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.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Reader Question About Listen-a-Likes

Here is another real life question from a librarian in the trenches of RA Service. I have received permission to share this question from Pat at Crystal Lake [IL] Public Library. Below I share the question and my response.

If you have a question about a specific patron-- contact me and let’s work on it. I might use it here on the blog to help others.

My colleagues and I work with an avid reader with visual difficulties.  At this point she is only able to read via audiobooks and goes through about 10 books a week.  She loves the readers George Guidall and Simon Prebble and mostly wants to read spy fiction or thrillers (no Patterson!).  We are starting to exhaust our supply of audiobooks narrated by these two narrators.  She realizes the situation and is starting to soften on trying other readers, but she is fairly particular about it. My question for you:  Is there a place to go to find sound-alikes for a particular narrator?  Novelist has listen-alikes, but I don’t think the focus is on a specific narrator.
Beckys Answer:

You are correct, there are no specific “listen-a-like” sources. Some of this is because of the fact that people like a narrator for many reasons- some of which as you note in your question have to do with fact that narrators don’t stick to one genre. Prebble and Guidall are two excellent narrators who do read many types of books. 

So while I don’t have a specific sound-a-like resource that will solve her problems magically, I do have a couple of suggestions on ways to help her that she can participate in with you. The result will be more titles for her to enjoy.

First, figure out her favorite books narrated by these two men. Then help her find straight readalikes for those series. But, look them up on Audible before suggesting a title.  This way you can not only listen to a snippet of the narration with her, but you can read her customer reviews that speak about the narration specifically.  Make sure to look at the 5 star and 2 star reviews so that you can see the lovers and the critics. This will help you narrow down the type of book she is looking for first and then select the narrator second.

On Audible you can search by genre and narrator. So if you use NoveList and Goodreads to find readalikes based on the story, then you can go into Audible to refine it a little more. 

Second, in this case Prebble and Guidall are Golden Voices on Audiofile Magazine. The Golden Voice database is an excellent place to begin helping her. Let her know that these are other narrators deemed the best of the best, just like her two favorites. You can start there by listening to others and reading interviews with them about their work. I have had great luck using this page as a starting point to help my audiobook readers who care about the narrator as much as, or even more than, the story itself.

From my experience with patrons who have similar tastes I think she would probably also like Simon Vance and/or Dion Graham. I would start with them. Both read suspense and thrillers.

In general, however, Audiofile Magazine is the only place where you can read critical information about narrators, from reviews to interviews to essays. It takes a little more digging than a simple NoveList search, but everything has an audio clip. Both you and your patron will love using it together. There is so much information there, and since she is willing to try something new, you are bound to find something she will enjoy.

This two-pronged attack will settle the listen-a-like issue because you are considering both the story she wants to read and the style of narration. It is clear that you cannot divorce one from the other with this patron. I am similar. There are narrators I adore in general, but when they narrate a book I don’t like, I still don’t like it. 

Also, since she is such a voracious consumer of audiobooks, this strategy will work well over time. You will never “run out” of books by a specific narrator again because you are considering the content and the narration together. There are always new books coming out, and she will find new series and narrators she enjoys. All of which create more connection points to match her with her next good listen. This strategy broadens her options and will allow you to keep helping her indefinitely. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Make All of Your Displays Interactive-- Both for Staff and Patrons

Today's post is inspired by one of my new favorite tips to share with the staff I work with in person. I often say these things so much to the people I actually come into contact with that I worry I am repeating myself. And then, I remember that the vast majority of you interact with me here and not in person. So, today I am passing on my love of building a patron friendly library where conversation is not only encouraged, but runs rampant, and it all starts with making sure every single staff member and patron/user at your library has a chance to participate in your service to leisure readers.

That is my overall goal for all of you in your service to leisure readers. It is the thesis statement behind everything I say, do, and teach.

Displays are one of the easiest ways to get this participation bonanza going, and the end of the year is the best time to start. Why? Well it’s because everyone has an opinion on what THE BEST thing they read or watched this year was. And these opinions are varied and different. And that is AWESOME for a display.

Let’s start with the concept first and then a specific example second.

You need to make every single display you do participatory in some way. Patrons are used to seeing displays, they are used to browsing them, they are used to taking books from them, but they are never asked to help build them.

Likewise, while specific staff members or departments are responsible putting up and taking down displays, why aren’t all staff members asked to help with ideas or to fill the display?

The more voices and opinions we include in building the displays, the better our displays are because they represent a wider view of the “topic.” You cannot and will not think of every possible book that could work on any given display. But the collective brain-- you, staff, patrons-- working together will by default have a wider view of the topic at hand, thus creating a better and more responsive display.

Here is a specific example that works very well at this time of the year and can be a great starting point to creating more participatory displays all year long.

Take an empty display shelf, one near a service desk and put a sign on the top-- WHAT IS THE BEST THING YOU CHECKED OUT OF THE LIBRARY THIS YEAR? Send an email to staff and ask them to put a few things that answers this question for them in the display.  Then sit back and watch patrons and staff fill it for you!

