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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

RUSA CODES Archive and Extensive Notes

As I mentioned here, RUSA CODES hosted another one of their conversations last week.  While overwhelming at first, these conversations are always a great [and free] way to talk with readers advisors from all over the country.

Over the two days a lot of information changes hands.

You can always check out the archive to see for yourself.  This is the direct link to this specific conversation, but once in that archive, you can also access past discussions.

However, even better, this time Michelle Young, the branch manager at Princeville Public Library (Hawaii State Public Library System) created a document compiling her notes from the conversation and is allowing me to share it here with all of you.

Thanks Michelle.

Click here for access

And if you cannot find a new idea or even a spark of inspiration here, then you may be in the wrong line of work.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

BPL Book Discussion: Orange is the New Black

Last week, my book club met to discussion Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman.  From the publisher:
With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before. But that past has caught up with her. 
Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424—one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system. From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules.  
She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there. 
Before I begin the notes on the discussion, I want to caution those of you who watch the Netflix series, the book is COMPLETELY different.  The book is a memoir; the show is a soap opera.  Here are two small examples. One, Piper’s fiancé is probably the nicest, kindest, most supportive man you ever met in the memoir, while he is a total jerk in the show; two, Nora, Piper’s former girlfriend and the person who got her into the drug world, is not incarcerated with Piper in the book [except for a short period toward the end of the book], while in the series, they are in jail together.

Now on to the discussion:

  • We had 11 likes, 2 so-sos and not a single dislike.  I have to say, I was surprised.
    • 1 of the so-so voters said that she was left wanting to know more details about the prison system, while the other said her vote had more to do with the fact that she is not a big memoir fan.
  • Those who liked it felt very strongly:
    • I was captivated
    • I was worried it would be about the prison, but it was not-- it was about Piper.
    • I love memoirs
    • I knew I’d like it because of the subtitle, “My Year in a Women’s Prison.” I love books like that. [Becky’s note: I address this specific appeal in a subset of readalikes below.]
    • The relationships between the people is what I liked the most.
    • I loved seeing how little kindnesses can get you through the toughest times.
    • The first half was about the kindnesses she received but somewhere along the way it morphed into a story about how she grew as a person.
    • I was happy to have the chance to learn a little more about our prison system, but not too much.
    • I liked this book because it challenged me to look at my own pre-conceived notions.  Before I read this book I would have said there is no reason to have prison time for nonviolent offenders, but I saw how much she learned and grew by being forced to go to prison.  She was clearly helped by being there. She admits as much.
  • Question: Why did Piper get involved in the drug trade?
    • She was very naive and swayed by others.
    • She was looking for adventure.
    • She got to travel the world. It was easy to keep taking assignments.
    • I had to keep reminding myself that that younger Piper was so fragile and naive, and not the strong woman she later became.
    •  Immediately after college, she was a little embarrassed that she didn’t know what to do with herself, so she cut herself off from most of her friends and family.
    • The reality of the drug trade never hit her. She never touched drugs and it took until she went to prison for her to see how much her work enabling the drug trade actually hurt many people.
    • I didn’t like the pre-prison Piper, but then again, after reading the book, I don’t think she liked herself as she was either.
    • You can see this even in the way she wrote the book. In the beginning of the book, Piper struggles to describe herself. That part was harder to read. But as she learns to be "a better Piper,” the writing also flows better.
    • This book gave me an entirely different view of the drug trade.
    • I can see why so many young, middle class kids were doing the dirty work. They were savvy enough to handle the international travel and were innocent looking so didn’t get stopped.
  • Question: What did you learn about the prison system?
    • This book completely changed my mind about mandatory minimums.  I was for them but now I see how hard they are on the poor.  Piper knew to plead guilty and do her time because she was educated and had a good lawyer, but others get swept up in the system and end up doing long sentences for small offenses.
    • I was very upset by how awful the reintroduction classes were.  The inmates were not really taught anything useful about life on the outside.  They are going to be doomed to fail and come back to jail.
    • But they have the classes just so they can say they offer them. The government only cares that the classes are offered; they don’t set the curriculum.
    • Now all I can think is, “What are we accomplishing by incarcerating these nonviolent offenders?”
    • I found the juxtaposition of some rules being lax while others are strict and none of it making sense all very interesting
    • Everything revolving around the GED program was shocking.
    • Where are the incentive for improving yourself here?
    • Society doesn’t value convicts but these convicts today will be a part of our society in a few years.  If we are teaching them that they are worthless how will they rejoin society?
    • Someone brought up a recent Chicago Tribune article which said that Republicans are backing away from supporting mandatory minimum sentences.
    • We talked about how there was an 800% surge in the federal prison population recently and that housing these prisoners takes up 1/3 of the Justice Department’s budget.
  • Someone brought up the idea that maybe we need for profit prisons so that outcomes are demanded by the free market system. There were some comments:
    • Before I read this book I would have said, “No way!” and told you that you were crazy, but now, maybe.  I at least see your point.
    • There are now for profit colleges.  Some are good but many are predatory because they get access to federal student loan money and don’t give students a good education.
    • Someone would need a very solid business plan with plenty of oversight for it to work.
  • But this brought up the idea of larger reforms.  Question: What type of prison reform could work now?
    • The goals should be changed from punishment to rehabilitation.  Getting the person back into society and a productive citizen needs to become the goal.  It is clearly not the goal now though,
    • Just being there is punishment. Piper knows this.  Thankfully she did not need rehabilitation.  The imprisonment forced her to confront herself and her issues, but many people are not as self aware and worldly as her.  If she needed rehabilitation, she'd still be waiting for it.
  • Question: Let’s talk about the specific prison social structure at the Danbury Camp
    • I loved how they cooked with food from the commissary, dining hall stash, and a single microwave.  So great.
    • Their resourcefulness in general was inspiring.
    • They did a lot of cleaning.
    • All those uses for maxi pads!
    • I was shocked at how boring it was. Piper is most shocked by the boredom.
    • The jobs! Sure the cafeteria, but Piper became an electrician, working with live wires with hardly any training [safety or technical].
    • My favorite part of the book was the interaction between these women, these different women, all brought together in prison.
    • They were so kind and helpful to each other.  
    • I loved the committees
    • I was touched by the resilience of the women.
    • I wish they women were allowed to communicate after prison to form something like an alumni association. But the law forbids this. You cannot associate with anyone with a criminal record for 2 years. This seems like a missed opportunity for the women to help each other.
    • I was amazed that she could be close with people yet never know why they were in prison.
  • Piper has to go back to Chicago to testify against someone as part of her plea deal.  We all agreed that it was sad that right before she was to be released, as she was preparing to leave Danbury, she had this terrible and jarring experience. We were sad to see how badly the Chicago jail came off.
  • Question: Were you surprised that Nora came back into her life at the end
    • I am glad she ended up incarcerated with Nora while she waited for the Chicago trial. Piper had a chance to come to true forgiveness as a result.  She had avoided dealing with her feelings about Nora since they were not together.
    • We forgot about Nora, but Piper never did. 
  • Final thoughts:
    • I was shocked at how bad the camp was.  I thought it would have been nicer since it was minimum security.
    • I appreciated how Piper made this book about her and her experiences.  It is not about all prisons everywhere, just the one she was in, while she was in it.
  • Words or phrases to describe this book:
    • memoir
    • revealing
    • adding insult to injury
    • resilience
    • naive
    • counter-productive system
    • infuriating

