Oldest Book Scavenger Hunt

Chinese Bamboo Book

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….

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Teen Book Club – The Fault in Our Stars

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.

 

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Total YA books I’ve looked at this year

Total books = 1018

Total books = 1018

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.


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.


End of Year Review

CC license

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.


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!


2012’s Most Read YA Authors at AFL

Wordle: 2012's Most Read YA Authors at Abington Free Library

Click on the pic above to see the word cloud I created showing the most read Young Adult authors in my library in 2012. The bigger the name, the more popular the author. I pulled this information from the top 50 circulating YA titles last year. I’d like to print this out and put it up somewhere in the YA area to promote the collection and also let teens see what authors are hot right now.

Top 10 YA Titles of 2012 at Abington Free Library

  1. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  2. Son of Neptune – Rick Riordan
  3. Divergent – Veronica Roth
  4. Heroes of Olympus: The Lost Hero – Rick Riordan
  5. What Happened to Goodbye – Sarah Dessen
  6. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  7. Clockwork Prince – Cassandra Clare
  8. Legend – Marie Lu (and my personal favorite!)
  9. Scorch Trials – James Dashner
  10. Matched – Ally Condie