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

Friday, July 13, 2018

Library Reads: August 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

    August 2018 LibraryReads


    by Christina Dalcher

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

    Our House

    by Louise Candlish

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


    by Susanna Kearsley

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

    Good Luck with That

    by Kristan Higgins

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

    The Masterpiece: A Novel

    by Fiona Davis

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

    The Other Woman: A Novel

    by Sandie Jones

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

    Rust & Stardust: A Novel

    by T. Greenwood

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

    Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding

    by Rhys Bowen

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

    Meet Me at the Museum: A Novel

    by Ann Youngson

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

    A River of Stars: A Novel

    by Vanessa Hua

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

    Thursday, July 12, 2018

    How to Use RA for All: Tags!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Wednesday, July 11, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Tuesday, July 10, 2018

    How to Use RA for All: Call to Action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Monday, July 9, 2018

    How to Use RA for All: A Primer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Friday, July 6, 2018

    Trending: Australian Thrillers and Cli-Fi

    There are two trends I wanted to alert you to, and both come with links to make a display either in the library or online [or both].

    First, via BookPage, the popularity of Jane Harper’s thrillers is leading toward American audience to seek out more Australian thrillers. Thankfully there are plenty, as Harper herself points out in this article with an annotated list of books.

    If you are a NoveList subscriber, this emerging trend pairs perfectly with their expansion into Australia. They have expanded their Australian authors, titles, and information and it is available to all users no matter where they live.

    Second, via, well just about everywhere, the sub genre of SF known as Climate Fiction or Cli-Fi is now fully emerged. Heck, it even has its own Wikipedia article. Click here, here, and especially here [for a recurring column devoted to the topic] for some great articles explaining the subgenre with lists of titles. And my favorite resource for emerging genres, click here for the Goodreads crowdsourced list of titles tagged Cli-Fi by readers themselves.

    And there you go, some new lists to work with as you get ready for another week to begin.

    Thursday, July 5, 2018

    Stage a Discussion About “The Great American Novel” at your Library

    Click here for the annotated list
    With the popularity of the PBS series The Great American Read and all of the book conversation it has sparked, there has been a tangential discussion going on in book circles about the idea of “The Great American Novel.”

    I think the week of Independence Day is a good time to bring this up both to discuss and because it makes a great interactive display.

    What is “The Great American Novel?” There are many ways to look at this question. Lit Hub has had a quite a few pieces worth your time on the topic. Click here to see their coverage. Specifically they had this wonderful list of 9 Great American Novels by Authors Born in Other Countries, a list which includes one of my all time favorite novels, The Sympathizer.

    The concept of "The Great American Novel" has long been a favorite topic for literary fodder. These are just recent examples. Let’s jump on the holiday and the PBS program and make this discussion interactive. As I have been posting for the last few months, your RA service needs to be more interactive. Click here to get up to speed on this concept.

    So here is my suggestion to keep the Independence Day spirit going a bit longer. Why not put up a “Great American Novel Display?” Use the links I provided above to get it started, but then add an interactive element. Either ask people to find a title on the shelf and add it to the display or have slips of paper that people can write down their “GAN.” You can post them on a bulletin board or dry erase board or jut tape them to a wall or window or just collect them in a voting box. Seriously, no excuses. Everyone can figure out some way to get interactive here.

    Here’s why this is such a great idea: not only does this interactive element allow your patrons to be a part of their service [again, click here to see why this is so important] but also, you get to see their opinion.  We want to serve all of our patrons well, but if we never ask them to tell us what they think, want, or like, how do we really know we are serving them as best as we can? Also seeing their votes allows us to also see where their personal gaps are. What books would they love if only they knew about them? It is a wonderful opportunity for us to improve our service to them.

    We need to ask them to participate if ew want to reach our full potential. Many of them don’t think they are allowed to. We need to make is easy and clear that we want to know what they think.

    Also this display has the added bonus of allowing you to stage another display-- one that takes into account all of the titles your patrons submitted. For example, if my library staged this display I would suggest a whole bunch of alternative history titles like Dread Nation or River of Teeth. These are books that may be set on a different time line than our real work, but both say a great deal about America. To me there are GAN’s, just slightly askew ones.

