Friday, May 27, 2016

10 Insider Secrets Librarians Only Tell Their Friends

Today's post is about 10 insider tips that librarians share with their friends. Not that we don't want to tell patrons about these options, but they're more useful when discussed at a time when it is appropriate to know.

These tips all work for the libraries in my region; I don't know if they work at every library. However, it might be worth your time to call and find out. If you know of other great tips, please share in the comments!

1. Yes, you probably DID return that book

We're checking in and out a million books a day, so your book could be missed due to human or machine error. It happens more often than you know, so we're all very nice about this. If it happens to you, just let us know. We always double check the shelf and return carts. If they are there, we'll clear it off your account. If not, it is probably lost in your car. ;-)

2. Never pay a fine!

Check to see if your library or surrounding libraries offer fine free days. In my area, we have fine free Wednesdays at one library and fine free Fridays at another. Depending on how many items are late, it might be worth the longer drive. Many libraries also offer Fine Amnesty weeks, usually around the holidays (like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Library Appreciation Week, and around Summer Reading). In our area, you bring in can goods to clear the fines off your account any time during that week.

3. Order online, pick-up at any library

Everyone has time for the library! We are open nights and weekends, more hours than your pharmacy and banks. You can "order" (we call them requests) in the comfort of your home and have the materials delivered to any library of your choice. (Want to use the library near your work? Sure!) You'll get an email when they are ready and have seven days to come and pick them up. If you are taking care of small children and find it overwhelming to browse our shelves while keeping an eye on the kids, use this handy feature! Do your browsing at home, come for the programs and toys, and then visit the Circulation Desk to find your books waiting for you.

4.  Keep e-books for longer than 2 weeks

The worst part about our e-books is that, if they are popular, you have to go on the holds list. When it finally arrives, you might not have time to actually read it. One trick, though, is to download the book and turn off your wi-fi. It won't be deleted until you connect to the internet again, so it is yours until then! (No guilt, too! Since it is an ebook, the next person will still get their copy on time.) Granted, many people read on their phones and internet is a necessity, but it works great if you have another device that you can sacrifice the internet for a few days, or however long you need.

5. Get a museum* pass from any library near you

Your library's museum pass is checked out for the day you want it? Call your surrounding libraries and see what their policies are with museum passes. Some may allow anyone (not just residents) to put a hold on them. Others may allow you to check it out the day you want it, if it is still available. * Librarians also tell their friends that "Museum Passes" is the catchphrase for lots of fun places around the area, not just museums. Think aquariums, zoos, parks, farms, and more!

6. Donations may not be added to library's shelves

Many people assume their book donations are automatically added to the library's collection. Librarians look at a lot of factors when adding to the collection and for one reason or another (duplicates, condition, patron interest, etc.), they may decide to not add the book. For libraries with a very limited book budget, donations may be very vital to their operation. But if they have a healthy book budget, chances are, they already purchased a copy of most donations. If that is the case, many libraries automatically put donations into their annual book sale. You're still supporting the library since the library or Friends of the Library benefit from the profits, but if you want your children or teen books to get a lot of use, you might want to first offer them to schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, or daycare centers.

7. Every library has a different collection.

Every library is different. Some have special collections -- board games, Wi-Fi hotspots, seed exchanges, cake pans, etc. Some have special technologies you can use like 3D Printers, sewing machines, video equipment, and more. And some specialize in a specific genre or type, like graphic novels, video games or audio books, providing you with a larger selection to browse. So, get to know all of your libraries you are willing to drive to and see what they have to offer. If your library is on the same network, your current library card will work for check out. If not, they may allow you to make another card there, for free or a small fee.

8. Every library offers free programming, open to the public. (edit: most events are open to the public within 24 hours of the start time.)

You do not need to be a resident of that library to be able to attend a library's programs. So, when you are looking for something to do, check out their online calendars. Sure, every library may offer story time, but if your library offers it on the day you are working, your neighboring library may not! Adult programming can vary widely, and who doesn't like a free movie night?  If you are a caregiver, check out the Macaroni Kid website which pulls all regional kid programming into one calendar for you. Edit: Some libraries do reserve their programs for their residents, but many of them will allow outside patrons to attend if there are open seats within 24 hours of the program start time. Thanks, Peggy, for pointing this out! 

9. If you can't find it on Google, ask your Reference Librarian

These information professionals know how to find anything, especially answers to tough questions. If you want to know something and Google isn't giving you the answer (or, maybe, too many answers and you're now confused), come see a Reference Librarian. It doesn't matter if you are trying to find the name of a toy you played with in the 1950s, looking for scholarships, getting started on your genealogy, or trying to find the perfect cheesecake recipe -- they can get the answer for you. Personally, I think they are better than Google since you know whatever they come back with is *THE* answer you needed. Think of them as your personal information assistants.

10. Can't find what you want? Ask for it.

Libraries are now connected together and share their collections via interlibrary loans. Chances are very high that if your library doesn't have it, you can request it from another library. But if you can't find it anywhere, you may ask your library if they would be willing to purchase it. Many librarians are happy to do so because it is a guaranteed circulation. We like when our materials circulate and we like happy patrons!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Ready to Go Book Display: LGBT Pride Month

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.

