Friday, April 21, 2017

Ready to Go Book Display: Wonder Woman

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. See her new movie in theaters on June 2nd and celebrate Wonder Woman Day on June 3, 2017.

Recommendations for Adults and Teens:
Wonder Woman: The True Amazon by Jill Thompson (Oct 2016)
A Princess Diana unlike any we've seen before. As a child, she is spoiled and free to exert her will without restraint -- until her selfishness leads to tragic results. Before she can become a hero, she will first have to find redemption.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore (Jul 2014)
A cultural history of Wonder Woman traces the character's creation and enduring popularity, drawing on interviews and archival research to reveal the pivotal role of feminism in shaping her seven-decade story.

Wonder Woman, A Celebration of 75 Years by William Moulton Marston (Oct 2016)
Celebrate over seven decades of the awe-inspiring Wonder Woman, from early years as one of the first female superheroes in the comics industry to today.
This volume brings together the biggest and greatest battles and moments in Wonder Woman's history as a DC Comics superhero.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo (Aug 2017)
Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law - risking exile - to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Wonder Woman: The Art and Making of the Film by Sharon Gosling (May 2017)
This book showcases the earliest concept art, set and costume designs, sketches and storyboards, as well as delving into the filmmaking process, from creating the stunning island of Themyscira to the war-torn trenches and towns of First World War Europe.

Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Lies (Rebirth) by Greg Rucka (Feb 2017)
In order to solve the riddle of her orgin, Diana must embark on her greatest quest of all: finding a way back to her vanished home. To get there, she must team up with her greatest enemy, the feral beast-woman, Cheetah.

The Legend of Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Origins by Renae De Liz (Dec 2016)
When a man from the outside world is brought to Themscira as part of a conspiracy to overthrow its queen, Diana will risk everything to save his innocent life... and lose everything in the process.

Superman/Wonder Woman, Volume 1: Power Couple by Charles Soule (Mar 2015)
The first in a series that details the relationship between The Man of Steel and the Warrior Princess. These two super-beings love each other, but not everyone shares their joy.

Recommendations for Children:


This board book introduces Wonder Woman and some of her superhero friends, including Batgirl and Supergirl.
Wonder Woman Origami by John Montroll (Aug 2015)
This book provides instructions and diagrams for folding origami models of characters, objects, and symbols related to Wonder Woman.
My First Book of Girl Power by Julie Merberg (Oct 2014)
Meet super heroines Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Black Canary and more.
Flower Power! by Country Carbone (Jan 2014)
Wonder Woman and Batgirl team up to stop Poison Ivy.
Wonder Woman ABCs by Benjamin Bird (Aug 2014)
Learn the alphabet with Wonder Woman. Also check out Wonder Woman: A Word Adventure by Donald B. Lemke.
Wonder Woman: Amazon Warrior by Steven Korte (Feb 2016)
A biography profiling the Amazon princess details how she became a superhero protector of humanity, discusses the abilities she uses to fight for justice and provides a timeline of major events in the character's life.
Wonder Woman: An Origin Story by John Sazaklis (Mar 2015)
Born an Amazon princess on the island of Themscira, Diana leaves the island to become Wonder Woman, defender of Earth.
Wonder Woman to the Rescue! by Courtney Carbone (Jan 2016)
Introduces Wonder Woman, an Amazon gifted with powers from the gods to fight evil and save the day.
Wonder Woman at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee (Mar 2016)
Wonder Woman's desire to become a superhero takes her to Super Hero High, where she juggles new friendships, intensive training, and a roommate obsessed with social media.
Be a Star, Wonder Woman! by Michael Dahl (Jun 2017)
As a new day dawns, a young girl faces the ultimate challenge: school! Follow along as she demonstrates her greatest superpower (sharing), overcomes her worst fear (the playground), and conquers her archenemy (the spelling test).


Friday, April 14, 2017

Why I Play My Ukulele At Storytime

Librarians with ukuleles - it's a craze! When I mentioned at a job interview that I play an instrument, the Director interviewing me said, "let me guess: ukulele." Who knew?