Readalikes:  There are many directions to go here.  First, there are the many books on our prison system.  Piper Kerman has an extensive list of links on her webpage.  Go here and see where she suggests you begin. She also has  info about the TV show based on her book here too.

For another memoir view of life behind bars try Inside: Life Behind Bars in America by Michael Santos.

If you want to know more, but don't want to read a whole book you can find a quick but useful overview of the prison system in the US in  this Vlog Brothers video.

For book lovers who want another look into the prison system from an unlikely angle, try Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian by Avi Steinberg.

 But besides the obvious prison appeal here, I also think many people like the "Year in a Life" quality of this memoir.  I know that came up with our group.  Goodreads has crowd-sourced this into a list here, but some I have read and enjoyed [with links to  the reviews] can be found here:

  • A.J. Jacobs has made a career of spending a year trying something interesting.  Pre-blog I read [and loved] The Know It All, where he chronicled his year of reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. I also read and reviewed his Year of Living Biblically.
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion is a beautiful look at how she dealt with the sudden death of her beloved husband for the first year after his death.
  • Animal Vegetable Mineral by Barabra Kingsolver is a memoir of the year her family tried to only eat food grown or raised within 100 miles of their home.
There are many, many more choices here, and they are ranked by the votes of users from most popular to least.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday Discussion: Holocaust Remembrance Day

Sorry to be a downer on this gray, rainy day, but this week the Monday Discussion falls on Holocaust Remembrance Day, also known as Yom HaShoah. From Wikipedia:
Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laG'vurah (יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה; "Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day"), known colloquially in Israel and abroad as Yom HaShoah (יום השואה) and in English as Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Holocaust Day, is observed as Israel's day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its accessories, and for the Jewish resistance in that period. In Israel, it is a national memorial day. It was inaugurated in 1953, anchored by a law signed by the Prime Minister of Israel David Ben-Gurion and the President of Israel Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has an entire week dedicated to Remembrance.  Click here for details.

