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, February 28, 2022

Use Resources: Ukrainian Reading Lists and Information

When there is a major world event, readers and library patrons turn to books to understand what is happening. We at the public library know this, but do not always have time to make lists  in real time because of everything else we have to do on a day to day basis.

This is why I advocate for RA workers to use resources, especially ones that are aimed directly at readers and are driven by clicks like Book Riot. We should be leveraging their desire to attract readers for our advantage and to enhance our services to our readers.

I always advocate for Book Riot as the first place to go for the bookish connection to current events or trends, and this case is no different. Click here for their list of books about he Russia-Ukraine conflict.

But another place I went to look for articles about Ukrainian literature was Lit Hub. You can click here for a long list, that goes back to 2016 of articles and book reviews dealing with Ukrainian issues and literature. LitHub regularly covers international authors and translation, so they are a good bet for any non-American book info.

I was happy to see one of my favorite Ukrainian novels-- Death and the Penguin-- and its author-- Andrey Kurkov profiled on the site [January 2022]. My first generation Ukrainian American husband bought this book for me as soon as a paperback was available in English and I loved it.

There is a lot of information that you can use to create digital and in person displays and reading lists for your patrons. You do not need to reinvent the wheel. Go to the experts and pass the information on-- just like you would do for nonfiction requests.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Libraries are NOT Neutral

Yesterday, the NYT ran an opinion piece entitled "The Battle for the Soul of the Library," by Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank. I am a subscriber but I am not linking to it here. I have given you what you need to look it up at your library if you want to.

In this essay, Dr. Kurtz argues for why libraries must be neutral and why "woke" librarians are ruining libraries. 

If you read this blog, even just occasionally, you should know that I disagree with this point of view, and in fact, make the statement that Libraries are NOT Neutral part of my personal mission statement. You can read that statement here on my Recent and Upcoming Presentations page.

Robin and I discuss this with every library we meet with as part of our Actively Anti-Racist Service to Leisure Readers training program, one of which we are doing this morning. And every single time, we get questions that make us defend our "Libraries are not neutral" stance.

Rather than get upset at people for not agreeing with us, Robin and I go all in on the fact that discussing these issues is hard, and when people challenge us, it means they are starting to get uncomfortable with the things they thought they knew and could count on. Until you get uncomfortable, change cannot happen. 

That being said, I also highly recommend you read this post, a summary of a program at ALA by Alison Macrina. Click through to the post for my notes and all the links to Macrina and her work with the Library Freedom Project.

While Robin and I were already arguing about how hiding behind libraries having to be neutral was harmful, but Macrina helped us to understand why our society's fetishization of the First Amendment has allowed the fringes to not only be louder, but hold more power. There are links to further reading in that post as well.

That being said, I know not everyone will click through and read that longer piece, so I have found something that summarizes why libraries are NOT Neutral in a Tweet, and it was in direct response to the essay in the NYT.

Overholt is a curator of early books and manuscripts at Harvard.

I think he succinctly get at the heart of the issue. So, I have added this tweet, with citation to all of my program with Robin going forward. I still have the link to the longer post about Macrina's program in my slides, but this is the reason libraries cannot be neutral. 

To hide behind neutrality is to not acknowledge that every single book we add or delete from our collections is a decision by a human. A professional who is trained in crafting a collection. If libraries were ever neutral they would have added every single book that came out automatically. Think about that. We don't do that and we never have. 

So if we are already picking and choosing what books we have in our collections, we need to do it with a mindset that actively tries to dismantle systemic oppression, not uphold it. 

I know this statement makes many uncomfortable because this neutrality interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights has become entrenched. But systemic oppression is real and dismantling it will not only be hard and take time, but it will also require everyone get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Even I had to struggle to get to this place of rejecting neutrality. But you have to start addressing it with yourself before you can help others.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

RA for All Roadshow Interviews Brit Bennet, Live on Stage...Tonight and You Can Watch [for free] From Anywhere!

One of my specialties is moderating conversations with authors. I do this frequently. Most of the opportunities are with multiple authors at once, but here in Chicagoland, I have been helping libraries host the authors of their One Book, One Community reads for years. I have done Erin Morgenstern, Luis Alberta Urrea, Emma Donoghue and tonight Brit Bennett.

This event is for Schaumburg Township District Library in the NW suburbs of Chicago. Here is their page with all of the information on their One Book, One Community for The Vanishing Half.

