Friday, December 2, 2016

How GoodReads Makes Me a Better Librarian

I am not shy about talking up the things I love. Library pets, NoveList, zombie makeup - you all know me pretty well by now. You know what else I love? GoodReadsWe all know it, many of us use it for our own personal reading. But it's only recently that I really sat down and thought about how it makes me a better librarian.

How Can it Work for Me? 

You can use GoodReads for so many things!

Reviews/Book Talks 

The #1 thing I use GoodReads for is to write reviews of books that I've read. When I've finished a book, I take a few minutes to write up a booktalk for that title. That way, when a year has gone by and somebody asks me about it, I can pull up my review and - BAM! Booktalk!

The big debate here is actually whether to give negative reviews or not. If it's a library account, I would say not to - someone is going to want this book, regardless of whether I personally enjoyed it - but if it's my personal account, I just go ahead and do it. As librarians, we can't read every book, and we rely on the reviews of others to help us out in collection development and recommendations. If people aren't upfront about it - at least with the number of stars they'd give - we don't know how good a book actually is. So, go ahead. Be honest.


When you go to a book's GoodReads page, you'll see other book covers over to the right side, with the label, "Readers Also Enjoyed." (Click on that to get a whole list.) You may know the recommended books, or you may not, but even looking at them will likely jog your memory. 

When you have read enough, GoodReads will recommend books based on your personal reading history. Since I log in with a personal page, this is nice for me personally, but not as much professionally. It does help in seeing books I hadn't known about that I can consider to add to my collection (or TBR pile), but unless you have a smaller group with similar views (say, a GoodReads account for your book club), it might not be as useful. 


There is a list for everything on here, from the very broad ("Best Books of the Year") to the very specific ("Lesbian Science Fiction"). Anyone can make a list, so you may or may not agree with the items that are chosen, but even looking at them can remind you of others. You can also vote on some lists, so they're a compilation of many viewpoints. (You can also discuss your choices in the comments.) I have heard complaints that nonfiction books are under-represented, but I find that it's a good resource for fiction books.

What Comes Next?

There are lots of places where you can find out what book comes next in a given series, but I've found that GoodReads is the easiest to use (though NoveList is also awesome). Find your book, click the name of the series, and it'll give you all the books in that series, in order, and their date of publication. (In fact, GoodReads is so on top of this that I have found out the name of the next book in a series there, when it doesn't seem to be listed anywhere else.)

Get Connected with Groups

If your book club is online, you can create a group for them. Make a bookshelf of books your club has already read, so you don't duplicate. Have online group discussions about books - the current selection, or not - and make the group seem more like a group of friends, and less like a bunch of people who get together for an hour once a month.

I am also a member of a group that does a Mock Newbery Award every year. I'm sorry to say that I'm not very active in the group, but I do go take a look at what others are thinking might be the best books of the year, so I can consider adding them to my collection (and my TBR pile). 

The GoodReads Blog

The GoodReads blog is great for keeping on top of new releases, and ideas for books to recommend to people. At the time of this writing, the blog is featuring some great holiday gift guides (yeah, what DO I get for coworkers?), but also has articles such as, "7 Great Titles Hitting the Shelves Today" and opinion pieces such as "10 Book Families You Wish You Could Invite to Thanksgiving Dinner." If you need ideas for displays or seasonal recommendations (in addition to Allie's great lists), you're covered.

News & Interviews

Check out the News and Interviews page (from the Browse menu at the top, click "News and Interviews") and see what's new on the site. Read author interviews, and check out a list of the titles people have been reading and rating as the best books of the month, and don't get surprised when you have seven people ask you for a book that you've never heard of.

GoodReads Choice Awards

How cool is this? Anyone and everyone can vote for the best books of the year, separated into various categories. These awards are actually voted on by readers like us, and our patrons. If the best book of the year is voted on by actual people who enjoy that genre, it's a fair bet that it's a pretty good one to consider adding to your collection - or, at least, to be aware of.

And also...

There's more. There's a lot more: Q&As with actual authors, ARC giveaways (you can set your preferences to alert you when an author you like, or books in a genre you like, have new giveaways - great for prizes!), discussion groups. There are even fan-made trivia games! If you have the Chrome Library Extension set up, it will tell you whether the book you're looking at is available in your library/consortium right there on the page. If you follow GoodReads on Twitter or Facebook, they also post some great content that you can share on your own social media.