    That’s just one example of the surprises you may receive. But no matter what happens, you will engage your patrons and learn more about what they are seeking.

    Give it a try. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain.

    Tuesday, July 3, 2018

    More Best of the Year So Far

    A few weeks ago I had this post about what a wonderful resource "best books of the year so far” lists can be. Today I saw another one worth pointing out-- Book Riot’s Best Books of 2018 So Far which is well indexed and easy to surf by genre and age level. I even includes a comics category.

    Add this to your "best books" arsenal and use it like I described here to help readers. Best books lists are a great secret weapon since readers will trust our recommendations even more as long as someone liked the book. Finding it on a “best” list is that “someone” who liked it. Truly, it is this easy. Again, I explain this in more detail in this post from last month.

    My only problem with this specific Book Riot resource is that I cannot figure out how to find the previous year’s best list archives; however, Book Riot has so many “best” lists all of the time, from best of each month, to best of each genre, to completely random best categories that you can easily use it to help people; they have multiple lists every day. Finding the “archive” may not be a useful proposition in this case. Instead, just click here for a wide variety of “best” options using their #Lists for 24/365 access to an ever expanding depository of “best lists.” I promise there is enough there to help even the most stubborn or difficult to please reader.

    Have a nice mid-week July 4h Holiday. I’ll be back on Thursday.

    Monday, July 2, 2018

    Library Journal July 1 Cover Story is Horror....by ME!

    Back in February, I began talking to Library Journal about doing a genre spotlight for horror. They were very receptive. We talked about first half of 2019 preview coming out in November, but the editorial board loved the idea so much they wanted to push up the spotlight to the July 1 issue for a second half of 2018 focus. 

    I found this out in April and had to work very quickly to pull the article together by the middle of May. Well, I did it and as it went through edits, everyone was so excited about it and about horror that  they were thinking of making it the July 1, 2018 cover story. And then NPR made their summer books horror based, and well, I became Library Journal’s favorite person.

    And here we are, a preview of horror books [!] is the cover story on an issue of Library Journal. Of course I am happy for me for getting a cover story in the biggest library periodical there is, but honestly, I am even happier for the genre. This is a coup for all of those genre authors who get no respect- both the ones in the article and not.

    Please stop telling me no one likes horror. Read the article so you can see the very best of what is on the horizon. I have the opening below with a link to the full piece.

    Finally, I would like to personally single out authors Paul Tremblay and Stephen Graham Jones, both award winning authors and scholars of the genre. When Library Journal asked me to justify some of my claims for the trends I turned to these two men who I know and respect. Both are extremely busy and I felt terrible asking them to drop everything to give me quick quotes but I also knew I would get thoughtful and well founded statements that would help all of you to help your patrons better. To both of their credits, they responded immediately and as eloquently as I anticipated. So a personal thank you to these brilliant and kind men who do so much to entertain us and promote the genre that they love. You can read a snippet of their comments in the piece.

    Here is the opening:

    and growing popularity, horror can be a tricky genre for librarians to recommend confidently. A 2014 survey, developed by LJ with NoveList and the RUSA CODES Readers’ Advisory Research and Trends Committee, revealed that library workers had quite a bit of anxiety about providing readers’ advisory (RA) in unfamiliar genres. When they were asked which genres they were most intimidated by, horror was one of the top four. To help ease that worry, last May I wrote “Making Horror Less Scary” as part of an LJ series of “Readers’ Advisory Toolkits.”

    Click here to read the entire piece. All of the ISBN numbers are at the end to make it easier for you to place all of your orders now.

    Friday, June 29, 2018

    ALA Annual Conference Report: Call to Action-- Go to a Conference, Any Conference

    Today I am combining my final ALA wrap up conference report with a Call to Action. Every single time I go to a conference, from national to state to even just a 1 day thing [like our every other year ARRT full day programs], I return inspired. Heck, I get inspired running other people’s in-service days and I am the trainer.

