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.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

What I'm Reading: Booklist E-Reviews

Today I have 2 e-reviews on Booklist Online. Why are the e-only? Well the reason matters to you, so I will share.

There are always going to be more books that deserve a review than can possibly be reviewed. There is not enough time or space in the trade magazines for every book. However, when I comes to Horror, I take my place as the library world's expert very seriously and work hard with my editors at both Booklist and Library Journal to get as many small press books into their review queues as possible. 

Some of those titles I am able to take on to review for myself, but as it is I am averaging more than 1 review a week for the year, so...

Add to this issue the fact that many small presses do not have review copies ready, even in PDF, with enough lead time for us to get them into the print magazines.

I know that for many libraries, if there is no professional review of a book they cannot even consider it to be added to their collections. So I do everything I can to get reviews for titles I believe in.

Today you can see that in action as I have two books that I think are MUST BUYS for all public libraries. These are titles you need to ge on your shelves and get into the hands of reads right now. I did a quick turn around on these reviews, but they still could not make the print deadlines to be published before they released. They are, however, on Booklist Online as e reviews here, here, and below. This means, you have the documentation to support an order.

The first is an anthology that sells itself and includes MAJOR authors whose titles you own and whose books you pardons request, while the second will appeal greatly to fans of Clay McLeod Chapman's What Kind of Mother which is out in a few weeks. It's a great "While You Wait" option. I have even helped a NJ library book the two of them for a joint, in person event this fall. 

Enough preamble. Here are my draft reviews with bonus appeal info.

The First Five Minutes of the Apocalypse: Tales from the Beginning of the End

Edited by Brandon Applegate

July 2023. 300p. Hungry Shadow, $28.99  (9798986920252); Hungry Shadow, paper, $14.999798986920245)First published August 31, 2023 (Booklist Online).

As Editor Applegate notes in the Forward to this terrifying anthology, the world is always ending, in big and small ways, and Horror provides a way to process that fact and the accompanying intense emotions at a safe distance. He leaves readers with that unsettling thought as they dive into 28 stories that each take widely different looks at those first moments of the end of the world. The stories are short, as the title hints at, but also, each is extremely immersive, as the dread, embedded in the title follows the reader from story to story. Do readers know what is causing the apocalypse in each tale? Sometimes. Do readers know what happens to the characters they are following once those first five minutes are over? Not really. Well known authors like V Castro and Gwendolyn Kiste present a violent Werewolf uprising or a macabre end of the world party. Lesser known voices like Carson Winter present a quieter, more private moment between a couple as they mourn the death of everyone they know and wait for their turn to die while Nick Bouchard’s blog post framed story, “Ten Totally Free Places to Watch the End of the World,” adds a note of hilarious dark humor. From nuclear war to unknowable supernatural forces, the breadth of ideas on how the world will end is as vast as the way the authors recount it. Not only will this book sell itself to readers by the title alone, but it will also introduce them to a wealth of strong voices in Horror.

Further Appeal: You don't actually need any. Just tell people the tile and they will either be super intrigued or completely repulsed. If they are intrigued, they will like it, I promise you.

Three Words That Describe This Book: dread, varied, intriguing

Readalikes: Books by Gwendolyn Kiste and V. Castro will be requested and you should own them. This World Belongs to Us: An Anthology of Horror Stories About Bugs, which I recently reviewed will also make a good fit.

And don't forget about the pre-apocalypse trilogy by Ben H. Winters, The Last Policeman. This would be a great time to promote that backlist gem.

Lacuna’s Point

By Tim Meyer

Aug. 2023. 371p. DarkLit, paper, $20 (9781998851096)
First published August 31, 2023 (Booklist Online).

Ellie and Mitch are connected by tragedy. 3 years ago their beloved daughters disappeared without a trace somewhere in Virginia. When Ellie receives a cryptic message appearing to be from her daughter’s canceled phone, however, the pair drop everything and head to the seaside, ghost town of Lacuna’s Point. Very shortly after arriving, they realize there is a sinister darkness not only controlling everything and everyone, but also, one that refuses to let anyone go. Meyer relays the original and intriguing plot through multiple points, allowing the pacing to stay fast, without sacrificing the necessary and nuanced development of each character and, especially, the place itself, a place that makes Twin Peaks look boring and safe, a place that is the most important character of all. While the unease is palabale on every page, there is also an existential dread that overlays it all, one anchored by the terror of being a someone who is driven by the need to create art at all costs. Utterly immersive and unapologetically visceral, this small press title will appeal to readers who embraced the weird, cosmic feel of This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno and both the parental and crab nightmares of What Kind of Mother by Clay McLeod Chapman.