I will be having a conversation with Bennett live on stage tonight at 7pm central, but anyone can watch us virtually via the Live Stream [or the recording] here.

While I will be taking questions for at least the last 15 minutes, but please note, this event is not a chance for patrons to pepper Ms. Bennett with questions, rather our focus is on her work in general and this book specifically. We are going to have a conversation not a Q&A. Participants will be able to learn more about the book, yes, but also about Ms. Bennett as an author. And you better bet I am leaving time for her to suggest books to all of us. 

Any of you who have attended any of my basic RA training events know that I talk about both The Mothers and The Vanishing Half often. You can click here or here to read my reviews on both titles. 

Bennett's work is brilliant, and I focus on it frequently, precisely because she is able to write stories that focus on very specific Black communities, employ provocative issues at their core [abortion and passing] and yet, the overall effect of both is a universal story about human nature. 

It is no surprise to me that this book, which came out early in the pandemic [June 2020] was on every year end bestseller list still for 2021 and all library most checked out titles as well [including my home library.] But, I think the staying power of her novel is worth discussing, especially from her perspective. 

This is a taste of what you can expect tonight. 

I hope you can join us on YouTube.

Details here or below.


  • Thursday, Feb. 24
  • 6-9 p.m.
  • Al Larson Prairie Center For the Arts
 Masks must be worn at all times during this in-person program.

You’ve read The Vanishing Half for our One Book, One Community, now meet the author. New York Times bestseller Brit Bennett will be here for one night only, discussing her life and her books, and answering your questions. After her visit, Bennett’s books will be available for purchase and signing thanks to Read Between the Lynes bookstore. Doors will open at 6 p.m. to allow ample time for seating before Ms. Bennett joins us at 7 p.m.

If the event is full, or if you prefer, you can watch the event live-streamed on SchaumburgLibrary.tv.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Using Awards Lists As A RA Tool: Bram Stoker 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.  

I am very excited to present the The 2021 Bram Stoker Awards® Final Ballot. Obviously this entry into my series about using awards lists as a resource holds a special place in my heart. Not only am I eligible to vote for the winners of this award, I served on a jury and will be there live in person to watch the winners be announced.

Many of these authors are appearing at Librarians' Day as well. If you can get to Denver on Friday May 13th, I would love to see you there. The authors have not only agreed to present, but they will be around to chat as well. Stephen Graham Jones, Hailey Piper, Cynthia Pelayo, V. Castro, are some of the current nominees who will be there.

Below I have reprinted the entire ballot with the addition of my reviews where appropriate.

Please note, these are the Premier Horror awards entering their 35th year. You can see all of the winners and nominees [aka, the backlist] with one easy click here.

Consider making a horror display to celebrate this announcement. It can include any and all authors who have ever been nominated. In fact, it is a great way to highlight the breadth of your Horror offerings [aka, it's more than just Stephen King].

NowI need to go figure out who I am going to vote for because this ballot is filled with some amazing choices and I have to make some decisions soon.

The 2021 Bram Stoker Awards® Final Ballot Announced

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) is pleased to announce the Final Ballot for the 2021 Bram Stoker Awards®. The HWA (see http://www.horror.org/) is the premier writers organization in the horror and dark fiction genre, with more than 1,800 members. We have presented the Bram Stoker Awards in various categories since 1987 (see http://www.thebramstokerawards.com/

Works appearing on this Ballot are Bram Stoker Award® Nominees for Superior Achievement in their Category, e.g., Novel, and everyone may refer to them as such immediately after the announcement.

The HWA Board and the Bram Stoker Awards® Committee congratulate all those appearing on the Final Ballot. Notes about the voting process will appear after the ballot listing.

If your work appears on this ballot and you would like to offer it to voting members of the HWA in the Internet Mailer to be sent on or around February 25, please see important information following the ballot.
The 2021 Bram Stoker Awards® Final Ballot

Superior Achievement in a Novel
Castro, V. - The Queen of the Cicadas (Flame Tree Press)
Hendrix, Grady - The Final Girl Support Group (Berkley)
Jones, Stephen Graham - My Heart is a Chainsaw (Gallery/Saga Press)
Pelayo, Cynthia - Children of Chicago (Agora Books)
Wendig, Chuck - The Book of Accidents (Del Rey)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel*
  • Martinez, S. Alessandro - Helminth (Omnium Gatherum)
  • McQueen, LaTanya - When the Reckoning Comes (Harper Perennial)
  • Miles, Terry - Rabbits (Del Rey)
  • Piper, Hailey - Queen of Teeth (Strangehouse Books)
  • Quigley, Lisa - The Forest (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing)
  • Willson, Nicole - Tidepool (The Parliament House)
*Due to a tie in fifth place, there are six nominees in this category.