For RA purposes, I am sure you are all aware that books about WWII and the Holocaust are especially popular.  So, to honor the day and to help give each other ideas on good leisure reading choices for patrons who want to read about the Holocaust, I though we could all suggest some options here today.

I'll go first. I have read many books about the Holocaust, but I thought I would suggest two titles that took a slightly different path to telling a story for which I thought I "knew everything," ultimately teaching me something new while still being a compelling read.  Both were read in my book club, so the links go to a full report on the book.

First, is nonfiction: The Zoo Keeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman.  From my book discussion report:
This is a book about people, animals, nature, and war.
Jan and Antoninia Zabinski were the zookeeper and his wife in Warsaw when the Germans invaded. Over the years that Warsaw was occupied, working with the Polish resistance, they were able to shelter and save over 300 Jews from certain death by hiding them in the zoo. Naturalist Ackerman, has scoured Antoninia journals, interviewed her son, and scoured the surviving records of the Polish resistance in order to recreate the fascinating, forgotten, true-life story of the zookeeper's wife and the true nature of the obsessive evil that was Nazism.
The second is fiction: Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky.  From my book discussion report:
Suite Francaise is the title Nemirovsky gave for her planned collection of 5 novels about France during WWII. Nemirovskywrote the first 2 books and outlined the third while she and her family were trying to allude the Germans, who had occupied Paris and its suburbs. As stateless Jews (of Russian descent)Nemirovsky and her husband were subject to deportation. Ultimately, Nemirovsky and her husband were sent to concentration camps (separately) where they died. Their children were hidden and managed to save the manuscripts and notes, which published with her translated notes and correspondences with her husband and publisher once Nemirovsky was arrested by the Germans, make up the book Suite Francaise.

Now it's your turn.  Share a book appropriate for Holocaust Remembrance Day.

For past Monday Discussions, click here.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Crime Fiction Website Updates

Real quick today because I am neck deep in the preparation for this event.  You should join us if you are around by the way; it will be great, I made some updates to the links on the Crime Fiction Genre Study Website right here

Also, I thought this was a great time to remind everyone that we are nearing the 1 month mark until out next meeting.  Click here for meeting details and the assignment.

 But even if you are not a part of the genre study, the links will help you to help yourself and your patrons.  Enjoy!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

WBN 2014: The Morning After Report

Did you participate in World Book Night yesterday?  Did someone approach you and give you a book?

Here's a quick recap of how things went from a world-wide perspective [#WBN2014]:

As I mentioned here, I gave books away outside my kid's school.  I got there before school let out and was able to hand out books to many of the parents waiting there.  Here are some highlights:

Even the parent hiding in the car got approached

Can't forget the crossing guard.
He was super excited to get a book

Me with the book in full WBN garb

My friend wanted the back of the shirt captured too
Overall, for me it went great.  As I approached people I said something to the effect of:

I am a parent here at the school, I am not a stalker. [I literally said this to people I didn't know; those who know me knew I really am a little bit of a book stalker.]  It is World Book Night and I am an official giver.  I have a free book for you, no strings attached.  It is an award winning, YA-Adult appropriate historical novel set during WWII.  If you want to know more about World Book Night, you can look inside for info.  Enjoy!
The reaction?  Much like last year.  Lots of "Oh my goodness, this is great." And, "Wow, this is happening everywhere?" And, "How cool?"

The kicker for me was watching the parents tell the kids about book that was in their hands and how they got it as the kids came out of school and were being taken home.  That made me ever happier.  I not only got to spread the love of reading, but I also got families to talk about World Book Night.  A conversation about books and reading was happening at that very moment because of me! Yay!

Feel free to share your stories or pictures with me.  Leave links to your Tweets and such in the comments if you want.

