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

Friday, August 31, 2018

Labor Day Does Not Mean The End of Summer Reading

Today marks the start Labor Day Weekend which is also the unofficial end of summer. Summer reading is a great marketing tool. Publishers, bookstores, and libraries use it to remind busy adults to take time read. It harkens back to our memories of summers off from school, and if you have kids, it’s a great way to stop the summer slide and have the whole family read together. Everyone gets so excited about summer reading, but here’s the thing....

Summer reading is only a construct. The lists, the websites dedicated to it, all the titles can actually be read any time of the year, even though every thing you see might make you think otherwise.

So here’s a reminder, as summer ends, that summer reads are good all year long. I have tagged years worth of summer reading lists and you can pull the up to find a great read. Use this year’s titles, or ones from 5 years ago. But use them all year long as a a suggestion resource.

I am reminding you today because you can use these lists to make a really fun and eye catching display for next week.

That’s right, be crazy and put up a "Summer Reads Are Good Reads Anytime of Year” or “Hang On To Summer A Bit Longer” type display just when everyone is preparing for Fall. People will notice. And, that is the point with displays, we want them to notice, we want them to see that we are trying ti help them find a good read, we want them to know we aren’t just phoning it in.

Not only will the display will be fun to put up and start conversations at the desk for sure, but also, do not forget to use my summer reading tag as one of your go to places to find great reads all year long. Often the titles included in summer reading marketing are a better choice than year end best lists because summer reading marketing allows for genre titles.

You know I love genre titles and think they are just as good as literary fiction, but they rarely make “best lists.” Not so in summer reading lists.  Summer reading embraces the joys of genre and provides excellent, compelling, and satisfying titles for readers in all genres. In other words, you can help more readers find high quality titles with the summer reading lists than with the highly literary best lists. And that alone is a great reason to remember summer reading even after the season ends.

Keep Summer Reading in your back pocket as a tool to help readers all year long with this link. You will be pleasantly surprised at how well it works even after Labor Day.

Have a great holiday weekend.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Resource Reminder: Paste Magazine: Helpful Coverage for Just About Everything We Circulate

Today my email box and Twitter feed are full of people sending me the link to the excellent and modernized list from Paste Magazine, “The 50 Best Horror Novels of All Time.” [Although it has nothing by Brian Keene or Stephen Graham Jones- Mongrels is a modern classic for any genre, but otherwise, it is a good list for all libraries to use].

This influx of others linking me to Paste reminds me that Paste is a resource I use regularly but haven’t talked about here on the blog in a while.

Paste Magazine’s books coverage is a wonderful resource for library workers as we work with readers on the desk. Below I have compiled a quick list highlighting the different types of articles they have and how to best use their book coverage as we work with readers at the service desk:

Finally, the very best things about Paste Magazine-- they have all of this wonderful level of smart and comprehensive coverage for Comics, TV, Movies, Music, and Games in their own separate tabs. I especially love the summaries of all of the TV series I will never get the chance to watch but need to know about in order to help patrons. Literally all of the things we check out, they have in depth coverage on. So everything for books x5, 5 more formats what we work with everyday. There are very few resources that cover so much of what we circulate all in one place.

Take some time to poke around and try using Paste to help a reader, gamer, or viewer today.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Resource Alert: Outside the Box Bookish Holiday Calendar For More Interactive Displays [and a bonus bookmark idea]

Library workers love book related holidays because they are great places for us to get display ideas that will resonate with the public.

Back when I first started in libraries, all we had was Chase’s Book of Days to identify bookish holidays. But now there are so many it is hard to stay on top of them all, let alone identify the more fun and creative ones far enough in advance to actually do something cool with it. Also, many of us are sick of the same old, same old.

Don’t worry, however, help is here. Today on Book Riot, Kelly Jensen posted this month by month list of “Book Holidays to Mark on Your Calendar to Celebrate Reading All Year Long.” Kelly is specifically calling out those elusive social media holidays, you know the ones we don’t know about until the day they are happening, but she also includes this very helpful link to author and book related dates from Flavorwire.

But first, an important note about the Flavorwire Ultimate Literary Calendar. It is very pretty. Click through and see for yourself. Each month is its own PDF and even if you never used it to make a display, you could easily turn each of them into monthly bookmarks that your patrons would LOVE. Each month, put the current month at the desk and watch your patrons go ga-ga over them. And, the source is clearly sited a the bottom of each one, so you are all set to print and hand out freely. I am a little too excited about this-- its easy, beautiful, cheap to reproduce, and patrons will love it.