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel
  • Ahmed, Saladin (author) and Kivelä, Sami (artist) - Abbott 1973 (BOOM! Studios)
  • Garcia, Kami (author); Suayan, Mico (artist); Badower, Jason (artist); and Mayhew, Mike (artist) - Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity (DC Comics)
  • Manzetti, Alessandro (author); Cardoselli, Stefano (author); and Cardoselli, Stefano (artist) - The Inhabitant of the Lake (Independent Legions Publishing)
  • Morrison, Grant (author); Child, Alex (author); and Franquiz, Naomi (artist) - Proctor Valley Road (BOOM! Studios)
  • Panosian, Dan (author) and Ignazzi, Marianna (artist) - An Unkindness of Ravens (BOOM! Studios)
Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel
  • Blake, Kendare - All These Bodies (Quill Tree Books)
  • Boyle, R.L. - The Book of the Baku (Titan Books )
  • Lewis, Jessica - Bad Witch Burning (Delacorte Press)
  • Sutherland, Krystal - House of Hollow (G.P. Putnam's Sons)
  • Waters, Erica - The River Has Teeth (HarperTeen)
Superior Achievement in Long Fiction
Superior Achievement in Short Fiction
  • Gyzander, Carol - “The Yellow Crown” (Under Twin Suns: Alternate Histories of the Yellow Sign) (Hippocampus Press)
  • Murray, Lee - “Permanent Damage” (Attack From the ‘80s) (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
  • O’Quinn, Cindy - “A Gathering at the Mountain” (The Bad Book) (Bleeding Edge Books)
  • Taborska, Anna -“Two Shakes Of A Dead Lamb's Tail”(Terror Tales of the Scottish Lowlands) (Telos Publishing)
  • Ward, Kyla Lee - “A Whisper in the Death Pit” (Weirdbook #44) (Wildside Press)
Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection
  • Files, Gemma - In That Endlessness, Our End (Grimscribe Press)
  • Fracassi, Philip - Beneath a Pale Sky (Lethe Press)
  • Maberry, Jonathan - Empty Graves: Tales of the Living Dead (WordFire Press LLC)
  • Tuttle, Lisa - The Dead Hours of Night (Valancourt Books)
  • Wise, A.C. - The Ghost Sequences (Undertow Publications)
Superior Achievement in a Screenplay
  • Chaisson, C. Henry; Antosca, Nick; and Cooper, Scott - Antlers (Searchlight Pictures)
  • Dong-hyuk, Hwang - Squid Game, Season 1, Episode 1: "Red Light, Green Light" (Siren Pictures) 
  • Flanagan, Mike; Flanagan, James; and Howard, Jeff - Midnight Mass, Season 1, Episode 6: "Book VI: Acts of the Apostles" (Intrepid Pictures)
  • Graziadei, Phil and Janiak, Leigh - Fear Street: Part One - 1994 (Chernin Entertainment)
  • Peele, Jordan; Rosenfeld, Win; and DaCosta, Nia - Candyman (Universal Pictures) 
Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection
  • Lansdale, Joe R. - Apache Witch and Other Poetic Observations (Independent Legions Publishing)
  • McHugh, Jessica - Strange Nests (Apokrupha)
  • Simon, Marge and Turzillo, Mary - Victims (Weasel Press)
  • Sng, Christina; Yuriko Smith, Angela; Murray, Lee; and Flynn, Geneve - Tortured Willows: Bent. Bowed. Unbroken. (Yuriko Publishing)
  • Snyder, Lucy A. - Exposed Nerves (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
Superior Achievement in an Anthology

