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, February 28, 2014

Women in Horror Month Ends Today

Those of you who follow the Horror Blog know that I was participating  in Women in Horror Recognition Month all February long.

To mark the end of the celebration, here are a list of links you may have missed.

  • Here is the link to every post I did for WiHM.
  • Here is the link to the index of my partner, Monster Librarian’s posts.
  • Here is the link to the specific post I did for Monster Librarian entitled, “Discovery of Women Horror Writers for Public Library Collections.” This is probably the most useful post of the bunch for the vast majority of RA for All readers.
  • Here is an amazing list of 60 African American Women in Horror that you can read right now, for free, on Smashwords.  It combines the 2 celebrations that occurred this past month beautifully.
  • Here is the link to the Horror Writers Association’s coverage of WiHM.
  • Finally, here is the official WiHM webpage.

Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to support and promote female horror writers this month.

Now, after a month of trying to run 2 blogs on a regular schedule, I will get back to focusing on this blog.  Look for a major catch-up on reviews in the coming week.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

NoveList’s RA News: March 2014

Although I wouldn’t know it by the weather, March is just around the corner and so too is the March issue of NoveList’s RA News.

Click here for access to this issue, focused on Women’s History Month.

And, click here for access to past issues.  Remember, you do not need to have access to NoveList in order to read these helpful articles.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

In Memoriam: Gail Lofgren

Today we found out that the former library director of the Berwyn Public Library died at home.  That she died was not a shock.  Although she was not very old, I knew she was quite ill and would not be pulling through. But her death did make me think back to the mark she made on Berwyn, a mark that trickled out to the rest of the library world.

Let me explain.  Most of you have not heard of Gail. She was a powerhouse in Berwyn, running the library and serving on many community boards. But in terms of her reach into the larger library community, at first glance her reach seems very local.

However, Gail was always an independent thinker. Back in 2000, she knew the adults of Berwyn were not being served well when it came to their leisure reading needs.  She shook up the library, a library where most of the employees lived in the community, or if they lived outside the borders of Berwyn, they had roots and ties to Berwyn for decades.  She reached out and searched for people to run a new department that would only provide adult leisure reading help.  And she took a chance staring this new Readers Advisory Department hiring 2 librarians who hadn’t even finished their degrees yet, 2 librarians with roots far from Berwyn (NJ and NM), 2 librarians who had no track record, 2 librarians who shared her passion for service.

Those 2 librarians were me and Tammy.  Tammy is now our the BPL’s Director, and I am here.  I wasn’t even sure if RA was all I wanted to do when I went to Berwyn, but it was too good of an opportunity to turn down.  Gail gave us the room to make the RA Department what we wanted it to be.  She gave me a place to grow and learn to the point at which now I am writing the textbooks, leading the RA seminars, and writing an RA blog that is listed in textbooks. I went from not being sure, to an expert.

So, no Gail might not be mentioned as a force in the library community.  But she was.  She gave me a chance, my first chance.  She believed in me.  She believed in RA when very few libraries had a staff devoted solely to it.

I think of the hundreds of librarians I have trained to provide quality RA service.  I think of the thousands of patrons who have been better served because of the training I gave those people.  And I am proud to be one of the many people who loudly trumpets the RA horn throughout the library world.  

But where would RA be today without Gail starting this train in motion?  Even scarier, where would I be?  I am glad those are questions I don’t have to answer.  Thank you Gail.  Rest in peace.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Best American Series for Science Fiction and Fantasy

This week the Best American Series, published by Houghton Mifflin, announced that they have started a brand new series to go with their extensive catalog of books that annually highlight the best in American Short Fiction and Nonfiction.  The new series will be-- The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy.

From the official press release:
The Best American series is the premier annual showcase for the country’s finest short fiction and nonfiction. Each volume’s series editor selects notable works from hundreds of magazines, journals, and websites. A special guest editor—a leading writer in the field—then chooses the best twenty or so pieces to publish. This unique system has made the Best American series the most respected—and most popular—of its kind. 
Now, with Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy, series editor John Joseph Adams will curate a new anthology series that will demonstrate what science fiction and fantasy literature is capable of—that will demonstrate that science fiction and fantasy is more than just retreads of Star Trek and Star Wars, that it is the genre of Flowers for Algernon and Fahrenheit 451, of The Man in the High CastleThe Book of the New Sun, and A Canticle for Leibowitz, that it is the genre of Wild Seed and The Left Hand of Darkness, and of Little, Big and The Sparrow and Dhalgren
Fans of the genres know that the finest science fiction and fantasy is on par with the finest works of literature in any genre, and the goal of this anthology series is to prove it.
The 2015 volume will collect the best material published in 2014, selected by series editor John Joseph Adams and guest editor Joe Hill.
Click through for more information.

