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, September 28, 2018

Call to Action: Start a Book and Don't Finish It

To end this week I wanted to have a Call to Action that requires you NOT do something for a change.

Consider this post your permission to stop reading any book, ever, that you are not personally enjoying. Just put it down. Right now. Seriously. Stop and back away from the book.

I am not sure when it became a badge of honor to finish a book you aren't enjoying. People complain when they are slogging through something, and then pat themselves on the back when they finally finish it, like they deserve recognition or a medal.


We should read widely to help the greatest number of patrons. Yes, this statement is true. But, we also have a limited amount of time to read. It is actually just as important that we spend enough time reading what we want to, for fun, because that is what keeps our passion for what we do alive. How can we help match people with the books they will love if we aren't in touch with what we love and why? You use the same skills and enthusiasm to help others that you gain from your own experiences. You might be suggesting different books, but the sentiment and the goals are the same. You want to capture for the person in front of you, the joy and pleasure of a good read, by suggesting the perfect book for them, but if you don't have your own joy of reading and an understanding of what you love and why as a basis, you cannot begin to help others.

This is the basic principle to all of my RA training sessions by the way. I spend most of the time allowing the group to reconnect with a favorite book and fall in love with it all over again. We don't even worry about helping others find a good read, rather we focus on each individual being able to share their book to others.

This strategy is a huge departure from the way RA Service is usually taught, and I can tell you first hand, it works.

But back to the issue at hand today-- not finishing a book you aren't enjoying.

As I say in my 10 Rules of Basic RA Service:
5.   Read widely (at least speed read widely)     -- reading ABOUT books is just as important as reading the book
I stand by this. If you aren't enjoying a book personally but feel like you either should know about it because it is an area you don't normally read in OR you think you have patrons who will enjoy it, read about it. Go to NoveList and Goodreads in particular to see reviews and actual reader comments [5 star and 2 star are the best]. Go to my 10 Rules page and scroll to the bottom for more resources.

The point is, there is absolutely NO REASON you have to finish a book you are not personally enjoying....ever. Well, there is one reason: if you are leading it in a book club. But other than that, you can stop.

I am making this a Call to Action though because when we refuse to stop books we aren't enjoying, we make it harder for our patrons to also do this. We tell them to stop after 50 pages if they don't like it. We tell them it's fine, we didn't write the book, why do we care if they read the whole thing and like it. We tell them to come back and try something else instead. But our actions speak louder than our words.

If we make a big deal about slogging through books we hate, they will be embarrassed and ashamed if they stop. I stopped reading books I didn't like personally years ago. I still have former patrons who tell me that the best thing I ever did for them was give them the freedom to do the same- by my words and my actions.

So for today's Call to Action, let's all start a book and not finish it. Let's make sure we let others know we did it too. Be proud of the DNF designation. Don't be ashamed. Let's admit that there are books we didn't finish just because we didn't want to. And let's remind ourselves, our coworkers, and our patrons that this act of not finishing a book is not only okay, it is good for us all. It frees us up to rekindle our joy of reading a good story, which in turn will make us better at matching patrons with their perfect read.

Let yourself off the hook. It really is no big deal to start a book and not finish it. I promise you because I do it all of the time and the library police have not put me in jail. This is not life or death here. It's reading. And yes, it is my career and I am very serious about it, but I also know there are no consequences from NOT finishing a book, but there very well could be some negative ones if I did force myself through it.

For past Call to Action posts [but be warned most ask you to do something] click here.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

What I'm Reading: Bedfellow

The current issue of Booklist features my review of Bedfellow by Jeremy Shipp, an author who will also be appearing next month as part of my annual Why I Love Horror series on the horror blog.

As usual, this post contains my draft review and bonus information.

Shipp, Jeremy C. (author).
Nov. 2018. 256p. Tor, paper, $11.99 
(9781250175298); e-book, $3.99 (9781250175281)
First published October 1, 2018 (Booklist).

A large, disheveled stranger comes in through a window of the Lund’s house, late one evening. After initially fearing the worst, the family- father, mother, teen daughter, and pre-teen son- come to understand that this is the man, Marvin, who saved the son from choking in a restaurant earlier that evening. From this extremely unsettling opening scene, Shipp ratchets up the anxiety, full throttle, as Marvin and his increasingly disturbing powers begin to encroach on the Lund’s lives, pitting them against those they love, all in an effort to be a part of Marvin’s miracles. But as Marvin’s hold on the family grows stronger and darker each day, it may not be possible for all to survive. Told from the alternating perspectives of each family member, the dread is magnified as the reader can never be sure who is the reliable voice, while the constant narration shifts also keep the story moving at a compelling pace with readers obsessively turning the pages to see what is coming next, even as they are simultaneously afraid to know. Filled with claustrophobic fear and a terrifying occult frame, this is a great choice for readers who like to pair their horror with side of intense psychological suspense like in Straub’s A Dark Matter, Tremblay's Cabin at the End of the World, or McMahon’s Winter People.
Further Appeal: This is a book that starts out at a high tension moment and never really pulls back enough to let you catch your breath. Well, that's not exactly right. It makes you think you are catching your breath until you realize, nope, breathing yes, but every muscle is squeezed. You feel the tension. And then, as you keep turning the pages to see what terrible thing is going to happen next-- because lets face it, we all have a sadistic part deep inside of us-- the entire story starts digging into you. Not physically of course, but it kinda feels that way. You can't shake it off; it's burrowing in. You want to stop, take a break, and do something else to clear your head, but you really cannot. You only have a few more pages and it is moving quickly. But... oh my, things are getting even more tense and who is telling me the full truth? Probably no one, but I have to see for myself. And then whoah.....what?!?!