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction
  • Knost, Michael - Writers Workshop of Horror 2 (Hydra Publications)
  • Olson, Danel - 9/11 Gothic: Decrypting Ghosts and Trauma in New York City’s Terrorism Novels (Lexington Books)
  • Weinstock, Jeffrey Andrew and Hansen, Regina M. - Giving the Devil His Due: Satan and 
  • Cinema (Fordham University Press)
  • Wetmore Jr., Kevin J. - Eaters of the Dead: Myths and Realities of Cannibal Monsters (Reaktion Books)
  • Woofter, Kristopher - Shirley Jackson: A Companion (Peter Lang Publishing)
Superior Achievement in Short Non-Fiction
  • Ognjanović, Dejan - “The Three Paradigms of Horror” (Vastarien Vol. 4, Issue 2) (Grimscribe Press)
  • O’Quinn, Cindy - “One and Done” (Were Tales: A Shapeshifter Anthology) (Brigids Gate Press)
  • Verona, Emily Ruth - “A Horror Fan's Guide to Surviving Womanhood” (thefinalgirls.co.uk)  
  • Wetmore Jr., Kevin J.  - “Devil's Advocates: The Conjuring” (Auteur Publishing/Liverpool University Press)
  • Yuriko Smith, Angela - “Horror Writers: Architects of Hope” (The Sirens Call, Halloween 2021, Issue 55) (Sirens Call Publications)
Important Notes for those Appearing on the Final Ballot:

If your work appears on the Final Ballot (i.e., you are the author, agent, editor, publisher, or publicist) and you wish to provide a link allowing Voting Members to read the work, there will be a SPECIAL FINAL BALLOT INTERNET MAILER issued on or about February 25.

If your work was listed on the Special Preliminary Ballot Internet Mailer it will be relisted automatically with your previously provided links and you need not email or query.

If links to your work were not included on the Special Preliminary Ballot IM and you want to include them on the Special Final Ballot IM, please email the Internet Mailer editor at imailer@horror.org with the details as soon as you can, but no later than February 24 (links will not be accepted for this Special IM after February 25). You may offer to send electronic copies; provide reading copies on a website; or provide physical copies. Anyone validly representing a work appearing on the Final Ballot may submit via this method, whether or not they are HWA members (this includes the author, agent, editor, publisher, or publicist of the work).

Do NOT spam Voting Members; this is a severe breach of etiquette – Active and Lifetime (voting) members tend to notice such breaches and may consider them when determining which works to vote for on the Ballot.

You may also post the fact that your work is available to be read for Bram Stoker Award consideration ONCE and only once here: http://www.horrorwritersassociation.org/login-forum/  (Bram Stoker Eligible Work). If you had already posted your work here prior to the announcement of the Final Ballot you ARE entitled to post it once more. Note: Only members may post at this Forum, but members are encouraged to post on behalf of non-members who may appear on the Ballot.

February 28: Stoker Final ballot dispatched – please note only Active and Lifetime Members can vote. If you are an Active or Lifetime Member and do NOT receive your electronic ballot link by March 1, please first check your spam/junk mail filter, make sure your email address is updated in Wild Apricot, and then email Brad C. Hodson at admin@horror.org with a brief message about the issue. Note that Ballots are sent to the same email address as the Newsletter and the Internet Mailer. It is the responsibility of Members to keep their email address up to date in Wild Apricot or by advising the administrator of any issues with your membership account at admin@horror.org. Late Ballots cannot be accepted under any circumstances.

March 15: The Bram Stoker Awards final ballot closes at midnight U.S. Pacific Time. Any ballots received after this time will be discarded.

March 15: The 2022 Bram Stoker Recommendation sheet goes live and the 2022 Bram Stoker Awards Juries open to Submissions. Members should hold any Recommendations for works published in the calendar year 2022 until the Sheet is live.

Members wishing to submit work published in 2022 to the relevant Jury should read the information at the Bram Stoker Awards website before doing so here: http://www.thebramstokerawards.com/submissions/

May 14: The 2021 Bram Stoker Awards® announced during the Annual Bram Stoker Awards Banquet held during StokerCon™ 2022 in Denver, Colorado. 

Bookings and information at: http://stokercon.com. Note: Banquet Tickets are separate from the Convention Membership and should be purchased directly from https://www.eventbrite.com/e/stokercon-2022-tickets-102847690210. Click “Tickets” to see the Banquet option as an add-on to your existing registration or an option for a new registration.

Please direct any questions to: stokerchair@horror.org

Bram Stoker Awards® Committee

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

What I'm Reading: Booklist February Issues

There were 2 issues of Booklist in February and nI had a review in each. One, Horror, the other a Psychological Suspense.

