Friday, July 28, 2017

18 Excellent Podcasts for Librarians

Podcasts are the perfect companion to the busy librarian! They are useful for anyone who has a commute, many chores to do around the house, walk dogs, or engage in exercise, which we are assuming covers most of our readers. Podcasts are like talk shows or stories, that appear consistently (weekly to monthly) on your phone. (I use Podcast Addict and have them automatically downloaded as they are released so I don't use wifi while away from home. They autodelete after I listen to them.) Then, when you are out and about, you can easily play an episode and enjoy life a little bit more.

There are a million great podcasts out there (just check out the responses to this one Facebook post!) but we decided to highlight the podcasts which talk about library news and books. Maybe you'll find a new favorite!

Adventures in YA

Kristin and Sara talk about YA books in this fun and informative young adult literature podcast.

Better Library Leaders

Better Library Leaders is a podcast, blog, and Facebook community designed to explore the elements of great libraries and great library leaders. Sarah provides helpful tips, insightful interviews, and other resources that will help you make your career and your library the best they can be.

Beyond the Stacks

A podcast exploring interesting and unexpected career paths for librarians and information professionals.

Book Club for Masochists

Library staff discussing books they read that they hate. Every month, they randomly select a genre and choose a book to read and share on the podcast.

Book Riot - the Podcast

A weekly news and talk show about what's new, cool, and worth talking about in the world of books and reading, brought to you by the editors of Book Riot.

You may also want to check out their "All the Books" which is a weekly show of recommendations and discussions on new book releases and "Get Booked" which is a weekly show of custom book recommendations.

Circulating Ideas

Circulating Ideas facilitates conversations about the innovative people & ideas allowing libraries to thrive in the 21st century.

CYA Podcast

The CYA Podcast Blog is a review site for librarians by librarians who serve youth by librarians. Books are chosen by the reviewers and will be discussed on the podcast.

Cyberpunk Librarian

Daniel Messer, the Cyberpunk Librarian, talks about ideas, trends, and cool stuff for technologically minded librarians who are high tech and low budget,

Dewey Decibel

Dewey Decibel is a new podcast series from American Libraries, the magazine of the American Library Association. Each month, your host and American Libraries Associate Editor Phil Morehart will be your guide to conversations with librarians, authors, thinkers, and scholars about topics from the library world and beyond.

FYI: the Public Libraries Podcast

Public Library Association's Manager of Publications, Kathleen Hughes, interviews different people in public libraries on a specific topic like bed bugs, unprogramming, and special library initiatives.

Ladies Who Library

Lady librarians who talk about their experiences in the library and the books they read.

The Librarian is In

The New York Public Library’s podcast about books, culture, and what to read next.


Michael Schofield and Amanda L. Goodman talk design, development, and the user experience in libraries and higher-ed web.

Professional Book Nerds

We're not just book nerds: we're professional book nerds and the staff librarians who work at OverDrive, the leading app for eBooks and audiobooks available through public libraries and schools. Hear about the best books we've read, get personalized recommendations, and learn about the hottest books coming out that we can't wait to dive into.

Reading Envy

A podcast where Jenny talks about the books she's been reading and brings in other readers to do the same.

Smart Podcast, Trashy Books

Sarah from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books interviews romance authors and guests from the romance community, and discusses serious issues that appear in romance lit in a fun way. Lots of book recommendations are included, too, mostly romance and suspense but other genres are periodically mentioned.


Two boring librarians making libraries less boring.

The Worst Bestsellers

Worst Bestsellers is a podcast where Kait, Renata, and a guest talk about popular books of questionable quality. It’s kind of like How Did This Get Made? or Mystery Science Theater 3000, but for books. Their fabulous tag line is: We read stuff so you don't have to.

Do you know of any other library or book podcasts? Please share them in the comments below!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Ready to Go Book Display: Coming Fall 2017

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. This month I wanted to share with you titles that I personally am looking forward to that are coming out this fall. Need a display for your library? Feature one or more staff member's favorite reads! You can also showcase older titles in a series that have new books coming out this fall.