    This is because conferences, large meetings, in service days, these are all times when you get to be surrounded by like minded people, outside of your normal work routine, to talk about the very best of the work we do and how to improve it. It’s inspiring. But it is also a great way to recharge and rethink.

    While I had a great time at ALA Annual, you can get much of the same effect [on a smaller scale of course] without leaving home for a week. So today, I am going to do a wrap up of the more “fun” things I did at conference, but as you will see, all of them turned into an experience that enhanced my work life in some way. It’s not like I tried to turn every thing I did into work, but you just can’t help it. And I think that the best work gets done when you are looking at things from a different perspective anyway.

    I will recount a few things I did and there are also pictures to go with these things at the end of the post.

    Publisher Dinners: I went to two of these. Saturday night, Sourcebooks hosted a small group to have dinner with Susanna Kearsley author of the wonderful, forthcoming Bellewether. [Click here to see my comments about this book which will be a HUGE hit at libraries.] I was seated next to a librarian from NY who I had never met before. We had wonderful conversation about RA service and specific books. He was someone I certainly would not have met without this dinner. I passed his info on to a RUSA CODES committee member [with his permission] so we could get him move involved. So yes, I had a lovely free dinner and met an author of a wonderful book, but this connection with Ralph will pay the largest dividends.

    Monday night I had dinner with Virginia from Library Lovefest [Harper Collins] with Lou Berney author of the forthcoming November Road. At this event I sat at a table with colleagues I mostly knew, but some I hadn’t seen in a years. And Lou was very kind and interesting. The book will be a huge hit. It is a thriller with a lot of frame and fascinating characters. Click here for details on the book. We also learned that the story is based off of his own mother and his two older sisters.

    Both dinners provided the best chance I had to network and really talk to colleagues. We were settled in and not rushing between meetings. We could have substantial conversations, pick each others’ brains, and really discuss things. These were events that will effect me and even our entire community of RA library workers in the future.

    NoveList: On Saturday night I attended the Carnegie Awards reception which is always a good time, but this year I sat at the Novelist table. Duncan Smith who is the founder of NoveList and a good friend is transitioning into a part-time consultant role with EBSCO, so this was his last time being the face of the company he created. You can see a picture of him giving his remarks at the start of the ceremony. I spent most of the evening talking with Duncan and other NoveList staff who I work for and with about the future of the organization. I currently have two projects in the works for them. I will post particulars here on the blog when appropriate. However, I can tell you with 100% certainty, the company is in excellent hands. NoveList will continue to be a wonderful resource in the years moving forward.

    I even arranged a post event meeting between Danielle Borasky, the new head, with Steve Thomas so they could chat about doing an interview for Circulating Ideas.

    Networking with friends old and new: Speaking of Steve, I did have a report on his panel here yesterday. But Steve, myself, and two other librarians arranged to hang out in the French Quarter Sunday evening for some gumbo. One of the women, I had never met before and she was very interesting [a former LJ Mover and Shaker]. All four of us had great conversation about libraries, books, and the like. Then I convinced them all that we HAD to go on a vampire themed historical walking tour of the French Quarter. Our tour guide was fantastic. She talked at length about vampire legends in NOLA but also studied vampire mythology throughout the world in college. She shared so much knowledge about vampire legends and their portrayal in popular culture. Look, even I learned a bunch so you know it was good. You can see us with our faces covered below. My dinner turned into horror research, a nice bonus of being in NOLA.

    Exploring a Different Place:  We can all gain benefit from being somewhere different. I know when I am in a new or different place, I pay attention to everything a lot more closely. It is easy to coast when you are in your regular routine. Getting out of your regular workplace to learn, even if only for a half a day, is a good break for your brain. If you are like me, you will be more receptive to new ideas. At the very least, you will be energized by the change. I took time on the final afternoon to really walk around and be a little bit of a tourist. I have been to NOLA before but it has been many years. I have a few pictures to show that below.