Further Appeal: Many points of view– allows the pacing to stay fast even though there is a lot of world building that needs to happen. It is never too many switches because they are necessary for the reader to understand the complexities of the situation and where each character is coming from. And each is built uniquely and with nuance.

Gives a whole new meaning to “ghost town” Like Twin Peaks– but way more deadly. 

The entire novel is also a metaphor for how terrifying being a creative can be. The need and desire to write, paint, play music, etc… the overwhelming need to make art at all costs is at the heart of this entire book and the anchor for the terror. 

A fast paced, immersive, and visceral pulp Horror tale that will leave you unsettled about your own choices long after you turn the final page.

Three Words That Describe This Book: multiple points of view, Weird, immersive

Readalikes:  The two above and Twin Peaks plus I definitely thought about Chuck Wendig's Wanderers and Brian Keene's The Complex while reading this novel. The feel of both yes, but also how the stories  are told with multiple points of view that allow for robust, nuanced, and emotionally satisfying character development.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Using Awards Lists As A RA Tool: Kirkus Prize 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.  

What is the Kirkus Prize. From their website FAQ:

The Kirkus Prize is one of the richest literary awards in the world, with a prize of $50,000 bestowed annually to authors of fiction, nonfiction, and young readers’ literature. It was created to celebrate the decades of discerning, thoughtful criticism Kirkus Reviews has contributed to both the publishing industry and readers at large. Books that earn the Kirkus star with publication dates between Nov. 1, 2022 to Oct. 31, 2023 (see FAQ for exceptions), are automatically nominated for the 2023 Kirkus Prize. Six finalists in each of three categories will be announced in August. Three winners will be announced at the Kirkus Prize ceremony on Oct. 11, 2023.

Click here to see this year's finalists as reported via LitHub. 

Click here for the Kirkus Prize homepage.

This award pulls double duty as a resource both as an award list AND a year end best list. And it is one the the earliest best lists as well.

Also, like the best of both of these categories of resources, the Kirkus Prize is best used as a resource when you consider the longlist AND the last 9 years of nominees and winners in your suggestions and displays. 

On the main page for all of Kirkus you have super easy access to every nominee and winner going back to 2014. On the banner across the top of every page, there is a tab for "Kirkus Prize" which opens a drop down menu to give you those choices by year. All with little effort. That is extremely helpful for us.

You can easily pick 2 years ago's nominees and use them today as a proven, winning suggestion.

Finally, as it says above, any book that Kirkus gave a star is considered. [You can go to their FAQ page for more detail into the considerations for this prize.] That being stated, how useful this award is to you and your patrons only goes so far as you find Kirkus useful. 

But each year I have found it to be a reliable resource to help readers who are looking for a very general list of  "the best" of the year. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

The First App to “Help” Libraries and Schools With Book Bans Has Arrived– It's Not What It Seems via Book Riot

I stopped the presses here at RA for All HQ yesterday afternoon and shuffled the calendar to repost this article by Kelly Jensen from Book Riot ASAP.

Just please read it. Read the entire article. The level of reporting and nuance here is top notch. Jensen reached out to the company and not only prints  their replies but adds context from her experience as the main National reporter on this issue. 

It may be terrifying but we all need to know about this. 

You can follow Book Riot's nationally recognized censorship coverage with this link.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Library of Congress' Plans To Be More Like a Public Library And How We, At the Public Library, Need to Follow Their Lead

When the Library Of Congress appointed Carla Hayden as the Director in 2016, everyone in the library world was excited, and not only because she was the first actual Librarian to hold the post but also because she came from a Public Library background. And it was not any public library background. She came from Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore, a library that was always ahead of the curve in putting its patrons first. 

Click here for more about Hayden.

Knowing this, I have been optimistic about her tenure since she began, and for being in a very solidly "old boys" club she has not disappointed. No only has seen made sure that the LoC's holding are more diverse and inclusive of the entire American experience, including making sure things like comics are represented, but she has also made the National Book Festival a more accessible event as well.

The one thing hat has been slow, hough, making the LoC building easier and more relevant for people to visit. 