Recommendations for Adults:

Hardcore Twenty-Four by Janet Evanovich (Nov 2017)

Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is back! Whether it's the love triangle with Ranger and Morriell, her car blowing up, or the kooky cast of characters I can't wait for more! If you're looking for a great audiobook series I highly recommend this one. This is the 24th book in the Stephanie Plum series.
Origin by Dan Brown (Oct 2017)
Combing art, religion, mystery and a thrilling adventure the Robert Langdon series, starting a Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology is back in his fifth novel. 
A Tale of Two Kitties by Sofie Kelly (Sept 2017)
Set in Minnesota, Kathleen Paulson is a librarian who helps solve murders with the help of her cats Owen and Hercules. But these aren't ordinary cats - they have special abilities.... This is the 9th book in the Magical Cats mystery series.
Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton (Sept 2017)
I started reading this series in high school and I still look forward to new titles in the Kinsey Millhone series, which follows a private investigator in California in the 1980s.
Cat Got Your Secrets by Julie Chase (Sept 2017)
In case you haven't picked up on it yet I love mysteries with cats. This series set in New Orleans follows the owner of a pet boutique shop who keeps coming across murders. Plus, this is only the third book in the series so it won't take as long as the others to catch up.
Random Illustrated Facts by Mike Lowery (Oct 2017)
I love books with interesting trivia and I'm excited to read this one with illustrated facts. If you can't wait, I also highly recommend Sad Animal Facts by Brooke Barker. 

Recommendations for Teens:

Building Amazing Creations by Sean Kenney (Oct 2017)
Kenney has written a bunch of LEGO building books for kids. His over 800 of his LEGO creations are featured in this book.
I grew up with the Harry Potter series and eagerly await any new books relating to this series. I'm excited for this book in particular because I've always love how the wands seem to pair nicely with their owners' style and personality.
The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud (Sept 2017)
Ghosts are everyone and causing everyone harm in this series' world. But the only people who can see the ghosts are children and teens. The series follow the adventures of three teens who are members of the ghost-busting organization of Lockwood & Co.

Treat! by Christian Vieler (Sept 2017)
If you have ever seen the photographs in Underwater Dogs and Shake, you know how amazing photographers are when they get that perfect shot of animal. Can a dog be happier than when he's getting a treat?
Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! by Mariko Tamaki (Oct 2017)
I love the Lumberjanes graphic novels so this novel format featuring new adventures should be a hit.
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (Oct 2017)
In case you've been living under a rock, let me catch you up: John Green, author of amazing YA books such as The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns, is releasing his first book in 5 years. Order it, read it, and be in the know because everyone will want to read this book.

Recommendations for Children:

Dawn and the Impossible Three: Graphic Novel by Ann M. Martin (Sept 2017)
My favorite book series as a child was the Baby-Sitters Club. I devoured every book. There's even a school picture of me somewhere holding a copy of The Complete Guide to the Baby-Sitters Club. The graphic novel series illustrated by Raina Telgemeier and now Gale Galligan, really bring this series to a whole new generation of readers.

Flora and the Ostrich: An Opposites Book by Molly Idle (Sept 2017)
I love Molly Idle and her illustrations. You may remember her and her Caldecott Honor book Flora and the Flamingo. Now even younger readers can enjoy her work with her newest board book.

Greg Heffley and is family are back in #12 as they set off to a tropical island for the holidays.
If you ask any of my coworkers or regular teen patrons they will tell you that I am obsessed with Grumpy Cat. Now she has her own Christmas book! Should you skip this book? NO.
I Am Gandhi and I Am Scagawea by Brad Meltzer (Oct 2017)
This is my favorite picture book biography series. The art is adorable and the information makes it easy for children to relate.
The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris (Nov 2017)
When ALA was recently held in Atlanta Neil Patrick Harris was the closing speaker and he talked about this new series he's writing. Not only does this sound like a great middle grade novel about non-Harry Potter-esque magic but the book itself is filled with secrets, ciphers, codes, and tricks to learn.
Mr. Lemoncello's Great Library Race by Chris Grabenstein (Oct 2017)
If Mr. Lemoncello's library was hiring I would move. Does your library have "an IMAZ theater, an electronic learning center, instructional holograms, interactive dioramas and electromagnetic hover ladders that float patrons up to the books they want"? If so, let me know and I will send you my resume. I can't get enough of this series and look forward to reading book three.
Weird But True 9 (Nov 2017)
The Weird But True series is one of my favorites. National Geographic pairs interest facts with great pictures and word art for this educational, flip-through book. It may say kids on the cover but the facts are great for everyone.