    Going to a conference may seen like a vacation to some, but you work hard every minute of every day. I was exhausted when I got home on Tuesday afternoon and I didn’t know why, until I realized I had worked 9 days straight without a break. I did relax a little on Wednesday morning, but honestly, I will probably go 12 days without a break. So, that little bit of time I took Monday afternoon to explore and take in the city with a friend was important for me to reflect on what I learned, what I will do with that information when I return, and how I will move forward in the coming months.

    So that is my report on the less obvious things I took away from ALA Annual this year. I also joined the RUSA CODES Research and Trends Committee [effective 7/1/18] and had a meeting about another new venture that can’t be discussed yet. These things are also important because they needed me to be there in person for them to happen.

    There are many reasons to go to any conference. Yes, ALA Annual is a big one and not everyone can afford to go either because of the money or even the time away from your library, but this post is to remind you that everyone benefits by finding some convention, conference, meeting, etc to attend.

    I am very luck that I started going to conferences as a student working in a law library. I joined the Chicago Association of Law Librarians and went to one of the early Computers in Libraries Conferences for 1 day when it was in Chicago. My law library sent me because I had the best mentor, Nancy, who knew I wanted to be a public librarian and wanted to teach me all she could about the profession. I will never forget Nancy, and am forever thankful for her instilling an importance in going to conferences in me, but I know not all of you have people like that in your lives, so I hope to be your mentor from far away.

    That’s why I write the blog, and specifically this week of posts. I am reaching out to all of you to be a mentor, to help you to improve. This Call to Action is part of that. I urge you all to find a conference you CAN attend. If you are having trouble finding something regionally or one that works with your time and budget constraints, contact me and I can put you in touch with someone in your area.

    Enjoy the pictures and have a nice weekend. I am back on Monday with some big news!

    But in the meantime, look for a conference to sign up for.

    For past Call to Action Posts click here.

    Author Lou Berney promoting November Road
    at a dinner sponsored by Harper Collins’ Library Lovefest
    Duncan Smith of NoveList at Carnegie Awards
    Me [in striped dress] and some conference friends
    right before we did the Haunted History tour of French Quarter
    Lunch with Robin, Magan, and Megan

    Couldn’t visit without a stop
    Took a moment to just take it all in

    Thursday, June 28, 2018

    ALA Conference 2018 Report: Podcasting, Book Buzzing and More

    For today’s conference report, I am going to give shorter reports on some of the better presentations I attended. I will be linking to the notes I took on Twitter which you will be able to access with or without an account. I am also not going in order of my attendance at these programs, rather I am grouping like things. Finally, this is not everything I did, but the ones that I think you will all get the most out of.

    I want to begin with So You want to Podcast Featuring these talented people:

    Photo from American Libraries
    There is already a write up of the program on the American Libraries Magazine webpage which you can access here and which has this info about the panelists you see there although I rearranged the text from the article into the order these people are standing l-r:
    T is for Trainingthe invention of Harford County (Md.) Public Library Technical Trainer Maurice Coleman, has been in existence for 10 years. “Sitting on the floor and talking to people, that’s where I got my education,” says Coleman. “I wanted to replicate that.”
     Angela Ocana, who cohosts her almost-one-year-old graphic novel- and manga-themed podcast One Panel Later with fellow teen librarian Kelly Quinn Chiu, says “it’s just a labor of love for us.” The two now collaborate across state lines since Ocana took a library job in Oregon. 
    For Sara Benson, copyright librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and creator of Copyright Chat, it was about sharing her expertise: “I love copyright, and I find it very accessible, but a lot of people don’t. I try to aim [Copyright Chat] at librarians, or really anyone.” 
    Steve Thomas, branch manager with Gwinnett County (Ga.) Public Library, has been producing the Circulating Ideas podcast for about seven years. He had been listening to a lot of podcasts when he decided enter the arena, with a premise of “if Terry Gross talked to librarians.” 
    I put my live Tweets from the program into one thread here but here are a few I want to highlight and some comments I want to share:

