con and never passed it on here on the blog.

Thankfully there is still time for you to sign up here. Below I am posting the information from that sign up page, but a few comments first.

One of the moderators is my friend and co-StokerCon 2018 Librarians’ Day Coordinator, Kristi Chadwick. She has told me about some of the things that are planned and I can’t wait.

Second, everyone will want to tune in for the panel on how to plan a Con at your library. This is a huge growth area for libraries. My local library does an Anime-fest which is run like a Con. It grows every year and soon we might outgrow our space.  Trust me, on the outside you wouldn’t think my town would be a hot bed on Anime activity, but it is. You all need to hear from these libraries who have planned and run successful Cons.

Third, the opening and closing speakers are both excellent.

And fourth, whether you are a fan of SF, FSY, and Graphic Novels yourself or not, I promise you, your patrons ARE. Genre geekdom no longer hides in the shadows, and they want the library to serve them. So if you are not a fan yourself, you need this Con to help you get up to speed.

I realize very few, if any, of us can sit and watch the entire thing all day, but it is free to sign up. You can pop in and out, and you will get access to the recordings after. This is going to be a fun and useful event. And, you don’t have to travel or pay a dime. Go....get signed up now.

Still not convinced by no travel and no money? Here are the full details from the sign up page:
Join Library Journal and School Library Journal for our inaugural LibraryCon Live! We’re excited to offer a day-long celebration of fandom-beloved stories and characters, from pulse-pounding sci-fi horror to innovative reboots of classic series to mind-bending speculative fiction across formats. You’ll also learn from librarians and industry insiders on how to plan and host your own Comic Con-style event.
Plus, network online with other fans and explore our virtual exhibit hall where you’ll hear directly from publishers about their newest books and engage in live chats with featured authors. Whether you’re a public or school librarian, an educator of teens and young adults, or a superfan of graphic novels and sci-fi/fantasy, don’t miss this chance to meet and interact with some of your favorite stars across these genres.
Speakers include:
Opening Keynote:  John Jennings, (Lee & Low Books)
Superheroes, Super Powers, and the Supernatural
  • Joshua Dysart, (Penny Farthing)
  • Sina Grace, (Marvel)
  • Dr. Sheena C. Howard, (Lion Forge)
  • Jill Thompson, (Penguin Random House/DC Comics)
  • Peter Tomasi, (Penguin Random House/DC Comics)
  • Keezy Young, (Lion Forge)
  • Jason Puckett, (Georgia State University)
How to Plan and Host Your Own Library Con
  • Helen Crosson and Liz Hughes, (Half Hollow Hills Library, NY)
  • Marissa Lieberman, (East Orange Public Library, NJ)
  • Maggie Novario, (Fort Vancouver Regional Library District, WA)
  • Christina “Steenz” Stewart, (Lion Forge)
  • Ivy Weir, (Quirk Books)
Escape and Enchant: The Mind-Bending World of Speculative Fiction
  • Katherine Arden, (Penguin Random House/Del Rey)
  • Pierce Brown, (Penguin Random House)
  • Edgar Cantero, (Penguin Random House/Doubleday)
  • Fonda Lee, (Orbit)
  • Axie Oh, (Lee & Low)
  • Scott Westerfeld, (Macmillan)
  • Kristi Chadwick, (Massachusetts Library System)
Exploring the “Invisible Art” of Comics
  • Grace Ellis, (Image Comics)
  • Tony Medina, (Lee & Low)
  • Cyril Pedrosa, (Europe Comics)
  • Alex Segura, (Penguin Random House/Archie Comics)
  • Brenna Thummler, (Andrews McMeel)
Closing Keynote: Gene Luen Yang, (Penguin Random House/DC Comics)
LibraryCon Live! is a free, completely virtual conference—no traveling and no cost!
Register now! We look forward to ‘seeing’ you on December 6th.
Thank you to our sponsors:
Penguin Random House Library Marketing
Diamond Book Distributors
Andrews McMeel Universal
Archie Comics
Baker & Taylor
DC Entertainment
Del Rey Books
Europe Comics
Image Comics
Junior Library Guild
Lee & Low Books 
Lion Forge
Penguin Young Readers Group
Penny-Farthing Productions
Quirk Books

Monday, November 27, 2017

Call to Action: RA Service is Just As Important as Reference

Today’s Call to Action is a reminder, for you, for your colleagues, or for the world at large. We may work with leisure readers-- people who are looking for items to fill their free time-- and we may deal in “popular materials," but that does not make the work we do any less important than our friends and colleagues over in reference.

