RA FOR ALL...THE ROAD SHOW!

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

Friday, November 15, 2019

ARRTCon 2019 Recap, Thank Yous, and Content Access

Yesterday the Adult Reading Round Table hosted our every other year, full day RA Conference-- ARRTCon. Click here for the schedule and details.

We were at literal capacity and had people drive from as far away as Columbus, OH and Central Indiana to join us.

To the right is a picture of that crowd taken from the back of the room by Steering Committee member Emily Vinci during Library Reads Executive Director, Rebecca Vnuk's Keynote address to start the day.

Which reminds me, I want to begin by thanking our sponsors, Library Reads, Sourcebooks, and NoveList. All sponsors provided us with presenters for the event at no cost to ARRT. Sourcebooks provided a Book Buzz [handouts will be available to all online] and brought enough ARCs from across all adult genres and nonfiction for everyone to take at least 3 home. NoveList not only sent someone to present about using themes in the database, but also paid an honorarium to our guest author, Gabino Iglesias.

Speaking of Iglesias, to say he knocked it out of the park would be an understatement. I was receiving texts and DMs during his talk from ppl in the audience praising him. To the left is the Tweet I did of the title of his keynote and a picture of him beginning that address with a reading from his book Coyote Songs.

Now to the recap of what happened at ARRTCon. I have created a single search link all of the Twitter activity during the day. Click here to pull it up. And remember you do not need to have a Twitter Account in order to view the Tweets. Taken together they serve as notes for the day. Please note however, there were 3 times during the day when there were 3 breakout sessions going on at the same time. That could make the conversation during those times, a experienced through Tweets, a little more confusing

ARRT has also created a page listing all of the presentations and break out sessions with a place to link the handouts. As of right now, not every presenter has turned in their slides, but mine are up for my presentation: #Own Voices for All Readers: Incorporating EDI Values into Readers' Advisory Service.

Save the link, or you can visit the ARRT Programs page anytime to find it later. We are hoping to have all of the slides and handouts posted by early next week.

I know not all of my readers could be there, but I hope that the Tweets, handouts and slide access will help you all get something out of the day of learning we presented yesterday.

And finally, I want to give a special thank you to the staff at the Naperville Public Library, 95th Street Branch, and in particular, their building manager, Ellen Conlin and the entire facilities staff who set up and took down all of the tables and chairs and made sure garbage cans we emptied and available. Ellen herself was pitching in throughout the day. Everything went smoothly and much of that is because of the help we received [at no cost to ARRT]. Thank you all.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Library Journal Best Books of 2019 Horror Preview

Monday, Library Journal will be unveiling there entire Best Books of 2019 website, but since I was a part of the team choosing the horror titles I have been given special permission to unveil one specific title. And I am unveiling it today because the author of said book is one of the Keynote speakers at today's ARRTCon.

[I will have a full report on what happened at ARRTCon on a separate day, including links to notes and any Twitter threads you can consult for notes.]

Yes, I am talking about Gabino Iglesias and his amazing novel Coyote Songs which is literally the first book the we considered for the Best Horror of 2019 list, partially because of how good it is, but also because it was a late 2018 title that we had to make sure was eligible [spoiler, it was because it came out AFTER last year's list was published].

Below, I am reposting my STAR review of Coyote Songs from Booklist. I cannot stress enough how amazing this book is. Not only is it lyrical, emotionally resonant, and compelling, but the issues and concerns about life at our Southern border, social justice, and how it manages to use fiction [and specifically tropes from Crime Noir and Horror] to deftly portray and explain a very complicated real life situation, left me breathless.

So congratulations a few days early to Iglesias. We will be celebrating in Naperville with 130 of his new library friends. And to the rest of you, read my review and get an order in for Coyote Songs now because come Monday when it appears on the LJ Best Horror of 2019 list, you want to be able to say that it is "on order" so you can start taking holds ASAP.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 22, 2019

What I'm Reading: Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias

Below is my star review of a small press book which appears on Booklist Online. Kudos to Booklist and my editor, Susan Maguire for agreeing to make sure this review was published despite the fact that I didn't receive the review copy until after the novel's publication date. Normally, Booklist tries to only publish reviews before a book comes out so that you have time to preorder it for your libraries, but once in awhile a book, like this one, comes out from a small press, with little or no warning, and it would be a disservice to all of you and your patrons if we did not get the review out so that you can have an easier time adding it to your collections. Thanks for the support Booklist, for me, for indie authors, for library staff, and most importantly, for readers.