Editors Note: From this point on you will find additions to the original post

From Kristen BPL Reference:
 Wearing my World Book Night I'm a Book Giver stickers! #WBN2014!
I gave out Where'd You Go Bernadette in Berwyn IL at 8:10 am.
From Verna BPL Reference: Shots of her book and box
From Betty: "I posted some photos and comments to the Berwyn Library Facebook page, but here is one picture my husband took of me at the train station:"

And finally, click here for Alena's [super patron, not staff] post about her pub crawl with Kathy, Jose and Crystal.  Here is a teaser photo of how it went for them:

WBN 2014 Stop One at FatDuck. Beer & Books.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Articulating Appeal With Coworkers at the Service Desk

Often, during slower times at the BPL, the staff engages in impromptu book talking across departments while we are working at our service desks.  We do it for passive marketing purposes. It's our way of saying to every visitor,  "Hey, we all talk about what we read and watch and why we like it, so why don't you join us."  Now, we do get the occasional complaint that we are talking too much, but we have administrative support behind us because we are talking about books, movies, and TV shows that we can get for others.

We also do this book talking as professional development.  We are encouraging all staff to practice sharing what they have been reading and enjoying and to tell us why in a nonthreatening, casual environment.  We do this both to help the speaker work on honing their skills AND to help the listener work on using what someone says to draw connections to other things.

Over time, these impromptu book talks have also had the added bonus of making us all more aware of the tastes and leisure reading/watching preferences of each other.  I now know what a huge percentage of the staff likes to read and I can point patrons in a kindred spirit's direction if I am having trouble helping him or her.  We have been able to identify local "experts" on genres and can use their skills in various ways throughout the library too.

Another issue that has emerged over the years, which, again, is an excellent training tool because it happens with patrons all the time too, is when we share certain LOVES with a co-worker and then find out we have a favorite author whom this same co-worker HATES.  Here's my example.

I love Chris Ware, you can click here for details, but let me just say anything the man draws and writes, I read.  Jose in Circulation, with whom I share a love of many of the same graphic novels, finds Ware overly complicated.  He gets the point, likes what his overall message is, but feels that Ware goes out of his way to be "interesting," and that annoys him.

This Chris Ware debate has been going on for over a year.  Just today I brought this 2 page Chris Ware Strip from the April 10th New York Times Book Review over to Jose as he sat at the Circulation Desk.  All I said was, "This strip encapsulates everything I love about Chris Ware."  Jose read it.  And said, "Yes it is cute and clever, but again, too busy for me." He liked it in that short spurt, but an entire book...yuck to him.    
Overtime, Jose and I have felt each other out. I have shared why I like something, and he, why he does not.  By listening to each other, we are both getting a broader view of how personal our work in RA truly is. We have taken the time to articulate appeal in very specific terms with each other, and this allows us to improve in honing down the essence of appeal in our less in depth interactions with patrons.  It also allows us to understand that liking one thing the same does not mean all of our likes will overlap.  We have been able to navigate the murky waters where disagreements occur and have found a way around them. This distinction is also key when working with patrons. 

So the point of today's post is--- practice with each other.  Book talk and focus on articulating the appeal, the WHY, you liked or didn't like a particular book.  You will not only get good practice, but you will be role playing situations that actually come up with patrons. By doing it in public spaces, you will also be advertising your services, commitment and expertise to your patrons while you are learning.  I can promise you from experience, you will be surprised by how much you learn.  And, if nothing else, you get to spend your day talking to your co-workers about your last great read or this week's Game of Thrones.

Back tomorrow with my recap of how things went on World Book Night.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

“New” Shirley Jackson Story and Why You Need To Be Promoting It

This week’s New Yorker features the second of two found stories by the late great Shirley Jackson. While you need to get your hands on the magazine itself to read the story, the book blog for magazine features an interview with Jackson’s son here.

Even if you do not plan to read the new story, read the interview.  As I have professes before in more detail here, Shirley Jackson was a genius.  Her brand of psychological suspense was truly revolutionary, almost shockingly so, when she was first writing, and their remain intensely haunting to this day.

Her tales of literary suspense also prominently featured female characters at a time when that was out of the ordinary.  Her willingness to admit to the dark thoughts and issues surrounding women was what kept Jackson from even more acclaim during her lifetime.  It was too “real” for the mainstream male establishment to handle at the time.

However, I feel like Jackson is getting her due in today’s publishing run to find the next Gone Girl.  When Library Journal ran their Genre Preview on the state of Mysteries in 2014, the top trend was the female driven, literary suspense story.

The ARRT Crime Fiction Genre Study will be covering Jackson in great depth, but not until June of 2015.  I can’t wait that long to sing Jackson’s praises.  And you shouldn’t either.  Start passing out your collections of Jackson’s stories to your Gone Girl fans while they wait for the new titles listed  in the LJ article to come out. And while you’re at it, grab them the “new” Jackson story from The New Yorker too.