First, a general note about the over all series.  “The Best American” series is perfect for public libraries.  The series are well curated with best selling guest editors to attract patron attention, so you have good stories with big name attention all in one annual volume.  They are also a cheap and easy way to introduce patrons [and yourself] to the best writers in a genre especially new writers who may not have published a novel yet.

I order all of the fiction [and the comics] collections for the BPL and we tend to keep the current 3 years editions on the shelf. They circulate well and serve as a great introduction to what’s new.  Patrons enjoy taking the collections on vacation too as they have the perfect double advantage of being in paperback and someone already labeling the content between those soft covers as “best.”

Now about the new SF and FSY edition in particular....it’s about time.  But besides the belated entry of these popular genres into the Best American cannon, I find it more interesting that they are saying it is only Science Fiction and Fantasy yet the series editor, John Joseph Adams, is best known for his editing of awesome horror collections [The 2 Living Dead ones are quite popular at the BPL] AND the first guest editor is one of the best names in horror [and a personal favor of mine]--Joe Hill.

Hmmmm.  I am used to horror being treated as the ugly step-child to SF and FSY, but this is a slap in the face.  Let’s turn it over to all horror people but not mention horror anywhere.  Well, I hope Adams and Hill have the last laugh when they fill the book with great horror [I can dream, can’t I?]

I’ll still be ordering this new series to add to the BPL’s collection, I am just a bit grumpy about the oversight.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday Discussion: Favorite Opening Scenes in Literature

Way back in June, Barnes and Noble's Blog ran this post listing their favorite opening scenes in literature.  I saved it to use in a future Monday Discussion.  Well, the future is here today!

Go through to their post and take a look at all of the comments too.  They had quite a few good examples in the discussion.

I love the question.  Many readers I work with are sticklers about opening scenes, even opening lines.  Their argument is, if the author can't hook me quickly, there are many other reading options I could try that will.  It is an easy way for some patrons to weed out one reading option from another.

I am not one of these readers myself.  [I have had too many books start a bit slowly, but when I gave them a chance ended up wowing me.] But because I have family members and patrons who do feel this way, I am very conscious of it.

Go through to the BN post first, but here are my two cents on the topic.

I love the opening of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus.  It is a prologue that introduces the circus itself, the circus which is the backbone of this fantastic novel. The opening grabbed me, enchanted me, and left me breathless to turn the next page and see what would come next.

Click here for my multiple reviews and posts about The Night Circus and click here to get to the Amazon entry where you can read the opening for yourself.

Currently, I am reading The Swan Gondola by Timothy Schaffert.  That book also has an exciting opening in which a hot air balloon crashes into a house.  Click through to read it for yourself. Schaffert really captures all of your senses in his telling of this crazy event in the middle of the Nebraska prairie at the end of the 19th Century.  I could even feel the silk of the torn balloon on my fingers as I read.

Now it is your turn.

Share your favorite opening lines or scenes from literature for today's Monday Discussion.

For past Monday Discussions, click here.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Why Libraries Deserve to be Hip

That is the title of this essay by Mary Elizabeth Williams.

Ms. Williams, like all of us, knows how hip the library is, but she is doing a much better job of sharing this information with the rest of the world than we are.

I constantly get weird looks when people find out I am a librarian.  I get a lot of, “But you are so nice and talkative. How can you be a librarian?”

It’s very frustrating.  But people think I am just an abnormality.  I’m not.  More of us are hip than not these days.  So thanks Ms. Williams.

Keep being your hip selves and have a nice weekend.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Book Club Links

I know my posts have been short the last couple of days, but as I reported here, I am immersed in reading my 2 assigned finalists for the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Project.  I am committed to giving each the attention they deserve.  So far, I have to say, I am quite impressed by what I am reading.

I am also preparing for my book club Monday [a planned postponement by a week due to the President’s Day holiday] as well as working on 2 upcoming book discussion programs that I will be delivering soon and a new article on leading book groups for NoveList.

I have to say, after a few years of little interest in my book discussion consulting, I have been receiving a flurry of questions and inquiries from book discussion facilitators about how to bring their groups to the next level.