There's a reason for this: they're fun, easy to learn, and add a little extra zing to your storytimes. (Also: George Harrison's favorite instrument was the ukulele, and if it's good enough for a Beatle, it's good enough for me.)

My Story

A few years ago, my library started circulating some unusual items, including a telescope, American Girl dolls, and two ukuleles (complete with tuners and how-to books). I checked one out and had so much fun that I ended up buying my own, and have been promising myself that I would play it at storytime. I had the best of intentions, and every so often I would pick it up and start to learn a couple tunes, before neglecting to pick it up again for weeks at a time. (Note: You can't learn if you never practice.) When it came up in my Time Hop that I've had it for four years and still couldn't really play, I decided that it was time to take the plunge and really learn to use the thing.

I joined the Librarians with Ukes Facebook page, bought myself some how-to books, watched a lot of YouTube, and - yes, started playing at storytime. I'm loving it! Honestly - what took me so long?! Once you know a few chords, you can play tons of songs, and the kids love it! All it takes is a little practice.

Why It's Awesome

I try to play one song a week on the ukulele, and the kids always get really excited when they see me unzip the bag. The first few times, I made a point of saying how, "I'm just learning, so I might not be very good yet. That's okay, because you can't be good at everything right away, and I'm having fun, which is the important part." I quickly learned - they have no idea if I'm any good or not, but they don't care, because it's music!

Some of the first ukulele-playing librarians I met were Jessica Lamarre and Noelle Boc, who are both amazing librarians even without the music. Ms. Lamarre enjoys uke storytime because it "gives plenty of opportunities for audience participation." 

Some testimonials from other uke-brarians:

Ronda Kirkbridge commented, "I played because the kids loved it! The ukulele is such a happy sounding instrument and that translates back to my little ones as joyful, hand clapping, dancing, fun music!"

Susan Perry also commented, "The first time I brought a ukulele into storytime, I wasn't really very good, but at the first chord I strummed, I will never forget the faces of my storytime kids--their eyes went wide, their mouths dropped open and they were completely mesmerized. I knew then I'd found something special to add to my storytimes. That was about 2 years ago. Now I play 3-4 songs each week and the children are still totally enthralled by it."

I love this article on the ALSC blog, "Music and Libraries: A Magical Combination" by Tess Goldwasser. She explains exactly why she loves it, and the wonderful ways that music can transform a library. (I would paraphrase, but she did an excellent job writing, so please take a read.)  Ms. Goldwasser's article inspired many people, including Lisa Taylor, who wrote her own article in response.

How To Get Started

First, you need to buy yourself an instrument. I got mine at a local music store, but you can get them online from Amazon very inexpensively - some as low as $20. A super cheap instrument won't be the best quality out there, but it'll give you a chance to try your hand at playing without a huge investment.

Now that you have it, let's learn! There are some amazing YouTube tutorials out there! We particularly like:
Cynthia Lin's YouTube channel 
The Ukulele Teacher
Ukulele Cheats
Ukulele Storytime

I also use an app on my iPhone called "Yousician," which teaches ukulele, guitar, bass, and piano. It's free for 30 minutes of lessons a day, and you can get unlimited lessons for $9.99 a month. (No, they didn't pay me to say this. And I use the free lessons, anyway.) It listens to you play with the microphone in your phone, and lets you know if you're doing well or need more work. 

There are also lots of books that will help. The Hal Leonard books, like this one, are incredibly helpful. I also enjoy The Daily Ukulele, which even tells you at the top of each song which chords you will need.

Once you're comfortable with a few chords, be sure to check out the Storytime Ukulele Blog, written by April Ens, who posts classic (and new!) storytime songs with their chords. (Side note: I was actually going to mention this one before I found out she was a member of the Facebook ukulele group - April, you rock!) is also extremely helpful.

Librarian Melanie Ramsey recommends joining your local ukulele group. She was able to partner with the Allegheny Uke Club.

For inspiration, be sure not to miss Jake Shimabukuro's version of "Bohemian Rhapsody." It's amazing!

