Friday, June 30, 2017

Spoilers, Sweetie: Read 100 Books in 1 Hour

Happy Friday, Everyone!

Back in February 2016, we launched the website Spoilers, Sweetie for librarians who don't have the time to read everything, but are expected to know it all. Today, we are really excited to announce that we have covered 38 Awards and spoiled over 100 books! Since summer seems to be the busiest time for reader's advisory (especially if you work with kids who need book suggestions for summer reading), we thought now would be a good time to highlight our spin-off blog!

So, looking to read 100 books in one hour? Head over to Spoilers, Sweetie!

If you click on "By Category", you can easily see the awards divided by age group, for those of you who want to focus on your reader's advisory audience first.

And, if you find this website useful, please consider signing up to help with spoilers! We have a long list of award winning books and any that you are willing to read/have read and can spoil would be useful.

Friday, June 23, 2017

7 Ways to Rediscover Your Love for Reading

The worst has happened. You are a librarian, but you have found that you just cannot pick up another book. Maybe you are in a reading slump. Maybe you devoured too many books and your appetite has hit a wall... for a few months now. Maybe the pressures of reading during your downtime (which was never much to begin with) has finally broken you.

Whatever it is, there is hope. Seven tricks that you can try to get that old loving feeling back:

1. Speed Date 10 Books

Get ten books off the library shelf and read the first few pages/chapter. Keep going through the stack until you find one that interests you. If you need to grab a second or third stack, have no shame in doing so!

2. Try a New Format

If you read print books, try an audio book or a graphic novel. Audio books give a different feeling with someone narrating the story (especially if it comes with a whole cast of voice actors). Graphic novels can grab you instantly just by the artwork even before you get into the story line. Even better, you can finish a graphic novel in a few hours, so you can finish it quickly.

3. Get Spoilers for Books You Don't Want to Read

We all have genres that we do not enjoy, but you need to know about them for readers' advisory. Utilizing Goodreads or Spoilers, Sweetie to get spoilers on those boring books will free you up to read your favorite genres - and stop making reading feel like homework.

4. Talk to Friends for Recommendations

Talk to your friends and colleagues to see if they have any books to recommend. If you aren't sure what genres you even want to read, just ask for any books that they weren't able to put down. Chances are, not everyone will have the same tastes as you, but you might be lucky and find a few readers you can count on for good recommendations for years to come.

5. Follow Podcasts that Talk about New Books

There are a lot of podcasts (like All the Books) out there which essentially give a lot of book talks about new books coming out. If you listen long enough, you'll eventually hear about a book that'll spark your curiosity. As for all of the other books, well, you're now ahead on RA.

6. Look for Books Similar to your Favorite TV Shows and Movies

Do you find yourself preferring to watch TV or a movie instead of reading? Research your favorites and see if they are based on real books (many of them are) and check the original cannon out of the library. If no luck there, see if someone created a similar reads list based on the TV shows or on books that the characters would likely enjoy.

7. Reread Your Favorite Book

Go ahead, and pull out that beloved book that you have enjoyed in the past. Nostalgia is a powerful tool, tap into it to pull yourself out of the slump. If it happens to be a classic (for me, it is Pride and Prejudice), see if there are adaptations and fun inspirations.

Hopefully, one of these tricks will work for you. If not, maybe a break is exactly what you need right now!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Ready To Go Book Display: Hotels

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. Whether you are ready for your vacation or just having a stay-cation, check out these hotels.

Recommendations for Adults:
The Undoing by Averil Dean (Dec 2015)

When a trio of inseparable lifelong friends decide to buy and renovate a dilapidated old hotel on the cliffs of Jawbone Ridge, the intensity that always characterized their friendship turns dark, leading to obsession, betrayal and murder.

The Grand Hotel by Scott Kenemore (Oct 2014)

When a desk clerk welcomes a group of tourists into his mysterious and crumbling hotel, the last thing he expects is that a lone girl on his tour may hold the power to unravel the hidden mystery that has lain for untold centuries within the structure's walls.

Nine Lives by Wendy Corsi Staub (Oct 2015)

Interrupted by a storm that forces her to take shelter in a quirky New York town, young widow Bella Jordan accepts a job at the local hotel and is embroiled in the investigation into the owner's murder.

How May We Hate You? Notes from the Concierge Desk by Anna Drezen and Todd Dakotah Briscoe (May 2016)

A pair of Times Square hotel concierges give readers the inside scoop on one of the most enigmatic jobs in the service industry, in an account based on their popular Tumblr blog that explores the idiosyncratic customs, systems and driving forces behind today's hotels.