This needs to be said out loud-- by me, by you who do this work, and by those who we work for. And it needs to be said to our entire profession.


Because I still get librarians coming to me to argue that what I do is nice and good for PR or customer service, but that it isn’t “important.”

Well, you’re wrong. It actually is very important. The public library is one of the only places in our world where everyone is accepted for who they are, and it is a place where we give people what they want to enrich their lives, lives that are sometimes harder than even those who work with these patrons can imagine. The work we do with popular materials does spread not only enrich the lives of our patrons, but it can teach them the skills they need to survive in today’s crazy world.

Leisure reading and viewing allows escape [everyone needs a break]. Leisure reading and viewing allows people to learn about the world around them in a non threatening way, and for many at a reading/comprehension level that is accessible to them too. Leisure reading and viewing opens the world up in a way many people would never be able to experience- be it by introducing them to people and places they would not be able to encounter or ideas and opinions they have never seen or heard. Leisure reading and viewing offer comfort to people. These are just a few of the ways our work with popular, leisure items IS important and vital to our patrons.

RA Service and the real world are colliding. People are turning to books and media to soothe, question, challenge, explore, or just look for answers in this crazy time we are all living through. What you are doing is important to your patrons’ daily existence. It is important to the mission of the institution of the Public Library, and it deserves the respect of all staff. This importance is becoming impossible for us to ignore any longer.

Recently, RUSA CODES hosted an email conversation that proved this point as library workers from all over the country gathered together to share how their work with readers is intersecting with other real world issues. I talked about it beforehand in this post.

Now that conversation’s main point have been gathered into notes that every single one of you can access here. 

What I noticed both by following the conversation AND looking over the notes now after the fact is how much we are all realizing that the work we do does have quite a bit of overlap with issues and discussions that used to be deemed as outside of our “popular materials” scope. We cannot and should not stay out of the fray anymore.

So the Call to Action today is two fold. First, as I said above, RA work is vital and important to the lives of our patrons. Scream it from the rooftops for everyone to hear--


I saw this in action each and every day I worked at the service desk and I see it each and every place I go to help other library workers provide the RA Service their communities’ deserve. But, we have to believe this ourselves before we can convince everyone else.

And second, read the RUSA CODES Convo notes to see how library workers are already bridging the divide between popular materials and serious real world issues. Get inspired. Think about what you are already doing. Think about what more you could be doing. And then, get to work.

For past Call to Action posts, click here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Trend Alert: Podcast RA- Stop Making Excuses and Start Doing It

I am working on a webinar for my local library system entitled: What’s To Come in 2018?: Assessing and Staying On Top of Adult Leisure Reading and Collection Development Trends. Here is the description:

For library workers who assist leisure readers, whether it is from the front desk, the reference desk, or as you roam the stacks, staying on top of the latest trends is imperative. Our patrons expect us to know what’s hot before they do. They expect us to have the items ready and waiting for them as soon as they request them. And with all of the other job duties we have to worry about, sometimes we are not a responsive to the most current trends as we could be. But assessing trends in leisure reading and collection development is an essential job duty, and it is not nearly as difficult as you may think. Join noted Readers’ Advisory expert Becky Spratford for a webinar that will be fun and useful. She will walk you through the current trends in adult leisure collections and teach you the tips and tricks you can use to stay in the know all year long. Before you know it, your library will be trending in your community.
This program will look back at the biggest leisure reading and collection development trends of 2017 and look ahead at what will be trending in those areas in 2018. In this webinar I will do more than list trends, however, I am also going to teach you how to stay on top of trends all year long and use that information to make your collection as responsive as possible to your patrons’ tastes. An in true Becky fashion, I even have a few unorthodox surprises.

The live version of this webinar will be on Thursday, January 18, 2018 from 9:30-11 am central, but you need to be a member of RAILS to attend. They will make the recording available on their YouTube page for everyone reading this to be able to access it though.