Draft reviews with extra content below.

The Night Road
By Kevin Lucia

Apr. 2022. 136p. illus. Cemetery Dance, paper, $14  (9781587678158); e-book, $2.99  (9781587678196)First published February 15, 2022 (Booklist).

Opening with an unsettling dream in which Grace is running on a path that feels familiar, but that she cannot remember, Lucia immediately sets the creepy tone, foreshadowing everything that is to follow. Grace has been spending her days alternating between sitting by the bedside of her catatonic sister, Lilly, or running. Readers follow along as Grace is sorting through her emotions, clearly holding back key information, as she tries to process what has happened to her family and what comes next. Mysterious events such as an encounter with a runner in black, her discovery of an abandoned village in the woods, and her sister’s locket which seems to have a mind of its own, as well as the ghostly black and white drawings scatter throughout, work in together to drive the tale and enhance the atmosphere, reminding all that while there are no clear or easy answers when faced the universal human dilemmas, there are still choices to be made. A heartbreakingly beautiful, thought provoking, and compelling read with an unforgettable protagonist, fans of the Gwendy’s Button Box series by Chizmar and King or The Wayward Children Series by Maguire will find much to like here.

Three Words That Describe This Book: creepy, compelling, folk horror

Readalikes: I list 2 solid series above, but anything that is a short, fast paced, dark fantasy with a strong coming of age theme but more geared to an adult reader than teen, would work.

The Resting Place 
by Camilla Sten

Tr. by Alexandra Fleming.

Mar. 2022. Minotaur, $27.99 (9781250249272); $14.99 (9781250249289)
First published February 1, 2022 (Booklist).

Eleanor walks in on her grandmother’s murder and watches as the perpetrator calmly leave the apartment. Clearly they know Eleanor has prosopagnosia, commonly known as face blindness, because they have no worries of being identified. From this violent and unsettling open, Sten [The Lost Village] builds the tension and suspense relentlessly. Eleanor’s family is anything but typical, far from happy, and buried deep in secrets. When a country estate turns up among the inheritance, Eleanor, her boyfriend, estranged Aunt, and a lawyer head to the remote location during a winter storm to check it out. Eleanor immediately begins to make discoveries that do not make rational sense. And where is the caretaker? Told in dual timelines in the present through Eleanor’s unreliable but sympathetic eyes and in the past through the diary entries of a former domestic worker, the plot and unease exponentially thicken, adding a deeper layer of intensely sinister fear and mortal danger with every turn of the page. A great choice for fans of terrifying psychological suspense driven by family secrets such as seen in titles written by Sarah Pinborough and Jennifer McMahon.

Further Appeal: The chapters had a staccato feel. And there were converging time times that got more and more threatening. Both increased the tension. 

This is psychological suspense that teeters on the edge of Horror.

Three Words That Describe This Book: constant unease, family secrets, dual story line

Readalikes: I gave two of the best examples of extremely tense psychological suspense above. Sten in general is in this category. This novel in particular has a very strong sense of place. I also reviewed The Lost Village by Sten last year, here. In that review I suggested Clay McLeod Chapman. I think that definitely words as well.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Graphic Novel Resource Alert: Panel Mania from The Millions and a Reminder That "New" Can Be Something Old

Today, I wanted to share a "new to me" resource, Panel Mania from The Millions.

This occasional series looks at new graphic novels and provides excerpts, background info and commentary. The excerpts in particular are awesome because excerpts of graphic novels means panels to actually see. This is a wonderful resource for suggestions and collection development for adult graphic novel collections. 

Of course it is not comprehensive, but it is a nice option for finding suggestions. I am very glad I found it, and have already identified this title to place on hold for my son.

But with this post I wanted to do more than simply share an interesting, outside the box, resource. It is important to note the importance of the first line of this post-- this resource is "new to me." 

As we are working with readers and each other, it is important to remember that just because we think everyone knows about a resource or a specific book because it  is older, they probably do not. For example, the other day I mentioned Gone Girl by Gilliam Flynn to someone in passing, figuring they had read it because they like those types of books, but they said to me, "Oh, I have heard of that and have been meaning to read it."

Just like we cannot forget to suggest the books that we know are a great read, books that were very popular 2-8 years ago, because they could easily be a new, awesome suggestion to someone today, we also need to think about resources in that same way.