Now, a couple of problems right off the back that I will address.  One, yes, you might get kids filling it with sex, poop, and fart books. But, if it is in a high traffic area you can monitor it. Two, if you ask people to take books off the shelf and put them in a display that means the item may not be where the catalog says it is. This is valid, but to answer it I always say, “Has there every been a day when everything you looked for was exactly where it was supposed to be?” The answer is always NO. So take a deep breath and get over it. If you are doing this type of display, you will know to check the interactive display if an item is not on the shelf before declaring it “missing."

Here’s why this display is awesome:

  • This display becomes a community created best lists where everyone’s voice and opinion counts. As the organizer of this display make sure you are keeping a record of the items that show up in the display. You can then release the community best list-- in print, online, heck even let the newspaper know. I know my local paper would LOVE this as an article. And you did nothing. You simply asked them to tell you what was “best."
  • A display of this kind allows ANY ITEM you carry to be considered best. From book to video to Go Pro camera-- whatever that patron thinks was the best thing they checked out this year is included.
  • This best list is not dependent upon the items released in the current year. At the library, the year something came out is not as relevant as other places. But every other outlet will be focused on the best of 2017. 
  • You get a real time sense of what in your collection is deemed the most useful by your patrons. If they are telling you they loved it, you should probably get more of that “it.” Also, you should probably get readalikes for that “it.” When do we get such honest and useful feedback? Um, never.
  • Don’t overestimate how much fun patrons will have adding books to a library display shelf. You seriously might never get them to stop. And I would argue that you shouldn’t even ask them to stop. They should always feel free to add to our displays. In fact, it is weird that this is NOT a thing. [Side note: in 2018, I am going to make this a thing so that in the future people will think it was weird that we never let patrons add to our displays. Stay tuned.]
  • People now know that you care what they think. You might be the nicest most helpful library in the world, but patrons think of the library workers as experts who don’t want their regular person opinions. I know we do want them, but they don’t know we do. And who can blame them? It’s not like we ever asked. 

Now to keep this going all year long----

Every display should have an interactive element. Sometimes it will be big like the above example, but other times, it may be smaller and more subtle.

To include staff going forward, let them know ahead of time your upcoming topics. Ask them to contribute [if they want] titles to that display. Not only will you get a title you might not have thought of, but also, you may find out that a staff member really likes a genre or type of book and you had no idea. That not only helps you to identify another resource when you get a reader with similar tastes, but it builds camaraderie between staff members. It helps to remind us that while we all work in a specific department, we have likes across all departments and we are all a single team working together to help all patrons. As we stay in our specific departments, this team attitude often gets forgotten.

You can also move on to soliciting topics of future displays from all staff too. Having been part of a team that did multiple displays a month for 15 years, I know that we all run out of new ideas. Why aren’t we asking staff from other parts of the library for ideas too?  For that matter, why aren’t we asking patrons what topic of displays they want to see?

Which leads me to an easy way to make a display interactive for patrons. You don’t always have to invite them to add books to the displays to include them [but in general, I think this is a great idea for every display, every time, as I mention above]. But, you can always have a question to go with every display, a small pile of paper, and a box for them to leave the answers. So if you have a display of historical fiction, for example, you could have a sign with a question like-- What is Your Favorite Time Period to Read About? or What Time Would You Travel To If You Could? or even, What Historical Eras Do You Want Us To Have More Books About?

All of these questions will help you to serve your readers better. You can put these out with the physical display and on your social media channels. People get to express their opinions and we find out what truly interest them. The result is that we can develop our collections to better suit their wants AND our displays go from ho-hum to must visit by patrons. They will want to come back to see what we are asking them.

Again, staff should be encouraged to participate too.

When we ask people-- staff or patrons-- to participate in our service they feel like they are important. And they always have been, but we do not show them that we believe this nearly often enough . We can’t do our jobs of helping leisure readers without our fellow staff members or the patrons. All are vital to our success. They have value and can truly help us elevate our service-- but we have to ask.

Interactive displays are fun. They are a slight twist to a core service. And the results both physical and psychological are priceless.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

LibraryCon Live! Coming to a Computer Near Your on Dec. 6th!

Click here to Register for FREE!!!!
I realized that I signed up for Library Journal’s virtual Con and never passed it on here on the blog.

Thankfully there is still time for you to sign up here. Below I am posting the information from that sign up page, but a few comments first.

One of the moderators is my friend and co-StokerCon 2018 Librarians’ Day Coordinator, Kristi Chadwick. She has told me about some of the things that are planned and I can’t wait.

Second, everyone will want to tune in for the panel on how to plan a Con at your library. This is a huge growth area for libraries. My local library does an Anime-fest which is run like a Con. It grows every year and soon we might outgrow our space.  Trust me, on the outside you wouldn’t think my town would be a hot bed on Anime activity, but it is. You all need to hear from these libraries who have planned and run successful Cons.

Third, the opening and closing speakers are both excellent.