I understand what I just wrote is kind of odd, but it accurately represents how Bedfellow made me feel while I was reading it.

The intense first person narration does the heavy lifting here. Each family member gives us their version of the situations, often recounting the same scene from their point of view. Each of them is reliable and unreliable in turns. Marvin himself never get the chance to talk to the reader directly and that also increases the dread and tension because we never get a full picture of who "he" really is. This is both a figurative statement, and a literal one which the characters  comment upon at times.

The occult issues at the heart of this novel are also highly satisfying for horror readers. I am not sure how more traditional psychological suspense people will react, but as long as readers know ahead of time that this is just like the books I list above and in the readalike section below, that there is a supernatural frame here, they should be fine. All of the listed books [with the exception of the Strand title below] have proven wide appeal.

This title is published by Tor, so it will be easy for libraries to add [in print at least] and they should, in droves. It is a short, fast read that will satisfy a wide range of readers.

Three Words That Describe This Book: uncomfortable, family centered, alternating first person narrations

Readalikes: First the titles that appear at the end of the review-- The Straub suggestion is for the cult like charisma characters and occult frame that both books share, while the Tremblay and McMahon are family centered. All three rely on the extreme dread and tension found in all psychological 

Other super intense psychological suspense, especially with a family frame like those by Sarah Pinborough or Gillian Flynn will work here too.

This novel also reminded me of an old favorite, Dweller by Jeff Strand which shares the complex theme of the “friend” who is also an actual monster. While that is the major thing these books share, I think for some readers it will be enough.

Finally, although The Grip of It by Jac Jemc is more of a haunt house story, both books made me feel a similar way. These books share a frame of a family being torn apart by an occult situation and both have intense first person narrations that alternate. This POV choice ratchets up the tension and unease as we see the same events but with different versions being passed on to us depending on who is talking.

All of these links will lead to even more readalikes.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

ARRT Program Recap with Slide Access: Give Them What They Want- Reader Focused Collection Development

Yesterday, we had a packed house at the Archer Heights Branch of the Chicago Public Library for our program on Reader Focused Collection Development.

As a reminder, here is the blurb about the program:
Readers are flocking to library’s leisure collections. To make smart collection choices, we must look further than circulation statistics and learn what our entire community desires. Our presenters are using methods suitable at libraries of any size to incorporate patron wishes into collection development, making readers integral to the whole process. 
From complex patron-driven acquisitions plans at large library systems, to bite-size surveys at the smallest libraries, to prioritizing patron requests, to canny materials displays, all of these librarians are finding innovative ways to put what readers want front and center, and to ferret out even the hardest-to-discover reading desires.

Our presenters were:

  • Robin Bradford, Collection Development Librarian, Timberland Regional Library (WA)
  • Stephen Sposato, Content Curation Manager, Chicago Public Library
  • Nicole Steeves, Director, Fox River Grove Memorial Library
  • Rebecca Bartlett, Collection Services Manager, La Grange Public Library

Slide access for everyone reading this is now available and archived here and also available below:
Robin Bradford’s slidesStephen Sposato’s slidesNicole Steeves’ slidesRebecca Bartlett’s slides
That is also the order of their appearance. 
A few of us live tweeted the presentations and you can see those notes by using this exact link. That link will work whether you log into Twitter or not [I tested it]. You do not have to be a registered user to access these notes. It lists the tweets in reverse chronological order for this specific program. I did an advanced search and filtered by date to make it easier for all of you.
For reference, we tweet out all of our programs using #arrtreads. You can always use that hashtag to see any of our programs with the most recent first.
But with this specific program link, I have made access to the notes for yesterday's program easily accessible for anyone today or in the future. 
Use this link to follow along with the slides [above] as those of us who were Live Tweeting commented upon what was said to accompany those slides. I was one of the people Tweeting, so you can also see my specific comments about what was being said using that link.
I will tell you, I was the instigator, um I mean organizer, of this program. I solicited the presenters and asked them to talk about their specific topics. So in other words, I knew what was coming ahead of time. Why do I tell you this? Because even I learned quite a bit yesterday. Please take some time to at least look at these slides. These are all leaders in the library world and each of them shared a great deal of knowledge, including some fo their failures. It was fantastic and really got me excited about how we can better serve our patrons though the collections we craft.
Finally, the slides will be available indefinitely and each presenter included their contact info on those slides. Please feel free to contact any of them directly if you have specific questions about their presentations.
On behalf of ARRT and my team of volunteers for this program I would like to thank our host and presenters for providing a valuable and fun continuing education experience for our attendees and for those who will access the slides and notes from afar in the future.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 as a Resource for Trends and Reading Suggestions

Every year one of my favorite lists is the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 list. It's not that I think you have to be young to be a great writer, but I love how established writers get to pick 1 young author to promote to the entire world. I love this list for it's RA Service implications and for what you can learn and use from the backlist. Below I explain with 5 reasons, why you should like and use this list all year long too.

Click here to see the 2018 list of 5 Under 35 and read why each established author chose that person.  Also click here for Ron Charles' coverage of the list in the Washington Post. He interviewed each of the awarded authors.