What books are you looking forward to this fall?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Transforming Teen Spaces

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to present at the Massachusetts Library Association's annual conference about the topic, "Teen Spaces: How to Make a Fabulous, Functional, and Fun Room in Your Library," along with Jen Forgit, the Teen Services Manager at the Cary Memorial Library in Lexington, MA. Together, we had a broad range of experience, from having a little bit of support and budget, to having a full architect-and-all overhaul of library space.  Here's an overview of what we discussed. I hope you find it helpful! -Kat

The Importance of Teen Spaces

First of all, why do we need a space just for teens?  Well, for starters: Teenagers are people, too.

This is the thing that a lot of people (particularly Friends groups and Trustees) have trouble with. Teens are too old to be in the children’s room - they don’t want jam fingerprints on their homework tables, and they’re not reading picture books anymore. They know they don’t fit there anymore, but they’re also not adults. Teens deserve to be at the library, and they deserve to feel like they belong. What we want to do is to transform the image of the library in the teens’ minds, to make them know how awesome we are, while giving them a voice. They have a real place in their community, and valid thoughts and opinions. They matter, and we want them to be at the library.

Agreed? Fantastic! We’ve won you over about the importance of teen spaces. Now you just have to get the funding and the go-ahead to proceed. If the reasons we just discussed don’t do it for you, you can always give them this statistic: The #1 reason teens try drugs is “boredom,” followed by anxiety and loneliness. If we can do anything to help stop the current drug epidemic, shouldn’t we try?

How To Find the Space

When the answer you get is, "but we have nowhere to put it!" then it's time to do some soul-searching. What under-utilized spaces does your library have? Maybe:
  • Print reference - can this be downsized or moved to the circulating collection? Can we at least weed it down a bit?
  • Outdated collections, such as VHS tapes, CD-ROMs, or books on cassette
  • Staff or office space (do you really need 5 storage closets?)
  • Under-utilized space - can items be moved, in the interest of creating overall better customer service?
Remember, the amount of space the teens should get in the library should be proportionate to the number of teens in your town. In the United States, check out American Fact Finder to see the breakdown of ages in your town's population. If the teens make up 15% of your town, shouldn't they get 15% of your library's space?


Quick Updates

Some of us have an existing Teen Space that just isn’t super teen friendly. There are some easy ways to make existing spaces a bit more welcoming for teens when you don’t have time or budget to do a complete overhaul.

  • If you can, a coat of paint can work miracles. Even just white paint on off-white, aged walls can liven the space up immediately.
  • Displays can be awesome, and change the whole feel of your space. Use props if you can!
  • Artwork is a quick and easy way to update a space, and can be as trendy as you like, because it’s easy to update. (You don’t have to commit to a design that might show its age quickly.) Better yet, see if there are students at the local schools who might want to display their art!
  • Add some new features, such as phone chargers, board games, or adult coloring books
  • Make the space exclusively for teens - no adult book clubs or younger kids hanging out allowed!
  • Add seating, and make the space seem more like a lounge area and less of a classroom.

Smaller Renovation Ideas

I was the Youth Services Librarian in South Yarmouth, MA, and I was able to convince the Friends of the Library group to let me change their existing Friends Bookstore (the front parlor of what was an old sea captain's house) into the new Teen Room. We were lucky in that we had the support (and help!) of the library staff. They did everything from help move furniture, to repeatedly explain to patrons that the bookstore wasn’t available at the moment, please check back in a couple weeks, to help remove the built-in bookcase from the wall for painting and refinish the floor. What we didn’t have was a lot of money, or a lot of time.

The first thing we did was make a map (on graph paper) of the room and what we wanted it to look like, so we could decide how much furniture we needed, what size rug to get, etc. Then we removed all the furniture (including the built-in bookcase), stripped the wallpaper, painted the walls white, painted the bookcases black, moved in all the books, and added decorations. Whew! It took a few weeks, but it was a labor of love.




Renovating with a Lot of Support

The Cary Memorial Library in Lexington, MA had a much bigger renovation - they moved entire collections in their multi-floor library, and created a space for teens and tweens that was representative of their community. They actually worked with an architect to plan out the best use of their space! 

