Friday, December 26, 2014

Canva: Make Easy Designs In Little Time

This article has been updated here:

I am very excited to talk to you today about Canva, a free online program which helps anyone create very awesome designs in very little time. This is a fabulous tool for the designer in your library, the person(s) who does your fliers and social media.
They launched just over a year ago and are quickly becoming the hottest new program for any designer. I've been hearing about it for months, but had been resistant to trying it out because it took a while for me to master Publisher. I had no time or interest in trying to master another program.

But that's the beauty of Canva. It isn't something that you need to master. It is very easy to use and their quick two minute tutorial can send anyone off to use their program successfully.
As you can see from the screenshot above, when you log into Canva, the first thing you do is select what kind of design you are making.  So, if you're doing a new Facebook cover, a poster, or a Twitter image, you just click on that design and the dimensions are already preset for you.
You can start from scratch or you can pick one of the templates that they offer on the left side. It is easy to search through them and adapt them to your needs. They do offer some free images and backgrounds and you may upload any of your own, but they also provide many different images that you can purchase for $1.

The only downside to this program is that they do not offer a generic template for all social media or a way to reuse one design in a different template. So, if your library is on Facebook and Twitter and you want to post the same content, you will need to recreate the second image from scratch. Yes, you can use a Facebook image for your Twitter account, but keep in mind that Facebook's ideal dimensions are different than Twitter's ideal dimensions, so your Facebook design will get cropped awkwardly in Twitter.
For the nondesigners, Canva also offers design school of short tutorials to teach you the basics to make any social media design look professional. And they also stream any images that people make public, which might inspire more designs for you to create for your library.  You can follow us at

Happy designing in 5 minutes!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Ready to Go Book Display: Be Healthier

Welcome to our series, "Ready to Go!" Book Display. Once a month, we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group (Adults, Teens and Children) that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. 

2015 is on its way! Since many people make New Year's Resolutions to be healthier, how about a display to help your patrons get started? Here are some ideas to check out:

Recommendations for Adults:

The Biggest Loser Bootcamp by The Biggest Loser (Dec 2014)
Everything from the online Biggest Loser Bootcamp is now in this easy-to-follow 8-week plan packed with diet, fitness, and motivational strategies that work.

The Exercise Factor by Jim Kirwan (Jan 2015)
The eXercise Factor shows you how to ease into the best shape of your life, regardless of your age, weight, or current fitness level.

Christ Walk: A 40-Day Spiritual Fitness Program by Anna Fitch Courie (Jan 2015)
Christ Walk outlines a program for individuals and groups to focus on improving physical health while engaging in spiritual and mental reflection and growth.

Fitness trainer, Jon Denoris, created a series of exercises and routines, most of which can be carried out almost anywhere: in the home, at work or outdoors. Hardly any of them require any  equipment.

The Best Diet for You! by Caroline Jones (Jan 2015)
30 of the most popular and talked-about diet plans are examined with information on its general philosophy, what it promises, how it works, and who it's best for.

Chia, Quinoa, Kale, Oh My! by Cassie Johnston (Jan 2015)
Wide-ranging cookbook featuring 30 superfoods and more than 100 recipes.

Recommendations for Teens:

Body & Soul by Bethany Hamilton (May 2014)
Professional athlete Bethany Hamilton shares her healthy lifestyle through physical and spiritual balance.

The Green Teen Cookbook by Laurane Marchive (July 2014)
Teens learn how to shop smarter, cook more consciously, and eat a healthier diet with over 70 recipes.

YOU Rule! Take Charge of Your Health and Life by Dr. Antwala Robinson (Aug 2014)
Using real stories, 19 years of nursing experience, research, and knowledge, Antwala shows teens quick and practical solutions on how to live healthy and be successful throughout life.

Recommendations for Children:

Exercise! by Katie Marsico (Jan 2015)
Exercise! focuses on physical activity while discussing steps children can take to practice healthy lifestyles.

Eat a Balanced Diet! by Katie Marsico (Jan 2015)
Eat a Balanced Diet! focuses on nutrition while discussing steps children can take to practice healthy lifestyles.

201 Organic Baby and Toddler Meals by Tamika L. Gardner (Dec 2014)
Tasty, wholesome recipes for growing babies and toddlers from 9 months to 3 years old.

Sugar-Free Mom by Brenda Bennett (Dec 2014)
Popular food blogger Brenda Bennett uses natural sweeteners like honey and coconut sugar to create delicious and wholesome recipes that will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Library Market: Redefining the Digital Presence of Libraries

I am excited to talk about Library Market, founded by current librarians (Ben Bizzle and Joe Box from Library Solutions, LLC and Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library), creating marketing and technology products and services that real libraries need. Their current projects are ones which I hear librarians and patrons asking for -- and three of them is ready for you to implement in your library!