I can promise you some happy patrons, many of whom may be shocked to find out that this new trend in mysteries goes back into the middle of the last century.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday Discussion: World Book Night Is Coming

Today's discussion is for the sole purpose of promoting your WBN activities.

World Book Night is always on April 23rd, which falls on a Wednesday this year.

Click here for the official word from the people who work so hard to make World Book Night Possible.

For the Monday Discussion today, please use the comments to share your book and where you will giving it out.

Click here for a list of every book that is being given out this year.  You can click on the cover to see more about the specific book and the author.

I will be at the SW corner of Cossitt Ave and Madison Ave in La Grange  from 2:15 until I run out of books giving out Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.  I picked this location because it is the perfect spot to hand out my book, an award winning teen title with adult cross over.  At this location I will be by the elementary school as large numbers of high schoolers will walk by me and parents wait for their younger kids to get out of school. It is perfect!

Courtesy of a team of people here at the BPL, but mostly because Jose coordinated and made sure it got done, I will also have an annotated list of 3 readalikes on a book mark inside each book.  Every giver who picked up a box at the BPL was also given a stock of these created for their specific title.

So no matter where you live, share your WBN love by at least leaving the title you will be handing out even if you are not sure of (or don't want to share) the location.  IT is going to be a wonderful day of spreading the love of reading.

For past Monday Discussions, click here.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Soon to Be Famous Wrap Up and More...

This really has been a whirl-wind week and with the kids off tomorrow for a “Spring Holiday” [hey, it’s public school], I am taking tomorrow off, but I did want to post a few links to leave you with over the holiday weekend.

  • First, here is the direct link to the slides from David Vinjamuri’s presentation yesterday as well as the interview he did with IndieReader which he referred to in passing during his talk.
  • Here are the links to a few of the other sites David mentioned as particularly good for ebook original discovery and reviews:
  • Also, here is the official winners photo and statement from the Soon to be Famous website.
  • The newest issue of The Corner Shelf is out and it has an article, entitled "A Year of Reading Suggestions " which I highly recommend.  Basically, the idea is a list of 1 suggestion a month based on a very broad category.  So in January, you read a book published the same year you were born or in May, you read a book from another country.  Click here for all 12 ideas.  This list is a great idea for a 12 month reading plan, but also, these 12 general groupings are a great way to suggest a book to a patron who is having trouble picking their next good read.  Some guidance like August’s suggestion of reading a book in a genre or format you don’t normally read, might be a great way to get out of a tricky RA situation. At the very least, keep a link to these 12 reading plan ideas handy and pull them out to suggest to that patron who can’t seem to find anything he or she hasn’t already read.
  • In further news about Booklist’s The Corner Shelf, editor Rebecca Vnuk was at the Soon to be Famous event.  Look for her to spotlight the award, the winner, Vinjamuri, and me [in relation to my work as a judge] in the next issue.
Have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

And The Winner Is...

So, here I am at RAILS in Burr Ridge for the announcement of the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Award Winner.  Just a quick editing note, I created this post as the announcement event happened live.  I will go back later and add more links and clean up any typos, but I figured it was worth the sacrifice of a perfect post.

Click here for more details about the award, the books, and their authors.

Here is a picture of a few of us judges who made it to the event. It was nice that some of us could make it.  I am the second from the left.

As the announcement event went on, the three finalists were sitting in front of us as you can see here. Each was in front of a blow up of the cover of their book.  I felt for them though.  The wait must have been insufferable.  But as you can see in the picture below, they were very happy to be here.

David Vinjamuri got up to talk about how he was surprised, but proud to have inspired a contest that is promising to make someone famous.  He talked, among other topics, about how the public library is one of the most trusted institutions in America.  How great it is that we are confident in our talent to evaluate materials and take a stand publicly to say that this book is good and you should read it.

After 2 representatives from the award committee came up to give background on how we got here today, David came back to introduce each writer and read something from the nominated book.  And then each author had a chance to talk to us.

 First up was the lone male author, Rick Polad, the author of Change of Address: A Spencer Manning Mystery. [Ed note, since I read an author provided Kindle copy of each novel, I have linked each title to Amazon.]

Next we had Mary Hutchings Reed author of Warming Up.

And the last finalist, Joanne Zienty, author of The Things We Save

I got her sitting because she was framed so nicely from where I was sitting, but she too got up and talked to us.