This is all very exciting and fulfilling for me because one of the common threads through all the work I have done with leisure readers, facilitating book discussions has not only remained one of my personal strengths, but quite honestly, one of my biggest loves.  If I stopped doing everything else and only was allowed to lead book clubs, I would still be happy.

So, while I am finalizing my specific articles and programs on leading better book discussions, I do have some links I thought were worth sharing:

  • One of my favorite annual lists is Reading Group Guides Reader Favorites. The 2013 list just came out. If you want a quick boost to re-energize your book club, one of these books could do the trick.
  • Speaking of reader favs, don’t forget that Book Movement, a social networking site for book groups, compiles a weekly list of the top book club picks as well as their own annual list [which interestingly differs from the Reading Group Guides one]. Even better, they include actual comments from readers.  These are better than using Goodreads or Amazon customer comments because on Book Movement, the comments are focused on the book as a discussion option, not just as a good book to read.  There can be quite a difference in how I would rate a book for these 2 different purposes. This reminds us that it is important to use the correct resource for the right circumstances.
  • Finally, the popular BPL Book Lover’s Club got back on track with our January 2014 meeting. [Its a long story, but we needed to wait for our location to be reopened.]  The notes on the books we discussed are now live on the Browser’s Corner.

If you have specific questions about your book group, fell free to contact me and we can talk about it or click here to pull up all of the posts I have had on the topic.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Adult Summer Reading Survey-- IL Librarians Only

Sorry to be state specific here, but I wanted to get the word out.  One of my ARRT colleagues-- Maggie-- is also the 2015 chair for the iRead Committee, which develops Summer Reading programs and themes for the Illinois Library Associations official summer reading program.  Here is the link for the 2014 program.

One of Maggie's goals during her time as chair is to increase support and resources for adult services librarians who organize summer reading programs.  For many years, iRead has really only thought about the youth services side of the equation (which is why Berwyn uses Collaborative Summer Library Program because our adult summer reading program is quite popular and complex), so I am happy that Maggie is trying to change that.

To help in her efforts, she created a short 10-question survey and asked if people could spread the word around Illinois.  So please take a moment to help by filling out this Adult Summer Reading Survey.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Teen Urban Fiction Genre Report

I have been spending most of my time this February focusing on it being Women in Horror Recognition Month, but as we all know, this month is more commonly remembered in the library world for being Black History Month.

This is important to note from a collection development standpoint.  Since many websites and publications focus on African American collections during February, it is a great time for us to get caught up.  Whether or not you order in the African American purchasing area, if you help any readers at all, understanding the newest developments in any popular reading area can only make you better at your job.  And what better time than February when others who are more knowledgeable than you or I on the topic of African American fiction are already doing all of the work for you.

Of the many examples out there this month, this genre guide to YA Urban Fiction via Stacked is my favorite.

If I had to pick my busiest area in African American fiction it would be Urban Fiction with titles for a teen to new adult audience being the most requested of that subset.

So I highly suggest you at least take a look here.

If you have a African American link you want to share with others this month, leave a comment.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Project Update

It’s President’s Day and the library is closed, but the blog rolls on.

I am happy to announce the titles [and the libraries who nominated them] that have made it to the second round of the Soon to be Famous Illinois Authors Project:
  • Paul J. Bartusiak – Source*Forged  Armor – Lake Forest Public Library
  • Bruce Briley – The Case of the Vatican Murder – Paul V. Galvin Library, IIT
  • Mary Driver-Thiel – The World Undone – Lake Forest Public Library
  • Dianne Gallagher – Too Dark to Sleep – Chelsea School Library (Frankfort)
  • Loretta Giacoletto - Chicago’s Headmistress - Collinsville Memorial Library Center
  • Mary Hutchings Reed - Warming Up: a novel – Mount Prospect Public Library
  • Sharon Kay – Wicked Wind – Naperville Public Library
  • DL Larson – Promises My Love – Earlville Library District
  • K.D.Lassiter - Parable of the Tooth – Messenger Public Library of North Aurora
  • Katherine Lato - Making Family – Warrenville Public Library District
  • Cat Mann - A Beautiful Fate – Springfield HS Library
  • Amanda Meredith – Dark Mountains – Deer Creek District Library
  • Rick Polad - Change of Address – Philips Library, Aurora University
  • Joanne Zienty – The Things We Save – CCSD 62 Forest School, Des Plaines
As I have mentioned before, I am a judge on this project and I am happy to say that one of the three books I previewed made this list. We began with over 100 nominated, unpublished manuscripts, so creating this this paired down list is no small feat.