The review below is not an exaggeration. This book blew me away. And please note, I have a track record of knowing what I am talking about-- see previous super early support of Bird Box (by an unknown author at the time), Gone Girl (given to me by Flynn herself months before it came out) and Cabin at the End of the World (which I read last February). 

[Speaking of Bird Box, side note: people are coming up to me everywhere [in person, online, stopping my husband at stuff for the kids where I am absent] and thanking me for telling them to read that book years ago.]


Coyote Songs.

 

Iglesias, Gabino (author).

 Oct. 2018. 212p. Broken River, paper, $15.99  (9781940885490)
First published January 18, 2019 (Booklist Online).
Iglesias, follows his Wonderland Book Award nominated debut [Zero Saints], with a brutal, beautiful, and utterly necessary story for our difficult times. Told in a collage style, he presents six distinct voices, Pedrito, The Mother, The Coyote, Jaime, Alma, and La Bruja, and in succession has each narrate their story, stories that are connected, not in the same plot, but in that together they provide a horrifying and honest portrait of life on the border- borders that separate countries, but also the borders between the living and the dead. Iglesias’ goal is to share what it is actually like to be brown, poor, and desperate, and he refuses to sugar coat it. Tension and discomfort are present on every page, from savage killings, in utero monsters, wailing witches, even the untranslated Spanish, all of it is there to make readers uncomfortable, pleading with them to understand that the people who live on the fringes are not a monolithic mass, and that they all have a face, a story, and a right to live. Told with strong narrative voices that return on a loop which intensifies the pacing, and in gorgeous prose, even when describing horrible things, this is a horror, crime and literary mashup that will challenge every reader it touches, no matter their race, political leanings, or how woke they think they are. You will flinch multiple times when reading this book, but you need to. That’s the point and that’s why it must be experienced. Give to readers who enjoy the lyrical, heartbreaking, but not hopeless works of Jennifer Clement, Tommy Orange, and Kiese Laymon.
Further Appeal: Because I knew this review would be online, I didn't have to worry about the word count [with Susan's permission] so I packed a lot in there. But I really want to stress how the story is told here. You could argue that it is a novel or a story collection. I lean toward novel because like There There, mentioned above and below, each narrator has a unique story to tell and they don't just have one chance to do it. In Coyote Songs, the narrators go in order once and then they repeat, and repeat again, etc.... There There was more random.

However, unlike There There, the storylines being told in Coyote Songs do not converge. They are unique and distinct. Together they paint one picture of a place and our current moment in time, but they are all unrelated in a literal sense.

This is an unconventional storytelling style that is hard to classify. In fact, just this week, Coyote Songs made the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Award in the Fiction Collection not the Novel category. Although I am a juror for this award, I was not involved with either of those categories. I share that personal information because as a juror, I know first hand how much vetting and verifying is done to make sure books are in the correct category.

I don't think the unconventional style will turn people away [just as it did not with There There], but since it effects how you experience the story as a reader, I think it is the most important appeal to mention.

I think the choice to tell story as a mosaic, was perfect. It heightens the unease and gives each narrator more power, more presence, and more emphasis by breaking up their stories separated by others having their chance to speak to us. All are distinct, yes, but each alone is not enough to create the feelings and the emotions Iglesias is trying to portray.

Otherwise, I think I have all of the major appeals in the review. It is a difficult, tense, uncomfortable story filled with beauty and violence. Oh, and the first chapter....one of the best opening chapters I have ever read. It is all of those things and it is brilliant. Seriously, brilliant. I had to put the book down and contemplate it after only a few pages. And, it is even more brilliant after finishing the book because you realize how perfect the first chapter introduced the entire book.

As I said on the horror blog when I made my 2018 best list and put this book at #3: Raw, honest, and beautifully written horror on the southern border. It will make you uncomfortable in every way and you cannot, will not, and should not look away.

Three Words That Describe this Book: discomfort, character centered, beautiful

Readalikes: The three authors I mentioned above are a great place to start, and those links go to their Goodreads page. I also have longer reviews of Clement's Prayers for the Stolen and Orange's There There on the blog which have more readalikes for you. Also here is a list of books Kiese Laymon wants you to read via Booklist.

Although the stories are very different, the way Coyote Songs "breaks you" emotionally as a reader is similar to Cabin at the End of the Worldby Tremblay. You are broken after reading it, but you are also glad you experienced such an amazing book that is also beautiful and thought provoking. Also like the Tremblay title, this is a genre mashup of crime, literary, and speculative.