As part of my preparation for this program I have been more intensively researching the current trends in leisure reading. Of course I am always doing this as my "Trending” tagged posts attest to; in fact, the increased frequency of these posts it what led me to turn these ideas into a webinar in the first place. But because I want this program to be as useful [and fun] as possible, I am looking at all areas of collection development-- including weeding.

Which leads to today's post, a post that will also be useful to you at the Thanksgiving table as I am sure some of your friends and family will be asking you about this very topic. Why? Because it is a huge trend-- the increase in the number of people who listen to podcasts. Seriously, everyone has a podcast the listen to. Even grandma. Many of us will be asked about podcasts and which ones are good this holiday, but we should also use the holiday as a chance to ask our friends and family about their podcast habits. As you will see below, it will serve you as a great practice exercise for when you go back to work. Also, what are your other options to talk about? Politics? Sexual Harassment?

The increase in people listening to podcasts is also one of the reasons industry experts are citing in response to the huge increases in audiobook sales. It is past time for us to be thinking about Listen-Alikes and Read Alikes to go with podcasts-- and I don’t just mean giving the Welcome to Nightvale podcast fans the books based on the series either.

There is one obstacle in our way to providing podcast advisory, it is an argument a director gave to me when I suggested he provide this service to his patrons, and it is valid but misguided. He said that his staff shouldn’t help people find more podcasts because podcasts are not circulated by the library.

Well, this is true, BUT we help people find answers to reference questions all of the time and those questions have nothing to do with what we circulate. Someone who needs information about a government service for example. We look up the answer and help them, but not a thing circulates in this transaction. If you look at a patron who wants more podcasts like the one they are currently obsessed with as a reference question, there is no way you wouldn’t help them.

However, the bigger issue here is that podcasts are a HUGE trend and we need to be more responsive to what our patrons are currently excited about. We need to anticipate what they want. So if we know that people are listening to more podcasts, why don’t we have “If you like Lore, here are some books you may enjoy too” displays. The resistance to doing this reminds me of when people were hesitant to make “If you like________ TV show/movie” book displays read this book. It used to just be books made into movies and now we have many “Read, Watch, Listen” type displays. [People, that wasn’t too long ago.]

But Becky, how do I know about all the different podcasts so I can help them find a book or audiobook to match? The answer-- you don’t have to know! Just like you don’t have to know about every book. What you do have to know is how to talk to patrons about WHY they enjoy that podcast. And guess what?  That is the same skill you use when talking to them about the books they like. Stop making excuses and start doing your job.

Ask patrons what podcasts they listen to and why they enjoy them. Listen for the adjectives-- the narration, the tone, the pacing, the characters, etc.... You can then use your traditional RA resources to find them a book or audio book to match their appeal preferences.

I know this may seem daunting to some of you, but fear not, I have a resource to get your started. This month, Library Journal had a wonderful article about podcasts with  listen-alikes. It was their audiobooks column so all the suggestions are to listen to which I understand, BUT please don’t forget that not all podcast listeners ONLY want to listen in their free time. Yes, audiobooks are the most natural segue-way, but I also know that an increase in listening to storytelling [and by the way, whether it is nonfiction or fiction, podcasts tell a story-- end of discussion.] has led some people to read more books. I have seen it with my own patrons and family members. Many get hooked on consuming stories and crave more and more. Books are a natural bridge to more stories.

We need to be asking about podcasts as part of the RA conversation regularly now. It is a great way to assess what type of story the patron would like. We need to offer them audio and print options. We need to more regularly make podcast to library item suggestions in lists and displays. Why not pick a small area to do it weekly? All it would take is a print out of the podcast logo as a sign and then put out a few books to go with it. You could rotate that frequently and easily.

We need to let patrons know that even though we don’t “circulate” podcasts we still want to help fans of this medium find more options for their leisure time, things we do have that they would love, if only they knew about them. See, it is exactly the same job we do when matching books with readers.

On a side note, I think we have to start thinking of our job in RA service as matching stories with readers. But that’s a post for another day.