Okay, but those are the more “old-fashioned” bookish holidays. Back to Kelly’s list.  Here is what she lists in the article from January for example:
Beginning Second Sunday of January: Universal Letter Writing Week 
2: National Science Fiction Day 
18: National Thesaurus Day 
Fourth Wednesday in January: Library Shelfie Day
Taking this example, I could see displays both in the library and on social media around these dates. Ideas [1 per “holiday”] in order from this list include:

  • Epistolary novels
  • Recent SF award winners
  • A display where you pick a word and find books that use synonyms in their titles [this one could be fun and you could get the whole staff involved]. You could make a whole week of it, with a different word each day.
  • Library Shelfie Day would be great online where you could ask staff and patrons to grab some of their favorite books, arrange them, and take a photo. You could do it all month. Asking staff and patrons to share their favorite reads from 2018 [read in, doesn’t have to be published in] and then print the photos for an in library display with one of the “Best Books” of last year displays you will already have up in January. 
Of those ideas, the last 2 need planning-- a little for the synonyms and a lot more for the shelfie, but they are extremely interactive, more so than the old fashioned bookish holidays. Interactivity is the key to successful RA Service right now.

Getting all staff excited about promoting our collections by asking them to contribute their favorites and also allowing patrons to get in on the fun, is our main goal these days. You can read more about this topic by me by clicking on the tag “Interactive RA.

We have a lot going on, but finding easy, fun, outside the box ways to promote reading for pleasure, ways that allow everyone to participate in whatever way they want, ways that allow us to use our knowledge and collections to showcase a broader array of reading options-- this is a time saver and will make our RA service better.

Our job isn’t always to provide the content for every display we do, sometimes we just need to provide the inspiration and then ask everyone to add their thoughts, ideas, and titles. When we include all voices, we are getting closer to being truly the public’s library and not the librarian’s library.

Thanks for the list Kelly. And if you have more, let Kelly know in the comments

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

ARRT Book Club Study Notes of My Favorite Thing is Monsters, Leadership Topic Notes Easy Access Archive, and Announcing Next Discussion-- The Leavers

Earlier this month I attended the ARRT Book Club Study and we had a wonderful time.

From the ARRT Book Club Study Archive of past discussions [where you can access the notes from many different discussions and leadership topics]:
My Favorite Thing is Monsters, Vol. 1 by Emil Ferris
  • Discussion 
  • Leadership Training on discussing alternate formats (graphic novels, film, etc.) in book clubs.
    Please click through and read the notes. This was an excellent discussion, both parts. We also had a lot of new people and a very good dialog both about the book and the leadership topic.

    While you have to be a member to attend the discussions in person, we at ARRT are committed to helping book club leaders all over the country [even the world] have access to our discussion points, both to help you run your own discussion of this book and to have access to our leadership topic notes so that you too can get help with any issues or concerns going on with your group. It is just as important for book club leaders to have a resource to help them serve their book groups in general as it is for them to have access to sample discussions. Often, service to the leaders, their needs, concerns, and issues is not handled by any resource, and since most book discussion leaders function in a solo capacity, they can easily get overwhelmed [Trust me, I’ve been there, it’s why I created this program in the first place].

    Our newly refurbished Book Club Study landing page on the ARRT website now has the past leadership topic notes arranged alphabetically for easier access here, but I have also reprinted a linked list below so you can access them immediately:

    Leadership Training Topics

    And finally, we are also now accepting registration for the final Book Club Study of the year. From the website:

    Please join us for a discussion of The Leavers by Lisa Ko, led by Sonia Reppe. 
    One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her. With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. They rename him Daniel Wilkinson in their efforts to make him over into their version of an “all-American boy.” But far away from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his new life with his mother’s disappearance and the memories of the family and community he left behind. Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid and moving examination of borders and belonging. It’s the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he’s loved has been taken away–and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past. This powerful debut is the winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for fiction, awarded by Barbara Kingsolver for a novel that addresses issues of social justice. -Summary courtesy of Goodreads.
    The discussion will be held: Wednesday, November 7th2-4 p.m.Stickney-Forest View Public Library District 
    RSVP to Sonia Reppe (reppes@sfvpld.org) 
     Please arrange to obtain your own copy of the book for the discussion. 
    As always, discussion of the book includes a nuts-and-bolts session devoted to sharing practical solutions to the problems and concerns of book discussion leaders. 
    Also, remember that you can always bring any problems or concerns you have with your group, no matter the topic, so we can all help each other.

    It looks like our discussion topic will be a revisit of Book Club Basics because we haven’t done that topic for a few years and we have a lot of new members who are just starting their very first book discussion groups.

