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.

Monday, September 30, 2019

What I'm Reading: On the Night Border and Diabhal

Today, I have two horror choices that are excellent for a wide range of readers from hard core horror fans to newbies. Seriously both will appeal to all comers who want to feel the fear, and isn't this the perfect time of year for that already? And both are in the current issue of Booklist.

As usual, the reviews as they appear here on the blog are my longer, draft version and contain more appeal info and readalikes to make it easier for you to suggest these titles without reading the book yourselves.

On the Night Border.

Chambers, James (author).
Oct. 2019. 184p. Raw Dog Screaming, paper, $15.95  (9781947879119)
First published October 1, 2019 (Booklist).

Bram Stoker Award winner, Chambers’ first story collection is a haunting exploration of the space where the real world and nightmares collide. These are horror stories that are firmly planted in the genre’s 21st Century’s sensibilities but which also contain audible echoes of past giants most notably, Lovecraft and Poe. Set mostly and around New York City, from subway platforms to the shores of Long Island to small, upstate mountain towns, these tales are united by the visceral themes of guilt, regret, betrayal, and revenge, feelings that permeate the pages, drive the terror, and leave a lingering impression of tension and anxiety in their wake. Some of the notable stories like “The Driver, Under A Cheshire Moon,” deliver a twist on a trope you think you know, others such as “Mnemonicide” have you unable to look away despite the horror, unspooling on the page, and there are even tales like “Lost Daughters,” which hint at a soft sweetness under the darkness. This is a thoroughly satisfying collection, for a wide audience of horror fans, by a voice scratching on the door, pleading to be heard. Hand this out to readers of evocative story collections like those by Langan, Tremblay, and Machado.

Further Appeal: These stories have an old fashioned feel, as if you can feel their roots in the traditions of the American history of the genre, and yet, they are not trite or out of touch, rather they feel new and fresh just with a knowing nod to what has come before. A nod that gives respect but allows the collection to also move into our present. It means these tales will be enjoyed by fans of horror new and old [which is not something I can say about every new collection].

Each tale is well constructed from a character, pacing, and language standpoint. They can be very different in style but they all are fun to read-- well fun if you want to be scared. Specifically, I loved the use of language. Chambers clearly picks his words carefully, both the word choice and how he chooses to put them together. Not that others writers do not, but his use of language clearly helps to emphasize everything else he is doing in each story. He uses language as a tool along with character, pacing, and plot twists to make each story unique to itself. You can tell, and I mean that in a positive way.

Chambers' also has a great handle on a sense of place with each story, which is not an easy thing to do in short stories, especially those set in the rural NY settings. You can feel where you are in every story.

I think the point I made in the review about how the stories are all based on visceral themes that universally create feelings of unease, tension and dread is probably the most important appeal factor.

The best part of this excellent collection is that Chambers' joy for writing horror shines through in each story. He is good at writing, yes, but it is also clear that he is thoroughly enjoying himself. And that joy makes reading this collection even better experience.

Three Words That Describe This Book: evocative, haunting, visceral

Readalikes: Besides the ones I mentioned above, any stories or collections by Stephen Graham Jones are also a good choice. Both men write stories that use known horror tropes and themes in a new way, a way that is scary and unsettling as hell but also with a language that is surprisingly beautiful and sentimental.

Chambers is very involved with the NY chapter of the Horror Writers Association and last year he helped to publish, A New York State of Fright, solid story collection of stories centered around the Empire State. As I mentioned above, the settings here are key to the stories and all are set in NY.


Kaufman, Kathleen (author).
Oct. 2019. 320p. Turner, paper, $16.99 (9781684423194)
First published October 1, 2019 (Booklist).
With the popularity of the movie Midsommar, folk horror is having its mainstream moment and Kaufman has positioned her newest novel into this spotlight. Ceit, has grown up on an unassuming cul de sac in suburban LA as part of an ancient,matriarchal, Celtic cult, one committed to keeping the old world’s evil spirits from infecting the modern world. It’s 1985 and Ceit, who has already been showing signs that she contains a powerful magic, is poised to be the next leader, but lands in the foster care system after a botched exorcism of her mother. What follows is a tense story of a confused and troubled girl, a “chosen one,” with power she cannot fully comprehend, stuck in a flawed child protection system, shunned by her family, and actively hunted by other powerful, dark magic groups. Ceit must come of age quickly, figure out her place in this magical world, and save her younger brother. The story is marked by strong world building making it easy for the reader to fall into the mythology of the various magical cults, but it is Ceit who will hook readers. While she is wise for her years in many ways, but she is also still a confused kid, albeit one imbued with a great power, one that she knows she must control and use for good, but how? And who can she trust? This is a great choice for fans of dark fantasy authors like Seanan McGuire or horror featuring strong, female, teen protagonists as seen in titles like Someone Like Me by MR Carey.