Finally, another one of my favorite backlist horror titles is also set on and around the border of the US and Mexico-- Ghost Radio by Leopoldo Gout. The storytelling style is different [more ethereal and magical for the Gout vs more realistic with speculative elements for Iglesias], but I like both a lot, so maybe you will too.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Book Riot Looks At Readers vs Non-Readers And Life Satisfaction

Today I want to give a shoutout to an article Kelly Jensen did for Book Riot earlier this month. From the article itself:
READERS ARE MORE SATISFIED WITH THEIR LIVES THAN NONREADERS, NEW STUDY SUGGESTS

 
"Studies have shown that readers are more empathetic and that it can improve cognitive function. A new study by SuperSummary, an online resource that provides in-depth study guides, suggests reading has yet another benefit: self-identified readers are more satisfied with their lives than those who don’t identify as readers."
Jensen took the data from this survey and really dug into it, analyzing why the results came out the way they did. I really appreciated the time she took to look at possible causes and effects rather than just spit back out the data at us.

For example, she really looks at the financial side of being a reader. Readers are not inherently happier and healthier because they read, rather readers tend to be more financially stable and thus have an easier time getting access to better food. Again from her article:
"The idea that readers have better eating habits because they hold themselves in higher esteem than nonreaders fails to account for the fact that eating healthy is socially constructed and a privilege to those with time and resources."
This is just one example of what Jensen is bringing to the table. She provides insight into many of the outcomes reported by SuperSummary.

Thank you Jensen for taking the time to really dig into this study and think about it from all angles, not just the reader vs nonreader obvious point of view. We need more thoughtful, holistic looks at the massive amounts of data we currently find at our fingertips. It takes time and effort, but, as I found with Jensen's article, it is totally worth it.

There are a lot of implications for our work with readers-- at all age levels-- here. Please take some time to click through and read the entire piece. There is a zero percent chance that you won't find something to help you help your patrons, and help them immediately.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Best Books 2019: Kirkus Fiction Categories as Conversation Starters

Kirkus released their Best Fiction of 2019 lists here. They will reveal other lists-- nonfiction and other age levels-- weekly through the end of the year.

But I wanted to call out the fiction lists now because they have a really great RA application in the non traditional categories Kirkus includes.

Let me back up a second though. They have the regular categories by genre, some for which they are the gold standard [Romance] and others where they miss the mark [no horror]. But it is the inclusion of non genre categories, ones that mimic what readers may actually ask for, and as a result, transcend genre, where the Kirkus best list is most useful.

Categories like Most Memorable Fictional Families of 2019, Best 2019 Fiction to Get Your Book Club Talking, and Best 2019 Fiction Writers to Discover, are natural language options you can easily use to talk about best book options with patrons.

Sure you can offer the best by genre, but many readers [myself included] are not only looking for one genre from their "best options." Categories that are less genre dependent and more conversation starters will help you find more targeted books for your patrons but also, allow a more natural interaction with the reader in front of you.

These are also categories that can be turned into excellent book displays. "Memorable Fictional Families" alone is a holiday time display sure to get plenty of attention and one that would not be hard for you to fill out with backlist titles.

And just the conversations that the "Fiction Writers to Discover" category could begin alone is worth the price of admission here. Asking patrons and staff members what writers they "discovered" this year is an open ended question that allows the space for any type of answer and really allows a conversation about the book, author, and experiences as a reader to happen in a natural way. Answers can be turned into suggested reading lists, displays, social media posts, and more.

So take a look at the 2019 Kirkus Best Fiction Lists and start thinking about how you create conversations around the year's best at your library. You are not required to stick to genres. Yes genre labels are helpful but they are only one way to classify books. Readers [of which you are also one, don't forget that] don't only think about books through a genre lens.

You can also access the best of 2018 lists here for all categories and can use those backlist options this year too, but anything older, is not easily accessible.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Resource Alert: NYPL Blog Channels [and not just the RA focused ones]

In our profession, we are experts at borrowing from each other, or as I put it in my 10 Rules of Basic RA Service:
8. Working together is your MOST valuable resource     --both across whole staff and with other libraries
We use resources-- i.e. the work of others-- to answer questions, and no other resource is better for helping library patrons find their next good read than the work of other libraries. Why? Because no matter how big or small, no matter where they are, all of them are serving library patrons. And, the bigger libraries have more resources to help us help patrons. They have more money and more staff to create resources we can also use to help our readers.