    • First thing I noticed right away, even before the program started, these people are amazing at banter and chatting. Duh, I know, but I commented that ALA should think about finding people who are good at presenting information and themselves verbally to be on as many panels as possible. Seriously, like give these people, and others like myself, free conference registration and make us work moderating panels, introducing speakers, and keeping things on track. There are many times that an experienced speaker can make a program better by moderating. It is not others’ fault that they did something awesome they want to share but are bad at presenting. Sometimes I think what would be an informative conference program tanks not because the information isn’t useful and inspiring but because the delivery is poor. There are plenty of us out there who could help though. 
    • I very much appreciated how the panel had a diversity of experience both in length of time they have been podcasting AND in their subject matter. They also all have a different style which was nice to see. There is no 1 type of podcast that you can do as a library worker. You can do anything as long as you are committed to it and passionate about it.
    • The comment that if you are doing a podcast to get famous, don’t. It is a lot of work and you need to have a passion for it to keep going.
    • At the end, I got up and asked about how they pay for the podcast. I am friends with Steve so I know he gets advertisers and has done a lot of fundraising. He is committed to not using his own money for this, to keeping it professional. I wanted to know how the others fund their podcasts. Sara does it through the University, but Maurice and Angela pay out of pocket. As Angela said to me, “I work to feed my podcast habit.” I get this, but it makes me upset. We already have to work so hard as a profession to demand that we are paid for our work, this attitude does not help. Yes the podcasts get made and help people, but we are not helping the problem we have created. We do not value our own work enough to demand we are compensated for it. I love what I do, but I demand I am paid for it. Some libraries are upset that I won’t travel across the country and train them for free. Some in my area continually ask me to come but won’t pay me my very fair rate. Sorry. Read the blog if you want free. What I do is a professional service. I need to be paid for it.
    Read my entire live Tweet feed though because I have stats and other comments that I didn’t mention above and are not in the article. It was a good one. I am glad I went to it. I learned quite a bit.

    My next group of programs were all of the book buzz or awards variety. I am mostly going to direct you to the live tweeting I did.

    First I want to highlight the Literary Tastes breakfast which honors some of the winners of RUSA’s Books and Media Awards [link to all winners past and present here].  Here is the link to the full live Tweeting thread with pictures of the authors and their books. It was inspiring with more than one author breaking down. And shockingly, Scott Brick had the most emotional moment. Everyone agreed. Click through to read about it. It brought the room to tears.

    I also went to a Mystery Buzz featuring a few authors. I put each author’s comments in their own thread. If you click on the author you will see my notes:

    On Monday morning I went to the LibraryReads breakfast. I did not live Tweet it because I was also prepping for my talk [reported here]. Here are the details of who appeared:
    Now the only way to start your last NOLA day, LibraryReads brings you the Monday Book-a-licious author breakfast! Hear from this year's slate of authors whose new books are soon to be the most popular with you and your patrons! Sarah McCoy, author of Marilla of Green Gables (William Morrow/HarperCollins); Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy, An American Memoir (Scribner/Simon & Schuster); Somayia Daud, author of Mirage (Flatiron Books/Macmillan); Tim Johnston, author of The Current (Algonquin Books/Workman); Leif Enger, author of Virgil Wander (Atlantic Monthly Press). 
    Here is a picture I took of my friend Magan with the stack of books mentioned above:

    I do want to make a general comment about the presentations. McCoy was good. Laymon and Daud were amazing. Enger was also good. But Jonston did not prepare and rambled and was not very nice to Rebecca Vnuk [although she held her own] and... I could go on but I will stop. Just saying.

    Finally here is a link to all of the PW ALA Conference articles which has a lot of conference coverage.

    Tomorrow I will be back with some general comments and observations to wrap up the week.

    Wednesday, June 27, 2018

    ALA Annual 2018 Report: LibraryReads 101

    One of the programs I was most excited to attend at ALA Annual was Library Reads 101. As my readers know, I love LibraryReads, but I have also never been afraid to provide the group with constructive criticism. Since the steering committee hired their first Executive Director, Rebecca Vnuk, I knew the entire organization was committed to making meaningful tweaks to this wonderful program, and I wanted to be there to her all about it.

    Before I start my recap you can see the color slides here or the black and white pdf for easy printing here.