Well that is about to change as the LoC is embarking on a transformative project to make its access to our history and its wealth of information more accessible to every citizen. Click here to read about the plans. From that article:

“At the Library of Congress, we want you to make a make a personal connection, to find yourself here and explore your own history, so you can tell your own stories,” Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said. “We want to transform the visitor experience for the people who visit the Library of Congress in person and the millions more who access us online.” 
Over the next few years, the Library will deliver a new experience, “A Library for You,” to bring that vision to life. 
“By opening windows to our world,” Hayden said, “by sharing more of the Library’s treasures with the public and engaging children and young adults in its collections, we will greatly increase Americans’ access to knowledge.”

Washington, DC is home to dozens of museums and archives that are for the "People." They are free and open to the public, just as the LoC has been, but unlike the LoC, those museums made the visitor experience their top priority. Allowing the American People free access to American treasures and interesting exhibits has always been those museums mission, and now the LoC will join them.

Do not underestimate how HUGE a change this is. For is entire existence the LoC has begrudgingly allowed snippets of access, a single item in the lobby here and there, always falling back on the excuse that they cannot do more because their main job is to be the Library for those serving in government. 

However, when you put a public librarian with a history of prioritizing access to the people in charge, the entire look, mission, and accessibility of the LoC has been able to change in less than a decade.

This news is great for everyone in our country, but today, I want to bring it all back to you, and your service at your local public library, I challenge all of you to be more like Dr. Hayden. Are you providing as much access as you can a your library? Seriously look a yourselves. Do you gate-keep? Do you make it hard for people to find what they want? Do you ever move something solely because it would be easier for them to access it?

The LoC used to focus on providing only needs. They never thought about serving the wants of the people. They never thought about access to spaces and information just for fun, curiosity, and enjoyment. And now it is  time for  he real talk because check yourself: if they can put the people first, you certainly can as well.

This entire blog is about prioritizing the leisure needs of our users. It is about communicating with them to see what they like and what they want. It is about making access easier. And it is about anticipating their needs. I get a lot of backlash from people in the library world who do no agree with me and my tactics. They think I am forgetting about the "rules" and what I as asking for is "too hard." Or they use money s an excuse. Trust me, I have heard it all. 

Well, guess what. Dr. Hayden and the entire LoC agrees with me. I no longer have any room in my life for your excuses and your "I can't." Done. 

Use their announcement to start a deep dive into your library, or even just your department. Are you running your public library with the users in mind, or are you simply doing things the way they have always been done because it is too much work to center the user? May I remind you, your entire existence is there to serve the community. 

In fact, as I like to say, you need to keep working to make access easier because until every single item at your library is checked out at once, your work is not done. You might see this as extreme or as so impossible that you should not strive for it. To that I say, no it is your real goal and since you will never reach it, I call that, "job security."

Don't know where to start, or think your library doesn't need this advice? Okay, check this first. Are your series books shelved in alphabetical order? Chances are they are. So what, you may be thinking. That's what we do, we alphabetize. 

Now ask yourself this: How many people read series books in alphabetical order?

I am not going to wait because the answer is ZERO, NONE, NO ONE. Click here to read more of me ranting about this.

Why do we do this? Because it worked within our other systems and we never gave thought to how patrons would browse or use our collections. We blindly followed our "rules." But we followed them with no regard for the end user. We did what was easier for us, not what made sense for readers.

This is exactly what I am talking about. We rarely put the patrons first. This is not a smart choice. It is not your library, it is their library. As long as we have a system so that we can find things when they are asked for, why aren't we making them available in the way our users would most easily find them?

Dr Hayden was on the forefront of this idea. She took flak for it thought out her career, but you know what? She was right. Let's follow her lead.

How can you begin? Ask your patrons. Ask questions like, what didn't you find today? Or ask them to give feedback as to what parts of the collections they wished they had easier access too. Ask where they stumble when using the library. Many people are too embarrassed to ask for help because they feel like it is their fault when they can't find what they need. Or even worse, they don't  even know we have something we have spent money on because it is too hard to find.

This is very common. And, it is our fault.

So yes, this LoC news is a "good news" library story for a change. But I am challenging all of you to use it to take a long hard look a yourself and your service. If Dr. Hayden can change the entire culture of the Library of Congress in less than 10 years, you can make patron friendly changes at your library. No more excuses. Get to work. 