Special Thanks!

Special thanks to the members of the Librarians With Ukes Facebook group, especially Rhonda Kirkbridge, Tess Sparky Goldwasser, Lisa Taylor, Susan Perry, Jessica Lamarre, Deanie Michelle, April Ens, Kris Embry, and Melanie Ramsey.

Friday, April 7, 2017

9 Vital Ways Facebook is the Best Partner for Libraries

Two weeks ago, I presented at an Empowering Women in Business Conference about Facebook. A few years ago, I had researched how libraries can successfully use Facebook (10 Facebook Tips Patrons Wish Their Libraries Knew) and updating all of my information made me realize:

Facebook is still the best place for libraries to be!

1. Facebook is the Powerhouse Social Media Platform

Last spring, the Pew Research Center shared their update on social media statistics. They found 86% of Americans are online. Of this group, 79% of people are on Facebook. As you can see in the chart below, this far exceeds any other social media network. If you want to reach your patrons on a social media platform, you can't do better than Facebook.

2. Organic Reach is Better with Less Followers

It works to your library's benefit that you don't have millions of followers. Over the years, Facebook's organic reach has declined from 12% to 6%-2%. If you have over 500,000 followers, you're more likely to have the lower reach. However, libraries typically do better on Facebook. I always felt that if I had 100 organic reach, I was happy. For my library, that was actually 10% organic reach. On our popular posts, that would jump to 25% or more.

3.  Three-Quarters of Followers are on daily for 50 minutes!

79% of Facebook users are on daily for an average of 50 minutes. You are not going to get this reach anywhere else. Instagram comes in second with half of their users (which is only 32% of Americans online) visit daily. When Facebook is used successfully (following these tips that we discussed back in 2015), you are going to reach your audience more often than anywhere else online.

4. Facebook can Grow Your Newsletter

Since Facebook only shares your post with a small percentage of followers, you will want to find other ways to reliably get your message out. We highly recommend sending an email newsletter. With all of the social media platforms, email is still the golden ticket in advertising. Remember, Facebook's average reach is 6% or lower, but email is sent to 100% of your followers every single time. While not everyone opens their newsletters, an average of 20% subscribers do. So, use Facebook to your advantage and periodically redirect your traffic to sign-up for your newsletter.

5. You Must Be Social on Facebook

I always find it heartbreaking when libraries only post about their upcoming programs on Facebook. You want to kill reach? Don't be social. Treat Facebook like a bulletin board. It is really important to understand Facebook's algorithm. The typical user receives 1,500 posts in their newsfeed DAILY. So, Facebook had to come up with an algorithm to make sure that their users were getting the posts they most want to see. It is based on 100,000 factors, but the chart below is the simplified version that we know for sure: they pay attention to what users respond to on Facebook -- what did they like, share, give an emotion to, comment, or click to read? Those are the types of pages and posts Facebook will show that user more often. If followers aren't responding to your post, Facebook will assume they don't really want to see posts from you and will show them less of your future posts. So, whatever you post, make sure you post it in a way that you know will get a response from people. (For example, don't just advertise about an upcoming story time. Take a picture from a previous story time of an adorable young patron and casually mention that story time meets weekly. People will like the picture because of the cute kid!) If you know people are going to ignore your post, it doesn't belong on Facebook.

6. It is Easy for Libraries to Be Social

So, what do you post if you can't just talk about your programs? What worked for us -- we posted twice a day. In the morning, it was something serious and library related. In the evening, it was something fun that related to our common values with patrons: the importance of reading, author quotes, statistics to literacy, author news, etc. If you want specific ideas, check out our posts about the different types of viral Facebook content ideas that has worked in other libraries. In my previous library, we learned that articles that supported reading did really well as well as photos of kids reading and enjoying the library. You can also join The Shareable Clique, which 1,700+ libraries share their viral posts that may also work for your page, too.