Yes we all have our tried and true stable of resources that we consult regularly [mine are posted here for all to use], but you should always be on the lookout for resources that you don't know about.

My favorite way to identify "new to me" resources, is simple: I ask people what resources they consult when looking for a good read for themselves. I ask both library workers and average readers. I ask patrons. And in every general RA training I do, I ask all of you to tell each other in my Reader Profile exercise.

When I stress that RA Service is a conversation based service not a transactional one, this is a great example. Conversations require a dialog, asking questions, listening to answers and responding. You  cannot be good at this work of helping adult leisure readers if you don't ask questions. You learn a lot, and create relationships with your users. RA Service is not about tallying how many questions you get. It is about working with your patrons to help them enjoy their leisure reading-- both actively and passively.

Try it. Ask a patron or a co-worker what their favorite resources are to identify new titles or stay up to speed on a genre. You might find a "new to you" resource as exciting to you as Gillian Flynn  is to that reader above.

I am taking Monday off for Presidents Day [and I have my April Library Journal review column deadline], so back Tuesday. If you find a new resource from asking around, let me know so we can share it with everyone.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Soft Censorship via Book Riot and United for Libraries Resources for Trustees

One of the consequences of our current landscape of organized and well funded book challenges is that libraries are trying to stop challenges before they happen by not adding books to their collections that may be challenged.

I know some of you are taking this "don't make waves" approach with your collections right now, but listen up....that is NOT okay. 

Kelly Jensen recently wrote a full article on this issue entitled, "SOFT AND QUIET: SELF-CENSORSHIP IN AN ERA OF BOOK CHALLENGES."

From the intro

In the wake of ever-increasing book challenges, legislature meant to silence educators, and hostile board meetings for schools and libraries, what’s gone unsaid is the means by which professionals within these institutions have had to radically alter the ways they select material. 

“They’re asking ‘who’s going to complain?’,” explains Anna*, “not ‘who needs this?’”

Click here to read the entire article.

But that sentence:  “They’re asking ‘who’s going to complain?’,” explains Anna*, “not ‘who needs this?’” That sentence is more problematic than all of the book challenges

You need to buy the books your community and your collection needs, and that means including these award winning titles that are being challenged. If you are asking the "who's going to complain," question, even if it is coming from a well meaning place, you need to know that this is a form of censorship as well. Please stop. Read the article for more nuance.

Instead of trying to avoid a challenge, you need to be preparing for one by strengthening your policies and  not allowing a rogue Board member or public commenters or a misguided elected official to stop you from your professional work.

I talked about this at length last week here. From that post:

But you need a solid policy behind you BEFORE you can respond in this way. Please go make sure your Collection Development policies are up to date. Make sure they make it VERY CLEAR that the librarians with collection responsibilities make the decisions on what books are in the collection. Outline how they  do it. Here is an example from my library. This CD policy is also used as an example in textbooks.

Make it clear that the Board does not make collection decisions. They only approve the budget, set the policies, steward the building, and evaluate the director. That's it! They should not even get a chance to rule on challenges. They are simply there to be told they happened and how the staff responded. Like any and all communications the library receives.

If your Board has a problem with how the library responds to a specific challenge, they can address it policy changes and with the Director, but they cannot make a final say on an individual title-- unless your policy allows that.

Today I want to also draw your attention to some updated resources from United for Libraries, the ALA division that serves Trustees [and for which I am a member]. This free toolkit is aimed specifically at Trustees. There are documents on how to handle a challenge from the Trustee perspective, yes, but also a reminder to Trustees as to their role and an excellent definitions document. 

Please make sure this page gets to your Trustees. Please send this post to your Directors and urge them to pass it on. Remind them I am a 20+ year elected Library Trustee and a member of a Library System Board. I also worked 15 years in collection development and RA Service. I understand these issues with a 360 degree view. I am willing to consult for free. Contact info is here; always available when you click on my logo.

We need to NOT engage in soft censorship and double down on educating our Boards all in an effort to make sure our libraries are ready for a challenge when it comes. The only way to get through this era of overwhelming challenges is to meet the threat head on and with a professional response. Dodging each individual instance and trying to avoid conflict will end badly for all of us. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Using Awards Lists As A RA Tool: Romance 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.  