    Monday, August 27, 2018

    The HWA's New Executive Board Includes Me!

    Today is a cross post with very big news for me personally, but also it is big news for our profession. I have been elected to the Executive Board of the Horror Writers Association. This is a big step for all of us in libraries who work to match readers with genre titles. We advocate for these genres and their books all day, every day. And people like me, who are able to take a more prominent role are starting to be heard and respected by the authors.

    Here and below is the post on the horror blog where I talk about it in more detail and urge all of you to get more involved with a writers association too. We are being heard and can make a difference.

    Click here for the original post with election results.

    Anyone who follows me at all know that I have worked tirelessly over the last few years to help make inroads between libraries and horror as a genre [and its specific authors and their titles].

    One of the ways I have done this is to work officially with the Horror Writers Association to help them connect with libraries. This is a writers group that values libraries and the work we do to build life long readers. As a professional [Active] writing member of the organization, I can be that literal bridge between the writers and the libraries in a way others cannot.

    As I have gotten more and more involved with the organization as a volunteer, and as I have seen great improvements in the organization as a whole over the last 5 years, I finally put my hat in the ring to stop just being a volunteer and start being one of the people who officially runs the org [although to be fair, it's still a volunteer job, just a more official one]. I ran for Secretary on a platform that I have already given many hours to the org and proven I can get work done, and that I have been a Cook County, IL elected official for 17 years as a member of the La Grange Public Library Board where I have held every office but Treasurer and been one of 7 people responsible for managing almost $3 million dollars of tax payer money [And unlike many a Cook County elected official before me, I have never been indicted]. In other words, I know what being Secretary would entail.

    So I wrote my candidate statement and waited. It turns out I was opposed by someone I greatly admire as a writer, business person and human being-- Michael Bailey [by the way, go buy his books, especially any anthologies he has edited, for your collections. They are amazing and win tons of awards. May I suggest beginning with The Library of the Dead; it's very good and it's easy to hand sell to patrons. My daughter in particular is an evangelist for Christopher Golden's story in the collection.] Michael has also given a lot of his time to the HWA. I actually felt bad that I was running against him because he totally deserves it too. In fact, when an author I know direct messaged me to tell me he voted for me, I was shocked. I told him, "Heck, even I was considering voting for Michael." And I was only half kidding.

    Sunday, I was informed that I had won, and I was both shocked and humbled.

    So thanks to everyone who voted for me. I am very honored because I know my opponent got a ton of votes. But I am humbled because I know that many authors had to vote for me to win; authors who know and respect Michael also, authors who felt I am doing good work and could best represent their interests on the board. This means that the work I have been doing is being taken as seriously by the authors as it is the libraries. I work in a vacuum, at home in front of my computer, advocating for horror each and every day with my written words and sometimes, with my appearances. But I don't always get feedback to know if it is working. Today, I have some proof that it is.

    I promise to help make sure the organization continues to work to bridge the gap between the authors and the readers. In fact, I had a breakfast meeting this morning to nail down the details on a program that will do just that; something a few of us at HWA have been working on all summer. But you will have to wait for those details until October.

    In the meantime I want to remind you that there are many genre writers associations that want librarian input. HWA is not the only one. I wrote a longer post about it in April of 2017: Call to Action: Get Involved with a Writers Association. Please read that post and consider joining a writers association too. It doesn;t have to be the horror one. Don't feel like they won't take you in. One thing I have learned with my involvement in the HWA is that the authors truly want our help and input. And today is proof of that.

    Please, go look at any writers organization and consider joining. Most have a level specifically for library workers. You can use my linked list of preferred genre resources for the full list of organizations. [This list is also always available at the bottom of my 10 Rules of Basic RA Service page.] The writers want to work with us. Go add your voice to the discussion.

    Click here for the original post on RA for All: Horror with the official HWA announcement of my election [because librarians always link to resources.]

    Friday, August 24, 2018

    Backlist is Our Greatest Asset And Here’s Proof [With A Bonus Ready-Made Display]

    I have literally said it a thousand times at this point, but the thing libraries have that the bookstores do not is THE BACKLIST. As Jason, the co- owner of The Book Table told me, “We have the last 4 or 5 Stephen King’s and the 4 or 5 most popular backlist titles. Everything else, requires us to order it for the customer. But you, you have an entire shelf of every Stephen King ever!” That is from a talk Jason and I used to do about bookstores and libraries working together for library workers.

    He would go on to talk about out-of-print books. The library has them. The bookstores do not. It’s one of the reasons he also carries some used books, to get those out-of-print titles for his customers. We would often call each other when I was at the library near him to see if one of us had a book the other did not.