I'm sure there are ways to use GoodReads professionally that I haven't even thought about. What do you use it for? Tell us here in the comments, on Twitter, or on Facebook

Friday, November 25, 2016

10 Things We're Thankful For This Year

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we're going to do another roundup from our writers for the 5 Minute Librarian blog. (You can see last year's post here). There's been a few job changes, but we're more dedicated than ever to this blog.

First and foremost: 

We're so thankful to all of you, our readers, those who have been following us for two years and those who have found us recently. Your support on our blog and our social media accounts keep us going! We wouldn't be here, if it wasn't for you. Thank you!

Jess B., Library/Social Media Consulting

Jess blogs about social media, marketing, technology, helpful librarian tips and tricks, and Teen Librarianship. She started this blog two years ago and will forever be grateful that Allie and Kat decided to join the blogging team. You, Ladies, are rock stars!

1. Hoopla

Over the year, I've become a huge fan of Hoopla. My favorite way of reading is audio books, but I usually end up having to go on wait lists for the books. When they finally are available, I don't have time to actually listen to them. Hoopla allows me to avoid that problem. They have a huge variety of content that is available for immediate download and it's rocking my world. Now that I don't work daily in libraries anymore, having this online service from my home library has been invaluable.

2. Trello

My goal this year is to organize my life so that I can better stay on top of everything. Trello, a free online organize program, has been instrumental with keeping everything on track. I developed a system where I have a list for every month of reoccurring events and tasks, and deadlines of when I should get them. Now that I can see the whole year in one view, I can tackle projects in a better timely manner and hence, much less stress. (I also mentioned I use this to help keep my email inbox low, moving tasks from email to Trello.) I plan to write about this system in a future post, stay tuned!

3. Children's Department

I'm so thankful for all of the Children's Departments in libraries. My daughter loves visiting them, picking out books, playing with the toys, and meeting new friends. We check out so many books that I had to create a shelf in my bookcase to keep track of them all (and had to learn to renew them all at the same time to keep track of due dates). I know it isn't an easy job, but we so very much appreciate all of you!

Kat E., Assistant Director/Youth Services Librarian

Kat blogs about marketing, databases, programming, hot library topics, and Children's and Teen Librarianship.

1. Ingram Program Lists

I've recently started a new position that encompasses children's services, teen services, and a bit of management. I've done this before, but this time I don't have a staff to delegate to! No complaints, but I am a busy lady. I haven't really had as much time for flipping through Booklist and Kirkus reviews as I'd like - but I do have Ingram Program Lists, which is a compilation of new releases that have gotten good reviews, placed into a cart for me to peruse when I have time.  I can quickly browse and easily decide which books to order with a few clicks. It's a huge time (and sanity) saver!

2. OverDrive

This is somewhat more personal than professional for me (though I talk it up all the time, to the occasional dismay of people I meet at parties). I've had a fairly long commute, and the fact that I can download an audiobook and plug my phone into the jack in my car is amazing. No more fumbling with CDs or uploading things to an iPod, no more pressure of looking through the stacks, trying to find something interesting - I go to the app, browse by whatever genre I'm in the mood for, filter by "available now," and pick something. When I go to the gym, I can bring it with me. If I'm in the mood for a print book, I can do that too (I read a lot in bed at night with the lights off, so I can unwind before unplugging for the night). It's super Librarian of me to say, but I am extremely grateful to have OverDrive in my life. 

3. Facebook Groups and Roundtable Meetings

As I said earlier, I'm in the position of wearing many hats, and while I am new and enthusiastic at my current position... well, I'm also the one who wrote about Burnout. Whether it's being busy or being in a rut, or just the fact that there is no way any one person can know everything about everything, I love being able to talk with other librarians (online or in person) to exchange ideas, get advice, and revitalize the love I have for this profession. I always come away with great ideas and a new excitement for programs, displays, titles to read and recommend, and a myriad of other things. Being reminded of why I love what I do - even when I'm in a really good place! - is amazing, and being able to share my own enjoyment and enthusiasm is the best feeling in the world.

Allie C., Head of Teen Services

Allie posts the monthly "Ready to Go" Book Lists, finding books for the three different age groups that librarians can display or order for their collection. 