Now that we have got a long list, the committee is working on the rubric which all of the judges will use to pick an eventual winner.  So far, I am impressed with how well everything is going considering how new all of us are to this process.

Congrats to the authors who made it this far.  Your work may be unpublished but it stood up to the scrutiny of at least a few librarians for inclusion here.  

Now the work gets interesting for us judges.  I’ll keep you posted.

Friday, February 14, 2014

This Is What A Librarian Looks Like

I am sure many of you have already seen this, but I thought this would be a nice show of love for our profession here on Valentine’s Day by reposting the “This is What A Librarian Looks Like” project by photographer Kyle Cassidy.

Some background info from Cassidy's blog:
Libraries and librarians have meant a lot to me throughout my life and there are specific ones that without whom I wouldn't be who I am today. Living, as we do now, in a world where the relevance of libraries is often challenged as superfluous by people with Amazon Prime accounts and reliable access to the Internet at home, I wanted to create a forum where liberians could could talk about the challenges that they're facing and the work that they're doing to an audience that might not otherwise see and hear that. 
Ingrid helped me conduct interviews, I set up a studio with a single Pho-tek Softlighter II (the medium sized one) and shot with a Nikon d800.

Clickenzee to see the slide show!
When I was done some of the librarians asked if I wanted to go out and I was so giddy with jet-lag I said "sure" and had a swell time. By then I was out over the edge but I was done, there was a bed waiting for me at home and I thought about how much I'd done in the past 72 hours; it was a lot and I felt good about all of it.
From the beginning I thought that the photos should run in Slate and they were interested right away. I did a telephone interview and they talked to some of the librarians, picked ten of the images, and it sat around for a few weeks and went live yesterday. I found out when my inbox started to flood with people who had seen it. Within 45 minutes, when I finally got a chance to look, three thousand people had shared it on Facebook. Last time I checked, a few hours later, that had grown to 14,000 Facebook shares, then a Twitter fight (which I wasn't expecting) broke out between groups of librarians, but mostly love poured in. Love, and interview requests. 
My plans are to go to the ALA conference this summer and keep photographing and interviewing. And, somewhere in there, get some sleep. If you're going to ALA in Vegas, keep an ear out for details on the shoot. If you think it's a cool think and would like a portrait of a librarian hanging on your wall, keep an ear out for details since I'll probably be kickstarting the trip. 

So, he plans to keep documenting us.  Cool.  Click through for the Slate piece which includes some of the interviews.  And, if you are at a library conference and are asked by Cassidy to have your picture taken, consider saying yes.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Browser's Corner: BPL's Favorite Books of 2013

Over the last few weeks, on the Browser's Corner, we have been running the BPL staff's favorite reads of 2013.  These are the favorite books we read in 2013; they did not have to be published in 2013. We have had more staff participation this year than ever before, and it has come from more departments than last year too.  I am very proud of the level of service to leisure readers this staff recommendations blog continues to provide.

We wait until after the hoopla of the end of the year to run these posts for a two reasons.  First, with everyone trying to use up their vacation time at the end of the year, it is hard to wrap everything up by 12/31.

And second, and more important from a service perspective, we run an annual display in January on the "Best Books" of the past year according to a huge variety of lists (both literary and genre).  This display is extremely popular with our patrons; they expect it and look forward to it. Just as that display of the best books according to the critics is wrapping up, we begin the online list of our staff's favorite reads to keep the "best" recommendations flowing.

For the patrons, it is a great way to see what we all loved last year, and since they have to be books we own in our collection, there is a good chance a patron can go home with one of the recommendations that day.  But also, these posts implicitly showcase the wide range of personal tastes the staff has AND the breadth of our collection to our patrons.  They can easily see how many of us are ready and willing to help them, while also identifying titles they might not have even thought about reading until we mentioned them.

It is a wonderful example of how an entire library can provide useful RA service as a team.  Each of us only had to write a few annotations, but taken together we have an impressive amount of personalized "best" selections for our patrons.  It took very little time and money and played off of our personal reading.  No training or "expertise" was required, yet our service here is exceptional.

