School librarian K.C. Boyd was featured in November’s School Library Journal article, “A Leader for Readers.” She ended her wonderful article with a list of advice from her father that has carried her through her career. Boyd has “experienced more failures than successes.” For this reason, I value her perspective of the job and the challenges and joys it has to offer.
Know your subject matter Do your research, read the books, and practice using the social media pages prior to introducing them to students.
Have respect It’s a two-way street with today’s kids. When they observe that you are making an effort to respect them, they will be more cooperative.
Listen Students will provide you with the blueprint for any program you are trying to implement.
Have patience If it doesn’t work, try, try again.
Keep a sense of humor Laugh at yourself, make those mistakes with the students, and just keep laughing.
Our library has gotten rid of much of the reference collection, which simply wasn’t being used. We also took some titles we thought were too useful to discard and put them in our circulating collection. The jury is still out on those newly-circulating books. But occasionally I can get patrons to give the reference collection a try.
Today, I had a woman ask for major events in American history that happened between 1955 & 1965. She just wanted to browse a list quickly. I could have went to google and typed her request in word-for-word. I could have found a reputable website that has a list of these events. But I took her straight to the reference shelves instead.
We have a series called “American Decades.” It lists major events & their dates. Then it breaks down into categories like the arts or health & medicine, and lists headlines, people and more. It was a PERFECT match!
Lesson: Even if your reference collection is looking dusty and lonely, never underestimate its power to have the right information at the right time.
Two young adults came into the library today looking for the oldest book we own. Cool question! They were doing a scavenger hunt put together by friends and family. How was I going to find what they were looking for?
I started by searching our staff side of the OPAC. I know there’s a way to do an item record search and limit by publication date. Using this method, I searched for books with a publication date earlier than 1850. The oldest book in that results list is Pere Goirot and Eugenie Grandet by Honore de Balzac, published in 1834.
That got me thinking, though. What about the Bible or other prominent religious texts? What about Shakespeare or Homer? They were written well before 1834, but all of our editions in the library were published after 1834. And the only way I can search the catalog is by published date.
Can we even put an exact date on when some of these older classics like The Odyssey were first published? Maybe when the Gutenberg printing press was first invented. But what about a handwritten copy of a classic? That is surely a book just as much as a printed copy is. Now I’ve sunk myself deep into questions of “What defines a book?”, “Who wrote the first book?”, “Who printed the first book?”, “Does the true ‘first’ book even exist any longer or has it been eaten away by insects?” and so on. This bamboo book is gorgeous.Wax tablets were used by the Romans. Even little kids know about papyrus, which was first produced about 2,300 years ago. Once I start googling, I find I know very little about the history of books and their production. As a librarian, a steward of books and an advocate of reading, I am a little embarrassed for myself. I’ll have to find a book to learn more about it….
I wish I could be involved in these library projects or get something like this for my library one day!
The Great Reading Adventure is an online summer reading program that trumps our current online software (Evanced’s Summer Reader) in almost every way. The design is cool, the features are awesome, and it’s much more interactive. I hope to use this in the future at my library!
Chicago City of Learning is another amazing project that I’m super jealous of. I started to look into badges for my summer reading program but couldn’t conceptualize how it would all work. CCOL has done a fantastic job of promoting connected learning and awarding badges.
From their website:
“CCOL is a groundbreaking initiative that joins together learning opportunities for young people in a way that allows them to think about, pursue, and develop their interests. CCOL breaks down the false barriers between learning that happens in school and learning that happens outside of school. Through CCOL young people can take new paths of discovery, explore the city’s rich resources and find out what they can learn, make, do, and ultimately become.”
I wish I worked in Chicago right now…
May’s Teen Book Club was really popular because I picked probably the most popular YA book in the universe right now, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. We had an awesome discussion about the book (“What does the title even mean?” “Are they gonna make the trophy kicking scene as great in the movie as it is in the book?” “I hate Monica.” “I love books just like Hazel does.”)
I showed the trailer for the new movie coming out June 6, plus a behind the scenes video from John Green. Most importantly, though, I talked about Esther Earl, whom the book is dedicated to. She made a huge impact on John Green’s and many others’ lives. Living with thyroid cancer and being attached to an oxygen tank in her teen years did not crush Esther’s spirit. Read more about her in her own words; her family published a memoir of her diary entries in “This Star Won’t Go Out.” At the end we made constellation jars.
We had a great program the other night for teens and tweens at my library: CANDY SUSHI! It was so cool to watch everyone come up with different designs for their sushi. We put out lots of candy, I mean LOTS. The ingredients were:
- Fruit roll ups (to be the nori)
- Rice Krispy treats (to be the rice)
- Swedish Fish
- Gummy sharks
- Gummy worms
- Sunkist gummy fruit
- Airheads Xtremes (a flexible length of rainbow sour/sweet candy)
Just like the show “Iron Chef,” we also had a secret ingredient which was candied melon strips. Everyone constructed their sushi for about 40 minutes. Then they all put their plates up at the main table and voted on Most Colorful, Most Authentic, and Best in Show. The plates were numbered to keep things simple and anonymous. The winner received chopsticks, origami paper, and a Japanese snack. Best in Show got some dried fish snack too! (A gag gift but still fun!)
All the pictures from the program are up on Abington Free Library’s Picasa site here. I would definitely do this program again. It would be great for all ages, not just tweens and teens, but also families with younger children as well.
To go along with my previous post about book budgets, I decided to count up all the books I considered buying for the YA collection this year. I usually read the following book review magazines for YA reviews: School Library Journal, VOYA, Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times Book Review. But I also depend on the reviews that appear on my book vendor’s website which includes Kirkus Reviews (I use Ingram’s iPage). I find myself usually siding with what Kirkus and VOYA have to say.
This list gives you an idea of how many books I’ve considered this year for YA. And most of these books have multiple reviews that I have to read and evaluate, including lots of books that have both rave reviews and horrible reviews.
Total YA books considered in 2013: 1018
Total YA books ordered: 336 or 33% of the books considered
Number of YA books still on my A-list that I haven’t ordered: 271 or 26% of books considered (a small percentage of these books have a 2014 release date)
Number of books on my B-list (mixed reviews): 259 or 25% of book considered
Number of books on my C-list (bad reviews): 93 or 9% of books considered
Number of Manga still on my A-list that I haven’t ordered: 45
Number of book on my MUST-ORDER list: 14 (these are still to-be-published but they are on my radar)
Wow, this puts into perspective how much work I did this year for collection development in YA. I read reviews for over 1,000 books, and with each books getting 2 or more reviews, that’s over 2,000 reviews that I’ve read this year. I’m exhausted looking at this number. It would be interesting to do this again for 2014 and compare.
For those of you wondering how I get my numbers: for every book I consider, I add it to some kind of list, either MUST ORDER, A, B, or C-list. This helps me keep track of what I’ve already looked at so I’m not duplicating my work and looking at books several times. If I see it’s already on a list, I move on to the next book review.