Decreasing book budgets

CC image – flickr.com – Tax Credits

I found this article really interesting:

“How Low Can Our Book Budgets Go?” by Steve Coffman – American Libraries

The book (or rather materials) budget has been stagnant at my library since I’ve been working here for the past two years. I definitely have seen the increase in books being published, even just from 2012 to 2013. I feel like I’m reading many more Young Adult book reviews than even and I find it hard to keep up as well as decide what to buy for our collection. It’s getting a little out of hand!

Coffman thinks that we’re doing a disservice to our communities and our library brand by shrinking our book budgets, buying mainly popular titles that people want, and purchasing a high proportion of DVDs. I agree that DVD circulation will probably go down with the popularity of streaming services such as Netflix. (And we all know how scratched-up library DVDs get.) But it’s simply not possible or responsible to add more money to a book budget when there is no space to keep the books or no one interested in reading them. Keeping up a building is expensive. Paying staff is not cheap. Buying and maintaining computer equipment takes a good amount of cash. Books are our brand but we can’t acquire everything.

Another wordpress blogger & author Pat Bertram wrote about publishing statistics issued by Bowker:

300,000 books were published in the U.S. 2003.

411,422 books were published in the U.S. in 2007.

1,052,803 books were published in the U.S. 2009.

Approximately 3,000,000 books were published in the U.S. in 2011.

And . . . drum roll, please . . . in an online interview, Seth Godin suggests that 15,000, 000 books will be published in 2012.

15,000,000. Yikes.

Google estimates that as of August 2010, there were 129,864,880 books in existence. Which means that the total number of books that could be published in 2012 is more than 1/10 of all the books in existence. That is an unfathomable jump, a 500% increase in a single year. (That is correct, right? 3,000,000 times 500% = 15,000,000.) Unbelievable.

My thoughts exactly. Still, the book budget article brings up some interesting points. I just don’t know what the right answer is.

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End of Year Review

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2013 is almost over. It’s been a great year at Abington Free Library. Here’s what I’m most proud of this year.

Teen Book Club

The Teen Advisory Board at the library suggested that we start a book club this year. It’s been pretty popular so far. Every time we host a book club, the first 10 teens to sign up get a free copy of the book. These free copies were purchased with money donated by the Friends of Abington Libraries and I’m so grateful!

February – Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

April – Divergent by Veronica Roth – Most popular with 22 teens attending!

June – The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

August – Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King – The author graced us with a visit, answered questions, and signed books. She is a rad lady. You should follow her on twitter: @ AS_King

October – Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

We will continue the Teen Book Club in 2014. The first book of the year will be Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare.


Japanese Mascots Program

Japanese Mascots Program

From the Japanese mascot program on November 4 , 2013 at Abington Free Library

Click on the photo for more!


My picks from YALSA’s 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults

I know it’s a little late in the year to be posting about last year’s books but I’m gonna do it anyway!

I read several books on YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list for 2012. Here are the ones I absolutely loved:

  • The Diviners by Libba Bray
  • Every Day by David Levithan
  • Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick

These books I also liked but didn’t quite blow me away like the first 3 did:

  • Croak by Gina Damico (recommended to me by a teen)
  • The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison
  • The Fault in our Stars by John Green
  • Chomp by Carl Hiaasen (listened to the audio read by James van der Beek)
  • Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

I started these books but never finished (usually because some other book was screaming “Read me NOW!):

  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
  • The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour (would like to try again with this one!)
  • Boy21 by Matthew Quick
  • The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman (currently reading)

Books on my MUST READ list:

  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
  • The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
  • The Brides of Rollock Island by Margo Lanagan
  • I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Wish me luck in getting around to the rest of these books!


Protect yourself from Identity Theft

ponyangry

This Little Pony is angry because her identity was stolen

This morning, a patron called wanting to know how to protect his identity from being stolen by hackers on the Internet. He mentioned a service that could protect you through the use of one password. I wasn’t aware of a service like that but a quick online search will show you that they do exist. Lifelock is one such website.

But should you have to pay that much to be protected from hackers stealing your identity? I don’t think so. There are free alternatives that anyone can use and everyone should know about. Including me… As a librarian in the digital age, I must know this stuff like the back of my hand. It’s called financial literacy–just another form of literacy that libraries need to actively promote. The Public Library Association agrees.

Here are the best online resources I’ve found on identity theft:

Federal Trade Commision – Consumer Information – Identity Theft

“How to protect yourself from identity theft for free,” USA Today, Nov 9, 2012

Identity Theft Resource Center – NPO

Suspicious Emails & Identity Theft – irs.gov

And don’t forget the 3 credit reporting agencies (your new BFFs):

Experian

TransUnion

Equifax


Animals are confusing!