And fourth, whether you are a fan of SF, FSY, and Graphic Novels yourself or not, I promise you, your patrons ARE. Genre geekdom no longer hides in the shadows, and they want the library to serve them. So if you are not a fan yourself, you need this Con to help you get up to speed.

I realize very few, if any, of us can sit and watch the entire thing all day, but it is free to sign up. You can pop in and out, and you will get access to the recordings after. This is going to be a fun and useful event. And, you don’t have to travel or pay a dime. Go....get signed up now.

Still not convinced by no travel and no money? Here are the full details from the sign up page:
Join Library Journal and School Library Journal for our inaugural LibraryCon Live! We’re excited to offer a day-long celebration of fandom-beloved stories and characters, from pulse-pounding sci-fi horror to innovative reboots of classic series to mind-bending speculative fiction across formats. You’ll also learn from librarians and industry insiders on how to plan and host your own Comic Con-style event.
Plus, network online with other fans and explore our virtual exhibit hall where you’ll hear directly from publishers about their newest books and engage in live chats with featured authors. Whether you’re a public or school librarian, an educator of teens and young adults, or a superfan of graphic novels and sci-fi/fantasy, don’t miss this chance to meet and interact with some of your favorite stars across these genres.
Speakers include:
Opening Keynote:  John Jennings, (Lee & Low Books)
Superheroes, Super Powers, and the Supernatural
  • Joshua Dysart, (Penny Farthing)
  • Sina Grace, (Marvel)
  • Dr. Sheena C. Howard, (Lion Forge)
  • Jill Thompson, (Penguin Random House/DC Comics)
  • Peter Tomasi, (Penguin Random House/DC Comics)
  • Keezy Young, (Lion Forge)
  • Jason Puckett, (Georgia State University)
How to Plan and Host Your Own Library Con
  • Helen Crosson and Liz Hughes, (Half Hollow Hills Library, NY)
  • Marissa Lieberman, (East Orange Public Library, NJ)
  • Maggie Novario, (Fort Vancouver Regional Library District, WA)
  • Christina “Steenz” Stewart, (Lion Forge)
  • Ivy Weir, (Quirk Books)
Escape and Enchant: The Mind-Bending World of Speculative Fiction
  • Katherine Arden, (Penguin Random House/Del Rey)
  • Pierce Brown, (Penguin Random House)
  • Edgar Cantero, (Penguin Random House/Doubleday)
  • Fonda Lee, (Orbit)
  • Axie Oh, (Lee & Low)
  • Scott Westerfeld, (Macmillan)
  • Kristi Chadwick, (Massachusetts Library System)
Exploring the “Invisible Art” of Comics
  • Grace Ellis, (Image Comics)
  • Tony Medina, (Lee & Low)
  • Cyril Pedrosa, (Europe Comics)
  • Alex Segura, (Penguin Random House/Archie Comics)
  • Brenna Thummler, (Andrews McMeel)
Closing Keynote: Gene Luen Yang, (Penguin Random House/DC Comics)
LibraryCon Live! is a free, completely virtual conference—no traveling and no cost!
Register now! We look forward to ‘seeing’ you on December 6th.
Thank you to our sponsors:
Penguin Random House Library Marketing
Diamond Book Distributors
Andrews McMeel Universal
Archie Comics
Baker & Taylor
DC Entertainment
Del Rey Books
Europe Comics
Image Comics
Junior Library Guild
Lee & Low Books 
Lion Forge
Penguin Young Readers Group
Penny-Farthing Productions
Quirk Books

Monday, November 27, 2017

Call to Action: RA Service is Just As Important as Reference

Today’s Call to Action is a reminder, for you, for your colleagues, or for the world at large. We may work with leisure readers-- people who are looking for items to fill their free time-- and we may deal in “popular materials," but that does not make the work we do any less important than our friends and colleagues over in reference.

This needs to be said out loud-- by me, by you who do this work, and by those who we work for. And it needs to be said to our entire profession.


Because I still get librarians coming to me to argue that what I do is nice and good for PR or customer service, but that it isn’t “important.”

Well, you’re wrong. It actually is very important. The public library is one of the only places in our world where everyone is accepted for who they are, and it is a place where we give people what they want to enrich their lives, lives that are sometimes harder than even those who work with these patrons can imagine. The work we do with popular materials does spread not only enrich the lives of our patrons, but it can teach them the skills they need to survive in today’s crazy world.

Leisure reading and viewing allows escape [everyone needs a break]. Leisure reading and viewing allows people to learn about the world around them in a non threatening way, and for many at a reading/comprehension level that is accessible to them too. Leisure reading and viewing opens the world up in a way many people would never be able to experience- be it by introducing them to people and places they would not be able to encounter or ideas and opinions they have never seen or heard. Leisure reading and viewing offer comfort to people. These are just a few of the ways our work with popular, leisure items IS important and vital to our patrons.

RA Service and the real world are colliding. People are turning to books and media to soothe, question, challenge, explore, or just look for answers in this crazy time we are all living through. What you are doing is important to your patrons’ daily existence. It is important to the mission of the institution of the Public Library, and it deserves the respect of all staff. This importance is becoming impossible for us to ignore any longer.