Recommendations for Adults:

A dramatic and inspirational memoir from one of the world's top leaders of the movement for gay and lesbian equality.
Hide by Matthew Griffin (Feb 2016)
The love story of Wendell Wilson, a taxidermist and Frank Clifton, a World War II veteran, who have kept their relationship secret. Now in old age, Frank suffers a mild stroke and together they must navigate their fears, new and old.
Mislaid by Nell Zink (May 2015)
Running off with her 3-year-old daughter Karen, leaving her 9-year-old son behind, Peggy goes underground, and as time passes, Karen, not knowing that she has any other family, attends the University of Virginia where she meets her long-lost sibling.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Sept 2002)
Calliope's friendship with a classmate and her sense of identity are compromised by the adolescent discovery that she is a hermaphrodite, a situation with roots in her grandparents' desperate struggle for survival in the 1920s.

Recommendations for Teens:
Luna by Julie Anne Peters (Feb 2004)
Fifteen-year-old Regan's life, which has always revolved around keeping her older brother Liam's transsexuality a secret, changes when Liam decides to start the process of "transitioning" by first telling his family and friends that he is a girl who was born in a boy's body.
This Book is Gay by James Dawson (Jun 2015)
A British author of teen fiction offers basic information about the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender experience, including terms, religious issues, coming out, and sex acts, for people of all orientations, including the merely curious.
A dramatic retelling of the Stonewall riots of 1969, introducing teen readers to the decades-long struggle for gay rights.
Bleeding Earth by Kaitlin Ward (Feb 2016)
In this Stephen King-meets-Kafka-esque debut, author Kaitlin Ward shows the core of human nature with this blood-filled psychological horror novel.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (Apr 2015)
Sixteen-year-old, not-so-openly-gay Simon Spier is blackmailed into playing wingman for his classmate or else his sexual identity - and that of his pen pal - will be revealed.
Draw the Line by Laurent Linn (May 2016)
A teen boy survives a hate crime against another gay student through his art.
Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash (Sept 2015)
In this graphic novel, a 15-year-old girl endures wrenching public and private challenges when she unexpectedly falls in love with a female counselor at her Appalachian summer camp.
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (May 2016)
Amanda Hardy only wants to fit in at her new school, but she is keeping a big secret, so when she falls for Grant, guarded Amanda finds herself yearning to share with him everything about herself, including her previous life as Andrew.
The Gender Quest Workbook by Rylan Testa (Dec 2015)
This one-of-a-kind, comprehensive workbook will help you navigate your gender identity and expression at home, in school, and with peers.
Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and used her considerable skills to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference.
Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings (Jun 2016)
A new book by one of the youngest and most prominent voices in the national discussion about gender identity.

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz (Mar 2015)
Auditioning for a New York City performing arts high school could help Etta escape from her Nebraska all-girl school, where she is not gay enough for her former friends, not sick enough for her eating disorders group, and not thin enough for ballet, but it may also mean real friendships.

Recommendations for Children:

Gay & Lesbian History for Kids by Jerome Pohlen (Oct 2015)
Offers a look at the history of the LGBT rights through personal stories and firsthand accounts, and chronicles events, organizations, and influential leaders of the movement.

This Day in June by Gayle Pitman (May 2014)
A picture book illustrating a Pride parade. The endmatter serves as a primer on LGBT history and culture and explains the references made in the story.

George by Alex Gino (Aug 2015)
Knowing herself to be a girl despite her outwardly male appearance, George is denied a female role in the class play before teaming up with a friend to reveal her true self.

I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings (Sept 2014)
Presents the story of a transgender child who traces her early awareness that she is a girl in spite of male anatomy and the acceptance she finds through a wise doctor who explains her natural transgender issues.

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell (Jun 2015 - 10th Anniversary Edition)
At New York City's Central Park Zoom, two male penguins fall in love and start a family by taking turns sitting on an abandoned egg until it hatches. Based on a true story.

Jacob's New Dress by Sarah and Ian Hoffman (Mar 2014)
Jacob, who likes to wear dresses at home, convinces his parents to let him wear a dress to school too.

Better Nate Than Ever by Time Federle (Feb 2013)
An eighth-grader who dreams of performing in a Broadway musical concocts a plan to run away to New York and audition for the role of Elliot in the musical version of "E.T."

Friday, May 13, 2016

How to Create a Floating Book Collection

When I was working on my Masters in Library Science, I had the opportunity to intern at a public library and volunteer at a local high school media center. It was through this combination that we realized there was a need for pleasure reading at the high school, but no budget to fulfill it. Since the public library had a lot of fiction books, there was a great opportunity for a collaboration.

YAY, Collaboration!

Getting both libraries together, we developed an idea of having a floating fiction collection where the public library would lend books to be housed at the school for a few months. Utilizing Google Forms, we came up with a simple process that worked for everyone, allowing us to keep track of books and who had checked them out. It worked really well!