I hope you can use this example to energize you to do something similar.  Boost your service to leisure readers by pooling resources to show your patrons what you can do for them.  Don't wait for them to ask, simply start doing.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

BPL Book Discussion Collection

I have added 2 new pages to the right gutter of the blog in order to make it easier to serve those of you with book discussion questions.

The first is an updated link to the list of books the Berwyn Public Library has in our circulating Book Discussion Collection.

The second is a quick link to every book I have led a discussion on.

Both are lists I get asked for frequently, so I created direct links to them in keeping with the promises in my previous post about trying to help fill the RA training gap.

I am also seeing an increase in questions from colleagues about leading book discussion groups in general. In response, I will be part of a panel presentation by ARRT in May on emerging book group issues.  It will be only $15 and we are going to have formal presentations, but also make sure to leave plenty of open question time.  If you go over to the ARRT Facebook page and like us, you will get automatically updated when the details on this program are published.

The State of Readers' Advisory and How I Can Help

Today I wanted to let everyone know that the video archive for the LJ and NoveList webinar entitled, "Readers' Advisory: How Do You Measure Up?" is now available for free viewing.

Currently, the national picture for RA Service in public libraries is looking a bit bleak.  As patrons get more comfortable asking for help with leisure reading at their libraries, nationally, library staff who provide this service are starting to fell ill prepared for the increased complexity of the job. Libraries are seeing an increase in the importance in providing RA but staff are not getting the time, training, and funding to provide more and better service.

It is if we are becoming a victim of our own success.

I have to admit that I do at least 60% of my personal training and continuing education on my own time because while I am at work I am generally helping patrons, working on ordering more books or in meetings.  On the other hand, I also do not expect everyone to have to give that much of their free time to providing RA.  That time is my choice.

But, I do not want people to feel overwhelmed.  Helping leisure readers is such a rewarding job. I know first hand how much work it takes to be just competent, let alone have the high level of service and knowledge that I demand from myself.  But, the trade off in work to job satisfaction is HIGH. This is can promise.

I do not want unhappy and stressed out RA providers out there, so I am trying to help here with a few concrete steps:

First, watch the video and assess where you greatest needs lie.

Second, Click through to my 10 Rules of Basic RA Service. This is the barest bones of what you should be providing to all leisure readers.

Third, use the labels down toward the bottom of the blog in the right gutter to see the topics I have posts on; maybe some can help you right now. If you only have time to search one topic, try RA Training.

Fourth, leave a comment here if there are areas you would like me to address on the blog. I want to be responsive to the needs of all of you out there. I might be able to fill some training and knowledge gaps with just a few well directed posts.

Fifth, contact me about low cost training options I can provide to you, your library, or even your system or conference. I can even do workshops where I can train trainers, which from looking at the data on how RA is going nationwide, might be the best course of action right now.

Webinars like this one are great, but by mission and design they are very general.  The next step needs to be customized help that does not take up too much staff time and is not very expensive.  I think I can help a lot of people get started by just using this blog as a training tool.  Use tags to access older posts on the topics that address your current needs.  This could be a fast and cheap way to fix a lot of problems, but I need your help to know what I should be posting here that will be the most helpful to you.

Let's get serious about finding the best way to have knowledgeable staff helping readers because when RA works best, everyone is happy.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Monday Discussion: Love is in the Air

Valentine’s Day is on Friday, so it is time to think about couples in literature. [Like you didn’t know this was coming today.]

Couples appear everywhere, and not just in romance stories.  In fact, I as I was thinking of my favorite couples, a few non-romantic ones came to mind.  So don’t go using that you are anti-love as an excuse not to participate here.

I’ll go first.

One of the sweetest couples I have ever read in a novel is Oskar and his Grandfather in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  Both are so defeated and heartbroken, but they come together on an absurd and impossible quest that allows them both to heal [a bit] but more importantly, mend their broken hearts by loving each other.

Two of my favorite books also have couples who, despite great odds, find true love, James, the Giant and Peggy, the librarian in The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken and Henry and Claire in The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Finally, I would like to mention the touching love story between Jake and Sadie in 11/22/63 by Stephen King and the beautiful love between Aomame and Tengo that drives the crazy plot in 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami.

Now its your turn. Share the love today and let me know about some of your favorite couples in literature.

For past Monday Discussions, click here.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Library Reads: March 2014

By now you should know the drill.  The brand new list is below and you can always use the tag “Library Reads” on this blog to pull up past lists.  All of these books are great sure bet options, but the titles from past lists are the ones you will find on the shelf right now.