No one is bigger in America than the NYPL.  Thankfully, they are very willing to share as much as possible with their patrons, and the world, on their website. But in particular, I am a huge fan of their "Blog Channels" page.

There are over 4 dozen curated blogs available at all times on the Blog Channels page. Some, like "Readers Den" and "Biblio File" are obvious but don't underestimate what you can use to help readers from any or all of these.

For that reason, I have included all of the blog channels for you to explore. The page is worth a bookmark for when you have some down time for both an outside the box RA Service resource and to learn more about larger library issues and even musicals!

Don't worry that your library can never create so much content. Instead focus on Rule 8 and allow NYPL to help you "work together." They are happy to help and we can show our gratitude by using their content to help our readers, wherever they may live.

Blog Channels

Explore targeted blog coverage of specific topics, programs and services across the Library.
24 Frames per Second

24 Frames per Second

Everything and anything to do with with film and film programs at the New York Public Library.
Africa and the African Diaspora

Africa and the African Diaspora

The history and culture of Africans and African descendants around the world.
Archives

Archives: Out of the Box

This blog channel explores the library’s world-class and ever-growing archival holdings. We’ll examine these unique materials and the works produced by researchers consulting them. Open the box and delve into the archives with us!
Barrier-Free Library

Barrier-Free Library

The New York Public Library strives for total accessibility, no matter what our differences may be. Join us as we move down the path toward that goal.
Biblio File

Biblio File

Your one-stop shop for blog posts across the Library about books, reading and literature. Subscribe to RSS Feed.
Career Services

Career Services: Looking for Work?

Let the Library guide your search for employment with everything from resume help to databases to classes.
Children's Literature @ NYPL

Children's Literature @ NYPL

News and highlights from the world of children's literature
Community Information

Community Information

Resources and services for residents of the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island. Can't find what you need? Also try the Community Information Search in NYPL's Best of the Web.
eReading Room

eReading Room: The future of books at NYPL

There are so many new ways to access books and other digital reading matter on personal computers and portable devices. How to keep up? Library staff offer tips and tricks to get the most out of free ebooks online and our own eNYPL 
Facing the Page

Facing the Page: Adult Learning Centers

Exploring adult literacy at the library. The voices and experiences of students and volunteer tutors.
Food for Thought

Food for Thought

Uncovering the edible NYPL in books, menus, and ephemera.
For Teachers

For Teachers

This channel highlights the opportunities and resources for teachers that are available throughout the library system. Learn more about our primary sources, professional development opportunities and student learning experiences.
Hand-Made

Hand-Made

Are you interested in sewing and knitting, book arts and letterpress printing, traditional crafts and the new DIY, sewists of yesterday and today, vintage-inspired design, and all things handmade? Then join in the conversation at Hand-Made. We'll share information on unique items from the Library's collections as well as details on Library events that cater to the curious crafter in us all.
Interviews

Interviews

We talk to patrons, authors, artists and so many other interesting people. Come hear what they have to say about libraries and reading.
LGBTQ at NYPL

LGBTQ at NYPL

Connecting you with the LGBTQ collections, programs, and expertise that The New York Public Library has to offer.
Library Stories

Library Stories

Library Stories is a video series of moving personal interviews that show what The New York Public Library means to our users, staff, donors, and communities.
Library Talks Podcast

Library Talks Podcast

Feed your brain every Sunday with the best live conversations from The New York Public Library. An eclectic mix of voices and perspectives, Library Talks features your favorite writers and the ones you’ll love next. Hosted by NYPL live event programmer, Aidan Flax-Clark.
Lifelong Learning

Lifelong Learning

Part of NYPL's Mission is to inspire lifelong learning. No matter your age, where you are in life or what new thing you are trying to learn, you can follow this channel to get suggested resources as well as support and inspiration.
LIVE from the NYPL Blog

LIVE from the NYPL Blog 

The before and afterlife of LIVE events. Learn about speakers, get background readings, interviews, clips and more. The conversation about the conversation.
Made at NYPL

Made at NYPL

In this series, we focus on projects undertaken using research collections. We hope that other researchers will build on these projects in new ways.
Musical of the Month

Musical of the Month

Each month, a libretto of an important early American musical in a variety of electronic formats, plus associated photographs, vocal scores, and the occasional audio file.
Next Chapter