And if you are reading this and nodding along because your library is already having a lively discussion about podcasts in these ways, BRAVO. But don’t rest on your laurels. The next step in this process is to host Podcast Discussion Groups. Yes, you read that right- Podcast Discussion Groups. Pick a thought provoking podcast episode, assign it to be listened to, or listen to it together, and then have a discussion.

There is always more to do as we assess trends and figure out where the library can fit in and be responsive to our patrons and their current obsessions. And sometimes we get lucky, as this podcast trend attests to, because we are already well prepared to step in immediately.

This will be my last post of the week. Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving everyone. And don’t forget to ask everyone at the dinner table what podcast they are listening to.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Guest Post: Michelle’s Report on the Hawaii State Library Conference

Today my colleague Michelle Young is sharing her  experience at her state library conference in Hawaii.

There is much to learn from here for all of my readers. Plus, she has included the speakers names and affiliations. Please feel free to reach out to these individuals if you want more information.

And finally, thank you Michelle.

2017 Hawai`i Library Association-Hawai`i Association of School Librarians Joint Conference 
October 27-28, 2017 | University of Hawai`i-Mānoa Campus Center
Michelle Young, Branch Manager, Waimea Public Library

General Conference Summary
I was pleased by my overall conference experience. All the sessions I attended were relevant and interesting. The keynote speakers on Saturday were outstanding—although I was weary by the end of the conference, Rebekkah Aldrich kept saying things that compelled me to take out the pen I had put away! Most of all, I appreciated the chance to talk with other librarians in Hawaii, including other HSPLS staff members that I met for the first time and school librarians who suggested ways to build partnerships.
Friday, October 27
Keynote Speaker 1: Cultural Sustainability
Keiki Kawai`ae`a, Ph.D., Native Hawaiian Education Council; UH Hilo
Presented content from Ulukau (, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, which features Hawaiian language books and journals, Hawaiian curriculum materials, a database of Hawaiian place names, and Hawaiian genealogy records. 
Takeaway: Great resource for Hawaiian charter schools!
Possible Futures for Libraries? Are You Ready?
Stacey Aldrich, Jarrid Keller
Ms. Aldrich and Mr. Keller talked about how assumptions affect decisions and actions. Therefore it’s important to make these assumptions explicit to clarify our mental models. They presented a story about a family living in 2035. Audience members brainstormed needs for each family members that the library could fulfill. We considered what kind of space, skills, and other resources the library would need to provide relevant services. Finally, we discussed what libraries would need to do now to prepare for this possible future.
Takeaways: Track trends and anticipate what needs our patrons will have in the future. Be clear on library’s mission so we can stay true to that even as the way we deliver services may look different.
Thinking Beyond the Book: Circulating Non-Traditional Materials
Meri Healey, Rebekah Scheffer
Marine Corps Base Hawaii Library staff talked about surprising items they circulate to their patrons. These items include Go Pro video cameras, cake pans, knitting tools, STEM kits, board games, musical instruments, and more! Due to space limitations, the library’s “makerspace” is portable, i.e. patrons check out items to take home.
Takeaways: Care more about patrons using items instead of things remaining in pristine condition. Offer a program to introduce people to STEM kits--people are eager to borrow items once they see a product demonstrated. 
Sustainability of Public Libraries in this Digital Climate: Transforming Communities Through Digital and Information Literacy
Sharrese Castillo (Wahiawa Public Library), Kelsey Domingo (Nanakuli Public Library)
Public librarians receive more questions about using computers and the internet than for other library resources. They noted the persistence of the “digital divide,” or unequal access to information and communication technologies. 
Digital literacy skills are increasingly necessary to apply for jobs. Also government services are moving online (e.g. federal taxes). E.g. patron applied for job—form online-only, required e-mail address, which in turn required a phone number for a code.
We need to improve library staff’s ability to teach digital and info literacy skills. Approach computer help like a reference interview. One-on-one help is good because people may be too embarrassed to ask for help in a group.
Takeaways: Refreshed my commitment to helping patrons navigate the world wide web. Also got me thinking about the public library’s role in teaching digital and info literacy since schools often do not teach these skills. As public’s information needs change, our services need to evolve as well.
Unbusying the Busy: Public Librarians Employing Social Media for Professional Development
Vanessa Irwin, Michelle Moore, Michelle Young
The Librarians’ Inquiry Forum (LINQ) promotes inquiry-based professional development for librarians through social media. Ms. Irwin (associate LIS professor at UH-Manoa) applied this model with 15 branch managers from the Hawaii State Public Library System from Fall 2016 to Summer 2017. 
Librarians reflected upon their work and discussed library issues via Slack, a work-oriented social media platform. Administrators created channels with guiding questions for topics such as programming and community engagement. Librarians wrote and responded to each other’s posts, and shared photos and documents. A positive outcome was that librarians connected and collaborated despite being on different islands. 
A persistent theme was that librarians felt they were too “busy” to participate. Does being busy make librarians feel important and relevant? Does being too busy for professional development suggest a resistance to growth and/or change? There’s a perception that reflective activity takes away from “real work.” However, it’s important to prioritize self-care because it enables staff to provide better public service.
Takeaways: How can library workers prioritize professional development? Need to find ways to support staff to engage in PD to improve practice and avoid burnout.