YA Statement: This is dark fantasy with a strong tween protagonist and a 1980s setting that will immediately draw in younger readers with its “chosen one” tropes. Teen readers will adore and root for Ceit as she is stuck in various orphanages and must fight for her survival against villains real and magical while she tries to find a safe place for herself and her brother against all odds.
Further Appeal: The main appeal here is the folk horror aspect. It is a huge trend right now and I have some readalikes below.

I had a few concerns about how Mormons are treated in this book [they are the butt of a few too many jokes to make me confortable] and the ending has some Native American spiritual stuff that gave me some pause, but the folk horror and the world building around the Celtic cult was solid.

Ceit is a believable young protagonist because of her attachment to this ancient culture.

The 1980s, LA setting is not as well built and is a bit of window-dressing, but I don't think it is a deal breaker. the Celtic, folk horror is the world building that needs to be done well. Although the connection Ceit has to VC Andrews' writing was a nice historically placed and spot on touch.

Readalikes: Besides the titles and authors listed above here is a list from Barnes and Noble on folk horror titles and a NoveList flyer suggesting even more options.

The Twisted Ones, which I also recently reviewed for Booklist is also a great folk horror option.

Friday, September 27, 2019

RA for All Road Show Visits the Palatine [IL] Public Library District Staff Day

Today I am in the Chicago suburbs presenting the Keynote and 2 break out sessions for the staff of the Palatine Public Library District

Below is my schedule with program descriptions and links to resources both for those in attendance and all of you out there following along from home.

RA for All: Readers Advisory belongs in every library, no matter its budget. The implementation of this vital service is the responsibility of every staff member-- from pages to directors, from those behind the scenes to the ones on the front lines. This program will remove the mystery behind providing great RA service. Using her “Ten Rules of Basic RA Service” as a guide, Becky Spratford will use your own love of your favorite books to show you how to help any patron find their next great read. It's not as hard as you think. But more importantly, you will learn why a staff that can harness the power of sharing a great read will become a stronger team and improve service to all patrons, especially the hardest to reach ones.

Breakout Sessions [60 mins each]

Demystifying Genre: Nothing is scarier than trying to help a fan of a genre you yourself don’t enjoy. You want to help that, for example, Romance reader find the perfect book, but you are having trouble knowing where to begin because...eek!... you don’t read Romance. You are afraid they will find out you are a fraud. How can YOU possibly help THEM?!? Never fear, in this program, Readers’ Advisory expert, Becky Spratford, will teach you the basic appeals of the major genres, give you the inside track on what a fan of that genre is most drawn to, and provide you with talking points to get your genres readers to tell you what they want. This program focuses on providing you with a diverse and inclusive list of up to date authors with at least 40% of the example titles representing own voices. You will leave this session with the confidence and skill to help fans of every genre, regardless of whether or not you have ever read a book in that genre yourself. And that will leave a trail of happy patrons in your wake.

#OwnVoices for All Readers: Incorporating EDI Values into Readers’ Advisory Service
Providing robust readers’ advisory service that values equity, diversity and inclusion principles is essential to all library service. Join Readers’ Advisory specialist Becky Spratford as she provides the information you need to diversify your suggestions, identify resources, and include more staff input in order to confidently promote and place more #OwnVoices titles into adult patrons’ hands. You’ll come away with an understanding for how easy it to incorporate EDI values into your normal RA practices. All you need is a little nudge in the right direction.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Library Journal Takes a Deep Dive Into Generational Reading Habits: Part 2

As I wrote about for the first part of this series here:
But now, here comes Library Journal to the rescue. They have begun a series of deep dives into generational reading behavior, with a particular focus on library usage. I am very excited to pass on this first report here and below. I have also started a new tag, "generational reading behavior," in order to make pulling up the entire series easier in the future. 
Yes, knowing out local populations is key to the best public library service, but understanding broader trends and looking at a larger picture is also important. This report is fascinating and the charts are very useful. This is a series that every single one of my readers can and will use.
I will be tagging every post in this series "generational reading behavior" so that you can pull them all up with one click when the series is complete.

Part 2 is up [it has been for a bit, I just forgot to post it] and it is on Gen Z.

Click here or below to read this second installment.