March 2014 LibraryReads List


The Weight of Blood: A Novel

by Laura McHugh

Published: 3/11/2014 by Spiegel & Grau
ISBN: 9780812995206
“The Dane family has been keeping secrets in the Ozark town of Henbane for years. An outsider steals the heart of one of the Dane brothers, and the secrets threaten to unravel. When sixteen-year-old Lucy’s friend is found murdered after being missing for a year, Lucy begins to ask questions–the answers to which may destroy her family. Atmospheric and visceral, McHugh’s story is vividly and effectively told.”
Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library, Flemington, NJ

The Accident

by Chris Pavone

Published: 3/11/2014 by Crown
ISBN: 9780385348454
“Kudos to Pavone for coming through with another captivating international suspense novel. How ironic that I couldn’t put down a book about Isabel, a literary agent who stays up all night to finish an unsolicited manuscript that’s so explosive, some will kill to keep it from being published. During the 24 hours that Isabel is on the run, readers will be on the edge of their seats. Be prepared to lose some sleep!”
Paulette Brooks, Elm Grove Public Library, Elm Grove, WI


The Divorce Papers: A Novel

by Susan Rieger

Published: 3/18/2014 by Crown
ISBN: 9780804137447
“When Sophie, a loveable 29-year-old lawyer, gets roped into working on a divorce case, her life takes an unexpected turn. Though this gives her a new perspective on life, it also forces her to confront some unresolved childhood issues. Except for a few tearful, poignant moments, I had a smile on my face for the entire book. Engaging and humorous, this debut epistolary novel has become a favorite read.”
Jennifer Asimakopoulos, Indian Prairie Public Library, Darien, IL


The Outcast Dead

by Elly Griffiths

Published: 3/11/2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN: 9780547792774
“After the bones of the notorious Mother Hook are possibly uncovered in Norfolk, forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway finds herself on the TV. Was Mother Hook truly guilty of child murder? This is just one strand in a mystery that revolves around children and the people who care for them. One of the most addictive mystery series being written today.”
Janet Lockhart, Wake County Public Libraries, Cary, NC



by Lauren Oliver

Published: 3/4/2014 by HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 9780062014559
“A deadly high-stakes game of Panic takes place in modern-day small town America, and Oliver does a wonderful job making all of it seem real. I loved that the book didn’t take place in a post-apocalyptic future like so many titles do nowadays. Oliver is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!”
Carol Brumfield, Timberland Regional Library, Tumwater, WA


A Circle of Wives

by Alice LaPlante

Published: 3/4/2014 by Atlantic Monthly Press
ISBN: 9780802122346
“When prominent plastic surgeon Dr. John Taylor is found dead, the police investigation uncovers his secret polygamous life. As the narration alternates between Taylor’s three wives and a young female detective, the story explores the characters’ motivations and relationships. Part psychological thriller and part literary mystery, the end result is wholly captivating reading.”
Melissa DeWild, Kent District Library, Comstock Park, MI


Gemini: A Novel

by Carol Cassella

Published: 3/4/2014 by Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781451627930
“After an unidentified hit-and-run victim is received in ICU, Dr. Charlotte Reese struggles to keep her alive, questioning how far medical technology should go to do so. Meanwhile, in an alternate story, teens Bo and Raney explore their budding friendship and attraction. Book groups will devour this compulsively readable novel with thought-provoking themes. Perfect for readers of Jodi Picoult and Chris Bohjalian.”
Robin Beerbower, Salem Public Library, Salem, OR


Precious Thing: A Novel

by Colette McBeth

Published: 3/4/2014 by Minotaur Books
ISBN: 9781250041197
“Clara and Rachel have been friends since high school. Life has intervened and they’ve grown apart, so when Clara invites Rachel for drinks to catch up, it’s a chance to reconnect. But before that can happen, Rachel is called to cover a missing girl story, and the missing girl is Clara. Was she abducted, murdered or did she simply leave on her own? In the vein of Gone Girl and The Husband’s Secret, this is a fast read that is sure to entertain.”
Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Columbus, OH