First, as someone who is professionally charged with identifying the very best horror authors to advocate for in libraries, I understand how daunting the job of picking these winners is. I understand how badly you feel that you cannot support everyone no matter how well they write. So I respect the jury who picked the 5 authors and understand how they feel. I will not participate in the backlash some are giving them.

Which leads me to my second reason I love this list. It is not just the young authors who are being highlighted, the established authors are also a great resource. This year, they all happen to be authors I have read and enjoyed personally, and at least 1 is a past 5 Under 35 winners themselves. And, honestly, when it comes to the average library patron, I would use the opportunity of the list being announced to push the jury as much, or maybe even more, than the winners because you will be sure to already have the books by the jury members. I would highly suggest buying the books by all 5 of this year's winners though [and you can see the fourth reason paragraph for why].

Third, the essays by the jury members as to why they picked the author they did are an amazing resource. You learn a lot about the appeal of the author they are advocating for. Of course these short essays are extremely well written; these are established award winning authors doing the writing. But from these pieces we come to understand how these winners write and why readers would like them. You have enough here to book talk these emerging authors to new patrons, but you also learn much abut the established author too.  If you take the time to read all of the information, it is really fascinating and useful. I even felt like I learned more about Colson Whitehead, a writer I have read for years, heard speak multiple times in person, and even met.

Fourth, the backlist is amazing. Seriously. Even more amazing than backlists usually are, and many of you know how excited I get about the backlist in general. You can access the winners and the authors who chose them going back to 2006 from the main 5 Under 35 page-- at all times [lower left gutter]. I scanned all of the lists and WOW, did they identify some amazing authors who are household names now. Yes, there are a few who never broke through, but it is amazing how many have. And also, the list of jury members is amazing too. You can easily use the backlist list of winners and jury members to help readers identify good under the radar reads, especially for your literary fiction and book club selection readers. You can also make a display of current and past winners and even include their books since they were a designee.

And fifth, and finally, while going through the backlist, I was struck by how on point the authors- both winners and juries- and the titles that were chosen predicted some of the larger issues in the world of books. For example, even going back to 2006, the list of 5 Under 35 winners is way less white and male than the norm for the times. There were always women and AOC being honored, even before there was push to do so. I also noticed the beginnings of this creeping of speculative elements into literary fiction that we see all of the time now in the progression of authors chosen. I am sure if I had more time I would notice even more trends that we see now poking through with the parade of young writers.

The point being, you can spend your time ignoring this list because the authors are "too emerging" for you library if you want, but that would be a mistake for many reasons-- 5 of which I gave you here. Also, I am reading people poo-pooing the list because you don't have to be young to be a great new writer. Again, I think I have addressed this issue in this post too. It is not just the current, young writers who are worth your attention here; it is the entire program and all of the authors it brings together that matter.

No award, list, or even resource is perfect, but if all you do is find fault with them, you will never learn what is useful from any of them. So spend some time with the 5 Under 35 site now while it is in the news and in the front of our patrons' mind.

Monday, September 24, 2018

It's Banned Books Week- Don't Be Complacent and Re-Educate Yourself

Those of us who have worked in libraries know that Banned Books Week is a big deal, but we have also seen it come and go year after year, and many of us are on autopilot for the week. We celebrate the same old ways. We put up displays. We make a few social media posts. We pay lip service to this huge issues inherent in the celebration. We pat ourselves on the back for participating.

But you know what? That is not enough. Just last week we all saw a MAJOR challenge to intellectual freedom in West Virginia regarding the new Bob Woodward book. Woodward, whose reporting skills are universally acknowledged as solid. Here is an article for those who missed it.

Now, in this case, the book was returned to the shelves. But, the Board of Trustees had to vote to put it back there. The problem with this is even more insidious because the Library Director personally decided she wouldn't carry the book, overruling her collection development professionals.

Yes, you heard that correctly, one of our own was banning a book by refusing to add it to their collection when I patron wanted the title in the collection. I wish I could say I was surprised by this appalling behavior by someone whose job is predicated on protecting intellectual freedom and the freedom to read, but unfortunately I am not. There are factions everywhere who want to limit the American right of the freedom to read; even in our own ranks.

What this incident did though, was rally me to commit to talking about Banned Books Week more seriously this year. I am also guilty of being on BBW autopilot. And dear readers, if I am on autopilot I would bet that the vast majority of you are too.  


I think this year we all need a wake up call. Not just our patrons. All of us!

I am committing this week to seriously looking over the ALA and especially the Freedom to Read Foundation's information, statistics, and educational materials regarding challenges to materials in our public libraries.

I am urging you all to do the same. Don't just post the logos and pay lip service to BBW [Admit it you do; I am guilty here also]. Do something. Say something. Start a conversation with co-workers and patrons. Talk about what can be done all year long to remind our co-workers and patrons how vital the freedom to read is to our institution and our democracy. Let's make this a 52 weeks a year issue, not just a 1 week one.

How an we start? Really educate yourself on the issues.  All year long the Freedom To Read Foundation works hard on all of our behalves to fight for all first amendment issues. Their webpage is filled with helpful information all of the time, not just this week. In fact, they have a series of courses they are coordinating with LIS programs to make sure that the current crop of degreed librarians are leaving with sufficient first amendment training. 

They are doing their part, now you do yours.