You’d think getting people books or information about animals would be easy. But it’s deceptively difficult. Here’s a few examples:

Black Panthers

blackjaguarA woman and her teenaged son came in asking for a book on black panthers. I had to ask, “As in Black Panther Party or animal?” So animal it was. I thought black panthers were their own species of big cat. Looking through books turned up nothing. Then I checked the indexes of animal encyclopedias and still was confused. Where are the Black Panthers, YO? I finally found an entry that confused me even more. It said that black panthers were really black leopards or black jaguars. It wasn’t until I read the Wikipedia article on black panthers that I got the gist of it. They aren’t their own species. It’s just what we call a big cat that has a gene which causes its fur to be black from excess melanin. They sometimes still have spots like their jaguar or leopard mommies and daddies. So “black panther” is more of a nickname than a real scientific classification.

Groundhogs

groundhogAWWW! So cute! But when one is living under your porch and eating all your plants and vegetables and you are pulling your hair out trying to make it scram, then you come to the library for answers. “What do groundhogs eat,” she wants to know, “because we’re gonna try to trap him.” Again, I can’t find any books on groundhogs on the shelf, and the encyclopedia index says “SEE woodchuck”. So they are called woodchucks, whistle-pigs, land-beavers. They are part of the marmot family and they love to eat fruits and veggies and other green things. (How is this guy so fat?) The best answer I got, including techniques on how to trap one, was from the Internet. I avoided the Internet at first because she said she wanted a book. But she was happy with the information anyway. Good luck to her! I hope the groundhog didn’t ruin the foundation of her home! (Something else I learned they are capable of…)

Pill Bug

pill bugI feel sad to even put this guy on the same page with that cute groundhog… But a boy was doing a report on the pill bug and needed to use at least 2 books for writing his report. It’s nice to know that some teachers are still requiring books to be used for research, not just the Internet. But again, is Pill Bug its “true” name? I was stumped by the books, and the Internet was also confusing. Did he want the pill bug aka woodlice aka Armadillidiidae (Arma-Dilla-Dee-Day-Ding-Dong)? Or was it really the pill millipede which looks very similar but has no other relation? I gave him the info on the woodlice variety, but geez, did it really have to be that hard?

Lessons learned? Do a quick online search before you hit the books, just to make sure if your animal of choice goes by another name or has any confusing varieties or is even really an animal! Then look it up in the books.

 


April’s Teen Book Club – Divergent

fanpop by bussykussi

fanpop by bussykussi

I’ve started a teen book club at my library. The Teen Advisory Board suggested it. At our first meeting in February, we read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. That was a pretty heavy book about suicide, blame, bullying, and depression. When I asked the group what they wanted to read next, they wanted something completely different than Thirteen Reasons Why. “Science fiction! Mystery! Anything not about suicide!” And I thought people would be dying to read a realistic tome about high school horribleness. 🙂

Non-realistic genres are very popular now in YA lit and popular with our teens as well. Fantasy, science fiction, and action/adventure books are always circulating. I read these genres as a way to take a break from the problems of the real world. I can see why teens like them too. Adolescence is not the most peaceful or stress-free time of one’s life. Reading fantasy or science fiction can give teens an entertaining mental break from exams, packed schedules, and social navigating.

For our next book club in April, I chose Divergent by Veronica Roth. A popular trilogy often compared to The Hunger Games, I think Divergent will prove to be a bigger, better choice for book club than Thirteen Reasons Why. While TRW had plenty of tough subjects to discuss, Divergent will appeal to teens’ desire for action, suspense, and pure entertainment. Let’s face it. Divergent will be more fun to read than a book about suicide. Now I don’t mean to discredit choosing a more serious book for a teen book club. We had an excellent discussion with multiple points-of-view and opinions about Hannah Baker’s decision to end her life. But I understand the need to mix it up and lighten the mood.

Divergent is not without its themes – issues of identity, belonging, difficult choices, questioning authority. We will talk about all those things and more at the book club. I also have an idea for a fun activity involving the book’s 5 factions of society. This fan website describes the factions really well. I want to find a way of testing the teens to see which faction they would belong to, and then see if they would change the recommendation and choose a completely different faction, just like Tris does in the book. We get to pretend we are in Tris’s world and also ask ourselves questions about our identities. Can we really be pinned down to one category or are we all “divergent?”