Friday, August 25, 2023

Display Idea: Comeback Stories With Advice From Becky On How To Build Interactive Displays

This week, LitHub had a list of Comeback Stories. I love this idea as an anytime of year display. It can encompass fiction and nonfiction, many different genres, and will always attract interest. 

In general, we need more ideas that are not tied to an identity month or time of year because we already have plenty of those. They are important because people expect them, but they are only useful when they are relevant with respect to the calendar. 

We need more timeless options.

To that end I have created this form which you can use to crowdsource enticing "anytime" displays. Take a look but come back, I promise to return to that form later in this post.

Back to today's idea-- Comeback Stories.

This list on LitHub is only nonfiction and includes just a handful of titles. While the idea is great, we definitely need more books to make this a display. How can we identify more?

Here is how.

Running this Google search of "Comeback Stories Books," provides many different titles that would work for this display, from a variety of "comeback" perspectives. But it is sill too nonfiction focused. 

As I was poking around Goodreads to look for the terms readers use for these types of stories in fiction, I found "underdog." While this is not exactly the same, it is adjacent. And running the Google search of "Underdog Stories Books" came up with completely different lists and they also contained a lot of fiction and materials for all ages of readers.

Now we have plenty of titles for a timeless display entitled-- Don't Call It A Comeback! And one that you can use to showcase your entire collection. For example, including movies is super easy. Just swap out the "books" in each search for "movies."

However, I also wanted to use this post to remind you that another way to build displays is to make the process interactive. Again, use the form I mentioned above to ask staff and patrons to add to the display and lists you are building.

My favorite way  to use this form is to ask patrons is BEFORE you put the display up. Take a few weeks and put a question in every book on the hold shelf. Every. Single. Book. And for all ages. Make a plain bookmark that says, "Please help the library with our next display...." Then every time you ask a question, you can add it in and make lots of copies. Putt those bookmarks into books that are check out or put on the holds shelf. Place the bookmarks by your self checkout machines.

Make it clear you want them to write the answer down and return it with the book. Answers will filter in over the next 2-4 weeks.

On my provided form I have given you the language for 7 timeless display ideas, but in this case you would write, "What are your favorite underdog books?" As I showed you above, "underdog" is a better term to get the widest range of results.

By putting this bookmark in every book as they leave your building, you will get a variety of answers, from all age levels. You can sue the results to put up one while library display, or have a display in each service area, at the same time.

You can also expand all of this to Facebook or Instagram. For either, have a standard post where you ask people to help the library with our next display by adding your titles to our list. Swap in the current question.

When you ask, they not only helping you build a display, but they are also giving you feedback about what books they have enjoyed. This helps us craft our collection to fit their needs better.

Another benefit, when someone is asked to add a title to a display, I promise you, when said display goes up (and you should do another social media post announcing displays and letting people know their titles were included), people make a trip to the library just to see the results.

Your attempts to be interactive should also extend to when the display in question is up as well. Allow patrons to add titles while the display is being featured. Allow comments on your social posts where you ask for more titles or put out a suggestion box at the display area where people can add their thoughts.

None of this is hard. Once you set up the templates, it is actually quite easy. And the data you collect not only improves your displays, but over time, it will improve your collections as you will be getting feedback as to what titles are resonating with your patrons, allowing you to add other titles that they will also enjoy.

And ultimately, you are showing your users that you actually listen. When people feel heard, they come back, they tell their friends to visit us, and they support us when we need it.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Using Award Lists As A RA Tool: The American Book 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 hope that readers of this blog have realized before now but just in case, this series of posts is NOT about who is nominated for and/or wins literary awards. Rather, this series is about alerting you to the awards themselves, what their missions are, and how to use them to help readers. 

I am reminding you all of this because today's post is a perfect example. how knowing about an award and using its website will open up a plethora of titles for you to promote. 

As the title of theist says, I am talking about The American Book Award:

The American Book Awards were created to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community. The purpose of the awards is to recognize literary excellence without limitations or restrictions. There are no categories, no nominees, and therefore no losers. The award winners range from well-known and established writers to under-recognized authors and first works. There are no quotas for diversity, the winners list simply reflects it as a natural process. The Before Columbus Foundation views American culture as inclusive and has always considered the term “multicultural” to be not a description of various categories, groups, or “special interests,” but rather as the definition of all of American literature. The Awards are not bestowed by an industry organization, but rather are a writers’ award given by other writers.