Recently, RUSA CODES hosted an email conversation that proved this point as library workers from all over the country gathered together to share how their work with readers is intersecting with other real world issues. I talked about it beforehand in this post.

Now that conversation’s main point have been gathered into notes that every single one of you can access here. 

What I noticed both by following the conversation AND looking over the notes now after the fact is how much we are all realizing that the work we do does have quite a bit of overlap with issues and discussions that used to be deemed as outside of our “popular materials” scope. We cannot and should not stay out of the fray anymore.

So the Call to Action today is two fold. First, as I said above, RA work is vital and important to the lives of our patrons. Scream it from the rooftops for everyone to hear--


I saw this in action each and every day I worked at the service desk and I see it each and every place I go to help other library workers provide the RA Service their communities’ deserve. But, we have to believe this ourselves before we can convince everyone else.

And second, read the RUSA CODES Convo notes to see how library workers are already bridging the divide between popular materials and serious real world issues. Get inspired. Think about what you are already doing. Think about what more you could be doing. And then, get to work.

For past Call to Action posts, click here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Trend Alert: Podcast RA- Stop Making Excuses and Start Doing It

I am working on a webinar for my local library system entitled: What’s To Come in 2018?: Assessing and Staying On Top of Adult Leisure Reading and Collection Development Trends. Here is the description:

For library workers who assist leisure readers, whether it is from the front desk, the reference desk, or as you roam the stacks, staying on top of the latest trends is imperative. Our patrons expect us to know what’s hot before they do. They expect us to have the items ready and waiting for them as soon as they request them. And with all of the other job duties we have to worry about, sometimes we are not a responsive to the most current trends as we could be. But assessing trends in leisure reading and collection development is an essential job duty, and it is not nearly as difficult as you may think. Join noted Readers’ Advisory expert Becky Spratford for a webinar that will be fun and useful. She will walk you through the current trends in adult leisure collections and teach you the tips and tricks you can use to stay in the know all year long. Before you know it, your library will be trending in your community.
This program will look back at the biggest leisure reading and collection development trends of 2017 and look ahead at what will be trending in those areas in 2018. In this webinar I will do more than list trends, however, I am also going to teach you how to stay on top of trends all year long and use that information to make your collection as responsive as possible to your patrons’ tastes. An in true Becky fashion, I even have a few unorthodox surprises.

The live version of this webinar will be on Thursday, January 18, 2018 from 9:30-11 am central, but you need to be a member of RAILS to attend. They will make the recording available on their YouTube page for everyone reading this to be able to access it though.

As part of my preparation for this program I have been more intensively researching the current trends in leisure reading. Of course I am always doing this as my "Trending” tagged posts attest to; in fact, the increased frequency of these posts it what led me to turn these ideas into a webinar in the first place. But because I want this program to be as useful [and fun] as possible, I am looking at all areas of collection development-- including weeding.

Which leads to today's post, a post that will also be useful to you at the Thanksgiving table as I am sure some of your friends and family will be asking you about this very topic. Why? Because it is a huge trend-- the increase in the number of people who listen to podcasts. Seriously, everyone has a podcast the listen to. Even grandma. Many of us will be asked about podcasts and which ones are good this holiday, but we should also use the holiday as a chance to ask our friends and family about their podcast habits. As you will see below, it will serve you as a great practice exercise for when you go back to work. Also, what are your other options to talk about? Politics? Sexual Harassment?

The increase in people listening to podcasts is also one of the reasons industry experts are citing in response to the huge increases in audiobook sales. It is past time for us to be thinking about Listen-Alikes and Read Alikes to go with podcasts-- and I don’t just mean giving the Welcome to Nightvale podcast fans the books based on the series either.

There is one obstacle in our way to providing podcast advisory, it is an argument a director gave to me when I suggested he provide this service to his patrons, and it is valid but misguided. He said that his staff shouldn’t help people find more podcasts because podcasts are not circulated by the library.

Well, this is true, BUT we help people find answers to reference questions all of the time and those questions have nothing to do with what we circulate. Someone who needs information about a government service for example. We look up the answer and help them, but not a thing circulates in this transaction. If you look at a patron who wants more podcasts like the one they are currently obsessed with as a reference question, there is no way you wouldn’t help them.

However, the bigger issue here is that podcasts are a HUGE trend and we need to be more responsive to what our patrons are currently excited about. We need to anticipate what they want. So if we know that people are listening to more podcasts, why don’t we have “If you like Lore, here are some books you may enjoy too” displays. The resistance to doing this reminds me of when people were hesitant to make “If you like________ TV show/movie” book displays read this book. It used to just be books made into movies and now we have many “Read, Watch, Listen” type displays. [People, that wasn’t too long ago.]

But Becky, how do I know about all the different podcasts so I can help them find a book or audiobook to match? The answer-- you don’t have to know! Just like you don’t have to know about every book. What you do have to know is how to talk to patrons about WHY they enjoy that podcast. And guess what?  That is the same skill you use when talking to them about the books they like. Stop making excuses and start doing your job.