7. Use the "Pages to Watch" to find Viral Content

Under you Facebook Page's Insight, you'll see an option for "Pages to Watch". This is a great place to follow other libraries with successful pages. Every week, you can visit this section and see what was most popular with their followers. If it was generic, you can reshare it on your page! [Facebook will give you a natural boost if you share viral posts that had received a lot of interaction from users. They love it when pages share quality posts and will share it with more of your followers than they usually do.] You can also follow other pages that have content you might want to share, like the Goodwill Librarian and Bookstr. Note: to schedule a shared post, just click on the Time Stamp of that post. That'll bring you to a special URL that you can use when you are scheduling ahead.

8. Utilize Facebook's Event Calendar

Facebook is really pushing their event feature. It can be time consuming making events online, but if you focus on the major events that are coming up, it is manageable. Do a chunk of them at once so followers will get an upcoming list. When your followers mark that they are interested in an event, it appears on their calendar AND it is advertised to their friends. When the event is a few days away, Facebook gives them an automatic reminder. You can also advertise that they can follow all of your events so they'll always be in the know.

9. Try a Facebook Ad

Many libraries have had great success with advertising their big events on Facebook, even with teen programs. Facebook is inexpensive and they allow you to limit your advertisement to people living within your area, gender, and age. It is worth trying out and see if you can reach more than your usual library patrons.

For more posts about Facebook, check out:

10 Facebook Tips Patrons Wish Their Libraries Knew

8 Free Ways to Boost Your Library's Facebook Reach

15 Viral Content Ideas for Your Library's FB Page! (Part 1)

15 More Viral Content Ideas for Your Library's FB Page! (Part 2)

Friday, March 31, 2017

April Fools' Fun: 5 Ideas for the Last Minute Librarian

Saturday is April Fool's Day. How is your library participating? For those of you who haven't had the time to plan anything, we've rounded up some easy ideas that you can do in your library.

Self Check Out

Photo from Platteville Public Library
What a brilliant idea from Platteville Public Library! All you need is a mirror and a sign. We love that they added (April 1st only!) to help with the joke.

Check out a Kitten, Return a Cat

Photo from American Libraries Magazine
Sacramento Public Library announced that their Library of Things have been replaced by a Library of Cats. Any library can use this idea, though, even if you don't have a special collection.

Decorate Your Return Bin

Photo from Curtis Library

Curtis Library used shoes sticking out of either side of their Return Bin for a funny picture on April Fool's Day. Who doesn't have a spare set of sneakers hanging around? 

Needed: Book Cuddlers

Need an image for around the library or on your social media? Here's a fun one we created. Feel free to download and reuse!

Announce a New Shelving System

Inspired from our post last year, New Library Trend: Organizing Books by Color and Size, is another image that you can print or reshare.  

Happy April Fool's Day!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Presidential Budget Cuts, and How They Could Impact Libraries

Politics, right? We're all tired of hearing about it, debating about it, and fighting about it, but it's so important that we're gritting our teeth and bearing it. We here at the Five Minute Librarian try to be non-partisan, but this is one issue on which we can not remain silent. No matter what side of the political fence you stand on, if you're in the library world, this one will affect you.

Here, as best as we can muster, are the facts of what's going on, and reactions from Julie Todaro, the President of the American Library Association; Greg Pronevitz, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Library System. (Note: We reached out to MLS because Five Minute Librarian is based in Massachusetts, but it's likely that your local libraries will face similar cuts.)

The Facts

President Trump has proposed that the budget for the Institute of Museum and Library Services will be eliminated. Not just cut back - entirely gutted. The IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the United States' 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. This is $230 million of federal funding that, if this proposal passes, is going to vanish. (This does not include the budgets for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting - which will also be completely gone.) You can read the official IMLS statement of response here.

The Institute itself was founded in 1996, but the first federal library grants were given in 1956 (it was part of the U.S. Department of Education back then). There is a long history of federal help to libraries, and we have come to not only rely on the assistance, but, through years of experience, really make the best possible use of the funding.