Click here for the current list of nominees with information about them as authors and the specific books they are being nominated for. 

But again, I am highlighting this award because of its mission. From their website's "Our  Story" section:
America was intended to be a place where freedom from discrimination was the means by which equality was achieved. Today, American culture is the most diverse ever on the face of this earth. Recognizing literary excellence demands a panoramic perspective. A narrow view strictly to the mainstream ignores all the tributaries that feed it. American literature is not one tradition but all traditions. From those who have been here for thousands of years to the most recent immigrants, we are all contributing to American culture. We are all being translated into a new language. Everyone should know by now that Columbus did not “discover” America. Rather, we are all still discovering America-and we must continue to do so.

The Before Columbus Foundation was founded in 1976 as a nonprofit educational and service organization dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of contemporary American multicultural literature. The goals of BCF are to provide recognition and a wider audience for the wealth of cultural and ethnic diversity that constitutes American writing. BCF has always employed the term “multicultural” not as a description of an aspect of American literature, but as a definition of all American literature. BCF believes that the ingredients of America’s so-called “melting pot” are not only distinct, but integral to the unique constitution of American Culture-the whole comprises the parts.

In 1978, the Board of Directors of BCF (authors, editors, and publishers representing the multicultural diversity of American Literature) decided that one of its programs should be a book award that would, for the first time, respect and honor excellence in American literature without restriction or bias with regard to race, sex, creed, cultural origin, size of press or ad budget, or even genre. There would be no requirements, restrictions, limitations, or second places. There would be no categories (i.e., no “best” novel or only one “best” of anything). The winners would not be selected by any set quota for diversity (nor would “mainstream white anglo male” authors be excluded), because diversity happens naturally. Finally, there would be no losers, only winners. The only criteria would be outstanding contribution to American literature in the opinion of the judges.

All winners are accorded equal standing. Their publishers are also to be honored for both their commitment to quality and their willingness to take the risks that accompany publishing outstanding books and authors that may not prove “cost-effective” in the short run. There are special Award designations (such as Lifetime Achievement) for contributions to American literature beyond a recently published book. The American Book Awards Program is not associated with any industry group or trade organization. The American Book Awards offer no cash prize nor do they require any financial commitments from the authors or their publishers. The Award winners are nominated and selected by a panel of writers, editors, and publishers who also represent the diversity of American literary culture.

Please go to the site and poke around. There are MANY authors who you can highlight in a display or list about "American Writing."  It can be its own display or list centered about this award, but it is also an excellent resource to help you diversify any display. 

And, just by the nature of these authors showing up on any year of this award, they are appropriate for all public library collections. Make sure you have the titles by these authors and add them now if you do not.

Don't forget to check the link at the top of the post to remind you all the different ways to use Awards Lists as a resource.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Anticipated Books for Fall Round Up

Fall is the season when many of the biggest books of the year are released. As a result, everyone in the book news world puts out lists of their most anticipated books for Fall. Today, I have gathered a few of them in one place to make your planning for purchase, displays, and necessary "while you wait"  lists a bit easier.

Please note, the lists I am providing are by no means comprehensive. I have included them as examples of the different types of lists that are out there. I have purposely tried not to duplicate a point of view.

As you look through all of these lists, from across the book atmosphere, please take note of which titles show up everywhere. Those are the books you should be focusing on as well. 

When I do my annual year in review program, I always go back to all of the most anticipated lists to see how many titles show up on year end best lists, best selling lists, or most checked out lists as well.

More on that later this year. For now, bask in the book bonanza that is fall.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Free Program Alert: Safeguarding Intellectual Freedom: How to Counter Censorship and the Criminalization of Librarianship in America

One week from today, the University of Maryland Libraries are hosting a free program with the above titles. I have copied the press release from their website below. You can click here for that information or just skip to the free Zoom registration

This program directly addresses the "criminalization" of librarianship, a topic we need to speak more directly and openly about. I have signed up. Hope you can make it too.

UMD Libraries to Host Virtual Panel on Intellectual Freedom

Experts will discuss countering censorship and the criminalization of librarianship in America on Tuesday, August 29, 2023

The University of Maryland Libraries will host a virtual dialogue on Tuesday, August 29, 2023, from 3:00-4:30 pm ET, to explore actions that can be taken to ensure libraries remain bastions of intellectual freedom for all.