Saturday, October 28
Keynote Speaker 2: Environmental Sustainability
Randall Kosaki, Ph.D., National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Mr. Kosaki presented about his work studying the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. He shared stunning photographs of ocean life, sobering statistics about our oceans’ health, and insightful anecdotes about his research work. Mr. Kosaki also seamlessly connected his subject matter with the importance of books, knowledge, and libraries. 
Takeaways: I was reading a book about presentation skills, and this guy exemplified all of them! Everything he said and showed served to promote a sense of wonder about ocean life. He communicated with conviction without being sensational. 
Culture + Heritage = Place-Based Learning!
Violet Harada, Patricia Louis, Audrey Okemura, Lori Chun
What learning matters to students? How do we facilitate this learning? Goal is to create learners who produce knowledge and contribute to society.
Inquiry learning stimulates curiosity, focuses on questions, allows personalization, uses real-world contexts, and builds empathy (for heart and mind knowledge). 
Place-based learning links students to where they live and who they are. The community IS the classroom. Find and embrace community stories that make students care. 
Each school librarian talked about learning goals for their project, the librarian’s roles and teacher’s roles, standards addressed, community partners involved, big questions asked, primary and secondary sources used, project results, and student reflections.
Japanese-American interment project at Kaimuki High School (Lori Chun)
Analyzed impact of internment of over 2,000 Japanese-Americans in Hawaii during WWII on individuals and families. Advocated for Honouluili Internment Camp to become a national monument—and President Obama approved! Students reflected that it’s important to learn about past injustices in history so they don’t happen again.
Student-produced play featuring cultural practices from ports visited by the Hokule`a at Kamehameha Schools (Patricia Louis)
Librarian worked with 5th grade teachers to help students produce a play—involves research to build background knowledge, writing script and music, making costumes and building props. Students learned about cultures and issues of native peoples encountered by Hokule`a on journey.
Dangers of plastic marine debris and advocacy for responsible resource management at Pearl City High School (Audrey Okemura)
Study human impact on the environment, create an upcycled product, promote public awareness. Field trip to littered beach—picked up trash, analyzed by type (plastics, metals, etc.). 100% of students said their appreciation for the environment and the gravity of the situation increased. 
Takeaways: These librarians clearly defined their roles in their partnership with teachers at their schools. Place-based learning is meaningful and impacts students’ hearts and minds.
Toddler Time and Beyond: Creating Programs for Our Youngest Patrons
Danielle Todd
Early literacy does NOT equal teaching young kids to read and write. It’s about nurturing skills they need to know before they learn to read and write.
Goal is to create positive experiences for families from their child’s birth. Why focus on toddlers? Kindergarten is too late! Get families in the habit of visiting the library. 
Every Child Ready to Read 2 increases impact of storytime by educating caregivers about early learning practices (read, write, talk, sing, play)
  • Consider HELDS (Hawaii Early Learning and Development Standards) when planning storytimes. 
  • Use giant Post-Its for song lyrics
  • Overall experience matters more than a single book. OK to abandon book that’s not working.
  • Literacy tipsparents are more likely to do activities at home AND see library as an important place for learning. Practice tips so they feel natural. 
Big play date program--offer a variety of activities that are easy to duplicate at home. Though planned for young children, all ages showed up (whole family) so adjusted to monthly all-ages program (e.g. movie, glow in the dark party, bookend painting). Scaffold activities for different levels. Give everyone something to do. Make signs with “Did you know?” early learning facts and prompts for parents to ask their kids.
Takeaways: Some communities want to bring their whole families to the library, so good to plan activities for all ages, not just original target group. Try making signs with teaching tips for parents and suggested questions to engage their children.