See your patrons using a smartphone? This app is for them! It will allow them to link their card to a digital library card and will no longer need to keep a physical one on hand.


Some patrons will never set foot in a library, but it doesn't mean that they wouldn't use your online materials. This service will allow patrons to register for an online library card to access your databases, ebooks, and other digital content.


Thinking of redesigning your website? They offer website development services to training to support.


Currently in development (I will update this post when it is live) and it is inspired from a current project, "The Library Facebook Image Dropbox". They will soon be posting social media images (collected from over 700 libraries) that all libraries can use for their social media networks. If you want to see what is already collected, use the Contact Us form for access to the Dropbox folder that currently holds 1,000+ images. June 22, 2015 UPDATE: You no longer need a Dopbox account! All you need to do is sign-up at Library Market and you can access all of these images directly online. Here's the URL:

I look forward to seeing what else Library Market develops!

Friday, December 5, 2014

ARCs: Advanced Reading Copies

Where do you get Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs)? This is something I've always wondered and I've been learning bits and pieces everywhere, but there seems to be no single place to go for the answer. So, I asked my fellow librarians on ALA: Think Tank to help me come up with a list. If you have any other suggestions, please share in the comments!

Quick ABCs of the ARCs

1) ARCs are available to create buzz for the upcoming book. Please be aware that publishers provide them hoping that you'll talk about it with your patrons and post online reviews.
2) In some cases (like Netgalley and Edelweiss), they have a form that you should fill out for the publisher. You can provide the link to your online review (blog, Twitter, Goodreads, etc.) or you can just write a few quick words to the publisher (I always tell them what I think are the strongest parts of the book and that I'll be sure to recommend this book to the right reader).
3) The more you do this, the more your ARCs requests will be approved. Please note, in many cases, publishers ask for feedback BEFORE the book's published date -- and many will set their e-book to expire on that date.

Digital ARCs

* Netgalley. Publishers post their ARCs, you request the ones you want, and you'll be notified which publishers approve you. I've had a lot of great luck here with receiving the books I've requested.
* Edelweiss. It is a little more complex than Netgalley and they're more particular on who they send copies to, but it works on the same idea.
* Library School Journal's SummerTeen Virtual Conference. It is a virtual YA Literature conference with author talks and publisher tables. You can go around to the different publishers and download a lot of e-books immediately! Even better, they don't limit the copies to a certain number of people and some of these books are not set to expire by a certain date.

Giveaways and Contests

* Goodreads.
* LibraryThing.
* Shelfawareness.
* Publisher Newsletters. Most publisher newsletters will include offers to send both digital and print copies. Check out EarlyWord for a list of publishers and how to get on their newsletter list.
* List Servs. Occasionally, publishers will advertise on the electronic discussion lists, like the YALSA-BK.

Printed ARCs

* Conferences/Trade Shows.
      - A lot of vendors will offer ARC copies at their tables. The easiest way to spot them is to look for soft covers that clearly state they are an ARC copy on the front or near the title page. They will also have warnings on it like "Not for resale!".
      - However, please note: only take a copy if you are going to provide a review. These are more expensive than a hardcover since publishers print so few of them.
      - You can find the list of ARCs published in the Library Journal and School Library Journal about a week before each each major conference.
      - Bring business cards with you. If a publisher runs out of a particular ARC, they will often be willing to mail a copy to you after the conference (Thanks, Tony Hirt, for the tip!).
* Ask Your Vendors' Representatives. Ingram and Baker & Taylor do send ARCs, if requested.
* Contact Publishers Directly. EarlyWord also lists how to contact publishers (Adult and YA/Children books), though don't forget your local small ones. You can also contact those who participate in the Reader Advisory Webinars.
Local Independent Booksellers. Ask them for their copies of ARCs when they're done. It might be a great way to start a collaboration, especially since ARCs cannot be sold.
* BookExpo America. If you want a lot of ARCs, the annual BEA is the place to go!

ARC Sharing Between Librarians

* YA Lit Google Group.!forum/yalsa-arc-share
* Goodreads ARC Swap

Special Thanks

I'd be remiss if I didn't send a special thanks to those in ALA Think Tank that helped me compiled the list: Tegan Jovanka, Kirsten Brodbeck-Kenney, Michelle Wise, Lori Juhlin, Jennifer Hooker, Heather Botelho, Jaqueline Woolcott, Stephanie Anderson, Susie Highley, Jenny Colvin, Tony Hirt, and Kristen Northrup Lindgren. You're all awesome! And, dear readers, if you are on Facebook, I highly recommend stopping by ALA Think Tank.