Click here to access the full report

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

ARRT Book Club Study Update and Resource Reminder

Today's post includes the announcement of the next Adult Reading Round Table Book Club Study.
But it is also a reminder that no matter where you live and whether or not you can come to our discussions, we make the notes from EVERY discussion available here for all library book club leader, EVERYWHERE, to use as a resource for FREE!
I cannot stress enough what a valuable resource this archive page is for all book club leaders. You not only can see a list of book discussion books that we have discussed, but you can also see an example of what was discussed in that book, beyond just the questions that were asked. We try very hard to capture the responses and the back and forth that occurs during a discussion. Why? Because our audience for these notes is you, the library worker who hosts book discussions. You need help coming up with questions, but also a sense of how those questions played out as a discussion is extremely helpful. No one else provides this specific a resource to help you.
And this is not even considering the direction and assistance our leadership topic notes provide.
Here is an example, the notes from our most recent meeting:
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh NguyenDiscussion NotesLeadership Training on how to best prepare for book discussion
And here is the announcement of our next discussion which I plan to attend. But again, if you cannot, look for the notes on both parts of the Book Club Study meeting to be available about a month after the event.
Please join us for a discussion of The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner, led by Mary Constance Back.
It’s 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision.
-Summary courtesy of Goodreads.
The discussion will be held: 
Wednesday, November 13th, 2-4 p.m.
RSVP to Mary Constance Back (mary.back@rmlib.org)
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. Sonia Reppe will lead the discussion on our next leadership topic: Adult Summer & Winter Read Programs: Successes, New Ideas, and Areas of Opportunity. Please bring a list of resources you utilize and be prepared to share your best practices so that we can all learn from each other. 
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.
Links to Peruse Prior to the Discussion:Bio and Profiles 
The GuardianThe Yale ReviewThe Washington Post
Finally, I would like to remind you all that I provide book discussion training ranging from 60 minute presentations on how to recharge your book club to half day programs where I also lead a book discussion as part of the training. The second option is especially useful as as part of a regional training or as a preconference at library conferences.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

LibraryReads and NoveList's Crash Course in Horror is TODAY!

Reposting from a longer post here, but the Novelist Horror Crash Course is FREE and it is later today. I will be viewing it after the fact so as not to cause a distraction.

Excerpt below is from this post: 


...As part of NoveList and LibraryReads on going series of FREE, "Crash Course" presentation in all the genres [click here for access to the full series], Horror is up next.

You can click here to sign up or see below.

Many people have reached out to me to ask if I am involved in this webinar and the answer is, "No," and that is a good thing. Let me explain.

First, this series is about LibraryReads Board Members and the full time staff of NoveList coming together to help library workers help every kind of reader. I am not either of those two categories of people, so I have no place being a part of this.

Two, I should not be the only person out there telling you how to help horror readers for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I am only 1 person and I don't have that much time and enegery. But more importantly, just like I preach that "Every person reads a different version of the same book," well, that holds true for genres and training sessions too. My version of horror and my version of how to help horror readers is NOT the only version. We need multiple voices and opinions, more options and ideas in order to help every type of horror reader. I am so very glad for once to be in the audience and learn from others. I know something will come up that I haven't considered or thought of and I can't wait.

Which leads me to the webinar itself. Many people have also asked if I will be viewing it live, and I have decided not to. I am signed up and will watch the recording. I don't want to be in the virtual room, where participants will see my name and then try to interact with me. I don't want people in the chat to be asking me what I think of what is being said. I know Gregg and Autumn and Kaitlin will do a great job. I don't want to cause any distractions- for them or me. I need to learn from them just as much as you do. I know what I think. I need to hear from others. It's how we learn, but encountering new ideas from a fresh perspective. I for one, cannot wait.

Sign up for Crash Course in Horror here or use the links below.

Click here to sign up for FREE
Does the thought of helping horror readers terrify you? Whether your readers are fans of ghost stories or horror classics, let NoveList and LibraryReads break down the best horror has to offer your readers — from found footage to final girls.
Join us as they cover:
  • Why horror is so popular and how libraries can ramp up the thrills and chills in their collections
  • How horror developed, including classics, newcomers, and awards to know
  • Subgenres and trends
  • NoveList insider information on genre headings, themes, appeal terms, and more
We welcome anyone interested to stay for an additional 15-minute training to share search strategy tips and learn where to access genre-related information in NoveList.
Tuesday, September 24, 2019
2-3pm Eastern (optional training from 3-3:15pm)


Gregg Winsor is a member of the LibraryReads Board of Directors and works as a Reference Librarian and Readers' Advisory Specialist at the Johnson County Library in Overland Park, Kansas. He’s presented at several regional library associations and comic book conventions, including WorldCon and BookExpo America. He’s been a horror fan ever since he stumbled across Stephen King's short story collection Night Shift at his library at a far too young and impressionable age. You can usually find him dodging a teetering pile of unread books at his desk. 