This library is about 5 minutes' walk from the local high school, so getting the teens in the door wasn't the problem. The problem was, no good place for them to be! This renovation wasn't easy, but the hard work really paid off.


Artist's Rendering:



 Of course, renovating lots of support means lots of stakeholders! You will have to please:
  • Library Director
  • Library Staff
  • Trustees
  • Teen Advisory Board
  • Town/City Facilities
  • Friends of the Library
  • Library Foundation
  • Architect or Interior Designer
  • Library patrons and donors
  • And anybody else who has helped out
But of course - it can be done! Sometimes you just have to do your best and be confident that your best work is really amazing.

Best Practices

A few things to keep in mind when working on your own teen spaces:
  1. They say it's best to keep the Teen Space away from the children's room, if possible.
  2. No matter what you are purchasing or adding, be an informed consumer - ask questions!
  3. Styles change quickly, so try for timeless major purchases and fashionable details and artwork that can be changed as times change.
  4. Keep your teens involved in the dreaming, planning, decision-making, fundraising, and installation as much as you can! (But you also don't have to take their ideas.)
  5. Use clear signage to make sure that your expectations are clear (no adults allowed, policies on food or drink, noise, music, etc.).
  6. Make your space welcoming for teens to come and relax, instead of seeming academic.
  7. Include books, if you can! 
  8. Make Tweens feel welcome (middle school is hard enough as it is!). Add tween books, magazines, comfy chairs, etc.
  9. Have fun with it!
We would love to see or hear about any teen spaces that you've transformed! Please leave comments here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or talk to us on Twitter!

Friday, July 7, 2017

7 Useful RA Websites

With summer reading in full swing, chances are you're going to get a lot of requests for book recommendations. What to do when your patrons have already read your usual suggestions? Thankfully, there are many great RA websites out there to help you find new titles. Sure, you can direct patrons to these websites, but why give our best secrets away? ;-)

(Actually, not all of the recommendations were dead on perfect, so it does help to have a librarian preview the list first. These websites and your RA knowledge makes the perfect combination!)


Many librarians have an account on Goodreads to keep track of their own reading. However, it can be very useful when you are trying to get more reviews on a book. I have found some really great reads (and recommendations) just by following the top reviewers (who do a SPLENDID job of describing the book and it's strengths/weaknesses). Kat also wrote a great article with lots of librarian tips to get the most out of Goodreads. (LibraryThing is also very similar to Goodreads and can be used the same way.)


BookBrowse focuses on books published within the last 15 years. If you are looking for a popular readalike, you will find many ideas here. They also have a section on book club recommendations (and discussion guides!) and feature new books they really liked.


Whichbook is a fun website to find new recommendations. They have a slider on the left with a variety of factors that you can adjust to customize your results. They also provide book lists.

Fantastic Fiction

One of our favorite websites is Fantastic Fiction. They have a list of coming soon, new books, and new authors. This is also our go-to resource when we're trying to figure out the order of books in a series (it is clearly stated and they include ebook novellas!). They also post publication dates and when books are republished as a paperback.

Literature Map

Literature Map is a fascinating resource. Instead of listing out similar authors, they give you an interactive word cloud. The closer the names are to your author, the more similar they are. You will need to look up their books elsewhere, though, since this is only a map of names.

What Should I Read Next?

What Should I Read Next? allows you to add in an author or book and they'll bring back specific titles. What's really neat about them is that they provide the subject headings below each title so you know exactly why that book was recommended.


NoveList is the ultimate reader's advisory database. It isn't free, however many libraries and consortiums subscribe to it. Check to see if yours do (that includes the library you work in, the library you live next to, and perhaps your state library, if they give all residents a card). Kat did a three part write-up about how awesome NoveList is for librarians. Check the first one out here!

Bonus Pro Tip:

Many library catalogs are connected to Goodreads, LibraryThing or NoveList to provide additional information and recommendations. If your catalog does not, check your surrounding library networks to see if they offer this service. When doing RA, use their catalog instead to utilize these useful tools! (For example, C/W MARS is connected to NoveList, so below each title is the list of books in the series and recommendations based on titles, authors, and other series. You can't click on the title for more info without an account to NoveList, but you'll get a good start. They also include what awards the book has won and full text reviews.)