1. Any New Books?

I love getting Any New Books? emails in my inbox every week. Here's how it works: enter your email address and pick the genres you want to stay up-to-date on. Each week you get an email for each genre with tons of titles that were released that week. It keeps me current with what's coming out and lets me know if I missed something.

2. Novelist Select

I love Novelist to search for books by topics, setting, feel and more. But what made everything even better was when Novelist Select was added to our system's catalog. Now when patrons and staff search in the catalog there is additional information provided by Novelist. You don't have to do additional searches in Novelist for suggestions of other titles you might like, similar authors, summaries, reviews, recommended lists, and reader rating and reviews. Additionally if the book is part of a series, it lists the books of the series in order. Check it out for yourself by searching the CWMARS catalog.

3. My Husband

Last year I was thankful for my coworkers (and I am still thankful for them). This year I want to let my husband know how thankful I am for his hard work in relation to my library life. (He's a faithful reader of this blog.) He works actively with our library's Friends group and was voted President this past year. He's always willing to help volunteer at special library programs when we need an extra hand. Plus he's very understanding when I need to do my reading for the YALSA Quick Picks committee. (Last year I read more than 350 books for the committee, and this is my second year.) He's a great listener when I talk about my job and always reminds me on the hard days that I'm a great librarian.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Ready to Go Book Display: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Welcome to our series, "Ready to Go!" Book Display. Once a month we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. This month we are celebrating the release of the new film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt's fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone.

Relive the movie magic with this guide, which includes essential information about all the main characters of the film.
Highlights all your favorite characters, locations, and magical moments featured in the film.
Explore the realm of fantastical creatures that roam the wizarding world and discover the magical cast of characters in pursuit of them.
Step inside the world of the talented art departments who were responsible for the creation of the unforgettable characters, locations and beasts from the eagerly anticipated new adventure.
Explore the filmmaking magic behind MACUSA, the secretive American counterpart of the Ministry of Magic, and the magical secrets of Newt's case.
From the gilded halls of Gringotts and Hogwarts to the New York City of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, each page of this book delivers a fun, interactive experience for young readers as they discover how the places and characters of the wizarding world took shape on screen.
Harry Potter Cinematic Guides (Sep 2016)
These are the essential film companions for your favorite characters: Harry Potter, Albus Dumbledore, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Newt Scamander (Feb 2017) and The Beasts (Dec 2017).
Harry Potter: The Artifact Vault by Jody Revenson (Jun 2016)
Go behind-the-scenes to learn about the creation of magical items used throughout the Harry Potter films.
For the first time the second book in the Harry Potter series is realized in an illustrated edition. Don't forget to check out Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: The Illustrated Edition (Oct 2015).
Color your way through Newt's adventure!
Step onto the streets of New York in 1926, and meet Newt Scamander and his beasts!
Color in postcards size drawings of the new movie.

This special Celebratory Edition features a selection of artwork from the Harry Potter Coloring Book, Harry Potter Magical Creatures Coloring Book, and Harry Potter Magical Places & Characters Coloring Book, along with several exclusive, never-before-seen images.
Filled with intricate illustrations and elaborate designs used in the making of the Harry Potter films, this book invites you to imbue the wizarding world with color in your own explorations of Hogwarts Castle, the Forbidden Forest, and much more.
Color in your favorite characters and scenes in giant 11"x13" size.
Color in Harry Potter images in a small postcard size.
From the enchanted ceiling of the Great Hall at Hogwarts to the garish tones of the Dursley's living room, this book features intricate images that bring fan-favorite wizarding locales to life.
This 20 postcard size images are great to use for a program or a quick coloring break.
Color in your favorite creatures in Harry Potter's world.
Mini-sized versions of your favorite magical creatures.
This set includes a 48-page booklet featuring special winter moments from the Harry Potter films, a 3D DIY wood Firebolt from IncrediBuilds and 48 colorable gift tags.
Color your favorite magical objects.
Test your knowledge of the beloved movie franchise across 6 categories: The Dark Arts, Hogwarts, Magical Spells & Potions, Magical Objects, Magical People and Animals and Magical Creatures.
Presents instructions for thirty Harry Potter inspired crafts, including a golden snitch necklace, butterbeer lip balm, and potions ornaments.