Thursday, March 24, 2016

Book Vendors Dominate Amazon with these 5 Features

Sure, Amazon has great prices. And they probably have a larger book selection than your book vendor, too. But there are other much more important ways your book vendor has Amazon beat. I only have access to Ingram, so I will include screenshots from there, but other major book vendors also have similar features, so look for them and/or ask your vendor representative.


Check to see if your book vendor offers full text reviews. Many of them do, though it might cost a little for this upgrade. Do it -- it's worth the money! Whenever you are looking up a book, it's so convenient to be able to scroll down and read all of the reviews, in full text, right there from such journals as SLJ, Kirkus Reviews, Horn Book Magazine, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, BookPage, and Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books.


Book vendors like Ingram offer review alerts. This feature allows you to select journals and age groups from which you want reviews. You can be notified of all reviews, just 5 star reviews, or any combination thereof. They put the books in cart for you to browse through. You can delete what you don't want and order the rest. In Ingram, they create a new cart every two weeks.


When I weed nonfiction, I now scan the ISBN of my weeded book and search via the Dewey number or LC call number (They are clickable links). It immediately brings me to the latest books in that subject area. You can limit the search by audience so you can then only see the books for your particular age-group. Big time saver! And, since you upgraded to the full-text reviews, you can read the reviews on these books right away.


Don't forget the browsing features in your book vendor's program. Ingram has categories where you can search by character traits, locations, ethnic orientations, and more. Determine where your collection is weak and then browse those categories to beef up those sections. Bonus: This could also be really helpful when planning special displays, if you are familiar with what you have in your collection.


Check to see if your book vendor makes special carts, especially for award winners. Sure, it is simple enough for you to look up each individual title, but you'll save a lot of time just browsing a premade cart. Give your nine fingers to break, and just use one to click next.


It seems obvious, but I didn't know this when I first started and I still meet people who weren't taught this in graduate school. Many book vendors offer automatic ordering. (For some reason, I had assumed this was only an option for the "big" libraries. Nope, anyone can do this). You can select your patrons' favorite authors or series (especially manga/graphic novels), and (for Ingram at least) every two weeks, the vendor will create a cart of them. You can view the cart, delete anything, and after the deadline, it sends the cart off as an auto order. If you are keeping a close eye on your budget, you'll be happy to know that you can change the auto order option to be "just a report" whenever you want. If you prefer just to receive a report every two weeks, that is fine, too. You can manually order the report or move those titles into other book carts.

Have any additional tricks with how to get the most out of a book vendor? Please share below!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Ready To Go Display: Summer Reading: Sports

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. This month we are getting ready for summer reading with sports books! 

Recommendations for Adults:
The Heart of the Order by Theo Schell-Lambert (Jun 2015)
When baseball player Blake "Xandy" Alexander suffers a serious knee injury, he spends the summer in rehab with a physical therapist named Jenn, and reflecting on the game and life.
Players: The Story of Sports and Money by Matthew Futterman (Apr 2016)
Traces the single-generation transformation of sports from a cottage industry to a global business, reflecting on how elite athletes, agents, TV executives, coaches, owners, and athletes who once had to take second jobs worked together to create the dominating, big-ticket industry of today.
Yahoo's lead baseball columnist offers an in-depth look at the most valuable commodity in sports - the pitching arm - and how its vulnerability to injury is hurting players and the game, from Little League to the majors.
First Ladies of Running by Amby Burfoot (Apr 2016)
Read the inspiring stories about 22 females who were the pioneers of women's running.
A quirky collection of history's most bizarre sports and stories of mankind's most daring and ridiculous recreational pursuits - from baby boxing, to octopus wrestling, and ice tennis.
Fast Into the Night by Debbie Clarke Moderow (Feb 2016)
Chronicles the author's attempt to complete Alaska's legendary race, the Iditarod, led by her team of huskies with whom she forms a fascinating and inextricable bond and gains unique insights into canine behavior.

Recommendations for Teens:

Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee (Apr 2015)
As seventeen-year-old Carr "the Raptor" Luka rises to fame in the weightless combat sport of zeroboxing, he learns a devastating secret that jeopardizes not only his future in the sport, but interplanetary relations.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (Mar 2014)
Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health.