In addition to the Grants to States Program, one of the biggest cuts will hit the Library Services and Technology Act, funded annually to help libraries provide updated technology, technology training for library patrons, professional development for library employees, assistive technology for patrons with disabilities, and other uses as outlined in the LSTA Grant Priorities and Purposes Guidelines. (Side note: My library had a LSTA Grant last year, and it was incredibly helpful to us, when we had little budget allocated for technology or training.) It has literally helped millions of people.

The Reaction

In an official statement to the press, Julie Todaro, President of the American Library Association, called the proposed budget "counterproductive and short-sighted." The ALA plans to get us - librarians, library users, and the Congress itself - riled up and prepared to fight for what we believe in. She said, "America's more than 120,000 public, school, college and university and many other libraries are not piles of archived books. They're trusted centers for education, employment, entrepreneurship and free inquiry at the core of communities in every state in the country – and in every Congressional district. And they’re staffed by the original search engines: skilled and engaged librarians."

I was lucky enough to be in contact with Greg Pronevitz, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Library System, so we could learn his views on the subject. His words have been included here.

My take on the President¹s proposal to eliminate funding for the Institute for Museum and Library Services ... is that it will be extremely detrimental to Massachusetts libraries. 

Massachusetts is the beneficiary of more than $3 million in federal funds to support libraries.  These funds are used to support grants to libraries, funding for statewide databases and eBooks, as well as other operations and some personnel at the Board of Library Commissioners.  If IMLS and its funding end, a major reprioritization of spending would be required.  Many programs and services will be curtailed or eliminated. It is too early to provide details because MBLC and many stakeholders would need to be involved in the process.

If you want to support IMLS and its work for libraries, please contact your Congressman and Senators and let them know how important libraries are to you and your community.  Ask your patrons to do the same and tell a personal story about the library and ask their elected officials to prevent this defunding of IMLS.  Be aware that many programs and services are at risk in the President's budget and our elected representatives will be defending many cuts.  Please make sure that libraries are fresh in their minds during this process.  The more people they hear from, the better our chances of successfully supporting IMLS.

We also spoke with Deb Spratt, Library Director of the Lawrence Library in Pepperell, MA. She also mentioned a decrease in library services would be likely, and may include "decreases or possible elimination of databases, ebooks, and inter-library loan delivery services" provided by the state's Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and Massachusetts Library System. In addition, because those organizations are grant-funded, there would likely be increased membership fees for libraries to belong to consortia. When so many libraries still haven't bounced back from the budget cuts that happened during the recession, this may mean an increased number of libraries who can't belong.

(Note: In this state, most public libraries belong to one of several consortia. Membership means increased access to ebooks, the ability for patrons to use their library cards at many area libraries, and easier inter-library loan.)

What can you do?

This budget needs to be approved by Congress before it can be official, so there's some hope.  As Mr. Pronevitz said, please contact your elected officials and voice your concerns. Tell them stories about how libraries have made a difference in your life. Don't remain silent on this issue. Not sure who to contact? Many websites, such as, will be able to tell you all of your elected officials. It can't hurt to contact them all.

If you have the approval of your library director, you might be able to have postcards or letters pre-printed for library patrons to mail out, or perhaps a program about local (or not so local) politics. There is a sample letter on the website that can be sent as-is, or used as an example for anyone who wishes to write their own.

It also can't hurt to post on social media, write letters to your local newspaper editor, and otherwise keep doing what you're doing - remind your patrons why what we do is so important.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Ready to Go Book Display: March for Science

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. Here are some books that support the March for Science happening on April 22nd.

Recommendations for Adults:

Former host of Bill Nye the Science Guy challenges common misunderstandings about global warming while outlining the scientific community's potential for solving key energy and environmental problems. Also check out his other book: Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation (Nov 2014).
A collection of artworks inspired by the lives and achievements of fifty famous women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, from the ancient world to the present, profiles each notable individual. 
A companion to the celebrated scientist's popular podcast and National Geographic Channel series combines the subjects of his favorite talks with comprehensive fun facts, thought-provoking sidebars, and vivid imagery.
Cites the essential contributions of millions of ordinary people who contribute to the scientific process by volunteering in cooperation with scientists to help collect and discover information, tracing the history of citizen scientists and how they are reshaping scientific awareness.
The Science Book (Jul 2014)
This book is a visual take on astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, and physics with eye-catching artwork, step-by-step diagrams and illustrations that break down complicated ideas into manageable concepts.
A revelatory examination of the political tricks used to subvert scientific progress cites the notorious tactics and debates employed by government leaders to rationalize misconduct or promote non-scientific agendas.
A call to action, exposing the reality of how humankind has aided in the destruction of our planet and groundbreaking information on what you can do now.