Not convinced by me yet that you need to spend some time re-educating yourself about BBW? Here's something to chew on, via the Freedom to Read Foundation's Twitter:

This book is about to explode in popularity again, as the movie is coming out in a few weeks, yet it was one of the most challenged books last year [link to a video of Top 10 challenged titles of 2017]. Ironically, it was also one of the most universally celebrated books from a critical standpoint last year too. 

And THE HATE U GIVE is also an inclusive title, an own voices book, one that has connected with readers of all ages and identities. But, as we are noticing, diverse books, inclusive and own voices titles, are among the most challenged.  This is a HUGE problem. 

We cannot sustain a culture which acknowledges the contributions of diverse books and their value in representing own voices for every reader, both for those who are part of marginalized identities AND for those who want to learn about everyone who makes up our world, and at the same time attacks those voices for simply existing and wanting to tell their stories.

We are on the front lines of this fight because of our places in public libraries. We cannot be complacent. We need to be fully educated on all of the issues regarding the freedom to read, all of the time. And this week is a great time to start that commitment.

Friday, September 21, 2018

LibraryReads Voting Just Got Easier

I am going to end the week with some good news. LibraryReads just announced that they have made voting even easier.  Instead of voting being due on the 20th of the month, now it is more intuitive and is on the 1st of each month.

Click here for details from LibraryReads or see below where I have copied the information which appeared in their newsletter [which you can signup for here].

Click here to go straight to the "Participate" page on their site with very clear instructions on how to participate with the due dates.

And finally, click here to see everything I have tagged LibraryReads.

Now go read something great this weekend. Whatever you want. Whatever you think you will like. Read it and then share it with a patron or a co-worker on Monday.

From LibraryReads:

We've heard you: the 20th of the month is an awkward deadline for LibraryReads votes! We are pleased to announce, effective with the January 2019 list...

Make sure you are voting in the correct time frame! Votes are due the first of the month BEFORE the month of pub date. See chart below for upcoming due dates. (And yes! Early voting is encouraged!)
2018 “Favorite of Favorites” listVoting instructions to come
December 2018 and January 2019 pub dates   December 1, 2018
February 2019 pub datesJanuary  1, 2019
March 2019 pub datesFebruary 1, 2019
April 2019 pub datesMarch 1, 2019
May 2019 pub datesApril 1, 2019
June 2019 pub datesMay 1, 2019
July 2019 pub datesJune 1, 2019
August 2019 pub datesJuly 1, 2019

You can always find the dates at: http://libraryreads.org/participate

Thursday, September 20, 2018

RA for All Roadshow Visits Toledo Lucas County [OH] Public Library

Today I am running a train the trainer event for Toledo Lucas County Public Library in Ohio. They have at least one person from each branch coming today. I will train them and then they will go out and spread the work. Our schedule is a mix of basic RA training and book discussion training in advance of their upcoming One Book One Community program.

Today's presentation also marks the beginning of a brand new season for me. Summer is usually heavier on the writing and slower on the appearances, but Fall is when the training ramps up. The good news for you, every program has received an update, so even long time followers will find something new here.

Below is the schedule with links. This information is obviously most useful to those who attended this training, but there is a lot here for anyone interested in improving their service to readers.

We will begin with my signature RA for All training. You can find the description of this program and the 10 Basic Rules of RA Service which frame this program here.

Click here for slide access
After a short break we move into Booktalking Your Way to the Friendliest Library in Town featuring a BRAND NEW booktalk of 2018 horror debuts. Click here for slide access

Then it's lunch time followed by 30 minutes of facilitated  booktalking practice. I love when there is time to work this into my full day sessions because it gives people a chance to build off of the skills I introduced in the morning.

Click here for slide access
The day will conclude with two book discussion related programs. First up is Recharge Your Book Club. Click here for slide access.

And after we talk about book discussions in general, we will get specific as I will lead them in a book discussion of their One Book selection, Tigerland: 1968-1969: A City Divided, a Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of Healing by Wil Haygood. Since this book came out two days ago, I also prepared discussion questions for them to use as they work with this title, present programming, and host the author in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Recording and Live Linked Slides from Unlocking Themes Webinar

Thanks to everyone who attended the NoveList webinar yesterday.

And as promised, in less than 24 hours, NoveList has uploaded the recording and the link to the slides.  Now to be fair, the animations where I built images on top of each other don't work with that link, but you can have the full experience the way it was in the recording by using this link to view my presentation on your own.

For those who are new to a Becky style of presentation, I include many links to articles by me where I go into greater detail on the topic of that slide. So by viewing the live, linked slides, you can explore topics that are of the most interest to you in greater detail, and ignore the detail on the things that don't apply to you.

Click here or see below to watch the webinar and get your attendance certificate.

Event Date: September 18, 2018

Webinar: Unlocking Themes to Improve Your Readers’ Advisory

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.

This webinar is archived.

Click below to watch the recording or skip ahead to the training session that took place after the webinar.

Watch Now
Click to view


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Staying Sharp Notes and Many Useful Links from booklist and NoveList

The latest issue of The Corner Shelf edited by Susan Maguire for Booklist Magazine is now live. This is a wonderful newsletter that explores the place where collection development and RA service meet, kinda like this program I a hosting a week from today [there is still room and Susan will be there too].

There is a lot of good information in every issue, new and backlist. You can click here to see the full archive of newsletters.