As many of you know, the Romance Writers of America have had a lot of issues with their awards in regards to racism. Here is a great article from NPR Books from August of 2021 updating the situation.

As you also know [and if you do not, see above], I love using awards lists as a RA Tool. However, with the RWA awards and their issues, I cannot in good faith promote them as a solid resource.

But thankfully, others have picked up the slack and today I would like to feature them. Please note, I am also including the mission of each award because understanding that is an important factor in how you use the 

First, on Valentine's Day, the second annual Swoon Awards were announced in 15 categories [including audio].  From their overview page:

The Swoon Awards (or The Swoonies like some of us call it) is a reader-based and reader-hosted award celebrating the romance community’s favorite romance novels of the year.

You can also click here to access the archive to past winners they have created. Yes, there are only 2 years right now, but compound interest will build quickly. For example, we already have 15 categories with 5 titles [a winner and 4 runners up in every category. That's already 150 suggestion ready titles-- but to be fair, there is some overlap.

Second, the Emma Awards. From their announcement of the 2021 winners page:

The 2021 RSJ Virtual Romance Book Con event for diversity in literature has announced the winners of the 2021 Emma Awards. The Emma — the premier award for diversity in romantic literature — recognizes excellence in published romance novels, novellas, and women’s fiction featuring diverse and multicultural protagonists (such as black, African-American, Latino American, Hispanic Americans, biracial, etc.).  Of the submissions entered into the contest, below are the winners.  Congratulations to all.

You can click here for the 2021 long lists in 11 judged categories, plus best cover and best book, and then 3 readers' choice categories, plus 2 other awards. Just click through, there is a lot, and all of it good.

The Emma awards do not have a specific archive [yet], but I did create one for you by clicking on the tag for "Emma Awards." They appear to go back to 2017! You think the compound interest of resources is large for the Soownies, well the Emma's crush that and they are ALL from marginalized perspectives.

Much thanks to my presenting partner and Romance for Libraries expert, Robin Bradford, for  alerting me to the Emma Awards. 

Use these lists to diversify your Romance displays, add critically acclaimed and readers' choice titles to your collections, and make some Romance suggestions today. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

LibraryReads: March 2022

 It's LibraryReads 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 LibraryReads is the compound interest it is earning. We now have hundreds and hundreds of titles worth suggesting right at our fingertips through this archive OR the sortable master list allowing you to mix and match however you want.
  3. You have no excuse not to hand sell any LibraryReads 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 upcoming 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.
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.

Please remember to click here for everything you need to know about how to participate. Click here to see a database of eligible diverse titles sorted by month.

And finally, here is LibraryReads' extremely helpful Resources page.

Now let's get to that list.... 


March 2022 LibraryReads List!

Four Aunties and a Wedding 

by Jesse Q. Sutanto


“The Chan family is back! Meddy Chan is getting married, and the wedding planners are perfect--until Meddy overhears the wedding photographer talking about murdering someone at the reception. Her aunties spring into action, setting into motion a series of madcap misadventures intended to save Meddy's special day. A charming combo of close-knit family, humor, and light mystery; great for fans of Mia P. Manansala and Jade Chang.”

—Nanette Donohue, Champaign Public Library, Champaign, IL 
NoveList read-alike: Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim

A Brush with Love: A Novel 

by Mazey Eddings

St. Martin's Griffin

“This debut romance set at a dental school includes some wonderful laugh-out-loud moments and also those that brought me to tears. Harper's anxiety is portrayed truthfully and tenderly, and Dan has some baggage too. For fans of The Happy Ever After Playlist and The Bride Test.”

—Rebecca Swanson, Fitchburg Public Library, Fitchburg, WI 
NoveList read-alike: Digging Up Love by Chandra Blumberg

The Kaiju Preservation Society 

by John Scalzi

Tor Books

“As the Covid-19 pandemic spreads across the U.S., the only job Jamie can find is delivering food, until he begins to work for a secret NGO preserving large animals. What Jamie didn't know is just how large. Scalzi has taken creatures portrayed as monsters in the movies and made us care, with plenty of his usual wit and humor. For fans of Jurassic Park, Devolution, and Jeff VanderMeer.”