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill (Jan 2014)
Sloane Emily Jacobs and Sloane Devon Jacobs, from very different worlds but both with problem families, meet in Montreal where they will stay in the same hotel with attending camp, one for figure skating, the other for ice hockey.

Winger by Andrew Smith (May 2013)
Two years younger than his classmates at a prestigious boarding school, fourteen-year-old Ryan Dean West grapples with living in the dorm for troublemakers, falling for his female best friend who thinks of him as just a kid, and playing wing on the Varsity rugby team. If you love Ryan Dean West, read the follow up: Stand-Off.
Stick by Michael Harmon (Aug 2015)
Stick, a star football player who's become disenchanted with the game, becomes friends with Preston, a nerdy kid who fights crime by night.
Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston (Mar 2016)
At cheerleading camp, Hermione is drugged and raped, but she is not sure whether it was one of her teammates or a boy on another team -- and in the aftermath she has to deal with rumors, the awkward reaction of her classmates, rejection from her boyfriend and the discovery that he best friend is gay. Above it all she wants to remember what happened so that the guilty boy can be brought to justice.

Recommendations for Children:

Baby Loves Sports (Sept 2014)
Promotes early eye development while helping babies make connections between images on a page and the real world, depicting two-color images of sports figures and balls on bold, single-color backgrounds.
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (Mar 2015)
A graphic novel adventure about a girl who discovers roller derby right as she and her best friend are growing apart.
Sport-o-rama by Benoit Tardif (Mar 2015)
From badminton to volleyball, presents the essential words and phrases associated with twenty-three different sports.

Who's On First? by Abbott & Costello, Illustrated by John Martz (2013)
Abbott and Costello's classic comedy routine, reissued for children, features a bear and rabbit trying to determine the baseball player covering each base.
Dino-Wrestling by Lisa Wheeler (Oct 2013)
Meat-eating and vegetarian dinosaurs compete at the wrestling jamboree, demonstrating such styles as sumo, Greco-Roman, and lucha libre. Wheeler has more picture book of dino-sports such as: swimming, skateboarding, soccer, football, baseball, basketball, and hockey.

Night at the Stadium by Derek Jeter (Apr 2016)
A baseball stadium comes to life in this magical picture book by legendary sports icon Derek Jeter.
The Extra Yard by Mike Lupica (Jan 2016)
Teddy has been training all summer with his new friends Jack and Gus to make the new travel football team in Walton, but when his long-absent dad comes back to town and into his life he is faced with a much bigger challenge.
Skateboard Idol by Jake Maddox (Jan 2016)
When local skateboarding idol Scottie Devine announces a kind of treasure hunt in his home town in California, skating friends Griff and Annika are thrilled to participate - but soon the competition threatens to destroy their friendship.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Does Your Library Transform Lives?

A few months ago, ALA announced their new public awareness campaign called Libraries Transform.


From the clean and bright design to the message behind it. It is so positive. It moves the conversation from how libraries are obsolete to how libraries are making a difference in people's lives RIGHT NOW. This is so desperately needed today as we fight to stay open and to change public perception of who we are.

This design says the message loud and clear:

Examples of some of their signs.

But since it was announced back in October, I haven't seen any libraries in my area jump on the bandwagon. I follow many listservs and I don't even see this campaign mentioned in their email signatures. And I wonder why not.

  • Do people not know about this campaign?
  • Did it fall off of our to-do list, as we try to squeeze a million things in our day?
  • Or, perhaps, people have opted to not participate?

If the latter is true about opting out, that's fine. But it'd be a real shame if people aren't participating because they haven't heard or forgot about it. If that is the case for you, let's take five minutes to talk about what you're missing out on.

1. An Awesome Key Message

We do transform lives, but we don't do a great job letting the public know about it. Not only will this campaign give us an opportunity to do so, but banding together will make our message stronger and consistent. 