However, I wanted to highlight the feature article, "Staying Sharp: Discovering New Authors, Keeping up With Trends," a recap of a program with the same name, for a few reasons:

  • This program with NoveList featured a few of my friends and even two people I mentored in their early careers. All of these presenters know what they are talking about.
  • While their were issues with the recording and they cannot share it, the most useful part of the content was recreated in this article by the panelists for you here and below.
  • The entire point of the program was all about staying fresh and on top of trends. Something I write about on this blog all of the time. Click here to see some of those posts.
  • And....they mention this blog as a great resource. 
But seriously, this feature article from the newsletter is one you can use today, tomorrow, and going forward because it is filled with the links and information you need to let the trends and emerging issues come to you. We are all busy managing all of the moving parts that make up our jobs as library workers, but staying in sharp is key to so much of what we do. Let the experts help you make at least this part of your job, easy.

Staying Sharp: Discovering New Authors, Keeping Up with Trends.

Maguire, Susan (author).

FEATURE. First published September 13, 2018 (Booklist Online).

Your patrons come to you for reading suggestions, but keeping up with the world of books can be a daunting task. How do you identify trends? Can you know about a breakout hit before it hits? What kind of read-alikes do you need to pick up the slack for the holds queue?

We discussed the answers to these questions and more at the RA Conversation: Staying Sharp—sponsored by NoveList—on July 30 at the Woodson Regional Library in Chicago. Joining me were Rohini Bokka, technical services manager, Naperville Public Library; Emily Borsa, adult services librarian, Hinsdale Public Library; and Katie McLain, adult reference assistant, Waukegan Public Library, and contributing editor for Book Riot.

What do we mean by staying sharp? Put simply, it is this: someone asks you a book question, and you can answer it.

Well, maybe it’s not that simple, but by staying sharp, you can anticipate some of your patrons needs, either passively, by making sure you have enough copies of that surprise bestseller or ready lists of readalikes; or actively, by being aware of trends, new authors, and the hot series people are talking about. Staying sharp will give your RA conversations a solid context, leaving patrons with the comforting idea that, hey, that librarian, she knows how to find me a good book to read.

The thing is, there are so many books published every year. Then there’s the variety of publicity we have to keep up with, whether it’s a publisher’s carefully crafted media plan or good ol’ word of mouth. When our patrons hear about a book, they (rightly!) expect us to know about it. I used to drive to work listening to NPR’s Morning Edition, and I would make note of any author interviewed or book discussed (while safely stopped at a red light, of course), because I knew we would get calls for it. Add this to the fact that books are increasingly fodder for TV, movies, and streaming series, not to mention the myriad celebrity book clubs that are engaging readers in new ways: it feels like keeping up with books means keeping up with all media.

Remember back when the only book club we had to worry about was Oprah’s? And the biggest book-to-movie news was Twilight? Those were the days…
Due to myriad technical difficulties (which only proves that we are human!), we don’t have a recording of this event. But I was able to compile a list of suggested resources, suggested by Rohini, Emily, and Katie, that will help you stay sharp.

We like newsletters because they come right to your email inbox—no work required, once you’ve signed up.
Other Resources 
These websites, blogs, and podcasts are another source for the best in books.
Sources for Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs)
Twitter Accounts to Follow
Katie suggests following lots of folks on Twitter; that way, your Twitter feed will double as a professional development tool. You’ll be the first to hear when book news breaks, and you’ll get plenty of ideas for book-suggesting and displays.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Must Read for Continuing Education About Our Profession

I know here on the blog that I have had many posts talking about our profession and how we are made up of over 80% white women and the problems this raises. I discussed this issue as it pertains to how we develop our collection for our readers, those who live in the real world where it is definitely NOT 80+% white women. You can click here or here to read these posts where I write at length about making sure our collection do not just mirror ourselves, why inclusion and diversity are non-negotiable, and how we need to encourage more diverse voices and participation in our entire profession. 

In fact, one of my friends, Robin Bradford has helped me both behind the scenes and has contributed to this blog on this issue [and others]. Well, Robin and another friend of mine, Stephanie Sendaula from Library Journal have a chapter in a brand new book that is out today,. The book is entitled, Pushing the Margins: Women of Color and Intersectionality in LIS. They have contributed a chapter specifically on Collection Development- "Chapter 15. Selection and Self-Identity - Robin Bradford and Stephanie Sendaula."

I feel very strongly that everyone who follows this blog, no matter where you work in the library or what race and gender you identify as, you all need to read at least this chapter. This one at least I can force you to read because it is RA adjacent. 

However, I would also advocate that you read the entire book. If you work in a library [whether or not you have the professional degree] you need to understand all of the issues around the fact that this profession is way too dominated by the white female perspective. When you are in the majority, it is very easy to lose site of the minority. So, especially the white women [like me] need to read this book and see just a little glimpse of what problems and issues this causes for the entire profession from the perspective of the women who are not white.

We can all learn to be better at our jobs by reading critical works about our profession, but this book is especially important for the current moment. I am getting on the hold list right now.

Click here to order the book for your library's professional development collection. Click here to see the entire series of books on "Critical Race Studies and Multiculturalism in LIS," which again, all libraries with a professional development collection should carry. If you library can't afford this, use ILL to find it at a university library. But as professional development books go, it is not very expensive. Heck it's cheaper than my book, and quite honestly, can help a lot more people make real change in response to real issues and problems

Here is all of the info direct from Library Juice Press and reprinted below [so you have no excuse to not look into it further] including the full table of contents.