    The program began with the why you should participate. I have found that this is the highest hurdle to getting people to be a part of the process. Seriously, as I travel the country and try to convince library workers to participate, it is harder for me to convince them why their voice is needed. Once they start and realize how easy and fun it is, they never stop.

    I really appreciate the time the panel spent on this WHY. Here is the slide with the bullet points:

    Now, let me elaborate a bit. The things on this slide are important, but I have heard these and passed them on to you many times. The panelists shared some other tidbits that really got me excited, so I thought I would pass them on to you.

    Stephen mentioned one reason right at the beginning that I loved-- The kid and YA book world are so good at creating excitement. Adult books rarely reach that level of excitement. Adults deserve some excitement too. Who better to do this than us? We are the adult book pushers. That is why we have LibraryReads.

    Speaking of, at its outset 5 years ago [!] LR was a little loose about including YA, but they are very strict now about not allowing it. They want to focus on fiction and nonfiction meant for adults. Adults deserve great reads as much as kids. We are the book experts who can lead them there.

    Speaking of excitement, I learned another great reason to participate, actually it was my favorite and the MOST important [in my opinion]-- the reason the nomination deadlines are so early is because the publishers want to be ready to promote the book WE are so excited about. Yes, they actually do care what we like because there is now hard data that the publisher see a clear boost in orders for the books that make he list.

    Please do not underestimate this as a reason to participate. We are making our collective voice heard. Sometimes we identify a book that the publishers were not planning on pushing too hard, but then when they see we loved it, they literally switch gears and get behind that title, big time. Guys, this is important information.

    I know I have been encouraging you NOT to vote for the big names, but rather put your votes behind less mainstream, more inclusive titles, but all without proof that it would make a difference with the publishers. Now I have proof. [I also have more to say about the big author issue below.]

    The fourth bullet point-- “Enhance your RA skills”-- is also a big one and the panel spent a lot of time on that one later in the program, but first let me share the easy “how-to” participate that the panel shared.

    Please use the links above to follow the easy step by step screen shots on how to participate but again I have a few comments to add:

    • You can vote for books coming out in any month. Yes, you can vote for books for the next list, but you can also vote for a book for a list not due out for months from now. There is no limit to how early you can vote, just how late you can.
    • You have to click “REVIEW” to vote. But, you do not have to actually review it. What you need to do in the “review” dialog box is go to the top right corner of the box where you could write a review and click on “Submit to.”
    • “Submit to” is what a vote is. So you would choose “LibraryReads” if you want to vote for it.
    • You can also “Submit to" the publisher at the same time. “Publisher” is a box you can check. You can check as many boxes as you want. 
    • I honestly was “meh” on sharing with the publisher and wasn’t going to advocate either way for you, until....
    • ...the day after this program I was chatting with Golda, the library marketing person for Norton, and she said she wished that more LibraryReads voters shared their votes with her. She wants to know [good and bad] how library workers feel about the books she has on her list. It helps her to promote the correct books to our audience and she can share our thoughts with the larger corporate structure. She has no idea how we feel about titles that don’t make the LR list unless we tell her. Please share with the publisher.
    This final bullet point was a mind blow for me. I never thought of Golda’s point from the larger perspective. Only 10 books can be on the LR list each month, but hundreds of books garner votes. However, unless we choose to share our vote with the publisher, they don’t see those runners up.

    As I reported earlier, the publishers have seen our voice makes a difference in sales for the “winners,” but what about those titles that still get a lot of votes, titles the publisher wasn’t really focused on previously, but that don’t win. Well, if we let them know with every single vote by clicking the “Submit to” publishers box every time we click “LibraryReads,” well, we can make our voice heard on even more titles.

    Thanks to Golda for this important insight. 

    Now back to the “Reviews.” Many people tell me they can’t possibly write such eloquent annotations  for the books as the ones they see on the final list. But guess what I found out...no one can! Ha. If you want the chance to have your review show up on the list, Lynn had some great advice.

    First, there are many slides in the presentation devoted to how to write better annotations, beginning with this one:

    Slides 12-20 go into great detail about how to write a great LR annotation.

