Thursday, May 24, 2012

Summer Reading

Last summer I wrote a long and rambling post about my dislike of summer reading, which you can read here. I still have most of those same feelings, and really wish that our education system would change for the better, but on the whole I really do enjoy summer reading and the fun, festive atmosphere it provides around reading and literature.

I also like that in recent years, having a summer reading program for adults has begun to gain more traction in more libraries. On WBEZ lately they’ve been stating a statistic that 53% of adults have “low or limited reading skills.” While most probably think of summer reading as a way to reward current leisure readers (who already see reading as its own reward and really don’t need or perhaps want an added incentive) I wonder which, if any, libraries are using summer reading as a chance to reach out to, program for, and otherwise engage and assist those struggling with illiteracy or limited literacy.

Many communities and librarians have been arguing lately about what people are reading (mostly women and teenagers but that’s a whole discussion unto itself) but perhaps those energies would be better focused on actually making sure people can read, period, rather than being the Good Taste and Worthwhile Literature Police.

What do you think?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Author Visits

How many libraries have hosted author visits for their communities? An author visit is such an excellent way to get your users engaged in the library and to explore the breadth of an author’s work.

My library recently hosted author Adam Selzer, who is a terrific person to bring in because he’s very prolific and he’s written a wide range of books--from middle grade to adult nonfiction--that have wide appeal. When I booktalked his books to a bunch of fifth graders, the most popular title was actually his nonfiction book about ghostbusting, titled Your Neighborhood Gives Me the Creeps. The kids were really excited to tell me their own ghostly experiences and it generated a great conversation.

A lot of authors will do on site visits with varying costs, and even more authors will do Skype visits for free.

Have you ever brought an author to your library? How did it go?

Monday, March 19, 2012

eBooks: A Guest Post by Toby Greenwalt

This month's post comes from Toby Greenwalt, a digital branch manager and reference librarian in suburban Chicago who is passionate about exploring the intersection of libraries, technology, and community. He blogs at and tweets as @theanalogdivide.

So there I was. Early this morning, working the Reader’s Advisory desk, greeted by what has now become a familiar sight. A frequent patron, voracious reader, with an extensive hold list and very particular tastes. And one of the last people you’d expect to see behind a computer.

“I just got this Kindle,” she said, opening up her purse. “Can I use it to check out eBooks from the library?”

Two months ago, this was an exciting transaction. Today, it’s a harbinger of what’s sure to be a frustrating time for all parties.

Helping a patron discover new reading material should be an easy transaction, right? Locate book, remove from shelf, hand to patron. eBooks have gotten folks excited about reading in a way that hasn’t happened since vampires first discovered glitter. And libraries have been on board from the start. From buying Rocket eReaders over a decade ago, to offering downloadable eBooks via Overdrive around 2004, to providing hands-on training to every Nook, Kindle, and Kobo that comes in through the door, librarians have been laying the groundwork for this eBook revolution for years. Which makes it a shame that the industry is taking a step back in its dealings with us.

Let’s take this patron that I spoke with this morning. I walked her over to a computer and we started browsing our eBook collection.

“I really like J.D. Robb. Do you have her new one, Celebrity in Death?”

Hoo boy. We have nearly every volume of Eve Dallas’ adventures, but not the newest one. Robb publisher Penguin recently chose to stop offering eBooks to libraries, making any future “In Death” titles off-limits to eBook readers. Similarly, other Big 6 publishers (Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan) refuse to sell eBooks to libraries at all. Our patrons certainly don’t keep track of which imprint is responsible for which title, and many of us are now scrambling to come up ways with ways to respond to this newfound wrinkle. It’s made the library role in the discovery process quite difficult, and quite frustrating. Some librarians are even wondering if we should get out of the eBook game entirely.

But I’m convinced the library and publishing industries can find common ground. To reach this point, we’ve got to work together. Libraries continue to play a vital role in helping the public discover new reading material. According to a study commissioned by Library Journal, over 50 percent of all library users go on to purchase titles by authors discovered at the library. A little creativity can help our respective industries develop mutually agreeable solutions. Librarians have been working to develop a solution, as groups like Library Renewal and Gluejar
can attest.

There’s plenty of room for libraries to help turn checkouts into sales. But we can’t do it without the circulations themselves.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tools Librarians Will Love!

Like a lot of librarians I know, I've become deeply smitten with Pinterest, the online bulletin board, where I've collected program ideas, recipes, book suggestions, and, for especially for you this Valentine's Day, some Literary Valentines! I keep myself organized at home and work with physical bulletin boards, so I really liked that I could start doing the same thing digitally. There's a growing number of librarians, authors, and publishers on Pinterest (including BEA!), so there's a lot of things ready to be discovered. Right now Pinterest is invite only, but they are not too hard to get a hold of---I'd bet if you're on twitter and put a call out, someone could send one your way pretty quickly.

There's also a bunch of literary tumblrs, which are more for fun but can also be looked at as interesting marketing tools for libraries. The Millions has a nice round up of literary tumblrs, including one of my favorites, Awesome People Reading. There's also the librarianheygirl tumblr, starring everyone's favorite dude Ryan Gosling, which is very therapeutic to read on the roughest of days.

Do you use Pinterest or Tumblr? Have any great ones to share? Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Reading Resolutions

Happy New Year, BEA buddies! We’re only a couple of weeks into 2012 and I’ve already read a couple of great books, including The Shattering by Karen Healey and Sparks : the epic, completely true blue, (almost) holy quest of Debbie by S.J. Adams. As I continue into the year, I wanted to share with you some reading resolutions I’ve come up with for myself:

1. Read outside of my comfort zone.
For my job, I read a lot of picture books and other juvenile materials (beginning readers, chapter books, board books, etc), and for leisure reading I read a lot of young adult and science fiction and fantasy. I harbor no reading shame, but I also feel a bit of need to flex the critical reading skills I acquired in college. I have a Virginia Woolf book sitting on my shelf (which was a gift from a beloved college professor) that I have yet to read. I also have a lovely hardcover edition of Ulysses that my late mother bought for me ages ago that I want to have a go at, perhaps while eating a proper Irish breakfast somewhere.

2. Do a better job of tracking my reading in Goodreads.
I use goodreads to sort books that I’ve read into categories that I can turn to when I get reader’s advisory questions, or when I need books for a storytime. I am pretty good about tracking my reading, but I need to be more diligent about it, and do a better job with making notes about how I use certain books, or which books would suit which readers.

3. Be more willing to let books go.
I, like everyone else, only have so much time--yet I have this terrible habit of sticking with books far longer than I should. I’ve spent days reading books that bring me absolutely no enjoyment, but I have this sick need to finish what I’ve started. (And when that book happens to be the first in a series? Oh mylanta.) So I’m resolving to stick to a 50 page rule and let books go if they’re not doing it for me.

How about you--do you have any reading resolutions for the new year? And what books have you started off 2012 with?