Autumn Winters is Recommendations Lead at NoveList. When she's not busy ensuring that NoveList's handwritten recommendations are stellar, she maintains the Recommended Reads lists for children and teens and the Diverse Reading BookSquad email. In 1986, Autumn couldn't sleep for a year due to the combined influences of V.C. Andrews and Freddy Krueger. She ran a public library haunted house before coming to NoveList, and can vouch for the power of a fog machine and a few well-placed teen volunteers wearing masks to make people of all ages very uneasy.

Kaitlin Conner is a Readers’ Advisory Librarian at NoveList, where she selects and annotates horror and nonfiction titles for NextReads newsletters, creates recommendations content, and spearheads the Navigating Nonfiction Book Squad email.  She wasn’t always a horror fan (thanks to some traumatic playacting her sister insisted upon in childhood), but now she takes to the genre with gusto like Leatherface firing up the ol’ chainsaw. She loves social commentary in her horror, final girls, and Brad Dourif’s Chucky voice. She met Grady Hendrix once and it was pretty much the highlight of her year.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Using Awards Lists as a RA Tool: National Book Foundation Long Lists

All last week and this morning the National Book Foundation released their long lists. Here are the direct links to each list:
This post is your semi-regular reminder that awards lists make the best RA Tool for a variety of reasons. And the National Book Foundation long list announcement is one of the better examples because it covers a wide swath of literature, categories and age ranges. 

Plus, the 5 Under 35 is a must use list of authors for every library. Specifically, last year I posted about the 5 Under 35 lists [current and backlist] as an excellent resource for trends and reading suggestions here. It's worth a look today, especially because the 5 Under 35 was released just this morning.

And of course here is the link to all of the times I have written about the overall idea of using awards lists [not juts the winners] as a RA Resource for everything we do from displays to suggestions, to educating ourselves, collection development, and more.

Personally, I am, especially excited about the Translated nominees. I finished one over the weekend [I had begun it before the announcement] and already had another on hold.

Friday, September 20, 2019

RA for All Roadshow Visits Lincoln [NE] City Libraries

Today I am in Nebraska for the inservice day of Lincoln City Libraries. The entire library staff-- approximately 120 people-- are gathering together for a full day of learning, team work, and reconnecting with themselves as readers.

Below is the full schedule for today, and it is one of my most interactive days. Included is my brand new EDI program and a complete overhaul of what used to be my merchandising talk and is now revamped and retitled-- Painless Promotion. I have the brand new, not even published in LJ yet, book talk and we are going to have 30 minutes exclusively for the group to practice book talking.

Props to Lincoln for allowing all staff, not just front line people, to participate in a full day of RA focused training. They clearly understand that books are their brand and anyone can provide RA Service. I am proud to be here to help them improve, especially because I know they have the correct focus already.

Let's do this, together.
9-10:50 am: RA for All: Readers Advisory belongs in every library, no matter its budget. The implementation of this vital service is the responsibility of every staff member-- from pages to directors, from those behind the scenes to the ones on the front lines. This program will remove the mystery behind providing great RA service. Using her “Ten Rules of Basic RA Service” as a guide, Becky Spratford will use your own love of your favorite books to show you how to help any patron find their next great read. It's not as hard as you think. But more importantly, you will learn why a staff that can harness the power of sharing a great read will become a stronger team and improve service to all patrons.

10 Min Break
11am- 12 pm: Booktalking Your Way to the Friendliest Library in Town: Booktalking is at the heart of what we do with patrons each and every day at the public library. Whether we are sharing books informally at the services desk, presenting a prepared list of books, or posting information online, talking about books is something we do each and every day. It is a core service, but it is also hard to teach. Booktalking is more of an art than a skill, but with the right guidance and some practice, it can go a long way toward engaging your patrons and re-energizing your staff. Join experienced Readers’ Advisory Becky Spratford as she shares the secret behind delivering great book talks, giving you tips and tricks you can begin using right away to hone your own skills. Rediscover the power and joy that comes from sharing books with patrons.

LUNCH 12-1:30
1:30-2pm: Facilitated Booktalking Practice
2-3pm: #OwnVoices for All Readers: Incorporating EDI Values into Readers’ Advisory Service: Providing robust readers’ advisory service that values equity, diversity and inclusion principles is essential to all library service. Join Readers’ Advisory specialist Becky Spratford as she provides the information you need to diversify your suggestions, identify resources, and include more staff input in order to confidently promote and place more #OwnVoices titles into adult patrons’ hands. You’ll come away with an understanding for how easy it to incorporate EDI values into your normal RA practices. All you need is a little nudge in the right direction.