From the Jerome Grand Hotel in Arizona to the Palmer House in Minnesota, each hotel is discussed in great detail, covering everything from the building's history and legends to first-hand accounts of spooky sounds and smells, ghost sightings, EVP sessions, and more.

Recommendations for Teens:

I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios (Feb 2015)

Skylar Evans, seventeen, yearns to escape Creek View by attending art school, but after her mother's job loss puts her dream at risk, a rekindled friendship with Josh, who joined the Marines to get away then lost a leg in Afghanistan, and her job at the Paradise motel lead her to appreciate her home town.

Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young (Nov 2015) reissued as Hotel for the Lost

On the way to spend a summer with her grandmother after the sudden death of her mother, seventeen-year-old Audrey, her older brother Daniel, and their father happen upon the Hotel Ruby, a luxurious place filled with unusual guests and little chance of ever leaving.

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson (May 2008)

Fifteen-year-old Scarlett Marvin is stuck in New York City for the summer working at her quirky family's historic hotel, but her brother's attractive new friend and a seasonal guest who offers her an intriguing and challenging writing project improve her outlook.

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (Sept 2004)

In 1906, sixteen-year-old Mattie, determined to attend college and be a writer against the wishes of her father and fiance, takes a job at a summer inn where she discovers the truth about the death of a guest. Based on a true story.

Divah by Susannah Appelbaum (Mar 2016)

Part gothic thriller, part historical fiction, the novel straddles the Upper East Side and the lust trappings of the Carlyle hotel, and Paris during the Reign of Terror in 1789. Marie Antoinette is the Queen of the Damned. Marilyn Monroe is an expert demon hunter. To kill a demon, Hermes scarves, Evian water, and a guillotine are the weapons of choice.

Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky (Feb 2016)

Four fan-girls of The Ruperts, sneak away to a hotel in Manhattan to see their favorite boy band, but when one of them literally drags Rupert Pierpont to their room and they tie him up, things get complicated - and when Rupert is killed things go from bad to worse.

Recommendations for Children:

The Inn Between by Marina Cohen (Mar 2016)

During a long car trip, best friends Quinn and Kara explore the strange and creepy goings-on at a remote Nevada inn when Kara's family stops for the night.

Kay Thompson's Eloise, drawings by Hilary Knight 60th Anniversary (Oct 2015)

A sixtieth anniversary edition of the classic story about the intrepid young resident at New York City's Plaza Hotel is complemented by illustrator sketches and anecdotes as well as by photographs of the author when she was Eloise's age.

Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio (Nov 2015)

Twelve-year-old orphan Warren's pride and joy is his family's hotel, but he's been miserable ever since his evil Aunt Anaconda took over the management. Anaconda believes a mysterious treasure known as the All-Seeing-Eye is hidden somewhere on the grounds, and she'll do anything to find it.

At Your Service by Jen Malone (Aug 2014)

As the junior concierge at her father's posh hotel, thirteen-year-old Chloe escorts three trouble-making royals on their trip to New York City.

Ella by Mallory Kasdan (Jan 2015)

In this modern-day parody of Kay Thompson's Eloise, a six-year-old girl named Ella charms and terrorizes the very hip city hotel where she lives.

The Ghost at The Grand Inn by Michael Teitelbaum (Nov 2015)

Staying in a historic inn that may be haunted, siblings Craig and Melanie hunt for a ghost and uncover a mystery.

Withering-By-Sea by Judith Rossell (Mar 2016)

Eleven-year-old Stella sees something she should not have seen in the dull hotel where she lives with three dreadful aunts, sending her on the run from stage magician Professor Starke and causing her to face questions about herself.

Friday, June 9, 2017

12 Tricks to Get Yourself Talking to Strangers at Conferences

Going to a conference can be an exciting and overwhelming time! I am an outgoing person, but even at conferences, I find myself more of an observer. It is hard getting yourself to talk to strangers, so we pulled together a list of tips (some of which were shared on ALA Think Tank) to help you get the most out of your experience:

1. Wear comfy shoes, bring water and snacks. Wear layers! You won't feel like talking to people if you're uncomfortable or hungry.

2. Memorize a quick 30 second speech about who you are and what you do at your library. Return the question to them (or ask them first) and follow up with specifics about what they do. Every library is different, so don't assume that they have the same job responsibilities as you, even if you're both in the same department.