Since then, I've created many floating book collections and learned much. Here's how we did it:

Why a Floating Collection?

1. School libraries could have a minimal fiction budget. When I visited all the schools at my previous job, I learned that some libraries had a great budget, but others had a small budget (if any at all) and were only allowed to buy books that supported the curriculum.

2. Schools may also have a slow processing time. Another school I collaborated with said it took four months for their book order to be approved by the administration. So, even if they can buy their own books, they may not be able to put it in the hands of teens.

3. Public libraries do have a budget, especially for fiction, but their limited open hours may conflict with teen schedules and the location of the library may make it unattainable for teens to visit if they don't have transportation.


1. During my internship, we watched student readers grow from three teens to over 20!
2. Teens became excited over new books!
3. School Librarians could count on their arrival and saved much time with not having to process them themselves.
4. The YA Librarian had a chance to highlight forgotten but great reads.
5. Circulations increased - both for the school library and the public library.
6. This program is easy to implement!

What You Need

1. Internet access
2. Google account
3. Library card for your school
4. Books you're willing to part with long term

How It Works

1. We created a Google Form that looked like the image below. The form worked for checkouts, the spreadsheet (second image) was great for seeing who had which book.
2. The YA Librarian selected 20-30 books and checked them out on the School Library's library card. They updated the list on the Google Form.
3. The YA Librarian dropped off the books to the school.
4. The School Media Specialist displayed the books prominently in the library.
5. When teens checked them out or returned them, the School Media Specialist used the Google Form.
6. Two months later, the YA Librarian came with new books and took the available books back, checking them in and clearing them from the school's library card.
7. The School Media Specialist was responsible with following up on students to make sure books are returned; however, if any weren't back by summer vacation, the books were marked "Lost" and the public library bought a new copy.

The Check In/Out Form

Spreadsheet, available to only the librarians

Want to Create Your Own?

Don't reinvent the wheel! We created a template for you:

1. Make a copy of our Google Form and update it.
2. Make a generic "Floating Collection" library card and then check your books out on it.
3. Type the title of these books on the Google Form for checkout. (We did them alphabetically by title.)
4. Save the live form URL on your laptop or email it to the person checking the books out.
5. Go to the new location and start checking in/out books on this form to your patrons!


1. If you select books that are part of the series, keep in mind they won't return to your shelves while they are at the school. (Missing first books in series might discourage new readers.)
2. I didn't send over new books unless I bought a second copy. I pulled older reads that were lost on the shelves.
3. If a book was checked out multiple times at the school, I did check them in multiple times on the school card to reflect that for our records.
4. We included a section for special requests so teens could ask for anything specific, including the next book in the series.
5. If your schools have summer reading books, they might return the favor and let you circulate their copies during the summer. :-)
6. Lastly, this process will work anywhere that you want to have a floating collection -- nursing homes, comic cons, etc. We only had two books not returned since I started this program five years ago, and that's because the students had moved away.

And that's how it worked for us. I'm sure there are other ways to run a floating book collection, too. If you decide to use this idea, please let us know in the comments!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Top 8 Places to Shop for Bookish Apparel

We love our cardigans during the week, but what's a librarian to wear on their days off? Bookish apparel, of course! But where to buy them?

This was a question that was posed on the ALATT Facebook group and there were so many great answers, we thought we'd collect them before this Facebook post was lost in the void of the internet. Here are our favorites from the suggestions!

#1 Lithographs

A very interesting website! They create designs from the text of classic/contemporary novels! They certainly win the most creative award in this list. You can also buy temporary tattoos, posters, and totes...

 And, if you hurry, you can participate in their Kickstarter, buying an infinity scarf which features the words of a beloved classic or contemporary novel. Or, you can custom design your own.

#2 Welovefine

Some great finds at Welovefine! Designed by fans for fans, you'll find all types of clothes for your favorite fandom! They are currently releasing limited run t-shirts based on the MARVEL comic covers.

#3 Out Of Print

Lots of options on this website with a focus on the classics. We love these socks, but you can also search through clothes, tote bags, jewelry, scarves, and home accessories.

#4 Threadless

A great mix of fun and serious, with some really unique takes on bookish themes!

#5 Bookworm Society

Oooh, so much to choose from here! Not only do they have tote bags, but t-shirts, mugs, throw pillows, and more! Their design is heavily on word art, but nothing wrong with that!

#6 Redbubble

A large selection, here, too! Not only can you buy leggings, but clothes, wall art, stationery, bags, and home decor!

#7 Shirt.Woot!

Shirt.Woot has daily deals on lots of unique t-shirt designs . In their literary category alone, they have 403 t-shirts! Most are playful images. Every day, they have new designs and once they sell out, they're out.

#8 Etsy


If you are looking for great jewelry, you have to check out Etsy. Just searching for "literary" jewelry, you'll get 3,000 hits. You'll be busy for a while.

Additional Places to Checkout:

Harry Potter Alliance
Cafe Press
Appraising Pages Shop

Happy shopping!