Pushing the Margins: Women of Color and Intersectionality in LIS
Editors: Rose L. Chou and Annie Pho
Price: $35.00
Published: September 2018
ISBN: 978-1-63400-052-9
Printed on acid-free paper
6″ by 9″
508 Pages
This book is number three in the Litwin Books/Library Juice Press Series on Critical Race Studies and Multiculturalism in LIS, Rose L. Chou and Annie Pho, series editors.
Using intersectionality as a framework, this edited collection explores the experiences of women of color in library and information science (LIS). With roots in black feminism and critical race theory, intersectionality studies the ways in which multiple social and cultural identities impact individual experience. Libraries and archives idealistically portray themselves as egalitarian and neutral entities that provide information equally to everyone, yet these institutions often reflect and perpetuate societal racism, sexism, and additional forms of oppression. Women of color who work in LIS are often placed in the position of balancing the ideal of the library and archive providing good customer service and being an unbiased environment with the lived reality of receiving microaggressions and other forms of harassment on a daily basis from both colleagues and patrons. This book examines how lived experiences of social identities affect women of color and their work in LIS.
Rose L. Chou is Budget & Personnel Manager at American University Library, where she also serves as Chair of AU Library’s Internal Diversity & Inclusion Committee. She received her MLIS from San Jose State University and BA in Sociology from Boston College. Her research interests include race, gender, and social justice in LIS.
Annie Pho is Inquiry and Instruction Librarian for Peer-to-Peer Services and Public Programming at UCLA Libraries. She received her MLS from Indiana University-Indianapolis and BA in Art History from San Francisco State University. She’s on the editorial board of In the Library with a Lead Pipe, a co-moderator of the #critlib Twitter chat, and a Minnesota Institute for Early Career Librarians 2014 alumnus. Her research interests are in critical pedagogy, diversity, and student research behavior.

Table of Contents:
Foreword by Fobazi Ettarh
Chapter 1. “When I Enter”: Black Women and Disruption of the White, Heteronormative Narrative of Librarianship - Caitlin M. J. Pollock and Shelley P. Haley
Chapter 2. Sisters of the Stacks - Alexsandra Mitchell
Chapter 3. I Am a Muslim, a Woman, a Librarian: Muslim Women and Public Libraries - Negeen Aghassibake
Chapter 4. The Other Asian: Reflections of South Asian Americans in Libraryland - Nisha Mody, Lalitha Nataraj, Gayatri Singh, and Aditi Worcester
Chapter 5. I AM My Hair, and My Hair Is Me: #BlackGirlMagic in LIS - Teresa Y. Neely, Ph.D.
Chapter 6. The Voice of a Black Woman in Libraryland: A Theoretical Narrative - LaVerne Gray
Chapter 7. A Woman of Color’s Work Is Never Done: Intersectionality, Emotional, and Invisible Labor in Reference and Information Work - Kawanna Bright
Chapter 8. “Sister, You’ve Been on My Mind”: Experiences of Women of Color in the Library and Information Sciences Profession - Alyse Minter and Genevia M. Chamblee-Smith
Chapter 9. Small Brown Faces in Large White Spaces - Rosalinda Hernandez Linares and Sojourna J. Cunningham
Chapter 10. I, Too: Unmasking Emotional Labor of Women of Color Community College Librarians - Alyssa Jocson Porter, Sharon Spence-Wilcox, and Kimberly Tate-Malone
Chapter 11. The Burden of Care: Cultural Taxation of Women of Color Librarians on the Tenure-Track - Tarida Anantachai and Camille Chesley 
Chapter 12. Authenticity vs. Professionalism: Being True to Ourselves at Work - Jennifer Brown and Sofia Leung
Chapter 13. Identity, Activism, Self-care, and Women of Color Librarians - Alanna Aiko Moore and Jan E. Estrellado
Chapter 14. When Will My Reflection Show?: Women of Color in the Kennesaw State University Archives - JoyEllen Freeman
Chapter 15. Selection and Self-Identity - Robin Bradford and Stephanie Sendaula
Chapter 16. Reflections on the Intersection of Publishing and Librarianship: The Experiences of Women of Color - Charlotte Roh
Chapter 17. Positionality, Epistemology, and New Paradigms for LIS: A Critical Dialog with Clara M. Chu - Todd Honma and Clara M. Chu

Friday, September 14, 2018

What I’m Reading: Burning Sky

Today I have a title that has wide appeal for fans of military stories, horror, and the popular subgenre of military-horror. Ochse is a stellar creator in this area and since this title is the start of a brand new series, I suggest you get familiar with this one ASAP.

Burning Sky.