3. If you are active on social media in librarian circles, make sure to change your profile picture to one of your current face so people can easily identify you. Tell followers you're excited about the conference so they know you are going and reach out to attendees you're following that you would like to meet. Don't worry if you haven't met them face to face before, it is great opportunity to connect in person now!

4. Talk to everyone around you, including exhibitors. They can tell you about fun initiatives and new technology that are available for libraries and some of them even offer free books (bring extra bags so you can carry them around!).

5. Mix your sessions up with a combination of ones that are relevant to your current job and others that will make you think. Arrive to them a bit early and ask the person next to you what interests them the most about this topic. Also, if you are attending a conference for multiple days, don't try to attend every single session. Pick your favorites and plan some downtime to connect with people.

6. Ask people for their business cards, and then make notes on the back to remember the interaction. Take a photo of both sides with your phone so you don't lose them.

7. Make your own business cards and don't be shy about handing them out.

8. Follow the conference Twitter hashtag to learn about sessions you weren't able to attend (ALA Annual's hashtag for this year is #ALAAC17). Use IFTTT to automatically send your tweets into a document (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.) so you aren't trying to take notes and tweet at the same time.

In addition to the above tips, we also found a few more that we liked from Leil Lowndes' book on How To Talk to Anyone:

     9. Plan engaging conversation starters. If someone asks you about where you are from or what library you work at, share the name and then some interesting facts that they can respond to.

     10. Wear or carry something unique so that people will have something they can comment on when they are trying to strike up a conversation with you. (We have a great list of Bookish Apparel and Librarian gifts that could be helpful.)

     11. If you want to keep the conversation going but don't know what to say, repeat the last few words your conversation partner says to prompt them to keep going.

     12. Stay current on that day's news so that you'll be able to participate in conversations.

Happy conferencing! Hopefully, a few of these tips will work for you and you'll be able to find a group of librarians that'll making attending conferences a tenfold more fun!

Friday, June 2, 2017

DIY STEM Programming

A big movement in education these days is a focus on STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (some places add in Arts, to make it STEAM). There's a push for students to be proficient in, and excited about, STEM; what can libraries do to help (and take advantage of this trend)?

Outside Performers

Okay, so this isn't DIY - but if you have the budget, go for it! I'm a big fan of Sciencetellers, though what you have in your area may vary. Lots of museums also offer traveling shows, and so do many state parks. I have a local nature reservation coming this summer to give a talk about wildlife - and they're bringing live owls with them! Reach out to local agencies and see if they have any traveling programs.

Of course, a lot of us don't have this kind of budget to play with. Many tech companies actually give incentives for their employees to volunteer. A few years ago, a local scientist gave us a call and set up a program where he brought special telescopes, so kids (and adults) could safely look right at the sun! (I think the adults were more awed by that one; the kids were more excited about the special glasses he brought that made everything look like it had rainbows coming out of it.) We also had a very nice man from iRobot visit and bring real robots that people got to look at and drive around.

And then, there's the programs for the real Do-It-Yourselfers: If you have time and a little money, you can put together some great programs on your own.

STEM for preschoolers

Once upon a time, I had a preschool STEAM program that we called Early Explorers. Every week, kids aged 3-5 would come and explore a different topic. One week we did an art project, another week we would build something (either individually or as a group), one week would have some sort of experiment, or interact with different materials to see how the world worked. We also did music once a month, which helps little ones to recognize rhythms and patterns (math concepts as well as art!). I'm sure you don't need help with preschool art projects, but here are some ideas for other topics:
  • Building/Engineering -LEGO bricks, Magnatiles, and good old-fashioned blocks worked well. Expand their minds by building with marshmallows and spaghetti. Use large blocks, like empty cardboard boxes, to build entire cities, or use recycled materials to build a robot or a dinosaur.
  • Experiments - playing with bubbles, mixing paint colors (you can do this in plastic baggies to reduce mess), making a baking soda volcano. Use magnifying glasses to look up-close at feathers or insects.
  • Interacting with materials - We did a lot of this. Take apart a flower (pull off the petals, notice the veins in the leaves, dip it in paint and make prints to see the different textures); play with shaving cream (this was HUGELY popular - the gel that turns into cream when you rub it is absolutely amazing to little ones. Just make sure you don't get the kind with menthol.); make ice chalk and draw with it on paper and the sidewalk (how is it different? Does it act differently when it melts?) Little ones probably can't make slime, but they can play with it (This is especially fun with oobleck and other non-Newtonian fluids. Put your fingers in slowly and you'll sink in. Try to pull them out quickly and it'll hold tight!).
(Why did I stop Early Explorers when I so obviously loved doing it? I no longer work at that library, and I currently don't have enough staff to feasibly run this one. It does take a fair amount of planning.)