—Dan Brooks, Wake County Public Libraries, Raleigh, NC
NoveList read-alike: Escape from Yokai Land by Charles Stross

The League of Gentlewomen Witches 

by India Holton


“In this sequel to The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels, Charlotte is one serious witch who knows via prophecy that she will one day lead the Wicken League. But when a handsome Irish pirate catches her eye, she may bring the wrath of the entire clan of witches down on her. Filled with wit and an intriguing enemy-to-lovers romance. For fans of Jane Austen and Evie Dunmore.”

—Courtney Hill, Charleston County Public Library, Charleston, SC 
NoveList read-alike: The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry by C.M. Waggoner

Mr. Wrong Number 

by Lynn Painter


“A humorous, contemporary romcom. Olivia’s life has been a series of freak accidents and misdeeds. After she accidentally sets her home on fire, she moves in with her brother and his bestie Colin. Things start looking up when a misdial turns into flirty and fun texting with Mr. Wrong Number. Guess who that turns out to be? Great for fans of Falon Ballard, Sophie Sullivan, or Sara Desai.”

—Laura Eckert, Clermont County Public Library, Milford, OH
NoveList read-alike: Read Between the Lines by Rachel Lacey

The Night Shift: A Novel

by Alex Finlay

Minotaur Books

“On New Year’s Eve 1999, four teenage girls working at a New Jersey video store are brutally attacked. Fifteen years later an almost identical crime occurs. Is it the same killer? This second installment following FBI agent Sarah Keller is a quick read with several fun twists and turns. A fast-paced thriller for readers of Final Girls and Dark Places.”

—Jayme Oldham, Highland Park Public Library, Highland Park, IL 
NoveList read-alike: The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen

The Suite Spot 

by Trish Doller

St. Martin's Griffin

“Single mom Rachel loses her job at an upscale Florida hotel and decides to make a fresh start halfway across the country with a new gig and a moody but handsome boss. The characters are mature, the setting is lovely, and there’s just enough steam to keep things interesting. For fans of Beth O’Leary, Julie Murphy, and Sarah Morgenthaler.”

—Sandra Woodbury, Burlington Public Libary, Burlington, MA 
NoveList read-alike: Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle

Sundial  [Becky's Booklist review]

by Catriona Ward

Tor Nightfire

“Rob is trapped in a loveless marriage and worries about her daughter Callie’s increasingly disturbed behavior. Rob takes Callie to her own childhood home in hopes of helping her, but to do so she must reveal her family's dark past. Full of mind-blowing twists, this psychological horror tale is for readers of The Cabin at the End of the World and The Drowning Kind."

—Blinn Sheffield, Greenwood-Leflore Public Library, Greenwood, MS 
NoveList read-alike: Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Under Lock & Skeleton Key: A Secret Staircase Mystery

by Gigi Pandian

Minotaur Books

“Young magician Tempest Raj returns home to her eccentric family’s enchanted compound after finding herself out of work. Soon Tempest stumbles across a body and is faced with solving two mysteries: finding the killer and learning more about her own mother’s disappearance. Fans of Agatha Christie and John Dickson Carr will enjoy this fresh take on a locked-room mystery.”

—Patricia Uttaro, Rochester Public Library, Rochester, NY
NoveList read-alike: Death by Dumpling by Vivienne Chien

What Happened to the Bennetts 

by Lisa Scottoline

G.P. Putnam's Sons

“A carjacking involving a seemingly perfect family from the Philadelphia suburbs launches a suspenseful tale of bad guys, good guys, good bad guys, and bad good guys. With enough red herrings to fill a smorgasbord, this book about grief, corruption, and family will appeal to fans of Iris Johansen, John Grisham, and Wanda M. Morris.”

—Lois Gross, Hoboken Public Library, Hoboken, NJ
NoveList read-alike: Run Away by Harlan Coben

The LibraryReads Hall of Fame designation honors authors who have had multiple titles appear on the monthly LibraryReads list since 2013. When their third title places on the list via library staff votes, the author moves into our Hall of Fame.

Click here to access the Hall of Fame Archive with annotations and readalikes

The Book of Cold Cases 

by Simone St. James


The Diamond Eye: A Novel  

by Kate Quinn

William Morrow

French Braid: A Novel 

by Anne Tyler


The Golden Couple: A Novel 

by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

St. Martin’s Press

Hook, Line, and Sinker: A Novel

by Tessa Bailey


Nine Lives: A Novel 

by Peter Swanson

William Morrow

One Italian Summer: A Novel 

by Rebecca Serle

Atria Books