2. Free Posters, Bookmarks, and More!

You can register for a free account to have access to their toolkit of FREE posters, bookmarks, web banners, and postcards that you can just download and post around your library. You can use their logo on your flyers. You can add their tag line to your email signatures. It doesn't take much to participate in this campaign.

3. An Upgrade to Your Outside Walls

You can also order window clings and banners to place around the library. And you can create custom create buttons for staff. You can have a lot of fun with this theme!

4. A Fun, Meaningful Patron Interaction

Patrons can participate, too! They can go to ilovelibraries and share their story. Maybe a fun idea for National Library Week?

OK, I Am In, Now What?

ALA and has you covered. You can visit their website and make a free account to access all of their great materials. They have everything from a full-fledged campaign to changing your email signature. You can get as involved as you like! Here are some ideas they suggest that we love:
  • Tweet about your most innovative and impactful services using the #librariestransform hashtag. 
  • Download and print “Because...” posters and them around your community. Think about posting them in unexpected places. 
  • Download and print the postcards and send them to your stakeholders with messages about new, innovative programs and services at your library. Or, use them to reconnect with lapsed cardholders, inviting them to re-visit the library. 
  • Include Libraries Transform messaging in your community newsletters, e-newsletter or regular email blasts to stakeholders. 
  • Invite your community members to share their stories of how “libraries transform” on your social media platforms – Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc.
So, it doesn't have to take much to participate. If you can take a few minutes out of your day, it could make a world of a difference. In marketing, there is the rule of seven. They say that customers need to see/hear something seven times before they remember it. So, let's get this message out and say it loud and clear.

Because we do transform lives.


It's about time that people knew about it. :)

Friday, March 4, 2016

SYWTBA Children's Librarian: Programming and Events

I hope you've taken the time to read our Overview article about being a children's librarian, and decided that this is the path you want to take. Because librarianship is such a huge topic, we thought it best to split it into manageable chunks. In addition to this article, we hope you will enjoy our take on Community Outreach and Collection Development.

In this article, we're going to talk about programming and library events, including storytime, active vs. passive programming, and time-saving tips.

Storytime 101

Note: Is it STORYTIME, or is it STORY TIME? That's totally your call. I've seen it both ways. My only request for you is that you keep it consistent, and don't spell it different ways in different places. 

The first thing you have to do is decide how many storytimes you want to have. In my current library, I have a Preschool Pals, a Baby Time, and an inclusive "everybody" storytime at our smaller branch location. These are all weekly. We also do a once-a-month Pajama Time, for working parents. The timing on this one can be tricky, because it has to give parents time to get home from work and have a family dinner, but not so late that it runs into bedtime routines. I'm currently trying for 6:30, but I've gone as late as 7:30; it all depends on your patrons' needs.

Once you've got the timing down, and have a room in which to hold it (preferably with a carpet or sitting pillows, because trying to get kids to sit still while in chairs is asking for a headache), you get to pick a theme, and books that fit. I also make sure to have thematic songs, felt-board, or finger plays between all the stories, and the same opening and closing songs each week (for continuity). I do 3-4 books for each storytime. Try to keep the books from being too long - just a sentence or two on a page - or nobody will be focused by the end of it.  I also make sure that we have a craft ready for all but the baby storytime, that isn't so complicated that parents have to help too much. If you have the space available, it's nice to be able to put on music and set out toys for the kids to play with, and let the parents visit with each other.

Some librarians have told me that they NEVER do songs, or they only read TWO books, and that's totally fine. It's all about what works for you. I find that keeping things moving (a story, and then we sing and dance and wiggle) helps keep the kids focused. 

Rookie mistakes include:

  • Reading too fast, so the kids can't keep up (honestly, no matter how slow you're going, you can probably go a little slower)
  • Not holding the book so the kids can see the pictures - it takes practice to read upside down, but you can always hold the book next to you and read that way
  • Stopping the story entirely to get into a conversation about "did YOU ever go to the zoo?" and losing the whole pace of what you were doing (NOTE: I often do ask questions while reading, but I try to keep them to questions that will elicit one-word answers. "Do you think he'll be able to fix it? What color is that? How many monkeys are left?" If you ask a bunch of kids an open-ended question, their stories will last longer than your book does).
  • In that same line of reasoning, expecting kids to answer your questions. I usually just keep it moving ("What color is this? That's right! It's blue!") even if they don't say anything.