American librarians are increasingly becoming the latest targets in the political and cultural wars spreading across the country, part of a growing movement to ban books, censor ideas, and restrict educators’ ability to discuss race, gender, identity, and LGBTQ+ issues in the classroom.

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid's Tale, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Juno Dawson’s This Book is Gay, and Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me, have all landed on recent censorship lists in 2022 alone, which the American Library Association (ALA) reports was a year that saw the “highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago.”

How can freedom-to-read advocates and community members respond to counter these divisive strategies and rhetoric which portray libraries as spaces of indoctrination and librarians as villains peddling harmful literature?

These questions and other timely topics will be addressed in a panel discussion moderated by Lae’l Hughes-Watkins, Associate Director of Special Collections and University Archives for Engagement Inclusion, and Reparative Archiving, with the following panelists:   
  • Emily Drabinski, President, American Library Association, and academic librarian and author
  • Dr. Paul T. Jaeger, Professor and Distinguished Scholar-Teacher, UMD College of Information Studies, Director of the Museum Scholarship and Material Culture graduate program, and Associate Director of the Maryland Initiative for Digital Accessibility
  • Dr. Emily Knox, Associate Professor, School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and author of Book Banning in 21st Century America (Rowman & Littlefield) and co-editor of Foundations of Information Ethics (ALA Neal-Schuman)
  • Felton Thomas, Jr., Executive Director of Cleveland Public Library (CPL), who has furthered the mission of CPL to be “The People’s University”, including launching initiatives aimed at addressing community needs in the areas of access to technology, education, and economic development.

Inspired by recent scholarship, such as The Urge to Censor: Raw Power, Social Control, and the Criminalization of Librarianship  (Paul T. Jaeger et al), and motivated by the turmoil facing ALA, with censorship proponents calling for conservative states to end their memberships in ALA, the University of Maryland Libraries invites you to register for this free webinar, offered as part of the Libraries’ Living Democracy Initiative.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Reminder: Labeling Books as "Diverse" Reinforces White Supremacy via Alex Brown and Lee and Low

I am working on some updates to my portion of the Anti-Racist program Robin and I offer in order to make sure we are addressing our most common questions. One of the questions we get over and over [and over] again from well-meaning, mostly white library workers is, "Why can't we label the books with the author's identity to make it easier for people to find them?" We have many different ways we answer this question, but we also have colleagues we trust who we like to point you to for help. 

One of my favorite resources is this speech by Stephen Graham Jones entitled, "Being Indian is Not a Superpower." It's in my slides, but I haven't posed it in a while here on the blog. But since I was also using today to re-up another older post I often link to, I thought revisiting it here today was a good reminder.

However, the main reason for today's post is because this question, "Why can't we label the books with the author's identity to make it easier for people to find them? " was circulating yet again. Thankfully, someone reposted something I often refer to as well, a guest post by my colleague Alex Brown via Lee and Low entitled,  "Labeling Books as "Diverse" Reinforces White Supremacy."

First some background. Publisher Lee and Low has been on the forefront of confronting White Supremacy in publishing. Click here to see more posts by me about their work. And also click here for their blog. As a reviewer, I participate in their industry diversity survey every year as well. Both publications I work for [Booklist and Library Journal] are willing participants and require we reply. 

Back to this particular post. Alex is a person I turn to for answers to some of the most difficult questions in  my work centering anti-racism in RA Service. They are not only smart, thoughtful, and a good writer, but they also serve teens through a school library, so their perspective allows me to cast a wider net on service experiences from my mostly Adult Public Library lens. 

Below is the link and intro to that post, with a final comment from me after the excerpt. This is one you need to bookmark as an evergreen reminder.

Click here to read the full essay


In this guest post, librarian Alexandria Brown discusses the issues with labeling books as “diverse” and other ways we can build and promote a more equitable library collection. 

Every so often, the question of whether or not to add a spine label designating “diverse” books makes the rounds. Many condemn the practice, but lots of library staff persist in labeling. Like most diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issues in librarianship, many of my colleagues are still operating within a white (and cisgender and heterosexual) supremacist framework. It is an understandable predicament to be in – after all, many library degree programs are not as strong as they could be in advocating for DEI and decolonization. So let’s examine the question of diversity labeling and see if we can’t get to a better understanding of why it’s problematic.

Click here to read the entire guest post. 