Ochse, Weston (author).
Sept. 2018. 420p. Solaris, paper, $14.99 (9781781085295)
First published September 15, 2018 (Booklist).
The members of the Tactical Support Team [TST], Army veterans turned private contractors, experienced some horrifying and improbable things during their last assignment in Afghanistan. Now, six months later, these men and women are experiencing things too strange, terrifying and eerily similar to be classified as PTSD. Ochse, a veteran and critically acclaimed author, begins his new military horror series by introducing readers to the members of TST, unveiling their diverse and complex backstories, before sending them back for the ultimate mission, a fight for their souls. This is a dark, twisted, and unnerving cosmic horror thriller framed by Middle Eastern mythology, that slowly escalates the unease, plot and dread, while constantly increasing the pacing and action, reaching a point where it is almost impossible to put the book down, but at the same time, it is also a thoughtful commentary on what war does to all of its participants. Military horror is emerging as a popular subgenre and this is an excellent entry sure to satisfy those who want the army details and jargon equally as those who desire a well constructed supernatural thriller. Perfect for fans of Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger series, but also, Ochse has a command of the beauty that can found in the language of brutality such as in the writing of Cormac McCarthy.
Further Appeal: I cannot stress enough how the occult elements here never overwhelm the real life horrors of war, rather they serve to underscore the terror and make it feel even more real. Even readers who usually like realistic military fiction, but want a more modern war setting will enjoy this. The cosmic horror elements are incorporated into the frame of Middle Eastern mythology, and the way Ochse introduces them, it feel real; like it could happen. The pairing of the realism and supernatural is seamless, so much so that it makes the book scarier.

I also liked the use of jargon. There is plenty for those in the know but not too much for lay people. Overall this is a great horror novel AND a love letter to servicemen and women who have toured in Afghanistan.

The novel begins very character centered, giving the reader details into the background of each member fo the team. While this technically slows the pacing of the action down, the novel is compelling from page one. Not only is the reader turning the pages to learn as much about these interesting characters as possible, but also, their situations are so tense that just with the character development the tension builds to the point that you need a break but can’t bare to take one. You must keep going to see what happens next.

One the plot gets going, the interesting Middle Eastern frame and the plot twists are excellent while the prose is beautiful even though it is often used to describe horrific things. And there is more to come as this is just the start of a series; in fact, be ready for people to finish and ask for book 2.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Price of War, Unnerving, Plot Twists

Readalikes: The best match is the Joe Ledger series mentioned above. I also mention Cormac McCarthy because the entire story is framed by the novel Blood Meridian but also, the writing itself is similar. If you like the way McCarthy writes, this novel is a great suggestion.

Fans of literary fiction about war, especially post-9/11 wars and its effects on veterans is also a great option like Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Fountain or The Yellow Birds by Powers.

Books set in Afghanistan and told from the local perspective might also be of interest here. Khaled Hosseini is a mainstream option, but check out this page of books tagged “Afghanistan”by readers on Goodreads.

You could also give this book to fans of military SF for which there is A LOT. Again via Goodreads. Really anyone who likes military fiction as it is crafted within any genre might enjoy this novel. Click here to find another long list

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Library Reads: October 2018

New month, new list. Before we get to my standard post a few comments.

The entire point of the Library Reads list is to allow library workers the chance to rave about the books their patrons may not know about without us. It showcases our skills at helping leisure readers and showcases how our recommendations can actually increase sales.

Click here for details 
One of the nagging problems with the list, especially after 5 years, is that the same authors were showing up over and over again. However, as you can see in this graphic, and on the list below, Library Reads has solved this problem by creating a Hall of Fame.

Please click here to learn more and see a statement from the first HoF author who is fittingly....Jodi Piccoult. 

Which leads me to another comment.  We also want to lead by example and make the list as inclusive as possible. This month, the #1 voted title is a diverse read, but also, ironically, it is this author’s second title on the LR list, so she will next be in HoF status.

We need to keep finding inclusive titles, under the radar titles, titles that even we didn’t know about before giving them a try. Please look for books that could use the boost that Library Reads can give a title that your colleagues might not know about without that vote, especially more inclusive titles.

Here you can find a link to a database by library professionals who are going through the digital ARCS and screening titles for you to choose from. Please consider starting here, not with the latest, imminent bestseller. Seriously, if you want to help, start at those databases, start by reading those titles. Try something new and if you like it, vote for it.

Don’t start with a book you already know you are going to like. That is the worst thing you can do. We are trying to broaden everyone’s horizons-- patrons, yes, but also the publishers. We want to show them that more inclusive titles will resonate and sell. But, we need to start with ourselves first.

And now, the list...

Today is Library Reads day and that means three things here on RA for All:
  1. I post the list and tag it “Library Reads” so that you can easily pull up every single list with one click.
  2. I can remind you that even though the newest list is always fun to see, it is the older lists where you can find AWESOME, sure bet suggestions for patrons that will be on your shelf to actually hand to them right now. The best thing about Library Reads is the compound interest it is earning. We now have hundreds and hundreds of titles worth suggesting right at our fingertips.
  3. You have no excuse not to hand sell any Library Reads titles because there is a book talk right there in the list in the form of the annotation one of your colleagues wrote for you. All you have to say to your patron is, “such and such library worker in blank state thought this was a great read,” and then you read what he or she said.
    So get out there and suggest a good read to someone today. I don’t care what list or resource you use to find the suggestion, just start suggesting books.

    Also, please remember to click here for my Library Reads 101 recap for everything you need to know about how to participate. And click here to see a database of eligible diverse titles sorted by month.