As the rules of this award stipulated, the book needed to be sponsored by a library and it had to be self published, so it came as no surprise to me that each of the authors had a life long connection to the public library.

Zienty, specifically, had her book reviewed by PW Select and was surprised to find it had been purchased by some public libraries, as far away as Maine. She spoke eloquently about how I’m

David came back to remind us all that the announcement of the winner is only the beginning of our job as Illinois librarians.

And then he announced the winner...Joanne Zienty! Here is her initial reaction.

She then shared the story of how she tried to get her local library to nominate her, but due to the polar vortex, at the last moment, she had to nominate herself [she is a librarian].

You can look for more info by following #soontobefamous. There you can find the live stream and lots more photos and links there.

Soon to Be Famous Award Announcement Today

Just a quick update.  The LIVE announcement of the winner is scheduled for 2pm Central today.  I will be in attendance [along with local and national media] and hope to get some pictures and a post up immediately.

For more background on the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Project, please click here.

But before the announcement, at 12:30, David Vinjamuri, author and adjunct professor, and branding expert will be speaking on the publishing world and how librarians have way more influence than we realize.  Vinjamuri is the man who inspired the Soon to Be Famous committee to start the award and he has agreed to be a part of the marketing machine behind what is still to come.

For a taste of what Vinjamuri will be talking about check out this article from Forbes entitled, “How Public Libraries Are Solving America’s Reading Problem."

As I told a member of the committee last night, I can say in all honesty, even before the winner is announced, I am proud to have been a part of this process.

Look for the winner later today.  And after the winner is announced, look for the real work to begin. I will be chronicling those next steps here on the blog as I know there is much interest all over the country in how we leverage this award into tangible currency with the publishing world.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

National Poetry Month

The library is closed all day today for our annual staff in-service.  But I still have a pre-scheduled post.

Besides being tax day, today is also the halfway point of National Poetry Month.  I wanted to share a couple of interesting poetry related links.

First, as I was perusing the NPR Books coverage last week, I came upon this:
Help us make poetry!
April is National Poetry Month: 30 days set aside for the celebration of all things verse. Many of us here at Code Switch love poetry every month of the year, but we can't always make space for it in our coverage.
So this month, we're taking advantage of the national celebration and highlighting great poets and poems that address issues of race, ethnicity and culture.
To kick off our coverage, we're inviting you to help us create collaborative poetry on Twitter. We've invited poet Kima Jones to curate a crowd-sourced poem on the subject of race and identity. (Keep your eyes peeled for a profile of Jones tomorrow.)
This Wednesday, April 9 at 12 p.m. EST, join us on Twitter and tweet out the line you'd like to see added to the poem. Use the hashtag #CSPoetry so we can see your submission.
We'll share the final product, a co-creation of Code Switch readers and Kima Jones, and have a conversation about race, culture, poetry and creativity.

 Click here to see the poem they made.

What I took away from this community built poem was 2 things.

  1. What a great tool Twitter is for crafting poetry.  In fact, I did a bit more digging and found this link from Book Riot of 12 Twitter Accounts for Poetry Lovers to Follow.  Twitter and poetry really do fit hand in hand very nicely.
  2. Libraries could easily do something like this on Twitter or Facebook or even on a chalkboard at the library. In fact, I am going to pass this idea on to a few people here at the BPL to see if we can have our own community sourced poem.
If you have some interesting or useful National Poetry Month links or ideas to pass on, please leave a comment.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

The 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Goes To....

...The Gold Finch by Donna Tartt, for which my review is still pending.  Maybe this will kickstart me to actually finishing that review.

Monday Discussion: National Library Week

It is National Library Week.  So for today's Monday Discussion, let's share why we love the Library, as a worker or a patron.

I'll go first.

I love the library because, I can order every single book that even remotely interests me, have it show up in 3-5 days, and then read it or not, all without paying. If I did not have the library, I would be spending a lot of money buying too many books.

I love the library because I am surrounded by books.

I love working at the library because my job involves making people happy. I get to help people answer their questions (just today, I helped someone wade through the bureaucracy to get a death certificate from Texas). I bring joy to people by finding them the right book for their mood.

I love the library because it feels like home.

Now it's your turn.

Help me celebrate National Library Week by leaving a comment on why you love the Library.

For past Monday Discussions, click here.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Library Reads: May 2014

You know the drill by now.  Here is the newest Library Reads List.

I have some great RA news on using these lists though. For the first time, last week, I went through the old Library Reads lists to find someone a "good book" to take on spring break.  She was excited that it was a recommendation from a librarian.  Our seal of approval sealed the deal for her.