15 Min Break
3:15-4:15pm: Painless Promotion: Encouraging All Staff To Hype The Whole Library: Grow beyond the traditional marketing model and embrace a whole library philosophy where promotion is everyone's job. Informing the public of programs, services, and materials that will interest or help them solve a problem is at the core of what we already provide. But why do most library staff think marketing isn’t part of their job? Becky Spratford isn’t a traditional marketer, but she will share her proven and practical tips to engage staff, inform the community, increase return on investment, and create a more positive experience for all.

4:15-4:30pm: Ask Becky Anything: Now is your chance to ask RA expert Becky Spratford anything about how to work with leisure readers. What are your fears, frustrations, and obstacles.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Improving Discovery of #OwnVoices Titles Without Segregating Books

Today I want to talk about how we allow diverse titles to be discovered by ALL readers, not just those who are specifically looking for them. This is a tricky issue. Of course we know that we need to buy diverse titles and we are beginning to understand that we have to suggest them [both actively by books talking and passively by putting them in lists and on displays], but we also need to make these titles discoverable by browsers on their own.

This brings up the issue of whether or not we should sticker #ownvoices titles or even pull them out into their own sections in order to make it easier for these titles to be found. I get questions about this all of the time. A few months ago, I got a specific one that the librarian [an Assistant Director in Oklahoma] agreed to let me share. From that email:
I have enjoyed your posts about diversity. My question is about genre stickers. We are working on increasing the level of diversity in our collection. Recently, we purchased some urban fiction. We have Urban Fiction genre stickers. We do not use genre stickers on most of our other items. While they are shelved with everything else, in your opinion, are these stickers a form of segregation?
This is an example of many similar questions that well meaning white librarians have when they are trying to increase the level of diversity in their collection. I get these questions via email and during my presentations all of the time.

The answer, however is tricky. If you are a library that uses a lot of genre stickers already, adding another one to call out a different type of book could be okay, although I would stay away from it personally in favor of an alternative I discuss below. If you do not already use stickers, starting for an #ownvoices or diverse area of books is segregation for sure. And, although it did not come up in this instance, NEVER NEVER NEVER pull out diverse books into their own section.

Why am I so against this? I know many of you are thinking, but if we want people to find these titles and check them out more, shouldn't we be "calling them out?" I also get the very reasonable question about LGBTQ titles since we know that some people want to find those books without asking for help. I will answer all of these concerns in a moment, but first here is why I am against stickering and making "diverse" sections.

When we sticker the #ownvoices books we are doing a few things. One, we are othering them. By placing a LGBTQ or Latinx sticker on a book we are implicitly saying that item is against the "norm." We don't sticker white, heterosexual books? So by sticking those that are not white or heterosexual, we are implicitly saying those are the standard. And by sticking those that are not the "norm" we are performing a microaggression against the items we have "othered." And that is clearly the opposite of what we are trying to do.

Two, these stickers are most often used to differentiate genres. The identity of the author is NOT a genre. Every single book no matter the identity of the author or characters fits into a genre that has nothing what so ever to do with identity. For example, SF or Romance don't have identity standards to their genres. Now in the question above, "Urban Fiction" is a genre, so that's one that could go either way. Again, I fall on the side of if you already sticker genres then add "Urban Fiction," but if you don't use them usually, don't start with a "black" genre. Again, that's a microaggression as I described above.

Third, when we sticker the diverse books or put them somewhere else, we will inevitably not allow the general browser to discover the title through serendipity on the shelf. We have placed them somewhere else, a place people have to go out of their way to find. We really should have books by all types of people shelved either all mixed up, or with their genre [depending on if you pull out genres or not]. This allows the full breadth of the human experience to be browsable in one place.

Okay, that is why I don't recommend stickering or separately shelving the books, but I know I still haven't answered the discoverability part of this equation. How are patrons who want to find these titles going to? And even more importantly, how are we going to get staff to identify appropriate own voices titles for their lists and displays if they can't easily find them too? As I mentioned yesterday, we want to strive toward including 30% diverse titles in every display and list, but if staff can't find those titles easily, will they go out of their way to do this?

Well thankfully it is 2019 and every single library has the perfect tool to solve this problem. And both staff and patrons already know how to use it.....the online catalog!

We need to use our digital catalogs more for RA. We need to add tags and keywords that pull out all of the things we would want to call attention to with a physical sticker in the catalog. Invest your time and energy into adding more of this kind of data into your cataloging so both library workers and patrons can discover titles they are specifically looking for in that manner. And, this means others who are just browsing won't be turned away by a "LGBTQ" sticker even though the blurb on the book looks like they would love it. Solving another complaint I hear from library staff, that patrons won't read books about people different from them. Look that has been proven completely false many times over [just glance at the best seller list today]. But I do know that if a book has a giant sticker saying Latinx, that makes even the most well meaning white readers think the book isn't for them. Without the sticker, there is a high chance it will be read by a wider range of readers with differing identities.