    The backlist is our biggest asset. And, what do you do with your best asset? You play it up. For example, why do you think Michelle Obama always wears sleeveless dresses? 

    This time of year is a great time to do that. BookFinder.com has just released their annual report of the most in demand out-of-print titles. Below I have the beginning of their most recent report and the link to the full list.

    But here’s the thing. The 3 most in demand titles-- Arranged Marriage by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson, and You Shall Know Our Velocity Dave Eggers are all available at jus about every public library in America right now, or if not on the shelf in that location, very easily available through ILL. As proof, I have linked to my consortia’s catalog records for each title. And I know all of them will send out nationally. Right now, I can get all 3 in multiple formats right away.

    The report also talks about WHY people want to read these books. This analysis can also serve as a trends report for us. Below you will see they talk about the popularity of immigration and women’s rights stories. You can use the trends they have mentioned from their aggregation of the data to come up with further readalike lists or display ideas.

    My point is, these are books people want to read- either the specific book or a trending topic- and they can easily get them at the library if only people knew. 


    Take this year’s list and past year’s lists to make a fun display of hard to find books that are very easy to find at the library. Here is the handy index of every list from this year’s report going back to 2003 from the good people at BookFinder.com

    Between all of those lists you have plenty for a display, an outside the box idea, and one that really showcases the library’s greatest asset--- the backlist. This is a display patrons will notice because they do not think about all the great backlist titles they could be reading. Everyone is too distracted by the shiny, new, sparkly titles, and yet, there are many more good options languishing on the shelf waiting for that perfect reader to find them.

    Have fun and if you do one of these displays, share it with me. Here’s the different ways you can contact me.

    Here’s this year’s report.

    15th Annual BookFinder.com Report Out-of-print 

    and in demand

    Welcome to the 15th annual BookFinder.com Report, in which we publish a list of the most searched for out-of-print book titles from the previous year. The most wanted out-of-print book in 2017 was a collection of short stories addressing the issues facing Indian girls and women in arranged marriages who come to live in the United States as immigrants.
    Highly topical due to the current focus on women's rights in India and the debate on immigration in the States, Arranged Marriage by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni was published in 1996, but is now winning a new readership. Divakaruni, who lives in the US, is best known as a poet and this was her first foray into short story writing. The 11 stories detail numerous problems associated of arranged marriages from physical abuse to psychological torment - and also highlights the problems in starting a new life in a country with a radically different culture.
    Divakaruni was born in Kolkata and came to the United States in 1976 to study at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio and the University of California, Berkeley. Since writing Arranged Marriage, she has produced several novels and her latest, Before We Visit the Goddess, was published in 2017. Her novel, The Mistress of Spices, published in 1997, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize.
    Arranged Marriage was not the only book about immigration to appear on the BookFinder.com list. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, first published in 2003, is a novel about coming to the United States that spans Kolkata, Boston and New York. The last edition to be published was in India in 2012. The BookFinder.com list of in-demand out-of-print titles also contains novels from bestselling authors Neal Stephenson, Dave Eggers, and Jonathan Lethem. Aside from books that appear year after year (Sex by Madonna, Fast Times at Ridgemont High etc), there are also a sprinkling of books covering niche subjects such as knots, reptiles and coins.
    Arranged Marriage The Namesake Cryptonomicon

    Thursday, August 23, 2018

    NoveList Webinar on Unlocking Themes Featuring Me Coming Soon

    Recently, NoveList introduced a new way to help match readers with the perfect book-- “Themes.” So now you can search by subject heading, appeal factors, and themes. What are themes and how can you use them to help readers? Well, here is a great intro article from the NoveList blog that begins to answer those questions.  From the first paragraph of that article:
    Themes are popular and recurring plot elements found in fiction. Many readers have strong preferences about what themes they like or don’t like. For example, I’m a romance reader, and I’m *here* for a good Sudden Baby story but have no patience for Secret Baby stories. Preferences like mine are great for readers’ advisory because tapping into themes helps you narrow down your readers’ fantasy preferences down to the Hidden Heritage books they really love. Add in appeal and genre, and you’ve got all NoveList’s story elements working together to help you find a book your reader feels was especially written for them. 
    But there is so much more to themes, how they were developed, cataloged, and even how we use them in conversation with readers-- whether you have a subscription to NoveList or not.

    That’s where I come in. Along with Cathleen, one of the metadata librarians at NoveList, we will present a webinar on how to “unlock” the power of themes. Cathleen will talk about the backend- how the themes were created, built, linked etc.... all the stuff you need to know in order to use them properly. And I will be talking about how you can use themes to have more natural, “water cooler” conversations about books in the library. I will even use some real life examples of when a theme was more useful than appeal terms.