Ask patrons what podcasts they listen to and why they enjoy them. Listen for the adjectives-- the narration, the tone, the pacing, the characters, etc.... You can then use your traditional RA resources to find them a book or audio book to match their appeal preferences.

I know this may seem daunting to some of you, but fear not, I have a resource to get your started. This month, Library Journal had a wonderful article about podcasts with  listen-alikes. It was their audiobooks column so all the suggestions are to listen to which I understand, BUT please don’t forget that not all podcast listeners ONLY want to listen in their free time. Yes, audiobooks are the most natural segue-way, but I also know that an increase in listening to storytelling [and by the way, whether it is nonfiction or fiction, podcasts tell a story-- end of discussion.] has led some people to read more books. I have seen it with my own patrons and family members. Many get hooked on consuming stories and crave more and more. Books are a natural bridge to more stories.

We need to be asking about podcasts as part of the RA conversation regularly now. It is a great way to assess what type of story the patron would like. We need to offer them audio and print options. We need to more regularly make podcast to library item suggestions in lists and displays. Why not pick a small area to do it weekly? All it would take is a print out of the podcast logo as a sign and then put out a few books to go with it. You could rotate that frequently and easily.

We need to let patrons know that even though we don’t “circulate” podcasts we still want to help fans of this medium find more options for their leisure time, things we do have that they would love, if only they knew about them. See, it is exactly the same job we do when matching books with readers.

On a side note, I think we have to start thinking of our job in RA service as matching stories with readers. But that’s a post for another day.

And if you are reading this and nodding along because your library is already having a lively discussion about podcasts in these ways, BRAVO. But don’t rest on your laurels. The next step in this process is to host Podcast Discussion Groups. Yes, you read that right- Podcast Discussion Groups. Pick a thought provoking podcast episode, assign it to be listened to, or listen to it together, and then have a discussion.

There is always more to do as we assess trends and figure out where the library can fit in and be responsive to our patrons and their current obsessions. And sometimes we get lucky, as this podcast trend attests to, because we are already well prepared to step in immediately.

This will be my last post of the week. Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving everyone. And don’t forget to ask everyone at the dinner table what podcast they are listening to.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Guest Post: Michelle’s Report on the Hawaii State Library Conference

Today my colleague Michelle Young is sharing her  experience at her state library conference in Hawaii.

There is much to learn from here for all of my readers. Plus, she has included the speakers names and affiliations. Please feel free to reach out to these individuals if you want more information.

And finally, thank you Michelle.

2017 Hawai`i Library Association-Hawai`i Association of School Librarians Joint Conference 
October 27-28, 2017 | University of Hawai`i-Mānoa Campus Center
Michelle Young, Branch Manager, Waimea Public Library

General Conference Summary
I was pleased by my overall conference experience. All the sessions I attended were relevant and interesting. The keynote speakers on Saturday were outstanding—although I was weary by the end of the conference, Rebekkah Aldrich kept saying things that compelled me to take out the pen I had put away! Most of all, I appreciated the chance to talk with other librarians in Hawaii, including other HSPLS staff members that I met for the first time and school librarians who suggested ways to build partnerships.
Friday, October 27
Keynote Speaker 1: Cultural Sustainability
Keiki Kawai`ae`a, Ph.D., Native Hawaiian Education Council; UH Hilo
Presented content from Ulukau (ulukau.org), the Hawaiian Electronic Library, which features Hawaiian language books and journals, Hawaiian curriculum materials, a database of Hawaiian place names, and Hawaiian genealogy records. 
Takeaway: Great resource for Hawaiian charter schools!
Possible Futures for Libraries? Are You Ready?
Stacey Aldrich, Jarrid Keller
Ms. Aldrich and Mr. Keller talked about how assumptions affect decisions and actions. Therefore it’s important to make these assumptions explicit to clarify our mental models. They presented a story about a family living in 2035. Audience members brainstormed needs for each family members that the library could fulfill. We considered what kind of space, skills, and other resources the library would need to provide relevant services. Finally, we discussed what libraries would need to do now to prepare for this possible future.
Takeaways: Track trends and anticipate what needs our patrons will have in the future. Be clear on library’s mission so we can stay true to that even as the way we deliver services may look different.
Thinking Beyond the Book: Circulating Non-Traditional Materials
Meri Healey, Rebekah Scheffer
Marine Corps Base Hawaii Library staff talked about surprising items they circulate to their patrons. These items include Go Pro video cameras, cake pans, knitting tools, STEM kits, board games, musical instruments, and more! Due to space limitations, the library’s “makerspace” is portable, i.e. patrons check out items to take home.
Takeaways: Care more about patrons using items instead of things remaining in pristine condition. Offer a program to introduce people to STEM kits--people are eager to borrow items once they see a product demonstrated. 
Sustainability of Public Libraries in this Digital Climate: Transforming Communities Through Digital and Information Literacy
Sharrese Castillo (Wahiawa Public Library), Kelsey Domingo (Nanakuli Public Library)
Public librarians receive more questions about using computers and the internet than for other library resources. They noted the persistence of the “digital divide,” or unequal access to information and communication technologies. 
Digital literacy skills are increasingly necessary to apply for jobs. Also government services are moving online (e.g. federal taxes). E.g. patron applied for job—form online-only, required e-mail address, which in turn required a phone number for a code.
We need to improve library staff’s ability to teach digital and info literacy skills. Approach computer help like a reference interview. One-on-one help is good because people may be too embarrassed to ask for help in a group.
Takeaways: Refreshed my commitment to helping patrons navigate the world wide web. Also got me thinking about the public library’s role in teaching digital and info literacy since schools often do not teach these skills. As public’s information needs change, our services need to evolve as well.
Unbusying the Busy: Public Librarians Employing Social Media for Professional Development
Vanessa Irwin, Michelle Moore, Michelle Young
The Librarians’ Inquiry Forum (LINQ) promotes inquiry-based professional development for librarians through social media. Ms. Irwin (associate LIS professor at UH-Manoa) applied this model with 15 branch managers from the Hawaii State Public Library System from Fall 2016 to Summer 2017. 
Librarians reflected upon their work and discussed library issues via Slack, a work-oriented social media platform. Administrators created channels with guiding questions for topics such as programming and community engagement. Librarians wrote and responded to each other’s posts, and shared photos and documents. A positive outcome was that librarians connected and collaborated despite being on different islands. 
A persistent theme was that librarians felt they were too “busy” to participate. Does being busy make librarians feel important and relevant? Does being too busy for professional development suggest a resistance to growth and/or change? There’s a perception that reflective activity takes away from “real work.” However, it’s important to prioritize self-care because it enables staff to provide better public service.
Takeaways: How can library workers prioritize professional development? Need to find ways to support staff to engage in PD to improve practice and avoid burnout.