I will have much more on this idea of leveraging our power to help promote books next week after I live blog from these programs. But for now, go check and make sure these books are on-order at your library.

May 2014 Library Reads List


We Were Liars

by E. Lockhart

Published: 5/13/2014 by Delacorte Press
ISBN: 9780385741262
“This brilliant and heartbreaking novel tells the story of a prestigious family living on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts. Full of love, lies, secrets, no shortage of family dysfunction, and a shocking twist that you won’t see coming. Though this book is written for teens, it shouldn’t be overlooked by anyone looking for a fantastic read.”
Susan Balla, Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, CT
AlltheLight-200x300All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel

by Anthony Doerr

Published: 5/6/2014 by Scribner
ISBN: 9781476746586
“Set during World War II Europe, this novel is sobering without being sentimental. The tension builds as the alternating, parallel stories of Werner and Marie-Laure unfold, and their paths cross. I highly recommend this beautiful and compelling story.”
Kelly Currie, Delphi Public Library, Delphi, IN

The Bees: A Novel

by Laline Paull

Published: 5/6/2014 by Ecco
ISBN: 9780062331151
“This book is set entirely in a beehive, but the novel and its characters are so beautifully rendered that it could have been set anywhere. Societal codes and social mores combine with the ancient behavior rituals of bees, bringing forth a remarkable story that is sure to be a book club favorite.”
Ilene Lefkowitz, Denville Public Library, Denville, NJ
Delicious-198x300Delicious!: A Novel

by Ruth Reichl

Published: 5/6/2014 by Random House
ISBN: 9781400069620
“Billie leaves college to take a job with a soon-to-be disbanded food magazine. What follows is an intriguing story involving dusty archives, long-forgotten letters written during World War II to the illustrious James Beard, and a young woman in New York City who learns to trust her culinary talents. This novel is a delectable feast.”
Paulette Brooks, Elm Grove Public Library, Elm Grove, WI

The Forgotten Seamstress

by Liz Trenow

Published: 5/6/2014 by Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 9781402282485
“Two women’s stories, separated by close to 100 years, connect through a patchwork quilt. Carolyn finds a quilt in her mother’s attic and is intrigued by its origin, and quiltmaker Maria’s story is told through transcripts. Trenow carefully stitches together a novel about family secrets, using many interesting details about fabrics, needlework, and textile conservation. A strong sense of place and well-told story make this book superior women’s fiction.”
Leslie DeLooze, Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia, NY

Bird Box: A Novel

by Josh Malerman

Published: 5/13/2014 by Ecco
ISBN: 9780062259653
“Close your eyes! Don’t look! Something is out there that will drive you mad if you see it. Is it an alien invasion? An environmental toxin? Two sisters, Malorie and Shannon, embark on a journey seeking safety and other survivors. I was unable to put this book down. Horror at its best, not graphic, but truly creepy and scary. Highly recommended for fans of psychological suspense.”
Mary Vernau, Tyler Public Library, Tyler, TX

Bittersweet: A Novel

by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

Published: 5/13/2014 by Crown
ISBN: 9780804138567
“As unlikely a pair of roommates as you’re ever likely to meet: plain, working class Mabel Dagmar and beautiful, privileged Genevra Winslow. Mabel spends the summer in the Winslows’ idyllic lakefront property in Vermont, dreaming of being one of them–only to discover that being a Winslow is not all sunshine, yachts, and ease. Being a Winslow means keeping very disturbing family secrets.”
Nancy Russell, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Columbus, OH

Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage

by Molly Wizenberg

Published: 5/6/2014 by Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781451655094
“As Wizenberg tells the story of how she and her husband opened the successful pizza restaurant Delancey, I felt like I was hanging out with a close friend. She also shares delicious sounding recipes for the everyday food they made at home during the hectic days of launching the restaurant. Wizenberg’s writing is so sincere and relatable.”
Michelle Marx, Eagle Valley Library District, Avon, CO

Sixth Grave on the Edge: A Novel

by Darynda Jones

Published: 5/20/2014 by St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 9781250045638
“The continuing adventures of P.I. Charley Davidson and Grim Reaper (not as mutually exclusive as one would think) are just as delightful as in previous books, with new characters including a wonderfully snarky new demon. Jones expands on Charley’s existing relationships and supernatural powers. It’s the perfect paranormal-romance-mystery blend that you never knew you always wanted.”
Donna Matturri, Pickerington Public Library, Pickerington, OH

The Blessings

by Elise Juska

Published: 5/6/2014 by Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 9781455574032
“This finely-crafted story is told through a series of Blessing family members’ points of view over a two-decade span of time. A deceptively small book with very big themes, this novel is gentle and wise. It made me look at my own close and extended family with new eyes; now I see the ways in which we are alike, not the ways in which we are different. A transformative reading experience. Highly recommended.”
Janet Schneider, Great Neck Library, Great Neck, NY

Thursday, April 10, 2014

April Crime Fiction Genre Study Notes Now Available

Last week, I led the ARRT Crime Fiction Genre Study as we met at Glenview Public Library to discuss Amateur, Cozy, and Humorous Mysteries.  Click here to see our assignment.