NoveList does a version of this with their tags for "culturally diverse" characters and "own voices" storylines. You can search their database by these terms just like you can search by tone, or pacing, or even genre.

I am a huge advocate of using the catalog for more RA in general. We can put all the stickers on a book digitally without covering the entire spine. And if a book is historical, and fantasy, and "own voices" we can mark all of that in the catalog without having to worry about the book spine looking like a mess. We can show patrons [and staff] how to use any keyword to help them find a good read. If we add more useful data to our catalogs, data that will help readers find their best good read, not just the data the out of touch LoC cataloging system tells us we are "allowed" to use, well then the catalog will become your best discovery tool. And last time I checked, that is the main goal of the catalog [card or digital] in the first place-- allowing people to find the items they were looking for.

[Side note: you can actually use whatever terms you want in YOUR catalog. No one will put you in library jail if you use the wrong word. Use the terms you think will work best in your community. You are not a library of record as the local public library. You are actually just the library of your tax payers. Use natural language words and terms that work for their needs.]

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Why Reading Diversely is So Important

Regular readers of the blog know that I have been busy preparing and presenting my brand new 60 minute program on incorporating equity, diversity, and inclusion values into our RA Service. I gave it yesterday virtually and am presenting it in person this Friday.

Over the next 2 days, I am hoping to elaborate on a few ideas I bring up in that presentations, ideas  that I have not expanded upon here on the blog before. [Some of the posts in which I have expanded upon some of the ideas in the talk are linked in the slides or you can use the tag diversity to pull up everything.]

A lot of the presentation is about me and my journey to understanding how I could do better, how I came to more consciously and intentionally view my RA work through an EDI lens all of the time. One of the reasons I focus so intensely on myself is that I, a binary white lady, am typical of the vast mass of us...librarians. And since I am talking to librarians, I want to make sure everyone participating in this program understands that it is about them, not some other racist person who they know. Nope, them and me, you, and all of us. I don't allow any room for hiding.

I give examples of others who have worked to put EDI values at the forefront and one of the most vocal and fearless in this quest is Book Riot. Many people in libraries have a lot of varied opinions about this resource, but I am on the record as advocating for it's use with our readers for a variety on reasons. Here are but 3. One, because it speaks directly to readers and most of our library resources speak to us, the library worker first and imply the reader will get help from that. Two, because they jump on trends very quickly providing us with lists we can use immediately to help readers.

But it is number 3 for which they have gotten the most flack. And this is the reason I support them and now, use them as a role model in my own work.

Three, Book Riot has in their mission this statement:
Because we value diversity and representation, we set editorial standards on our lists that reflect current census and population data, which illustrate a far more diverse country and world than might be presumed based on publishing numbers and statistics. When we can’t find enough authors from marginalized communities to meet these standards, we take the opportunity to critically examine why this might be.
I reached out to a Book Riot editor, Kelly Jensen, and she said [and that I could quote her for the org]  their editorial standard for all lists is a minimum of 30% diversity.

This means everything they do considers EDI issues. They understand that we need to fight against the years of microaggressions and a mindset that makes white, heteronormative, abled body books a "norm" and others all else.

As you can imagine, they have gotten a lot of flack for requiring diversity, but I for one love it. Not only do I love it for them, I have also begun using their standard in my own work too. They are taking a stand and sticking to it. Nothing they publish suffers for it; in fact, I would argue that it is because of this commitment to diversity that their lists are better than others that we use to help our patrons. They go out of their way to consider the full breadth of offerings, not just the most common [and probably only white] ones.

Book Riot's staff, also addressed the backlash head on back in 2015 with a 5 part FAQ outlining why it is so important to read diversely. You can click here to begin with Part 1 and then at the end of the piece, there are links to the next 4 parts.

I have included a direct link to this series in my presentation also.  Even if you think you are someone who values reading diversely already, take a moment and read this thoughtful piece by an organization that stands behind their word.

Tomorrow, I will continue this conversation with another post about how to improve discoverability of diverse titles without stickering or pulling books by diverse authors out of the main collection.

In my presentation I bring up the discoverability issue as one of the major things we are NOT focusing on when we talk about diverse books and libraries, and I cannot possibly say it all when I present.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

RA for All Virtual Roadshow Visits Massachusetts Library System

Today I will be debuting my 60 minute webinar entitled, #OwnVoices for All Readers: Incorporating EDI Values into Readers' Advisory Service for repeat customer, Massachusetts Library System.

This is a webinar I have been working on for awhile, and it is also one I will be giving both virtually and in person across a variety of libraries, conferences, and training situations in the coming months.

In this webinar, I not only force all of you to confront your own microaggressions, but I also call myself out. We are going to have an honest and, at times, uncomfortable, conversation about the things we all do that perpetuate the problems we see when it comes to equity, diversity, and inclusion in our work with readers and within our collections.

This will be one of my more serious programs, but I have also made sure to add fun GIFS and a few jokes so that it isn't just 60 minutes of me chastising everyone.

The slides not only have a ton of links, but I have kept my speaking notes in there. I want to make sure this presentation reaches as many people as possible.

Click here of see below to access the live slides.

Click here for slide access

Monday, September 16, 2019

Library Reads: October 2019

Today is Library Reads day and that means four 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.
  4. Every book now has at least 1 readalike that is available to hand out RIGHT NOW. Book talk the upcoming book, place a hold for it, and then hand out that readalike title for while they wait. If they need more titles  before their hold comes in, use the readalike title to identify more readalike titles. And then keep repeating. Seriously, it is that easy to have happy, satisfied readers.
    Also, the Library Reads Board has also started another great book discovery and suggestion tool for you, a monthly What We're Reading column. This means there are even more library worker approved titles, new and old, for you to choose from. 

    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 2019 LibraryReads

    The Body: A Guide for Occupants

    by Bill Bryson

    Published: 10/15/2019 by Doubleday Books
    ISBN: 9780385539302
    “A fascinating look at the human body and how it functions. Each historical tidbit is well-researched and thoroughly cited. Interesting stories, such as how diseases, cells, nerves, and organs were discovered, are woven throughout. For readers who like narrative nonfiction such as Gulp by Mary Roach, Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, and Guts by Giulia Enders.”
    Carolynn Waites, Manvel Library, Manvel, TX
    NoveList Read-alike: Gross Anatomy: Dispatches from the Front (and Back) by Mara Altman

    The Art of Theft

    by Sherry Thomas

    Published: 10/15/2019 by Berkley
    ISBN: 9780451492470
    “In this fun, playful series, Thomas has created a female version of Holmes who is vibrant, real, relatable, and intelligent. This fourth book has Holmes and Watson travel to France, with twists and turns the reader won’t see coming. Perfect for fans of Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell series and Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series.”
    Carrie Pedigo, Tippecanoe County Public Library, Lafayette, IN 
    Novelist Read-alike: Jem Flockhart novels by E.S. Thomson

    The Butterfly Girl: A Novel

    by Rene Denfeld

    Published: 10/1/2019 by Harper
    ISBN: 9780062698162
    “Denfield’s writing is like lyrical poetry, with every word captivating. Add to this an amazing mystery, a plethora of suspense, and an ending that exceeds all expectations, and we have another 5 star book. For fans of What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan and Love You More by Lisa Gardner.”
    Cyndi Larsen, Avon Free Public Library, Avon, CT 
    NoveList Read-alike: Black Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

    Cilka’s Journey: A Novel

    by Heather Morris

    Published: 10/1/2019 by St. Martin’s Press
    ISBN: 9781250265708
    “A powerful follow-up to The Tattooist of Auschwitz, this story begins after the liberation of Auschwitz, when Cilka is sentenced by the Soviet liberators to 15 years in one of Stalin’s Siberian labor gulags. From one death camp to another–for doing what was needed to survive. For fans of Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly and We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter.”
    Don Crankshaw, Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library, Evansville, IN
    NoveList Read-alike: House of Meetings by Martin Amis

    Imaginary Friend

    by Stephen Chbosky

    Published: 10/1/2019 by Grand Central Publishing
    ISBN: 9781538731338
    “Christopher and his mom run from an abusive boyfriend and seek peace and quiet in a new town. Instead, Christopher becomes agitated and sneaks out at night, doing anything a “nice man” tells him to do. This is pure horror, a classic battle of good and evil, and a must for fans of Stephen King, Joe Hill, and Paul Tremblay.”
    Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, Austin, TX 
    NoveList Read-alike: The Stand by Stephen King

    The Library of the Unwritten

    by A. J. Hackwith

    Published: 10/1/2019 by Ace
    ISBN: 9781984806376
    “The ideas of books never actually written possess dangerous potential and power. They are kept in the Library of the Unwritten in Hell. Determined librarians tend the library keeping watch for escaped characters, angels and demons. For fans of Genevieve Cogman or Neil Gaiman.”
    Jessica Trotter, Capital Area District Library, Lansing, MI
    NoveList Read-alike: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

    Ninth House

    by Leigh Bardugo

    Published: 10/8/2019 by Flatiron Books
    ISBN: 9781250313072
    “Alex has always been able to see ghosts, and this talent uniquely qualifies her to become part of the Lethe, a group that regulates the eight magical societies at Yale. When a murder happens nearby the campus, Alex suspects that a society has their hand in this and it’s not just a normal homicide. For fans of urban fantasy and secret societies.”
    Amy Verkruissen, Calcasieu Parish Public Library, Lake Charles, LA 
    NoveList Read-alike: Magic For Liars by Sarah Galley

    Nothing to See Here

    by Kevin Wilson

    Published: 10/29/2019 by Ecco
    ISBN: 9780062913463
    “A funny, snarky narrator takes on the job of caretaker for kids with remarkable and strange abilities. Everyone involved learns that sometimes all we need after being repeatedly let down is someone to rely on. For fans of Chuck Kosterman and Gary Shteyngart.”
    Linda Quinn, Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, CT
    NoveList Read-alike: Gravity is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty

    Ordinary Girls: A Memoir

    by Jaquira Diaz

    Published: 10/8/2019 by Algonquin Books
    ISBN: 9781616209131
    “Diaz was out of control. Her life was a never ending cycle of indifferent (or worse) parenting, street fights, abuse, drugs, arrests, alcohol, skipping school—all are detailed in this coming of age memoir. Reading this extraordinary memoir, I was reminded that no one can make you do something until you decide to on your own. For fans of Hunger by Roxane Gay and When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago.
    Linda Tilden, Mt. Laurel Public Library, Mt. Laurel, AL 
    NoveList Read-alike: Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden

    Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts

    by Kate Racculia

    Published: 10/8/2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
    ISBN: 9780358023937
    “Engaging characters set off to follow the mysterious clues of the will of an elderly, wealthy eccentric for a chance at winning the grand prize. Young grief and loss, family guilt, secrets, and hilarity are featured throughout. Plus: ghosts! For readers who liked The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson and Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst.”
    Pamela Gardner, Medfield Public Library, Medfield, MA 
    NoveList Read-alike: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

    Full Throttle

    by Joe Hill

    Published: 10/1/2019 by William Morrow
    ISBN: 9780062200679
    “Hill’s short story collection hits the sweet spot: thirteen supernatural tales that satisfy but also leave you wanting a tiny bit more. He also discusses the inspiration for each story, allowing fans more insight into his process.”
    Mahogany Skillings, Richland County Public Library, Richland County, SC 
    Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
    Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
    Ghost Summer by Tananarive Due

    The Giver of Stars: A Novel

    by Jojo Moyes

    Published: 10/8/2019
    by Pamela Dorman Books
    ISBN: 9780399562488
    “Moyes brings Depression-era Kentucky to life in this historical novel about five women who become horseback librarians. Vivid descriptions of daily life in a 1930s coal-mining community and great characters punctuate an informative, fun read that’s based on a true story.”
    Linda Sullivan, Mission Viejo Public Library, Mission Viejo, CA
    The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
    The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani
    Over the Plain Houses by Julia Franks

    Olive, Again: A Novel

    by Elizabeth Strout

    Published: 10/15/2019
    by Random House
    ISBN: 9780812996548
    “Olive Kitteridge is back and still as crotchety, opinionated, and endearing as ever. Aging, death, racism, prejudices, infidelities–nothing gets past Olive as she sticks her nose into every corner of her small town.”
    Sharon Hutchins, Keytesville Library, Keytesville, MO 
    Lila by Marilynne Robinson
    Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
    The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

    Royal Holiday

    by Jasmine Guillory

    Published: 10/1/2019
    by Berkley
    ISBN: 9781984802217
    “An irresistible Christmas fantasy about a woman of a certain age who falls for the queen of England’s private secretary on a visit to the U.K. Guillory describes Britain so well, and it was great to read a popular romance novel starring an older protagonist.”
    Meghan Sanks, Glenview Public Library, Glenview, IL
    A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole
    Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev
    My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan

    Twice in a Blue Moon

    by Christina Lauren

    Published: 10/22/2019
    by Gallery Books
    ISBN: 9781982135706
    “Sam was Tate’s first love and turned her world upside down. Years later they reconnect unexpectedly, and she wonders if young love should get a second chance. Another unputdownable book from Lauren.”
    Melissa Stumpe, Johnson County Public Library, Greenwood, IN 
    Not Quite Over You by Susan Mallery
    Perfect Timing by Brenda Jackson
    Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins

    Read-alikes provided by NoveList and the LibraryReads community.