    I can’t tell you more because it will give away all of our secrets but I can share this, we are totally ready to geek out on our love of stories. Even my son noticed. He got home early from the first day of 8th grade and I was still in a planning call with NoveList. When I got off he asked who I was talking to. I told him it was for work. He said, “You sure were laughing a lot for a work call.”

    So even the 13 year old noticed how much fun we were having. And that’s just the planning stages; wait until showtime!

    Click here to register. It is free and even if you cannot make it, by registering you get the recording faster. And it is meant to be helpful even if you don’t have NoveList. Although those of you who do subscribe, we will have a 15 minute post show where we will do a demonstration and tackle specific questions.

    But don’t wait. NoveList announced this webinar last week and I am not kidding there are almost 1,000 people already signed up and they can only accept 2,000 total. So get on it. Of course, if you cannot get into the Live Event, I will post the recording on the blog too, but if you are there in person you can ask questions.

    I hope to “see” you there.

    Click here to register
    From Rookie on the Beat to Secret Babies, there are dozens of themes that your readers adore. Let RA expert Becky Spratford and metadata maven Cathleen Keyser show you how adding themes to your RA toolbox can supercharge your readers’ advisory, circulation, and programming.
    We welcome anyone interested to stay for an additional 15-minute training to help you find all those great themes (and the books that go with them) in NoveList.

    Date: Tuesday, September 18, 2018

    Time: 2-3 pm Eastern 

    Register Now
    Click here to register


    Becky Spratford    Cathleen Keyser
    Becky Spratford is a Readers’ Advisor (RA) in Illinois specializing in serving patrons ages 13 and up and trains library staff worldwide on how to match books with readers through the local public library. She runs the critically acclaimed RA training blog RA for All and is on the Steering Committee of the Adult Reading Round Table. Spratford is also known for her work with horror readers as the author of The Reader’s Advisory Guide to Horror, 2d ed. (ALA Editions, 2012) and is a proud member of the Horror Writers Association. You can follow her on Twitter @RAforAll.

    Cathleen Keyser is Metadata Strategy Manager at NoveList. Cathleen leads a team of metadata librarians whose work includes assessing and redefining our taxonomies to create clearer access points and targeted reading recommendations for every reader, from fans of Lovecraftian horror to tea-sipping cozy mystery aficionados. Together they build and refine dynamic metadata standards that respond to trends in the publishing industry and keep pace with readers’ evolving interests, such as creating an #ownvoices access point. Cathleen likes to read true crime, gossipy memoirs, and scary stories, especially ones about vengeful ghosts, bloodthirsty killers, and tacos. Her favorite themes involve revenge and body horror. Her favorite taco is carne asada.

    Wednesday, August 22, 2018

    It's Science Fiction and Fantasy Week on Goodreads

    Click here to see what Goodreads has as part of their SF/F coverage this week. As I have mentioned before, I like using Goodreads to help genre readers because the lists and information you get from Goodreads is created by actual readers. If you are not a fan of a specific genre, you want to go right to the source-- actual readers-- if you wan to best help a reader in front of you. Even if you are a fan, you might not have the same genre tastes. 

    The Hugo Awards were also handed out this week.  Here is a list of nominees and winners via Locus magazine and below I have reprinted the most relevant ones to public libraries:

    2018 Hugo and Campbell Awards Winners 
    These are all names you should know, purchase, and get into the hands of readers right now. Also don’t forget my post on how to use awards lists as a RA tool. It’s not just the winners you need to worry about.

    Also a comment on Jemisin’s win. She is the first author to win the Hugo for every book in a series! A few years ago I already make her my official start with author for all readers looking to see what SF is right now. She still holds that place for me as she should for you. One of the most striking things about her writing is how it straddles the line between SF and Fantasy. This is becoming a major trend in all speculative fiction. Click here to read more about the Broken Earth Trilogy on Goodreads. 

    Scalzi and Wells are also very good examples of the current state of SF. And Rebecca Roanhorse is an amazing talent that you need to read and know about. 

    Speaking of Locus, they have this wonderful, linked index of every single speculative award in one place and this wonderful, annual their Recommended Reads list for all speculative genres.

    I also love Barnes and Noble’s speculative fiction blog, Tor.Com’s articles, pre-pub alerts, essays, re-reads, etc..., and LitReactor Magazine which isn’t only speculative but has a lot of speculative fiction coverage.

    I think you are now properly set up to celebrate Science Fiction and Fantasy Week. These links should start you down a rabbit hole [or 2 or 3].