Saturday, October 28
Keynote Speaker 2: Environmental Sustainability
Randall Kosaki, Ph.D., National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Mr. Kosaki presented about his work studying the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. He shared stunning photographs of ocean life, sobering statistics about our oceans’ health, and insightful anecdotes about his research work. Mr. Kosaki also seamlessly connected his subject matter with the importance of books, knowledge, and libraries. 
Takeaways: I was reading a book about presentation skills, and this guy exemplified all of them! Everything he said and showed served to promote a sense of wonder about ocean life. He communicated with conviction without being sensational. 
Culture + Heritage = Place-Based Learning!
Violet Harada, Patricia Louis, Audrey Okemura, Lori Chun
What learning matters to students? How do we facilitate this learning? Goal is to create learners who produce knowledge and contribute to society.
Inquiry learning stimulates curiosity, focuses on questions, allows personalization, uses real-world contexts, and builds empathy (for heart and mind knowledge). 
Place-based learning links students to where they live and who they are. The community IS the classroom. Find and embrace community stories that make students care. 
Each school librarian talked about learning goals for their project, the librarian’s roles and teacher’s roles, standards addressed, community partners involved, big questions asked, primary and secondary sources used, project results, and student reflections.
Japanese-American interment project at Kaimuki High School (Lori Chun)
Analyzed impact of internment of over 2,000 Japanese-Americans in Hawaii during WWII on individuals and families. Advocated for Honouluili Internment Camp to become a national monument—and President Obama approved! Students reflected that it’s important to learn about past injustices in history so they don’t happen again.
Student-produced play featuring cultural practices from ports visited by the Hokule`a at Kamehameha Schools (Patricia Louis)
Librarian worked with 5th grade teachers to help students produce a play—involves research to build background knowledge, writing script and music, making costumes and building props. Students learned about cultures and issues of native peoples encountered by Hokule`a on journey.
Dangers of plastic marine debris and advocacy for responsible resource management at Pearl City High School (Audrey Okemura)
Study human impact on the environment, create an upcycled product, promote public awareness. Field trip to littered beach—picked up trash, analyzed by type (plastics, metals, etc.). 100% of students said their appreciation for the environment and the gravity of the situation increased. 
Takeaways: These librarians clearly defined their roles in their partnership with teachers at their schools. Place-based learning is meaningful and impacts students’ hearts and minds.
Toddler Time and Beyond: Creating Programs for Our Youngest Patrons
Danielle Todd
Early literacy does NOT equal teaching young kids to read and write. It’s about nurturing skills they need to know before they learn to read and write.
Goal is to create positive experiences for families from their child’s birth. Why focus on toddlers? Kindergarten is too late! Get families in the habit of visiting the library. 
Every Child Ready to Read 2 increases impact of storytime by educating caregivers about early learning practices (read, write, talk, sing, play)
  • Consider HELDS (Hawaii Early Learning and Development Standards) when planning storytimes. 
  • Use giant Post-Its for song lyrics
  • Overall experience matters more than a single book. OK to abandon book that’s not working.
  • Literacy tipsparents are more likely to do activities at home AND see library as an important place for learning. Practice tips so they feel natural. 
Big play date program--offer a variety of activities that are easy to duplicate at home. Though planned for young children, all ages showed up (whole family) so adjusted to monthly all-ages program (e.g. movie, glow in the dark party, bookend painting). Scaffold activities for different levels. Give everyone something to do. Make signs with “Did you know?” early learning facts and prompts for parents to ask their kids.
