Stock Your RA Pantry means that these are posts about how to give yourself a leg up for when we get back to normal, by doing some work now. I will be providing ideas and insight into how you can use the resources we have coupled with some extra time, the time we never have when we are also helping patrons, to give ourselves a stockpile of knowledge, resources, and information that we can immediately draw upon when we are back to public service.
Today's post is about something very familiar. So much is different but a few things can go on without much adjustment, like our regular journal reading.
Whether you are someone who orders items for your library or not, there is reason to be excited that you can get access to all the major journals online for free right now.
First, let's begin with the links on how you access them, and then I will write about why you should care, especially if you are NOT someone who orders for your collections [which is probably more of my readers than not].
Use these links to access the journals for free; both their online content that was previously behind a paywall and full digitized print issues:
- Booklist: Just go to the website and everything is available without a login
- Library Journal: Go to this page for the FREE ACCESS login info
- Publishers Weekly: Full info here and they have an app if you prefer that
Now, if you do collection development this access and its use is obvious. You can continue as you normally would reading the reviews and placing orders. However, I want to make sure everyone who reads this blog understands that there is something here for them too.
All three of these journals, but especially Booklist and Library Journal are also a great resource for you to keep yourself in the know when it comes to helping leisure readers.
A great place to start is with reading the reviews. Many of you might not have had the print issues circulate your way in the course of your jobs, but now, they can come right to your computer screen. Reading reviews, even if you never order items for a collection is an excellent way to stay in the know when it comes to current releases, trends, and readalike options.
Reading reviews allows you to think about what type of reader you would give the book to, exposes you to more authors and titles than you could ever read on your own, and gives you a sense of the broader landscape of what is coming out at the moment. It is also much easier to spot trends when you have a broader scope to look through. You will never read all the books, but you CAN read the reviews of quite a few of them. When I taught the RA class at the MSLIS program, I had a lecture on using reviews as a resource to help readers that I gave to every student each semester. I still hear back from former students that it was one of the most useful things I taught them.
After getting caught up with reviews of upcoming titles, you can move on to coverage of the genres. This is the best time to get yourself in genre shape. Begin with those genres with which you are least comfortable. Do a search on a genre and read the articles and lists that have been recently written about them. Library Journal does genre overviews regularly and Booklist has a spotlight on at least 1 genre or format in every issue, meaning once a year they get through just about everything.
Moving on, these two journals both offer free webinars on a variety of topics. Click here for Booklist access and here for Library Journal [under each category you can choose upcoming or past].
Finally, stay connected with all of the news in the entirety of the book world by checking in with all three each day. The books are still coming out, conversations about books are still happening, and when we do finally all get back to our libraries we are going to be swamped with work. Use this time to catch up on you personal backlog of knowledge. Get yourself in the best shape of your life when it comes to your knowledge about the book world, especially when it comes to the current state of the genres.