Before I leave you today, please note, both resources I am using here are by people from marginalized perspectives. Robin and I also try to center our marginalization [black, her, Jewish, me] in our responses to any of these questions as well  because it is important to listen to the people who live these experiences. This might sound like common sense, but the number of people who argue with us and Alex, telling us why we are wrong, well they are too many to count. If your instinct is to argue with any of us about how to best center anti-racism in your work with leisure readers, please take a step back and consider, are you allowing systemic oppression and how our world centers whiteness to cloud your response?

By the way, you can identify with a marginalized perspective and still be a victim to this. I often share my experience in English classes and having to go home and learn more about Jesus in order to understand the conversation. It took until college when I enrolled in a Jewish American Literature class when I realized how marginalized I was. And also, it allowed me to argue back in normal English classes to add my non Christian perspective to our discussions with confidence. This was a transformative experience in my journey to understand how harmful it is that our society centers a white, straight, Christian experiences as a default. 

But that level of detail is starting to move into the training Robin and I offer. Which reminds me, for those who are still reading this post, here is a teaser-- Robin and I will have some news soon about how you can join us on a year long conversation about these issue throughout 2024. 

Thursday, August 17, 2023

RA for All Off to College

The blog is on a break while I move the youngest into college. Back Monday.

In the meantime, you can enter the #HorrorForLibraries giveaway. This week is it for a copy of The Dead Take the A Train by Richard Kadrey and Cassandra Khaw.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

New Issue of The Corner Shef via Booklist

Today I have the direct link to one of my favorite library related newsletters-- The Corner Shelf: Where Readers' Advisory Meets Collection Development. My favorite editor, Susan Maguire, is the editor of this newsletter and she gives you exactly what that title promises. 

This issue is a great example. See below for the ToC and Susan's intro. There are links throughout to the specific articles and the full newsletter.


August 2023 

• Notes from the Field: The New Jersey Library Association Readers' Advisory Section 
• Fall Audiobook Preview: 2023 
• Top 10: SF/Fantasy & Horror Debuts 
• Reference Roundup: Summer 2023 
• Excerpts from the Experts: Best Practices for Romance-Collection Building Success 
• Shelf Care: The Podcast: Cool People Talking about Cool Books

Editor's Note

Click here to read the full newsletter for free and to sign up for this newsletter for yourself. If you read this blog, you should be a subscriber to this and honestly, a whole bunch of Booklist newsletters. Click here to go to their newsletter page. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

LibraryReads: September 2023

 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.

New in February 2023-- a bonus pick with an annotation by a LibraryReads Board member. See this month's pick at the end of this post. It also appears on the PDF list for printing and displaying at your library.

Now let's get to the September 2023 list.... 

The September House: A Novel
Carissa Orlando (Berkley)

Margaret believes in following the rules. Four years after moving into a haunted Victorian, she knows how to avoid the dangerous ghosts. But her husband can’t take it anymore and leaves when the paranormal activity escalates to excessive levels. Now their estranged daughter—who’s never been to the house—is coming to visit, and Margaret doesn’t know how to explain (much less keep her child safe from) the specters’ violent antics.

—Lucy Lockley, St. Charles City-County Lib Dist, MO
NoveList read-alike: How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

Perfectly Nice Neighbors
Kia Abdullah
(G.P. Putnam's Sons)

This domestic thriller is about the dynamic and ongoing battle between neighbors, giving readers a suspenseful and exciting conclusion that they won't see coming. The commentary about race and social media is relatable to the world we live in. The battle between these neighbors may make readers think twice about moving to the suburbs.

—Tabrizia Jones, The New York Public Library, NY
NoveList read-alike: Our Best Intentions by Vibuti Jain

The Long Game: A Novel
Elena Armas

Adalyn needs a hug, not that she'll ever admit it. Exiled to tiny Green Oak, North Carolina after a very public breakdown, she's forced to examine her life—and of course, falls in love along the way. Armas hits all the right emotional notes and the slow burn is delicious. Pick this one up if you like small- town romance, love interests who actually talk to each other, and female leads who can handle their stuff.

—Amanda Baumann, JCL Northwest, MO
NoveList read-alike: Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez

The Nobleman's Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel
KJ Charles
(Sourcebooks Casablanca)

Rufus is the new Earl of Oxney, much to the consternation of his uncle. But another possible claimant steps forward, Luke. As Rufus and Luke work together to get the estate organized, it becomes impossible for them to ignore their mutual attraction. This fun historical LGBTQ romance set 13 years after the first in the series is an ideal beach read.