    But here’s the thing, the second thing I learned-- just try your best. It is great way to practice your RA skills. Use their advice in these slides to try to capture why you are so excited about this book. The practice alone is worth it.


    Seriously, I didn’t know this either. Lynn is one of the Steering Committee members whose job it is to go through all of the submitted “reviews” for the winners and identify ones that are promising. She then works with the person who submitted it to edit the annotation. This is great for two reasons. First, Lynn said they find the person who is very excited and who has good reasons, first. The enthusiasm is key. Then they can work together on the exact wording. And second, the LR annotations can have a general standard which makes them a better resource going forward because a steering committee member is involved.

    Since the LR Steering Committee merely oversees the entire LR voting process and do not have any say on who wins, this is where they can help make their mark on the list as a valuable resource in perpetuity.

    So while I will not make a stand here to tell my readers they MUST do a review in order to vote. I did like learning that anything you add might get you tagged to work on writing the official review and, most importantly, you will be helped through the process. Every annotation you see has been edited. So don’t be afraid you aren’t “good” enough at writing them. Give it a try. You might get your annotation up on the list. But before you try, I highly suggest using slides 12-20 to get you started and headed in the correct direction.

    The program then moved into ways you can use LR for Collection Development and RA. Again click here to see slides 18 and 19 where this is addressed. Many of the things Rebecca talked about here are things that I have mentioned many times on this blog but I think she summed it up making the following points which I tweeted out:

     LR wants to help you be better at your job. You cannot possibly read every book, but by using the list, you can know about a lot more of them. And in this case, they are “pre-approved” by your colleagues.
    The panel ended by reminding us that this fall marks LibraryReads 5th Anniversary. Wow! And now with Rebecca as the first paid employee of the organization, many changes are coming.

    A few changes like making the voting even easier and revamping the website are obvious, but two big changes I want to talk about really speak to the feedback and constructive criticism I, and others, have been giving them.

    The first one is HUGE. LR is going to create a “Hall of Fame” list of authors. This addresses the issue of the big name authors getting so many of the votes. Since LR is strictly based on who gets the most votes, it makes sense that better known authors with a new book will garner a lot of votes. Many library workers don’t realize that they are diluting the votes for the smaller titles when they vote for people like Louise Penny. Who doesn’t love Louise Penny? We are all excited when she has a new book, but that is the point...we all know about her.

    So rather than not letting you vote for authors like Penny, you can still send all your love for them. However, authors who always end up on the list [there will be some rules about this] will be acknowledged as LR “Hall of Fame” for that month. They will still get to be a LR pick. BUT, they will not take up a top 10 spot. This frees up another spot on the list for a less well known author. This is brilliant. Now authors big and small can still get the recognition they deserve. I am beyond happy about this change.

    And second, LR is going to start expanding their reach beyond the list. They will begin offering programming both in person regionally and online with the ultimate goal of LR also reaching out to all of the regional organizations that provide RA CE [like ARRT] so that LR can act as a single clearinghouse where library workers can go to see all of their options for training, all over the country, in one place.

    After listening to the program I asked a question that came up during the presentation. It was mentioned by a panelist that it is very hard to get some of the smaller publishers onto Edelweiss or NetGalley so they can be eligible for the monthly list. As LR works right now you can ONLY be on the list if your titles are on those platforms. Now, LR is looking into other ways to include smaller presses, but it appears that the biggest hurdle for the smaller presses is that the member fees for Edelweiss and NetGalley are cost prohibitive. So when the question portion came I asked the panel what we could do as library workers to help these smaller publishers. How can we advocate for them and ask Edelweiss lower their fees? Those of us in the room brainstormed a few ideas. One idea we all liked was to encourage them to adopt a “per capita” model like databases do for libraries, where we pay based on our population. The LR Steering Committee promised to think about it and get out some ideas to all of us. I trust them because many of the other concerns I have passed on to them over the last 5 years are being addressed. They listen.

    As you can see, there was a lot of very useful information in this 101 program. I highly recommend you take some time to look at the slides, consider this additional information in my report, and then start participating in LibraryReads because Library Reads is us.