The notes will be emailed to the participants shortly, but for the rest of the ARRT Membership, click here to access the password protected folder for the notes.

Consensus among those of us directing this ambitious project is that things are going well, so far.  I would like to particularly single out Karen from Naperville Public Library, our note taker, for fleshing out our discussion notes with some more detailed information about the series we discussed. This will make the notes even more useful to people as they go back to use what they have learned to help readers in their libraries.

The next meeting will be led by Stacey from the Batavia Public Library on Thursday, June 5th from 2-4 at Berwyn Public Library.  The topic is Mystery: Police and P.I.  Click here for the assignment.

To all the rest of you out there.  Please feel free to use our assignments as a guide for your own genre studies, just credit ARRT.  And remember, what is great about participating in any genre study is that you are getting to share and learn about a genre with your peers AND help your patrons to find new and better reads as a direct result.  It really is a fulfilling activity on so many levels.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Upcoming Online and FREE RA Training of Note

First let's start with the specific.  Booklist is having their annual Mysteries and Thrillers Webinar on April 29th.  It is always one I eagerly await each year, but this year, since I am supervising the Crime Fiction Genre Study, I am going to be paying special attention.

Click here to register for free and to see the other webinars they are offering.  Also, click here for access to past webinars through the archive. Again it's free and it's librarians and publishers sharing information.  You need to be a part of this.

The second training announcement is more broad, in a good way.  Please see this press release about the next upcoming RUSA CODES Conversation:

Ask Us (the 500) Anything: An Open, Free-for-All, Forum on Anything Related to RA

April 22-23, 2014

The success of these CODES Conversations has gathered a community of over 500 people who participate in or monitor the two-day discussions on readers’ advisory services. One of the great attractions of the conversation is the way participants share ideas and their own experience in providing RA services. For this next discussion, we are opening the floor to all 500 and will host an expansive version of a Q&A session on RA. Ask us (all 500 of us) anything. Pick a topic; raise a question; and the rest of us will chime in, sharing our wealth of experience and practices with all. Some of the people who will participate include (I thought we could list a few of us from the committee and then some who are not – if we can email and find out if x,y,z were going to be on – and who should x,y,z be?)

Any question is the perfect question but to get the ball rolling we thought of some starter ones:

What are some no-fail sure-bet suggestions?
How do you talk with a reader who has no idea what she wants to read?
How do you talk about a book you thought was awful?
How do you incorporate RA into staff evaluations?
What makes a review useful?
What are the best sources for keeping up with new titles and genres?

This free, moderated discussion is open to all—just subscribe to the discussion at http://lists.ala.org/sympa/subscribe/codes-convos, then follow and contribute (or lurk!) as you wish.
CODES Conversations are focused electronic conversations on current issues facing collection development and readers’ advisory librarians—or anyone interested in those areas.  
How to unsubscribe: 
Go to http://lists.ala.org/sympa/sigrequest/codes-convos. Put in the email address you used to subscribe and hit the unsubscribe button.


Look, I know there are some people who try to participate in these conversations and can't stand all of the emails, but I have to say, I have never been disappointed by one of these conversations.  I have come out of every single one having learned something and it was well worth the barrage of messages.

And this new one...it's like a dream come true!  I love these opportunities for people to bring their questions about anything.  As a presenter and trainer myself, I sometimes feel boxed in by the constraints of the prepared talk.  I would much rather someone bring me in to facilitate a sharing of ideas session like this one. I like to share my thoughts, yes, but I also love to hear what other people have to say, especially if it challenges my opinion.  That's the only way to grow, learn, and improve.

I am quite excited to see this conversation.  I am going to try very hard to participate.  But at the very least, I will get a better sense of the issues you all are thinking about by following along and I can tailor my posts and programs to your actual needs after this.

I highly recommend both of these RA training opportunities. Hope to [virtually] see you there.