Programs and Events

If you (or your director) are concerned more about circulation stats instead of programming, remember: the more people you get to physically walk through the library doors, the more books, DVDs, video games, etc. will be checked out. More programs = more visitors, and if they just so happen to see something they like on display, all the better.

You might not think about it until you try to plan a program, but knowing kids' schedules helps a lot. If you start a program at 4 p.m., does that give kids enough time to get off the bus from school, have a snack, and get to the library? Does your 11 a.m. storytime bump into nap time, giving you cranky, tired toddlers as your audience? Is there a huge soccer tournament the day of your big movie showing, that every kid in town will be playing in and therefore not at the library?

Other super-easy programs include:
  • Movie days (just make sure you have a license!)
  • Go all out and have a Library Party
  • LEGO Club: dump out the bricks and let them play (Don't have any? Put out a call to action to the community. Chances are, you'll have parents and grandparents who can't wait to clean out their toy box, and you'll have a large collection of LEGOs in short order.
  • Book-talk Book Clubs: Instead of trying to get everyone to read the same book, let people come in and talk about the awesome books they've read lately. They get to discuss what they like and get ideas of what else to read, and you don't have to spend your own time reading something you might not be interested in.

Know Your Limitations, and Don't Reinvent the Wheel

We all go into this career wanting to be everything to everyone, and have programs that suit every single patron. Mother-daughter book clubs! Storytimes for all different age levels! Science experiments! Arts and crafts! The problem is, there is only so much time in the day, and there just isn't a way to get to do everything you want to do (trust me; I've tried). This problem is worse if you have a small staff (or no staff), and/or if you're trying to do teen services at the same time. This is okay: don't burn yourself out. Figure out the programs that you consider to be essential (for me, preschool storytime and baby storytime), and how often you want to run them (weekly). Then, try to weed through the rest of your ideas to reach as many demographics as possible. I keep a folder of program ideas that I haven't gotten around to, so that if I have time and nothing planned, I can inspire myself. Here's the thing: if you want to do three different book clubs, that's fabulous, but that doesn't mean you have to make yourself crazy. Lots of books out there have discussion questions already 746-written! Do a quick Google search and save yourself the time of coming up with everything yourself. Also, lots of librarian blogs out there will have great ideas for arts & crafts, and you can't go wrong with Pinterest.

Active vs. Passive Programming

Remember: you are allowed to do passive programs. Set out materials for arts and crafts, but don't man the station; the kids can come and create while you work on other things. If the kids are too little to use the supplies on their own, they should have parents with them, anyway (but I still don't leave out scissors). I've been working towards starting a couple of STEAM tables, too: microscopes, magnifying glasses, Snap Circuits, and other science-y stuff the kids can play with while they're at the library. Also try:

  • Baby playtime: put out toys and play music, let the babies play and parents visit. Especially great when you just don't have the time or staff to do a specific baby storytime
  • Interactive bulletin boards: Invite kids to write their New Year's Resolutions on a snowflake, and staple it up on the board. This works with literally any shape and concept. Write what you're thankful for on a veggie and we'll fill a cornucopia. Write what book you're reading on a flower, and we'll "plant a garden."
  • Puzzles, board games: Whether a program or an ongoing thing, you can always have puzzles and games out for kids to play.
  • Coloring pages and easy word puzzles: Coloring pages are always a hit. I've also printed out crosswords and word searches with varying degrees of success. Pro Tip: Make coloring even more popular by taking old, worn out crayons and melting them in a silicone ice cube tray to make new, exciting crayons in fun shapes!

Have Fun with It

If you have fun with your library programs, the kids will, too. If you're not sure what kinds of things the kids your library like... ask! Or give it a try, and see who shows up. Remember, we're trying to foster a warm, welcoming, fun environment... and that goes for you, too!

We hope you enjoyed the second installment of So You Want to be a Children's Librarian. Check back again for part three!