Recommendations for Teens:

The Science of Science Fiction by Matthew Brenden Wood (Feb 2017)
Uncovers the real science behind classic and modern science fiction stories, exploring such topics as time travel, cloning, artificial intelligence, and life on other planets.
Other science related titles in the Inquire and Investigate series include: Genetics, Physics, Forensics, Chemistry and The Brain.
The creator of the webcomic provides hilarious and scientifically informative answers to questions that can never by physically solved, but are fun to think about. Also check out Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words.
An introduction to how animals communicate, express feelings, use tools and work in social groups draws on scientific interviews and historical anecdotes to share related insights into the work of famous animal researchers and how modern understandings are revolutionizing old theories.
From lutes and owls to astronomy and evolution, this book explains how fifty scientific geniuses have shaped our understanding - and how they spent their free time.
A summary of today's environmental challenges also counsels teens on how to decode conflicting information, explaining the role of vested interests while identifying the sources behind different opinions and sharing suggested online resources to help teens make informed consumer choices.
50 Things You Should Know About Wild Weather by Anna Claybourne (Mar 2016)
Discusses mundane and extreme forms of weather including sandstorms, blizzards, and ball lightning. Other science related titles in the 50 Things You Should Know About series include: Space, Inventions, the Environment, and the Human Body.

Recommendations for Children:

At the Bottom of the World by Bill Nye (Apr 2017)
Traveling to Antarctica for a science competition, twelve-year-old Jack and his genius foster siblings, Ava and Matt, become caught up in a mystery involving a missing scientist. This is the first book in Jack and the Geniuses series.
A visual encyclopedia for children combines engaging facts and more than 1,200 images to chronicle key developments in the history of science and technology, from stone tools and simple machines to rockets and robots.
Unmasking the Science of Superpowers! by Jordan D. Brown (Sep 2016)
Did you know that advancements in robotics could soon make super-powered suits a reality? Or that some people have a rare gene that gives them superstrong bones? Hold onto your cape, you're about to become an expert on the high-flying science behind superpowers!
Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects by Jack Challoner (Jul 2016)
Presents over two dozen simple science activities using food, common household objects, water and the outdoors.
Gravity by Jason Chin (Apr 2014)
Introduces the scientific principles of gravity using researched, simple, explanations of its essential role in the universe.
Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty (Sep 2016)
Ada Twist is a very curious girl who shows perseverance by asking questions and performing experiments to find things out and understand the world.
Baby Loves Quarks! by Ruth Spiro (Oct 2016)
Offers a simplified explanation of quarks, protons, neutrons, atoms, and molecules. Also check out Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering!
I Am Jane Goodall by Brad Meltzer (Sep 2016)
Presents an illustrated biography of the conservationist and scientist known for her world with chimpanzees and her championing of animal rights. Also check out I Am Albert Einstein.
Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson (Oct 2014)
A biography of Carl Sagan focusing on his childhood and culminating in the Voyager mission and the Golden Record.
Full Steam Ahead! by Paul A. Reynolds (Sep 2014)
Twins Sydney and Simon learn about the water cycle and use science, technology, engineering, arts, and math to solve the problem of their stuck window and thirsty flowers.
Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab: A Mystery with Electromagnets, Burglar Alarms, and Other Gadgets You Can Build Yourself by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith (Nov 2013)
This story of tech-savvy siblings Nick and Tesla finds them constructing outrageous scientific devices to assist their brilliant government engineer uncle and rescue their missing parents. First in a series.