    October 2018 LibraryReads

    The Proposal

    by Jasmine Guillory

    Published: 10/30/2018 by Berkley Jove
    ISBN: 9780399587689
    “A disastrous public wedding proposal results in a chance meeting between Nik and Carlos. What follows is a delightfully humorous and sweet story about two people falling for each other while remaining seemingly unaware of their blossoming romance. The book sets itself apart by portraying a self-aware, feminist woman who enjoys positive relationships with female friends. An engaging and upbeat multicultural romance.”
    LaNiesha Bowles, Boston Public Library, Boston, MA

    The Clockmaker’s Daughter: A Novel

    by Kate Morton

    Published: 10/9/2018 by Atria Books
    ISBN: 9781451649390
    “Events that occurred in the late 19th century at Birchwood Manor cast their shadows over the next 150 years, with various mysterious voices explaining how those events affected their lives. Attentive readers will be rewarded as clues are revealed. Atmospheric and perfect for gothic fiction fans of Sarah Waters and Beatriz Williams.”
    Virginia Holsten, Vinton Public Library, Vinton, IA


    by J. R. Ward

    Published: 10/2/2018 by Gallery Books
    ISBN: 9781501194900
    “This first book in Ward’s newest series featuring firefighters in New Brunswick, NJ, includes well-crafted macho heroes, tough female characters, and believable relationships. Readers will be excited to see where this series goes. For fans of Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series and readers who like gritty and steamy suspense.”
    Kelsey Hudson, Middleton Public Library, Middleton, WI

    The Dream Daughter: A Novel

    by Diane Chamberlain

    Published: 10/2/2018 by St. Martin’s Press
    ISBN: 9781250087300
    “In 1970, young and recently widowed Carly learns that the baby she is carrying has a fatal birth defect. Enter her quirky but lovable brother-in-law, who proposes a highly improbable solution: travel to the future where a medical procedure exists to save her unborn child. This twisty story with well-developed characters is highly recommended, but with a trigger warning for mothers. A good crossover title for domestic fiction and science fiction readers, and fans of Kristin Hannah, Jodi Picoult, and Chris Bohjalian.”
    Erica Naranjo, Sacramento Public Library, Sacramento, CA

    The Library Book

    by Susan Orlean

    Published: 10/16/2018 by Simon and Schuster
    ISBN: 9781476740188
    “An investigation of the fire that devastated the Los Angeles Public Library in 1986 evolves into a page-turning history of the immense impact libraries and books have had throughout time. Profoundly moving and enlightening, and a clear call to readers to appreciate and support their libraries. For readers who enjoy high-quality narrative nonfiction.”
    Jesica Sweedler DeHart, Neill Public Library, Pullman, WA

    November Road: A Novel

    by Lou Berney

    Published: 10/9/2018 by William Morrow
    ISBN: 9780062663849
    “Set in the weeks just after JFK’s assassination, a mob hit man on the run meets a woman who has just impulsively left her alcoholic husband. A beautifully written suspense novel that’s hard to put down, with well-developed, sympathetic characters and plenty of intrigue. Fans of John Hart and Dennis Lehane will appreciate this fast-paced thriller.”
    Jill Smith, Bayport Public Library, Bayport, MN 

    One Day in December: A Novel

    by Josie Silver

    Published: 10/16/2018 by Broadway Books
    ISBN: 9780525574682
    “An enjoyable page-turner, with a romance that begins with a chance connection at a bus stop and brews in secret over a number of years. More literary romance than chick-lit, this title would be a good choice for readers who enjoy books by Meg Donohue or Erica Bauermeister.”
    Marlyn Beebe, Long Beach Public Library, Long Beach, CA

    Unsheltered: A Novel

    by Barbara Kingsolver

    Published: 10/16/2018 by Harper
    ISBN: 9780062684561
    “Willa and her college professor husband made all the “right” decisions, yet are nearing retirement holding an empty bag. The rise of the service economy, materialism, middle-class disenfranchisement, a labyrinthine health care system, immigration–even Charles Darwin–all factor into this relevant story about social upheaval and an ever-changing American Dream.”
    Lori Hench, Baltimore County Public Library, Baltimore, MD 

    Virgil Wander

    by Leif Enger

    Published: 10/2/2018 by Atlantic Monthly Press
    ISBN: 9780802128782
    “Virgil Wander survives a car crash with some speech and memory problems, and encounters a kite-flying stranger searching for information about his long-lost son. Enger explores and intricately layers the feelings and stories of an entire town full of people, each trying to survive their own life-changing experiences. A good pick for readers who enjoy quirky characters and for fans of Kent Haruf.”
    Elizabeth Isabelle, DeKalb County Public Library System, DeKalb, GA 

    The Witch Elm: A Novel

    by Tana French

    Published: 10/9/2018 by Viking
    ISBN: 9780735224629
    “This standalone novel has all the things readers love about the Dublin Murder Squad books–well developed characters, exquisite plotting, and deep explorations of human nature. Toby leads a charmed life with an idyllic childhood, a good family, a loving girlfriend, and promising prospects. But a vicious attack changes everything. Atmospheric, twisty, and perfect for readers who like Gillian Flynn or Kate Atkinson.”
    Laura Bovee, Chicopee Public Library, Chicopee, MA

    A Spark of Light: A Novel

    by Jodi Picoult

    Published: 10/02/2018 by Ballantine Books
    ISBN: 9781984828095

    “This harrowing and insightful novel unwinds backwards in time over the course of a day during a tense hostage situation at a Mississippi women’s clinic and is told through multiple points of view: the gunman, the hostage negotiator, patients, clinic staff, and a right to life advocate. All sides of the abortion issue are explored with compassion through the characters’ stories, helping readers empathize and connect. Fans of Picoult’s issue-driven novels will not be disappointed.”
    Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA