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, July 31, 2020

Resource Alert: The Millions' "Book Previews"-- Both Current and Backlist

I am a huge fan of the 2x a year "Great" Book previews by The Millions, but not only for the obvious reasons of collection development.

The Millions puts out monthly anticipation lists, but I am specifically talking about the "Great First-Half" and "Great Second-Half" lists they put out. These have so many uses. I used my librarian skills to create a search that excludes the monthly previews and pulls up every year's first and second half previews with this one click. Having the backlist of options is key to everything I will say here.

Now on to my explanation of all of the ways you can use these previews, current and past, to help patrons.

Collection Development: As I mentioned above, this is the most obvious reason to use these lists. You can go through them to learn about the most anticipated titles and get them on order. This list is especially helpful at identifying midlist gems. Titles that the editors think will gain traction but may not have the largest marketing plans and/or from lesser known authors. Even if they don't end up becoming break out hits, the fact that these editors identified them early is enough reason to have them in our library collections. The midlist are often some of our best "sure bets," titles we can suggest to readers with confidence ones that they would not know about with out us. They are also more likely to be on the shelf.

This year, especially, those of  you who do collection  development should go back and check the first half preview to see if you missed anything. But also, go back and read the last few years of previews. Look for authors you now know about, make sure you have their earlier books. Since the list is annotated, you can also read the blurbs about each book and see what trends have emerged now that maybe didn't catch on  then. Grab those titles and promote them as "new" because to your patrons they are new.

Displays: New books get their own display space, but what about great titles from the last 1-4 years that are in your collections, smashed between other books, not being highlighted, but are still a great option. We are always looking for ways  to get our high interest, backlist titles out in front of patrons. Well, these lists are just what you and your patrons are looking for. There are so many titles, from so many years that you could go through them one at a time. Make a display [online lists with catalog links and in building traditional displays] by year. For example, flashback to 2016's hottest books. And then put all the ones you own out and watch them fly off the shelves. Make it interactive by asking people what their favorite read from 2016 was and then make a second display of patron [and staff] picks from 2016. Then feature another year. Do one a month. Patrons will LOVE  IT. And your administration and board will also love it because your  backlist will be circulating. Most of our investment collections-wise is in our backlist. Help it shine, collect data on the increase in circulation, and then get it into Board reports. Everybody wins!

Conversation Starter: I alluded to this above as a way to engage patrons in a conversation about their favorite books of "yore" for display, but in general these lists are a great conversation starter, especially online. And even more especially, on Goodreads. Why? Because if you get a library account and ask your patrons questions about their favorite books from 2017 on Goodreads, they can just go to their shelf and see what books they gave the most stars to that year. They are already in the space where the answers to your questions are. You could also start this convo on other social media platforms and link to the Goodreads conversation too. Those who use Instagram, post pictures of your physical displays and start a conversation about that year on that platform. There are many possibilities to start conversations about lesser known titles here.

Booktalks: One of my main mantras as I encourage more staff to actively participate in RA Service is to remind people that they can and should use the words of others as they suggest books to potential readers. These lists are all fully annotated, with a prepared soundbite that you can share with patrons. Obviously you  want to share books you own, but there is no excuse to not hand sell these titles if they are in your collections. You start by saying it was a hot title in, for example, 2018 and then read the blurb. If they seem interested you can pull the physical book or look up reviews on NoveList [professional opinions] and Goodreads [regular reader opinions] for more information. But the hardest part of your job-- finding a high interest title that is readily available and having something well thought out to say about it-- well that is done for you with these lists.

Covers: Finally, the least important reason I love this resource but a nice bonus, the cover is right there with the book's entry. Covers tell us a lot about a book [I have discussed it  many times and you can click here to read more on how to use covers in your service to readers] and having the cover in front of you before you pull the book is extremely helpful.

Please check out this year's and past year's previews and use them to make your job easier and your patron's happier.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Educating Your Patrons On the Importance of Libraries Begins with a Book List from Booklist

Yes I know that title is a stupid attempt at forcing a pun where there isn't really one, but I couldn't resist.

Of course, I know we do so much they cannot see that makes the library work. However, as a profession we are also notorious for NOT educating the public on what all that work is. We spend too much time trying to make it look effortless. Now is not the time to do that. Now is the time to shout from the rooftops about how vital the PEOPLE behind the LIBRARY are.

On the other hand, we don't want to look like we are pandering. We want to advocate for ourselves with our Boards and our community with a soft, but firm sell. Again, as I wrote here yesterday, enhancing our core RA service with some bonus info is one way to  accomplish that.

Another is through a strategically placed book list, and courtesy of Booklist I have just that list.

Click here for the list from the Booklist staff, "Our Favorite Books Featuring Libraries and Librarians." Obviously you can share this list far and wide with your patrons-- online and in the building. The list in and of itself will create goodwill for your library and its workers because all of the books [fiction and nonfiction] portray a positive view of libraries.


Even more  important than the list is the website where you can find it right now-- I Love Libraries.

This website is an arm of the ALA and it is all about supporting libraries and library worker. Click here or on the graphic below, but the point you need to understand is that every time someone visits this list on the I Love Libraries site [rather than linking them to Booklist Reader where they can also access it], the banner you see in the embedded graphic below is on the top of the page. You are giving your patrons access to information to make your case about the importance of libraries while also giving them a booklist they will enjoy. People will explore the site once you send them there, and we want them empowering a site like this, a site that will make our  case for us.

This is the definition of a soft but firm sell. You give known library patrons a list of books about libraries [which they will love], while at the same time you are advocating for your library and its workers.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Increase Patron Satisfaction By Enhancing Your RA Service...One Link at a Time

In this world of hybrid RA Service, where we have only limited interaction with patrons as we work to get them material, we need to make sure we are providing more than simply items for them to read. Yes this makes them happy now, especially with curbside resuming all over the country. People are happy to get a physical book in their hands [often because it reminds them of a piece of before times, not because they refuse to read digitally].

However, just getting books to them is not going to be enough as communities start looking at the bottom line dollars of this pandemic and start questioning the money that is going to the library, especially the  cost of personnel. Unfortunately that is the first place library boards are looking to make cuts. I may disagree [and am a Board member myself] but it is the hard truth across the country.

We need to get ahead of their complaints that we shouldn't have so many people working in  building with limited services and hours. An easy way to do this is to enhance your service to leisure readers.

When we help people with their wants, the things they like to have, they tend to be more impressed and happy than when we handle their needs [reference questions, computer services, copies, etc...] Why? Because the wants seem like extra, they appear to be service above and beyond to the tax payer. Yes, we know they are part of our everyday job, but in general, people do not expect their public entities to do the  "fun" things for them as part of their daily work.

So how can we show people, from a distance, that our services enhance their experience with our collections? Well it used to be we did that through personalized, in person service, having conversations, and creating relationships. But now, we are often taking request via email, phone, or the patrons  are placing holds on their own based on emails or book lists we have put out. 

This all good and helps connect people to books they wouldn't find on their own, but we still need  to do more, go the extra mile.

Might I suggest providing access to supplemental materials for the books they are receiving. For example, links to interviews with the author, other book lists which contain the title you gave them, or even a music playlist to go with the book.

That last suggestion is one of my favorites and one I have suggested before. Visit Largehearted Boy's archive of books with a playlists created by the author. You can listen right on the site. But in general Largehearted Boy is an excellent resource to identify that something extra, a link you can share to enhance the patron's experience with the library, to remind them of the service you, the staff member, have provided, a service and information that patron would never get without you.

It doesn't have to be music. Some patrons won't want that, but the general point I am making is key here. Socially distant service does not mean you have to sacrifice the personal touch. Now that we  have started to get back in a new normal, it is time to start finding ways to increase patron satisfaction. Make them happy to have not just the bare minimum. Give them something more. Of course it won't be the same as before, but it will be in the same spirit as pre-Covid times and that is what matters the most. 

Please take me seriously here and think about what I have said. I am sorry to be so dire, but your job may depend on it. It shouldn't, but it might.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Using Awards Lists As a RA Tool: Eisner Awards Edition

This is part of my ongoing series on using Awards Lists as a RA tool. Click here for all posts in the series in reverse chronological order. Click here for the first post which outlines the details how to use awards lists as a RA tool.

Over the weekend, the 32nd Annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards were announced. You can watch the ceremony for free at this link. Or go here to see the full list of winners.

I have reposted the summary of the event for those who just care about the highlights at the end of  this  post. 

Please remember to use the links at the top of this post to see all of the ways in which I suggest you can use any awards list to help patrons, but this award is a particularly good option for highlighting your graphic novel collection for all age levels in one place. It can be a display [virtual or in person] where patrons can find titles for every member of the family at once. 

We don't do enough of  this. As an institution we are always breaking things up by age ranges. I get why  and know it is practical in general, but we never seem to waiver from it. We keep  things  stuck in their   age appropriate  silos even though we are visited by members of the  same family who fit in different age levels all at once, all of the time. This is a good chance to show [not tell] our patrons that the library is for everyone. 

Also, don't forget  that Hoopla provides a ton of access to digital graphic novels too. All of the winners are generally available.

Please see the summary below and click here for the full report on every winner. Congrats to all winners and nominees [a full list of whom you can access here].
Laura Dean Is Breaking Up with Me and Invisible Kingdom Are Top Winners at 2020 Eisner Awards

The 32nd Annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards were presented at a virtual ceremony on Friday evening, July 24. (Click here to watch this year’s ceremony.)

The top winners of the evening were Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell’s graphic novel Laura Dean Is Breaking Up with Me (Best Publication for Teens, Best Writer, Best Penciller/Inker; published by First Second/Macmillan) and G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward’s comic book series Invisible Kingdom (Best New Series, Best Writer, Best Painter; published by Berger Books/Dark Horse).

Multiple Eisners also went to Lynda Barry for Making Comics (Best Comics-Related Book, Best Publication Design; published by Drawn & Quarterly); Raina Telgelemier for Guts (Best Publication for Kids, Best Writer/Artist; published by Scholastic/Graphix); and Stan Sakai for Best Lettering (on Usagi Yojimbo, published by IDW) and Best Archival Collection/Project (Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo: The Complete Grasscutter; IDW).

The Best Graphic Album–New trophy went to Are You Listening by Tillie Walden (published by First Second/Macmillan), while Best Reality-Based Work was awarded to George Takei’s memoir They Called Us Enemy (by Justin, Eisinger, Steve Scott, and Harmony Becker, published by IDW/Top Shelf). In the comics categories, Image’s Bitter Root by David Walker, Chuck Brown, and Sanford Greene won Best Continuing Series, while Best Limited Series went to Little Bird by Darcy Van Poelgeest and Ian Bertram (also Image).

The publisher that can boast the most winners is Dark Horse, with the three for Invisible Kingdom plus Best Adaptation for Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran and a share of Dave Stewart’s award for Best Coloring. Other publishers with multiple awards include First Second/Macmillan (for Laura Dean and Are You Listening); Image for Continuing Series, Limited Series, Cover Artist (Emma Rios, Deadly Class), and shared Coloring; IDW for Sakai’s works and They Called Us Enemy; and Drawn & Quarterly for Making Comics and for Best Short Story (Ebony Flowers’ “Hot Comb”). Publishers with two trophies each include Fantagraphics, Scholastic Graphix, and VIZ Media.

The event was hosted by voice actor/comedian Phil LaMarr (MadTV, Samurai Jack, Futurama, Justice League), who announced the nominees and winners in 31 categories. Eisner Awards Administrator Jackie Estrada opened and closed the ceremony.

Sergio Aragonés presented the Hall of Fame Awards. The Judges’ Choices were Nell Brinkley and E. Simms Campbell. The elected inductees were Alison Bechdel, Howard Cruse, Louise Simonson, Stan Sakai, Don and Maggie Thompson, and Bill Watterson. Bechdel, Simonson, Sakai, and Thompson all accepted their awards via videos; Cruse’s husband, Ed Sederbaum, accepted on Howard’s behalf.

The Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award, presented by Bob’s daughter Ruth Clampett, had three recipients this year: The Hero Initiative, Creators4Comics, and Comicbook United Fund.

The Eisner Awards are part of, and underwritten by, Comic-Con International: San Diego, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to creating awareness of and appreciation for comics and related popular art forms, primarily through the presentation of conventions and events that celebrate the historic and ongoing contributions of comics to art and culture.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Scares That Care Charity Horror Convention Online This Saturday and I Am a Moderator

I am passing on this information on directly from this link at BrianKeene.com about the Scares That Care Event. But before you read about this event, a few things from me.

First, I am moderating a panel at Noon "Horror for Kids." I am not telling you this to brag, but to illustrate that this event is a great "free" viewing option for all library workers. Scroll through it all. It will be a great day. There is a lot of great content for you and your patrons. 

Pass the link on to offer a full day of programming through your library.

Josh Malerman, Victor LaValle, Adam Cesare, Maurice Broaddus, Mary SanGiovanni and more. Authors you have on your shelves.

And one of the authorsI am interviewing, Lamar Giles, is on the board for We Need Diverse Books. This is going to be a great event.

Second, refers to that "free" part. Scares that Care is a charity I have supported with my own dollars for years. I believe in their mission and have always wanted to make it to the live event. I am honored to be a part of a fundraiser that is doing so much good. I am asking you, my followers, to not only view the content, but to consider making small donation yourself. Literally every dollar counts to these sick and injured people and their families. The recipients of this year's donations are below.

Please click here to donate.

Thank you and now here are all of the details.....

The Scares That Care Virtual Charity Event takes place next Saturday, August 1st.

100% of the money raised during this one-day event will go to our 2020 recipients. They are:

*Ashley Adams and her daughter Natalya, who has Marfan Syndrome.
*Laura, a breast cancer warrior known for her work in Arkansas’s LGBTQ+ community.
*Patricia, who suffered second and third degree burns to the entire right side of her body.

The Scares That Care Virtual Convention will be livestreamed via the Brian Keene YouTube Page and the Scares That Care website, and is accessible to the general public.

Below is the tentative schedule. All times are Eastern. Please note that celebrity appearances (including actors, authors, directors, and other panelists) are subject to availability and may change without notice.

9:00am – 9:15am: Opening Ceremonies with Joe Ripple and Brian Keene

9:15am to 9:50am: LIVE READING – Jeff Strand and Stephen Kozeniewski

9:50am to 10:00am: Fundraising update with Brian KeeneAlfred Guy and O’Malley Brandt

10:00am to 10:50am: JAWS AT 45 – Jonathan JanzVictor LaValleHillary MonahanMatt SerafiniAdam Cesare, and Glenn Rolfe (moderator) discuss why, after 45 years, we’re still afraid to go in the water.

10:50am – 11:00am: Fundraising update with Brian Keene and Paul Tremblay

11:00am – 11:50am: MY FAVORITE HORROR COMICS – Tim SeeleyRachel Autumn DeeringJamal IgleCullen BunnMaurice Broaddus, and Matt Wildasin (moderator) discuss their favorite horror comic books of all time.  

11:50am – Noon: Fundraising update with Brian Keene and John Wayne Comunale 

Noon – 12:50pm: HORROR FOR KIDS – Lamar GilesStephanie CookeJonathan MaberryGretchen McNeilBitter KarellaWill Bozarth, and Becky Spratford (moderator) discuss horror for a younger audience.

12:50pm to 1:00pm: Fundraising update with Brian Keene and John Dugan

1:00pm to 1:25pm: RETURN TO ELM STREET – Jack ShoulderMark PattonNick Benson, and Mick Strawn reminisce with moderator David Heck about their work on the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.

1:25pm – 1:30pm: Fundraising update with Brian KeeneBrian Smith and Bryan Smith

1:30pm – 2:00pm: LIVE READING – Gabino Iglesias and Cina Pelayo

2:00pm to 2:50pm: MY FAVORITE MONSTER – Stephen Graham JonesHunter SheaScott Baker, the Sisters of SlaughterDee Southerland and Chuck Buda (moderator) discuss their favorite monsters of all time.

2:50pm to 3:00pm: Fundraising update with Brian Keene and Roy Wooley

3:00pm to 3:50pm: THE WALKING DEAD – David Heck moderates this Q&A with The Walking Dead’s Josh MikelSteve CoulterCooper AndrewsLew Temple and Jayson Warner Smith.  

3:50pm to 4:00pm: Fundraising update with Brian Keene and Felissa Rose

4:00pm to 4:50pm: THE AMBIDEXTROUS PATH - Mary SanGiovanniStephanie WytovichBracken MacLeodSomer Canon, and Jay Wilburn (moderator) discuss faith and magic in horror and creativity.

4:50pm to 5:00pm: Fundraising update with Brian Keene and Joshua Leonard

5:00pm to 5:50pm: Q&A – Emmy-award winner Pruitt Taylor Vince discusses his career with moderator David Heck.

5:50pm to 6:00pm: Fundraising update with Brian Keene and Eugene Clark

6:00pm to 6:50pm: CAN HORROR GO TOO FAR? – CV HuntWrath James WhiteKristopher TrianaAutumn ChristianWesley SouthardAaron Dries, and Armand Rosamilia (moderator) discuss how far is too far.

6:50pm to 7:00pm: Fundraising update with Brian Keene and Lar Park Lincoln

7:00pm to 7:55pm: COWBOYS AND ZOMBIES – Gemma FilesWile E. YoungKeith LansdaleChristine MorganKenzie Jennings, and Thomas Clark (moderator) discuss the resurgence of Weird Westerns in film and literature.

7:55pm to 8:00pm: Fundraising update with Brian Keene and Josh Malerman

8:00pm to 8:30pm: BIZARRO HORROR – John Edward LawsonAndersen PruntyRose O’KeefeMichael Allen Rose, and Scott Cole (moderator) discuss surrealism and the supernatural in horror fiction and film.

8:30pm to 8:55pm: Q&A – Night of the Demons’ Amelia Kinkade discusses her career with moderator David Heck.

8:55pm to 9:00pm: Fundraising update with Brian Keene and Joe Ripple

9:00pm to 9:15pm: A SPECIAL PRESENTATION with Joe Ripple and Brian Keene

9:15pm to 9:30pm: COSTUME CONTEST – Celebrity judges Amanda BearseJohn AndersonAmelia KinkadeLynne Hansen, and Matt Blazi discuss this year’s costume contest entries.

9:30pm to 9:40pm: COUNT GORE – Scares That Care Weekend’s beloved Count Gore deVol announces the winners of this year’s costume contest.

9:40pm to 9:50pm: SCARYOKE – Rio Youers and Ronald Malfi present an at home version of this Scares That Care Weekend staple.

9:50pm to 10:00pm: Closing Ceremonies


Q: What is Scares That Care?
A: Founded in 2007 by Joe Ripple, we are a 501C3 charity. Our Board of Directors and our volunteers are composed of horror fans and professionals. Each year we raise money for three recipient families (a sick child, a breast cancer fighter, and a burn victim).

Q: How can I donate during the virtual event?
A: We will be sharing information on how to donate via text or phone hourly during the event. Yu can also donate anytime by visiting this link.

Q: Can I donate before or after the event, as well?
A: Yes. You can donate year round.

Q: Money is tight. I can’t afford to donate but I’d still love to help. How can I do that?
A: We appreciate you and we understand. You can still by tuning in to the livestream, and encouraging your friends and family to do the same.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Recent Info and Recordings Worth Your Time via Booklist

To end the week, I wanted to give you a roundup of must watch and read info via Booklist.

First, if you didn't see it, please view the excellent Shout-N-Share from earlier this week. These are titles you need to know about including one with "sex in a hammock!" Links below:


Thank you for registering for
"A Virtual Shout-N-Share Showdown"

As promised, here are links to the follow-up materials:

Webinar Archive
PowerPoint Slides
Title List
Certificate of Completion

We'd like to once again thank our panelists:

Robin Bradford, Collection Development Librarian, Pierce County Library System, Pierce County, WA

Allison Escoto, Head Librarian, The Center for Fiction, Brooklyn, NY

Sharon Fason, Adult Services Librarian, Chicago Public Library

Sara Martinez, Library Manager, Nathan Hale Library, Tulsa, OK


Second, Booklist's July Issue is a spotlight on Graphic Novels and Book Discussions. I would like to help you get quick access to the most important things from the issue, but please note, access to the entire issue digitally is completely free at BooklistOnline.com.

Every single one of these links I am sharing in today's post is worth your time. These are resources you can use immediately, and all in different ways.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Join Me and Others for LibraryReads In Conversation: Actively Anti-Racist Readers' Advisory

You may have seen the buzz on Twitter already, but I am very excited to announce my participation in this event:

LibraryReads in Conversation: Actively Anti-Racist Readers' Advisory
Featuring: Robin Bradford; Annabelle Mortensen, and Becky Spratford

Please join us for this live event!
Moderated by LibraryReads Executive Director, Rebecca Vnuk, the first hour will be a panel discussion while the second hour will be interactive audience conversation via chat feature. The event will be recorded for future viewing.
Topics covered will include:

Creating an EDI mission statement
Challenging yourself (and others) to read widely
Collections: diversity audits, discoverability
Doing the RA interview through the EDI lens

Friday, August 7th, 2020
2pm-4pm Central
Register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_LXCtiNlnT2iHa-EJ56NRBw 

I am very excited to move on from my lecture version of this topic [you can watch a recent recording here- although I have new info in these slides] to having a conversation about EDI and RA. This is a huge step forward from awareness that EDI issues need to be considered to ACTIVELY doing our work with an ANTI-RACIST lens. 

FAQ from the Twitter crowd:
  • There will be a recording available on the LibraryReads website after the event, but if you don't want to forget, sign up and you will get the link faster.
  • We have a few set topics to discuss but we are going to take your questions for up to an hour. Please ask your questions, especially the difficult ones. We want to help you. That is literally the only reason we are doing this, to help everyone be actively anti-racist.
  • You do NOT have to work in a library to view this. LibraryReads requires you work in a library to vote for their monthly lists, but this conversation is free to anyone who is interested. If you are an author or publisher, reviewer or super library users-- anyone who cares about the "book atmosphere" [Robin Bradford's term]-- please sign up. We have a lot to share but we also want to hear from you.
Further questions can be directed to Rebecca Vnuk, LibraryReads Executive Director. Contact info on this page: click on her name to send an email.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

RA for All Virtual Roadshow Visits Des Moines Public Library's Book Chat!

Today I am working with the newly formed "Book Chat" team from Des Moines Public Library. They took staff from across their buildings who had provided RA in person and made them into a virtual team since their buildings are still closed. 

Book Chat is a service offering every form of virtual RA, not just an online form of virtual, because their service also includes a phone line where patrons can literally just call to chat about what they like to read. Too many times when we have focused on virtual services, we leave out those who do not have high speed internet and/or those who want the human interaction part of our services from afar. It is an RA hotline where conversations are encouraged; in fact, they worked to make sure the name of the new service made the fact that they wanted to have conversations, not just transactions, clear.

Click here for all of the Book Chat offerings, from surprise boxes to online form RA to the chatting. It truly is the full RA service model at a distance for all types of "virtual" interaction.

DMPL staff pulled this new service together quickly right after they returned from furlough. They got it up and running and worked with others on staff to get the logo and marketing set up, all within days. They contacted me early in the process as well. We worked together to talk through the concept, start up issues, and then planned today's training via zoom with the full team.

Here is the good news. All of these team members have done RA before; however, they have each done it their  own way int heir own building. Today we are going to work together to all be at the same starting line so they can move forward together in tandem. We are also going to work on their team building because again, these staff have not all worked together before. 

We will do my basic RA for All training using my 10 Rules of Basic RA Service page as a guide, but because we are smaller than 25, I will also be toggling back and forth from sharing my screen to the "gallery" view where we can all see each other and interact.

The other positive here is that they have really only had a soft launch of the new service. They have taken some calls, but haven't done a lot, meaning they haven't developed bad habits yet.

I am so excited about this, from the creation of Book Chat to the excellent service it is going to provide to all of their patrons to the chance to help them get on the same page, and finally, to the fact that this training will also be 100% interactive. Staff will be in their individual buildings, a few pairs even in the same room, but we will mostly be socially distant and yet we can all be working together in real time. 

I am so proud of so many of you out there. Everyone is really putting out their best effort to provide the very best service they can. It cannot be exactly the same right now, but we can provide a similar service. Please contact me if you want to share your successes in this difficult time. Conversely, if you are reading these posts and struggling to figure out how you can pivot your services, still contact me and maybe I can help you help get your organization on the right track.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

ARRT Book Club Study Notes: The Song of Achilles and General 2020 Book Discussion Thoughts

In May, I participated in the first ever virtual ARRT Book Club Study. We read The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. 

But beyond these specific notes, I also wanted to use this post to remind you all of this free resource, the resources those of us who participate in the ARRT Book Club Study create for all to use.

The meetings, the participation in the live discussions, this is only open to members, but our notes on both the books themselves and the conversations we have about how we can lead discussions better are all here in the archive, for free, to anyone who wants to access them.

There is a lot of good info here. You can use the notes to assess if a book will work for your group by seeing the notes from an example discussion. You can use the questions we asked for your discussion. And you can use the list of training topics to work on your own leadership skills.

I also wanted to remind you that I have updated my popular Recharge Your Book Club presentation. Book Clubs are one example of a library program that has stayed fairly the same even during closures because the technology can handle a discussion of fewer than 20 people easily [more than that doesn't work in person or in a Zoom].

Overall this post is a compilation of reminders to not forget about our good, old reliable but also fun and engaging friend, the book discussion.

Lots of things have had to change over the last few months, but there are some things that can stay almost exactly the same, and there is a lot of comfort, for everyone [you and your patrons] in that. 

Monday, July 20, 2020

Bestselling Books of Year So Far and EDI Implications

Last week when I gave the latest version of my EDI and RA talk, I said to the group  that I felt like it was the first time of my giving this talk in over 2 years when I thought everyone on the webinar was ready to listen. I mean really listen. 

I could tell because I did not get the "questions" I usually would be inundated with about "how" to add diverse titles or how to find diverse suggestion options. I put questions in quotes in that sentence because most were excuses as to why people couldn't diversify their collections or why people couldn't suggest #OwnVoice titles or why it wasn't their fault. They were never really questions just reasons to not take responsibility for microaggressions, systemic racism, and keeping white the norm. [By the way the definition of "systemic" means it's everywhere and everyone's fault, even if you aren't doing it on purpose. I even use an example of a POC's admitted microaggressions.]

White library ladies [the majority of our profession] are starting to be ready to look at themselves and assess how they have hurt the cause, how being not racist is not enough. Being actively antiracist is the only way forward.

Notice I say "starting." As I say in my presentation, we still have a lot of wok to do. 

Here is perfect example. Last week the official Book Scan numbers for the best selling books of the first half of the year came out. You can read the full report via Publisher's Weekly here. But here is the graphic for Adult-Print:

You can click the image to see it on their site.

Please note that "White Fragility" has outsold "How to Be an Antiracist" by over 100,000! The first book is by a white lady and is the opposite of how we should be acting. White Fragility is a microaggression where we white people make excuses about why we were racist without knowing it and then ask POC to help us be better.

Asking POC to do the work to make you not racist is not helpful; in fact, it is a symptom and sign of systematic racism.

Even worse, many of you have already forgotten the "American Dirt" debacle. [Click here for a refresher] The fact that it is still ahead of "How to Be an Antiracist," is the definition of HOW NOT TO BE ANTIRACIST.

Look, I get it. American Dirt had a head start here. But these numbers are not stagnating in this new post-George Floyd moment [see below for  a discussion of current bestselling rankings]. I was on a webinar with over 1,000 library people and someone was actually recommending "American Dirt" in the chat. This was a week ago! No one called her on it until I did. 

I am posting this PW article and the charts about the bestselling books of the year so far both to remind you that your work is not done when it comes to fighting for antiracist collections and services but also to use as a resource.

Look, "bestsellers" is a genre. Not in the traditional sense of the word, but rather in the way people actually read. [You can click here for a longer discussion of this point by me.] Many readers use the bestsellers list as their only resource to find books to read. The argument is, "well lots of people bought it, so it must be good." You can see how that can go very badly here. 

You need to always be aware of the bestsellers list. I always suggest using the USA Today Best-Selling Books List as the best one to use because it reflects actual sales without categories.

You need to know what your patrons are seeing on these lists not just to anticipate demand [which used to be the only reason people checked] but also to understand that some bestsellers might not fit in your current EDI focused service plans. If we see "American Dirt" is still selling a lot [oh, and it is at #23 still! Sadly between 2 antiracist books], we need to redo those, "Read instead of American Dirt" displays I write about here.

Warning, now I am going to yell at you....

The time for blaming the public for buying racist books and then saying there is nothing you can do about it since they are bestsellers and you are supposed to give them the books they want is over. It's been over for awhile, you all just didn't want to hear it.

Okay, no more yelling. But seriously. Be aware of what is selling. Yes, you have to buy a copy of books like "American Dirt," but again, READ THIS POST, you can promote not reading it too. You can suggest books people may prefer and offer better choices. 

Libraries are not neutral. we have to help our communities learn to be antiracist. We have to educate them on microaggressions. We are the "People's University." Stop making excuses and start doing your job. And it starts with awareness. Get out there and educate others through your RA Service.

Friday, July 17, 2020

#MidLibFaves20 Results

LibFaves is an off shoot of the popular Twitter Galley Chats that originally began on EarlyWord. Library workers gather monthly [now the first Thursday of the month] to talk about what pre-pub titles they are reading and enjoying using #ewgc. You can learn all about the galley chats and see the round-up posts on EarlyWord.

Each year in December, the Galley Chatters organize year end event on Twitter-- #LibFaves-- and then they attach the year on it. Here is the link to my post about #LibFaves19 with this explanation of the project by last year's Chair, Andrienne Cruz, Librarian, Azusa City Library (CA):
With plenty of year-end book lists coming out, it’s fun for librarians to join in on the fun, after all, library workers KNOW books! The only difference is that instead of polling and voting for the best of the best (which is what LibraryReads does too), each library worker shares their own top 10 books. So the more library workers that participate, the more books that are promoted!  
This Twitter book-extravaganza first started in 2011 under the hashtag #libfavs2011. It was started by two #ewgc galley chatters*, Robin Beerbower from Salem, OR Library and Stephanie Chase from Multnomah County [OR] Library. The most popular book that library workers shared in 2011 was Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.
The list has grown through the years. In 2012, 689 books were mentioned, 399 of those were unique titles. By2018, there were 1,873 books mentioned, 875 of those were unique titles. That is a lot of books to discover!  
A lot of library workers who want to join frequently ask, “Do we only share books that were published in the current year?” The answer is yes, because the goal is to highlight and promote discovery of new and fantastic books that librarians read for the year that the list comes out.
To participate on Twitter, library workers will mention one title per day for ten consecutive days from Dec. 9th to Dec. 18th and tag their tweets with #libfaves19. Titles must be in CAPS (for easy readability on the part of the monitor). Volunteers will monitor the titles up until 9 P.M. Pacific Time on Dec. 18th. The list of all the books will be shared on Dec. 19th.  
#Libfaves19 is open to any and all library workers, so it might be helpful if participants indicate that they are library workers in their Twitter profile for the duration of the event to ensure their vote is counted.  
It is also preferred that books shared during this period be adult fiction or nonfiction, but library workers read and love everything, so as long as it was published in 2019, share any book you want.
*#ewgc is a monthly Twitter chat headed by Nora Rawlinson, founder of Earlyword.com where library workers talk about forthcoming books that they are excited about.  
That was a specific explanation for last year, but they have been running this for a few years now, and they always post a detailed spreadsheet of every title mentioned and how many times it was mentioned. Click here to see my post with 2019's spreadsheet and my directions on how to find past spreadsheets. I also write about how to use these spreadsheets to help readers in that post

This year, since 2020 has been so disorienting and different from all other years, the #LibFaves team decided to give everyone something fun to Tweet about. And so, they hosted a 1 day Twitter event, #MidLibFaves20 where participants could tweet up to their top 6 books with 2020 pub dates. So rather than unveil 1 a day for 10 days, they cut  to the chase and had a full day of sharing favorites. 

Here is the spreadsheet for #MidLibFaves20 for you to see and use  to help patrons. And as one of the moderators said, it will be very interesting to see how many of these titles end up on the year end version of LibFaves.

Sorry [not sorry]  in advance for exploding your TBR.  I have this popular post on how to handle TBR Anxiety to help with that too.