Graphic Novels and You: Let’s Talk Story about GNs in Your Library
Kelly Ann Campbell (Mililani Public Library), Hillary Chang (McCully-Moiliili Public Library)
GNs belong in all libraries! Saying you don’t collect them is like saying you don’t collect mysteries. 
Consider that Jane Austen’s novels were looked down upon during her time but now are regarded as classics.
Japanese comics are often shocking to American readers. Hillary theorizes that because Japanese must be ultra-controlled in public, they let loose in literature. 
Place GNs wherever they will circulate most. Separate collections are good, but depends on space.
Use Wikipedia to see where a series will end to see if you want to invest in the whole thing.
Takeaways: Graphic novels shouldn’t be on the periphery of collection development, they are integral to our collections.
Growing and Sustaining Instructional Partnerships Through Professional Development
Sandra Yamamoto (Kapolei High School)
Roadblocks to collaboration: perception of school librarian, isolated, time, trust
How to build trust with teachers? How to engage students inundated with tech (but not necessarily using effectively)? 
Teach the tech but don’t let it take over! SAMR model (with example of writing a book report)
  • Substitution—replace tech (word processing software vs pen and paper)
  • Augmentation—functionally improve tech (spell check)
  • Modification—task redesigned by tech used (use Google Slides to collaborate, include multimedia files)
  • Redefinition—task cannot be done without tech (create a book trailer—record a video and voiceover, edit in iMovie)
Focus on supporting teachers in navigating tech, which will in turn impact student learning. 
Teacher attendance in after-school PD classes dwindled, so the librarian wrote a proposal to offer PD credit (for promotions) as an incentive. Class topics based on teacher requests. The librarian models use tools, and provides examples of classroom integration. Also extends support, e.g. teach a class, review lessons integrating technology. 
People are not sure what librarians do! We are bartenders in the library. Be like Sam I Am (persistent)—what are your green eggs and ham?
Takeaways: Be creative in motivating teachers to engage. Can have great impact on students by influencing teachers. Teach teach tools that have meaningful applications. 
Keynote Speaker 3: Library Sustainability
Rebekkah Smith Aldrich,
Libraries must demonstrate their value. We need to tell the story of who we are. We have a PR problem--according to Pew Research report, 91% of people approve of the library; however, 30% are not sure what libraries do! 
It’s not about books—it’s about what’s inside (stories, knowledge).
Koch brothers fund Super PAC that intervenes in local campaigns to spread misinformation which confuses even library supporters. Outside forces are influencing local elections.
Facilitate focus groups—don’t guess! Talk to library users and library non-users.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs--as librarians, we thought we would be addressing self-actualization needs (at top), but often address bottom-level needs (at bottom).
Disruption WILL happen. Strong social fabric where people know and trust each other essential for resilient communities. Libraries’ role is “first restorer”—help people get back to normal in the aftermath of disaster.
Be strategic in delivering unique value. Service should be intensely localbuild loyalty. Communicate what your library’s website can’t.
Start With Why, Simon Sinek—talk about WHY we do instead of WHAT we do. Eg Talk about a mah-jongg program as a social opportunity, not just a game. 
Be community-focused instead of library-focused. Connect people who want to do the work to make the community a better place. Step up as sustainability leaders. 
Sustainability is where these three intersect: environmentally sound, economically feasible, socially equitable. Sustainable—endure. Resilient—bounce back. Regenerative—bring new life!
New York Library Association Sustainability Initiative. No one path. Align for impact. There is no map—use a compass.
Don’t wait to be invited to the table. Convene conversations. Be bold!

Takeaways: So much to think about—and act upon—from this presentation! I was struck by the importance of talking about WHY we do things instead of WHAT we do. So for storytime, instead of saying it’s about reading books and singing songs, I can say the library equips parents to teach foundational skills that their kids need for a lifetime of learning.