Takeaways: Some communities want to bring their whole families to the library, so good to plan activities for all ages, not just original target group. Try making signs with teaching tips for parents and suggested questions to engage their children.
Graphic Novels and You: Let’s Talk Story about GNs in Your Library
Kelly Ann Campbell (Mililani Public Library), Hillary Chang (McCully-Moiliili Public Library)
GNs belong in all libraries! Saying you don’t collect them is like saying you don’t collect mysteries. 
Consider that Jane Austen’s novels were looked down upon during her time but now are regarded as classics.
Japanese comics are often shocking to American readers. Hillary theorizes that because Japanese must be ultra-controlled in public, they let loose in literature. 
Place GNs wherever they will circulate most. Separate collections are good, but depends on space.
Use Wikipedia to see where a series will end to see if you want to invest in the whole thing.
Takeaways: Graphic novels shouldn’t be on the periphery of collection development, they are integral to our collections.
Growing and Sustaining Instructional Partnerships Through Professional Development
Sandra Yamamoto (Kapolei High School)
Roadblocks to collaboration: perception of school librarian, isolated, time, trust
How to build trust with teachers? How to engage students inundated with tech (but not necessarily using effectively)? 
Teach the tech but don’t let it take over! SAMR model (with example of writing a book report)
  • Substitution—replace tech (word processing software vs pen and paper)
  • Augmentation—functionally improve tech (spell check)
  • Modification—task redesigned by tech used (use Google Slides to collaborate, include multimedia files)
  • Redefinition—task cannot be done without tech (create a book trailer—record a video and voiceover, edit in iMovie)
Focus on supporting teachers in navigating tech, which will in turn impact student learning. 
Teacher attendance in after-school PD classes dwindled, so the librarian wrote a proposal to offer PD credit (for promotions) as an incentive. Class topics based on teacher requests. The librarian models use tools, and provides examples of classroom integration. Also extends support, e.g. teach a class, review lessons integrating technology. 
People are not sure what librarians do! We are bartenders in the library. Be like Sam I Am (persistent)—what are your green eggs and ham?
Takeaways: Be creative in motivating teachers to engage. Can have great impact on students by influencing teachers. Teach teach tools that have meaningful applications. 
Keynote Speaker 3: Library Sustainability
Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, SustainableLibraries.org
Libraries must demonstrate their value. We need to tell the story of who we are. We have a PR problem--according to Pew Research report, 91% of people approve of the library; however, 30% are not sure what libraries do! 
It’s not about books—it’s about what’s inside (stories, knowledge).
Koch brothers fund Super PAC that intervenes in local campaigns to spread misinformation which confuses even library supporters. Outside forces are influencing local elections.
Facilitate focus groups—don’t guess! Talk to library users and library non-users.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs--as librarians, we thought we would be addressing self-actualization needs (at top), but often address bottom-level needs (at bottom).
Disruption WILL happen. Strong social fabric where people know and trust each other essential for resilient communities. Libraries’ role is “first restorer”—help people get back to normal in the aftermath of disaster.
Be strategic in delivering unique value. Service should be intensely localbuild loyalty. Communicate what your library’s website can’t.
Start With Why, Simon Sinek—talk about WHY we do instead of WHAT we do. Eg Talk about a mah-jongg program as a social opportunity, not just a game. 
Be community-focused instead of library-focused. Connect people who want to do the work to make the community a better place. Step up as sustainability leaders. 
Sustainability is where these three intersect: environmentally sound, economically feasible, socially equitable. Sustainable—endure. Resilient—bounce back. Regenerative—bring new life!
New York Library Association Sustainability Initiative. No one path. Align for impact. There is no map—use a compass.
Don’t wait to be invited to the table. Convene conversations. Be bold!