—Nancy Eggert, Chicago Public Library, IL
NoveList read-alike: The Turner series by Cat Sebastian

The Vaster Wilds: A Novel
Lauren Groff

This stunningly haunting, lyrical novel is set in the New World settlement of Jamestown, when colonists established an outpost neighboring the Powhatan natives. Disease, conflict, and drought loom, with death soon following. In this period known as the Starving Time, sadly resulting in cannibalism, a servant girl flees, traveling deep into the woods. Escaping only with a few possessions, she eats what she can, desperate to survive.

—KC Davis, LibraryReads Ambassador, CT
NoveList read-alike: Song for Almeyda and Song for Annino by Gayl Jones

Godkiller: A Novel
Hannah Kaner
(Harper Voyager)

Three mortals and a minor god go on a quest and encounter a water spirit. Gripping from the first page, this fantasy novel explores this complex world with just the right amount of world-building and description. Highly recommended for fans of The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi by Chakraborty, The Name of the Wind by Rothfuss and classic fantasy.

—Tommy Buttaccio, The New York Public Library, NY
NoveList read-alike: The Witcher series by Andrezej Sapkowski

The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic: A Novel
Breanne Randall
(Alcove Press)

A light, witchy novel where the relationships aren't just romantic—there are family issues for the main character to work through as well. The magic system is a favorite cozy trope—herbs and baking—and there are lots of tasty-sounding recipes to try throughout. Readers will look forward to more to come from Randall.

—Josephine Incolla-Moore, Frederick Cty Urbana Branch, MD
NoveList read-alike: The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

Things We Left Behind
Lucy Score
(Bloom Books)

In this series entry, Sloane Walton, local librarian, and Lucian Rollins, DC power player, mix as well as oil and water. When Sloane decides she's ready to settle down, Lucian insists on watching out for her. Can they get past their animosity and build a relationship? Lucian and Sloane are likable but flawed characters and readers will root for them to get their HEA.

—Shari Suarez, Genesee District Library, MI
NoveList read-alike: Meet Me at the Lake by Carly Fortune

Hush Harbor: A Novel
Anise Vance
(Hanover Square Press)

When racism explodes and it feels like the world is on fire, siblings Jeremiah and Nova decide to form a resistance group in an abandoned housing project. But differences about how to move forward divide the group, threatening to derail their work. The group must find a way forward without becoming like the enemy. Thought-provoking and intense!

—Alicia Ahlvers, Henrico County Public Library
NoveList read-alike: American War by Omar El Akkad
The Museum of Failures: A Novel
Thrity Umrigar
(Algonqiun Books)

Remy Wadia is back in Bombay to adopt a child and to check in on his estranged mother, but nothing is working out as planned. As necessary truths are finally shared, Remy is forced to rethink his entire life. A beautifully written, heart- warming, and welcoming glimpse into the Parsi community and the complications of family.

—Jessica Trotter, Capital Area District Libraries, MI
NoveList read-alike: Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo
Board Bonus pick:
Land of Milk and Honey
C Pam Zhang

Notable Nonfiction: 
Of Time and Turtles: Mending the World, Shell by Shattered Shell
Sy Montgomery
(Mariner Books)

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 the Hall of Fame. Click here to see the Hall of Fame authors organized in alpha order.

Bright Lights, Big Christmas
Mary Kay Andrews
(St. Martin's Press)
NoveList read-alike: Seasons of Love by Helena Greer

Enchanted to Meet You: A Witches of West Harbor Novel

Meg Cabot
NoveList read-alike: Small Town, Big Magic by Hazel Beck

Black Sheep
Rachel Harrison
NoveList read-alike: Sundial by Catriona Ward

The Wake-Up Call
Beth O'Leary
NoveList read-alike: The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

The Last Devil to Die: A Thursday Murder Club Mystery
Richard Osman
(Pamela Dorman Books)
NoveList read-alike: Marlow Murder Club series by Robert Thorogood

Starter Villain
John Scalzi
(Tor Books)
NoveList read-alike: Hench  by Natalie Zina Walschots

The Fragile Threads of Power
V.E. Schwab
(Tor Books)
NoveList read-alike: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Cleat Cute: A Novel
Meryl Wilsner
(St. Martin's Griffin)
NoveList read-alike: The Princess Deception by Nell Stark