STEM for kids

My library has a monthly Science Club for kids in grades 1-5. Let me just say, this is a very difficult age range to work with, because if you do a harder project, the little ones won't get it, but if it's too easy, the older kids are bored and make trouble. (Nevertheless, I persist.) Ideally, you'd be able to do a group for early elementary and a group for older elementary, but we know that there isn't always time for this. Things that have worked for me include:
  • LEGO building - You may already do this! LEGO building is engineering, which is awesome, and can take no time to plan. Every library I've spoken with does LEGO Club differently; some have challenges - say, everyone has to build a pirate ship; some dump out the whole bucket and have a free-for-all. I have small bins, and each kid gets one and can take a couple handfuls of LEGO to start with, and are welcome to come back and take more once all the kids have gotten a chance to take some.
  • LEGO volcanoes - Have the kids build up a hill around a plastic cup, and then let it erupt with baking soda, vinegar, a drop of dish soap for bubbles, and lots of joy and excitement. (I wrote about this on my other blog, here.)
  • Candy Science - who doesn't like candy, and science? There are a ton of great ideas on (I've also written about this on my other blog.) 
  • Static Electricity - a charged balloon can lift up a person's hair, a piece of tissue paper, and even roll an empty soda can!
  • Magnets - what sticks? What doesn't? Make your own compass!
  • Slime and/or Oobleck - Oooey, gooey, tons of fun! Also, very messy. Do this one outside.
  • Chemical reactions! Baking soda and vinegar, Diet Coke and Mentos - do this outside, too.
  • Planting seeds/seedlings/plants
  • Magnifying glasses and/or microscopes - it's hard to do microscopes unless you have a bunch of them, but I've had a number of magnifying glasses, with which we examined bugs, feathers, our own hair, etc., and each kid got to take turns looking through a microscope at the same things.
  • Hatching caterpillars/ant farm - it'll be an extended project, but kids can stop in and see how the bugs are doing.
  • Build a Leprechaun trap - one of my little buddies was telling me all about the amazing trap she's going to build next St. Patrick's Day, to build a leprechaun trap! A better mouse trap this is not: Leprechaun traps usually have glitter and shiny things to lure them, and then they have to somehow trap the poor little guy inside. The ideas that kids have for this are astounding - make a display of traps once they're done!
There are so many great books and websites about science experiments you can do with kids! We particularly like Steve Spangler's science website (he has books, too!).

STEM for teens

I think it's hardest to come up with STEM ideas for teens, because they've already done the basics. Oobleck is cool and all, but it won't hold the interest of your average high schooler for long. What to do?
  • Girls Who Code is a wonderful program that gets girls more interested in computer science. All you need to get started is a location in which to have your club, Internet access, and computers that the club can use.
  • Minecraft remains super popular, and it is the epitome of STEM - the laws of physics apply in the Minecraft world, and you can design and build your own creations. The downside of this is money - you'd need computers for each participant, and the software itself is $26.95 per user. You could make a Minecraft-themed program, and build things in real life. (I've seen this done with Perler beads, on cupcakes, and by painting cardboard boxes.)
  • Robotics and electronics - does your local school have a robotics team? Will they come and do a demonstration? Maybe you have the budget to get a Sphero or other robot that can be programmed and played with. Maybe you can use old electric toothbrush motors and make a bristlebot.
  •  Microscopes - Just as with kids, it's hard to have enough microscopes to do everything with, but luckily, teens are better at sharing. Try magnifying glasses and microscopes with this level - they might surprise you!
  • Building projects - Does your library have a Little Free Library location? Perhaps your teens can help build one, either from scratch, or by upcycling existing cabinets. Maybe they can create planters for your building, and take care of their gardening maintenance. (Bonus points if you grow herbs and/or vegetables and have a cooking class!) 
  • Egg Drop - we did this one a few years ago and it was so much fun! Teens put together contraptions that will help raw eggs safely reach the ground from a great height. Our custodian volunteered to carry all the completed Egg Drop entries onto the roof - we'd hoped to get a firetruck to use the ladder, but it didn't work out. There were parachutes, padded envelopes, mini-helicopter blades, and more! It was the most fun, messy day!

As Always

We'd love to hear your ideas! What STEM programming are you doing in your libraries? Let us know in the comments here, on Twitter, or on our Facebook page.