Takeaways: So much to think about—and act upon—from this presentation! I was struck by the importance of talking about WHY we do things instead of WHAT we do. So for storytime, instead of saying it’s about reading books and singing songs, I can say the library equips parents to teach foundational skills that their kids need for a lifetime of learning.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Guest Post: Lisa on Hosting an Adult Book Talk Program

A few weeks ago my colleague Lisa Meierkort mentioned to me that she started doing prepared book talks for adults and they were a huge hit. I asked her to share her experiences with all of you.

Thanks Lisa.

But before we get to her post, if you have something you do at your library to serve leisure readers, something you think others could learn from, contact me. Maybe you’ll be contributing the next guest post.


I am so flattered that Becky asked me to write a guest post! I worked with Becky years ago for a few months when I covered a maternity leave at the Berwyn library. I must say, seeing all that Berwyn did with Readers’ Advisory inspired me to do more. RA has really become my niche in my current job at the Frankfort [IL] Public Library District.

In May 2016, I gave a short presentation during our staff in-service about RA and how staff at all levels could be involved. Using the talents of our on-staff graphic designer, we created a display using staff photos, descriptions of what they each like to read, and their favorite books. I leveraged this into a bi-monthly RA e-newsletter for our patrons, in which one staff member and their picks are highlighted.

I am grateful to work at a library that allows for plenty of professional development opportunities. I was able to attend Library Journal’s Day of Dialog when it was in Chicago in 2016 and really enjoyed it. The 2017 Day of Dialog took place in New York and the entire event was livestreamed. After a discussion with my department head, we decided to use the 2017 DoD as the basis for a booktalk presentation at the library.

At the Frankfort Public Library District, we have four in-house book discussions run by librarians, as well as around a dozen community book clubs that order their discussion books through us. We decided that gearing the booktalks for book club members would be a great outreach opportunity. We titled it Book Club Booktalks, and I had my work cut out for me.

I began by watching the livestream (and then the archive) of the Day of Dialog. Many of the books highlighted were not yet published and sounded like they would be great for group discussions. Part of what I love about the Day of Dialog is hearing the authors themselves discuss their own books. This event introduced me to the majority of the books I talked about.

As preparation continued, I attended two free Booklist-sponsored webinars that focused on titles appropriate for book clubs. One of the webinars focused more on slightly older and backlist titles, but they were both informative. Additionally, ALA Annual occurred during this time, so a colleague brought me booklets and printouts highlighting titles that publishers thought were good for discussion.

Using all of these resources, I narrowed down my list to 27 titles. Most were not yet published when my planning began, but many came out in the months surrounding my event. Once the selections were made, I began to work on my talk. I created a Google Slide presentation with basic information about each book and a picture of the cover. I edited publisher blurbs down to 2-3 sentences so that each book would have a description on its slide.

My suggestion is to write both the blurbs for the slides and for what you are actually going to say at the same time. I made the mistake of not doing this and found it more difficult to do later. Furthermore, I divided the books up by genre: non-fiction and memoir, historical fiction, speculative fiction (explaining what that term means), thrillers, and contemporary fiction. 

Once the books were chosen, I contacted publishers for ARCs and swag to give away. Most publisher representatives were very accommodating and helpful. I explained to each what I was doing, how many people were expected, and which of their titles I planned to highlight. Some sent multiple boxes and they all arrived in plenty of time. We actually had a concern regarding storage space in the library!

As part of the presentation, a handful of slides were added for other resources that book club members could use in the future. These included ALA’s Book Club Central, Library Reads, and Novelist, as well as some library-specific resources. In addition to our social media (Facebook and Instagram), we have a couple of resources on our website that people can use. We have a Get Recommendations page, on which patrons can choose a librarian and fill out an RA form that goes directly to that librarian for personalized suggestions.

Additionally, we have Staff Picks and New Materials pages on our website that I update monthly. Finally, I pointed them to the e-newsletter that I mentioned earlier. We do not segment our various newsletters; once patrons sign up, they get updates about upcoming events in all departments, as well as the RA newsletter that I curate.

As the event came closer, our Circulation staff placed holds on two copies of each title that had been published so far. This way, if free copies of a particular book were not available, attendees could still check it out from the library. However, there was a concern: if all of the highlighted titles were new or upcoming, book clubs would have a harder time getting a sufficient amount of copies in a timely manner for their discussions. Therefore, I decided to expand my suggestions and include read-alikes, grouped by matching the genre and theme. I included both recent and classic titles, depending on what felt appropriate. 

In the days before the event, I went through our stacks and pulled every read-alike that we had on shelf, ending up with approximately 50 books. While it seemed like a good idea, it was a lot of work for only a couple of books that were actually checked out, and I would not necessarily recommend doing this.

I practiced my presentation multiple times in our meeting rooms. While I did not have all 27 memorized, having my speech in bullet points and going through the presentation a few times with the microphone and slides helped me to get more comfortable.

The day of the event, I went shopping for refreshments and spent a few hours setting up. In addition to the refreshments, I set all of the books out - between ARCs and library copies, there were probably 400-500 books.

The event itself went very well. My colleague checked people in as they arrived, while I gave them a copy of the slides and a rundown of what to expect for the evening. (You’re welcome to look, but don’t take any books until the end!) We had 51 people in attendance! After my 40 minute presentation, I answered questions and raffled off some of the ARCs. Once everyone had one book in-hand, I thanked them for coming and asked them to help themselves to what remained.

Everyone seemed very pleased and they all went home with multiple books. A couple of weeks later, a board member who had attended told our Director that it was the best program she’s been to! Very high praise that I deeply appreciate. Also, we had multiple people who were not in attendance ask for copies of the presentation, so we printed them out until another colleague used the content of my slides to create an RA brochure.

Hopefully I’ve explained my process well enough that you can adapt it for your own use. I’m happy to answer any questions that may come up!

Lisa Moe Meierkort
Adult Services Librarian
Frankfort Public Library District