Next Chapter: A 50+ Library Blog

Don't despair if you are a Boomer, or a Silent, or a Greatest — the public library is with you every step of the way! This channel covers services, programs and other items of interest for the active older adult.
NYC Neighborhoods

NYC Neighborhoods

Five boroughs, 300 square miles, 6,375 miles of streets, 8.3 million people... hundreds of neighborhoods. This channel covers the history, culture, people, hustle and bustle and goings-on of New York City.
NYPL Events

NYPL Events

With 92 locations across New York City, a lot is happening at The New York Public Library: author talks, free classes, performances, and more.
NYPL Labs

NYPL Labs

NYPL Labs is an experimental design and technology team working expand the range of interaction, interpretation, and reuse of library collections and data. Learn more
NYPL Recommends: New & Noteworthy

NYPL Recommends: New & Noteworthy

See which books we can't stop buzzing about! Check out monthly updates about the newest and most exciting titles our librarians are reading right now.
Paperless Research

Paperless Research

The New York Public Library subscribes to hundreds of online databases and other information tools. This blog channel offers tips and tricks on getting the most out of online resources.
Periodically Speaking

Periodically Speaking

A reading series providing a major venue for emerging writers to present their work while emphasizing the diversity of America’s literary magazines and the magazine collections of The New York Public Library.
Poetry Month

Poetry Month

Each April, librarians throughout NYPL post readings, discussions and events celebrating National Poetry Month, a time when publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools and poets around the country band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture.
Popular Music

Popular Music

Libraries are thought of as quiet places, but that doesn't mean the NYPL doesn't know how to rock out. This channel will highlight popular music found in the library's collections.
Preservation

Preservation

News about the Library's preservation efforts and information for those interested in preserving their own collections.
Reader’s Den

Reader’s Den

The Reader’s Den is an online book discussion group offering library readers with busy lifestyles a convenient way to connect with books and The New York Public Library. This virtual discussion is accessible 24/7.
Research at NYPL

Research at NYPL

Updates about research at The New York Public Library for scholars, academics, and researchers.
Short-Term Research Fellows

Short-Term Research Fellows

Short-Term Research Fellowships support scholars from outside the New York metropolitan area engaged in graduate-level, post-doctoral, or independent research with a demonstrated need to conduct research in the Library’s archival and special collections.
SpecialCollections.txt

SpecialCollections.txt

Exploring the digital space of the Special Collections Division, our work with digitized and born-digital material, and the systems that make this work possible.
Spotlight on the Public Domain

Spotlight on the Public Domain

Learn about NYPL's Public Domain Release. Discover the collections and find inspiration for using them in your own research, teaching, and creative practice. 
The Librarian Is In Podcast

The Librarian Is In Podcast

The Librarian Is In is the New York Public Library's podcast about books, culture, and what to read next.
The Ticketless Traveler

The Ticketless Traveler

Travel the world without leaving your chair with these book, film and music recommendations.
Women's History Month

Women's History Month

In honor of Women's History Month, each March, NYPL librarians present a monthlong series of posts highlighting the many amazing women they've discovered through the print and online resources of The New York Public Library.
World Languages

World Languages

Information about library collections and services in Spanish, French, Chinese and Russian.
Across A Crowded Room

Across A Crowded Room: A Musical Theater Songwriting Series

This blog series provides commentary on the musical theater songwriting event we're holding over at acrossacrowdedroom.nypl.org
All Possible Worlds

All Possible Worlds: Conversations on Voltaire's 'Candide'

Based on the past exhibition Candide at 250: Scandal and Success, this blog traces the vectors Voltaire's book has taken through the popular and scholarly imagination.
Design by the Book

Design by the Book

From vintage valentines and textile patterns to fabric samples and turn-of-the-century menus from around the world, The New York Public Library holds a wealth of unexpected sources of inspiration for artists and designers.
Duke Jazz Series

Duke Jazz Series

This channel provides coverage of and context for The Duke Jazz Series and Talks that took place at the Library for the Performing Arts.
The Great American Revue

The Great American Revue

Revues and other topical popular entertainment of the early 20th century.
Three Faiths

Three Faiths

Librarians, curators, programmers, educators, and users share their thoughts on faith, and discuss the past exhibition Three Faiths.
Vandamm

Vandamm

This channel is inspired by the exhibition at the Library for the Performing Arts, Poet of Light: Florence Vandamm & the Vandamm Studio, which was on view from September 2013 through February 2014. The exhibition samples the photographs, key sheets and negatives are becoming available in Digital Collections.