Kill Fee: A Stevens and Windermere Novel

by Owen Laukkanen

Published: 3/20/2014 by Putnam
ISBN: 9780399165528
“In the third book in this series, Carla Windermere and Kirk Stevens find themselves reunited when people around the country seem to be dying from contract hits. Young war veterans, under the influence of a mysterious man, are turning into emotionless killers. Stevens and Windermere try piecing together who’s behind the crimes, but keep falling one step behind. Reminiscent of Thomas Perry’s novels, and fast-paced.”
Lora Bruggeman, Indian Prairie Public Library, Darien, IL


Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered

by Austin Kleon

Published: 3/11/2014 by Workman Publishing
ISBN: 9780761178972
Show Your Work! is a wonderful follow-up to Austin Kleon’s first book, Steal Like an Artist. Utilizing the same fun, graphic novel-ish type of format, Kleon gives practical recommendations about using the Internet and social media to create a community. I particularly appreciate his advice to concentrate on process, not on product, and the rest will follow. A must-read for anyone involved in the creative process.”
Rebekka Hanson, Madison Library District, Rexburg, ID

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Left Coast Crime Nominees

The Left Coast Crime Awards are among my favorites in the crime awards arena, and goodness knows there are ALOT of mystery and crime fiction awards. And they make the best graphics to go with their conference each year too.  This year's is a squid on a crime spree--priceless!!

I particularly enjoy how they give an award to the best humorous mystery every year.

As I am finishing up for today’s crime genre study to start, I was also preparing the assignment for next time (April) and the topic happens to be Cozies, Amateur Detectives, and Humorous.  I was happy to see some of the nominees for this year’s award on my assignment list too.

Reminder: I post award lists for their use as an RA tool in and of themselves.  For a refresher and deatails, click here.

World Book Night Givers Announced: Share Your Title Here

World Book Night is going into full preparation mode now.  Last night, I got my official email that I was accepted to be a giver again.  Click here for my past 2 years of World Book Night exploits.

I can't remember what books I asked for but I am happy to have been assigned, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

Jose told me he got Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

There are a few more BPLers who will be givers.  We will mix up our books so that we have a wider selection to hand out at our various locations.

I would also like to remind readers that once again The Berwyn Public Library is an official World Book Night pick up location.  Jose also happens to be our point person for the distribution too.

If you got your giver letter yesterday, share what title you got here in the comments to help spread to joy of books and reading!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Get Ready for the Olympics With a Book

I will admit, I am a sucker for the Olympics.  I will watch the Olympics, no matter the season, no matter the event.  Bring it on biathlon!

Add to this my recent re-reading of Crime and Punishment for the ARRT Genre Study tomorrow, and my listening to the amazingly, awesome Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart [review soon] and I have Russia and Russian literature on the brain.

I know I am not the only one too.  Here are some suggestions to pair with your hours of viewing of the Russian landscape.
  • One of my all-time favorite books is The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. This magical realism tale, written during the terrible Stalinist years in which Bulgakov dared to satirize and criticize Soviet Communism is delivered in lyrical, moving, and compelling prose.  This book is not for everyone, but it is also one those who read it will never be able to forget.
  • I happen to love Russian literature.  I don’t know if it is my Russia Jewish genes peeking through or if I just get the sense of humor in these tales. One of my favorite more modern Russian novels that perfectly captures why I enjoy these novels is Death and the Penguin by Andrew Kurkov.  From the publisher: "Viktor is an aspiring writer with only Misha, his pet penguin, for company. Although he would prefer to write short stories, he earns a living composing obituaries for a newspaper. He longs to see his work published, yet the subjects of his obituaries continue to cling to life. But when he opens the newspaper to see his work in print for the first time, his pride swiftly turns to terror. He and Misha have been drawn into a trap from which there appears to be no escape. It may not sound like it from this summary, but I tell you, this novel is very funny (in a dark and twisted way).
  • If you want to read a historically set tale set in Russia that is filled with cold and snow, I highly recommend another one of my all-time favorites, City of Thieves by David Benioff. 
Well there are some books I have enjoyed that fit the bill, but what about others?  Many lists of what to read while enjoying the Sochi Olympics are appearing everywhere.  I would like to focus on those that reinforce the sense of place.  Books about the Olympics are much easier to find on your own:
I try to embrace the place where the Olympics is set as they come around every other year.  It is a great escape to learn about a new place while watching the world come together in peace. While this year’s setting is not without much controversy, I am not condoning the behavior of the hosts; in fact, quite the opposite, many of the books I have suggested are heart wrenching looks into the very serious problems that come with a Sochi setting.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Developing Library Collections For Today’s Young Adults

Today I have been working from home preparing for the Genre Study on Thursday and Trivia Night tonight, but right now I am taking a very productive lunch break by viewing the live broadcast of a free Webinar from Booklist entitled, “Developing Library Collections For Today’s Young Adults.”  You will be able to find it archived here on Monday.

The presenter is Amy Pattee, Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College.

If you can’t wait, here is the link to the slides.

I am part way through, but it is very informative.  I like how it is focused on how to develop a collection and NOT focused on what is hot right now.  What is hot now for YAs changes so fast.  Also, I have tools like the ones I listed here to do figure that out.

What Ms. Pattee is giving us here is very useful, nitty gritty details of how you craft and maintain the best YA collection for your community, no matter what the trends are.

I don’t know about you, but being newer to the whole YA collection management thing, this is information I was in desperate need of.  The skills I have [and even use to train others] for collection development in adult leisure reading collections is not enough to work with our YA collection.

If you work with collections for teens, use the links above to see how Ms. Pattee can help you.

I’m done multi-tasking.  Back to focused viewing...

*****Addition after I finished viewing*******

Ms. Pattee talked about “secret classics” in fiction-- books you need to make sure you have and don’t weed.  She suggested looking at the Margaret E. Edwards winners for lifetime achievement to teen readers as the place to start identifying classics for teens.  But then in the Q and A I saw someone mention that they pull out classics and put them on a separate shelf for teens.

Interestingly, I just saw this in action at the Youth Department of the Oak Park Public Library and thought it was a neat idea for kids, never thinking it applied to my work.  Well, now I see that it does. I think that would work VERY well in the BPL Teen room. I am going to bring it up soon.

The idea behind doing this is to have a place where parents and teens can go to find the best of the old stuff, but it also means you have more of a current collection in the larger mass of teen fiction. The smaller the collection, the easier it is for anyone to browse.  Teens will have better luck helping themselves is they know the classics are on one shelf and all the rest is the more current popular reads.  You will have a leaner and more dynamic collection for them to browse. And, although we love to help them find their next great read, they are always going to prefer to help themselves.  I am committed to do anything I can to help them in the manner they want to be helped. Are you?

So along with the very practical weeding and collection development advice I got today, I also have a concrete idea about making our browsing collection more useful. Hour well spent.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Monday Discussion: Name Your Favorite Woman in Horror

February is Women in Horror Recognition Month and for the first time I am an official participant in the festivities.  It's about time though, since I have been a "Woman in Horror" for a decade now.

Over on RA for All: Horror, I will be running at least 2 posts a week highlighting the work of the best women in horror. I am also partnering with Kirsten over at Monster Librarian who is my fellow woman in horror and libraries.  We are a small group so we need to stick together.  So please check out her blog, Musings of the Monster Librarian for more this month.

While most of the WiHM coverage will be on the horror blog all month, I wanted to start things off with the Monday Discussion here by asking everyone to think of their favorite Women in Horror.

I'll go first:
  • I love, love, love the late Shirley Jackson.  I cannot gush enough about her skill at creating creepy, anxious stories and novels that meld psychological suspense and horror.  The Lottery is the best short story EVER! I am so glad that others have recognized her talent and influence and there is now a Shirley Jackson Award.
  • More recently, I am extremely proud of the work Lisa Morton has been doing.  I went out on a limb in my book by including her a s a rising star, and thankfully, she has proven me right.  She has won numerous Bram Stoker Awards and just recently launched a new series with Netherworld.  I will be featuring the book in a Halfway to Halloween Horror guest column in Library Journal this April, but in the meantime, Lisa has contributed a guest post for RA for All: Horror this month, and I will have a full review of the new book.
  • Did you know one of the best editors of today's horror short story writers is a woman? Jeani Rector runs The Horror Zine, and puts out an annual collection of the best work from the magazine.  I featured a past year's volume on RA for All Horror here.  This year, Jeani is on the long list for the Bram Stoker Awards.  She is also going to be contributing to WiHM with a guest post and I will have a review of the newest collection.
Check out the display I put up in our quick display area at the BPL too.

Now it's your turn.  For today's Monday Discussion, who's your favorite "Woman in Horror?" Let me know.

You can check out the official WiHM site for more on the female contributions to this fairly male dominated genre. And return to RA for All: Horror and The Musings of the Monster Librarian all month for more on WiHM and how it relates to your work in libraries.

And, click here for past Monday Discussions