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26. Orpheus in the Underworld by Yvan Pommaux, 56 pp

Yvan Pommaux, beloved, multiple award-winning author and illustrator in France, has a detailed research and illustration style that we were treated too on this side of the Atlantic when TOON Graphics published  Theseus and the Minotaur last year. Pommaux's books are a very welcome addition to the shelves of graphic novels and Greek mythology. George O'Connor's graphic novel series The

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27. 10 QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT YOUR TEEN SERVICES

Are you struggling trying to find ways to engage teens at your library? Look no further! As part of our ongoing research relating to teen library services, we talked with teens across the country and have answers for you in “10 Questions to Ask about Your Teen Services.” (For details about the research, see our recent YALS article: Denise Agosto, Rachel Magee, Andrea Forte, and Michael Dickard, 2015, "The Teens Speak Out: What Teens in a Tech High School Really Think about Libraries...and What You can do to Improve their Perceptions." Young Adult Library Services 13 (3): 7-12.)

10 Questions to Ask about Your Teen Services

  1. Can teens find quiet spaces for reading and studying in your library and vibrant spaces for hanging out, socializing, and creative activities?

It’s important to remember that teens use libraries for all sorts of activities - social interaction, quiet reading, collaborative school work, and hanging out with friends. Your library space needs to support all of these diverse activities. When asked why they use libraries, some of the teens we’ve worked with talked about schoolwork. For example, Kacie* (age 18), told us that she hadn’t visited her public library in years. Then she stopped in one day and realized that it was a great place to do her homework. She realized that: "'Hey! The library is quiet. There's everything I need [for studying].'… It was like: 'Hey! The library's kind of awesome!'" On the other hand, other teens told us about using libraries as spaces to connect with their friends or to engage in creative pursuits. As Jamie (age 18) explained: "People usually just go to the library to play music or just chill out, eat lunch, or read a game magazine. I have used it for that. They have cool magazines there." Your library should provide clearly marked spaces to support each of these different activities.

  1. Do you avoid charging fines and other penalties that can keep teens away from the library?

Our work with teens has taught us that worries about possible fines and fees even as small as thirty cents can keep teens from using their public and school libraries. As Jenny (age 16) told us: "I used to [use the public library]. What ended up happening was a thirty dollar fine for a video that I didn't even check out, so I never ended up going back and finding out how to solve the problem.” Patrick (age 18) explained that: "Personally, I know that I'm really bad at remembering due dates, or I'll just be really lazy one day and be like, 'I don't want to return this book right now.' So to save myself money and know I don't have to worry about that, I don't bother using real libraries."

What's more important: attracting teens to libraries, or collecting fines? We think you’ll agree that encouraging teens to use libraries is far more important. It’s time we work toward finding creative non-monetary alternatives to fines and fees. Possible solutions include providing volunteering options for working off fines and scheduling periodic amnesty days instead of insisting that teens pay up.

  1. Do teens help you decide what you stock in the library?

Some teens told us that the materials their libraries stock are irrelevant or uninteresting to them. For instance, Amani (age 16) said that libraries "don't necessarily have the books you might be looking for," so she prefers going to bookstores or looking for reading materials online. Public and school libraries should set up a communication channels to encourage teens to ask for the materials they would most like to use—not just books, but magazines, music, gaming equipment, and any other types of materials you consider purchasing.

  1. Are you fighting against the stereotype of libraries as just book providers?

Many teens we talked to expressed the idea that "library" equals "books"and nothing else. This limited perception meant they would mainly think to use a library when looking for a paper book, not for socializing, for entertainment opportunities, for homework help, or to take advantage of the many other services that libraries offer. As Hannah (age 15) stated, she goes "to a school that doesn't use books as much [for class assignments], so that's another reason why I've never used [the library]." As librarians and other library staff know, libraries offer much, much more than just books, but this message doesn’t seem to be getting through to teens. As a field we must work to fight against the outdated image of libraries just as book providers and help teens learn the full range of services that today’s libraries offer.

  1. Are you going to where the teens are (outside of the library) to market your services?

Most library research takes place in libraries and uses library users as study participants. Our research took place in high schools with random groups of students who did not self-identify as library users. Sadly, the teens in our studies were largely unfamiliar with their libraries and were mostly infrequent public and school library users. Jamie (age 18) even suggested that "today's youth have quit libraries," in part because "usually everything is done online." This finding highlights the importance of moving library marketing outside the physical library boundaries. After all, why focus your marketing efforts on teens who are already using libraries? Moving outside the library to other places where teens go, such as shopping malls, churches, community centers, sports fields, and online to social media and any other popular online teen hangouts makes for much more effective marketing by spreading the message of how great your library is to teens who don’t already know it.

  1. Are you working to ensure that all library staff exhibit positive, welcoming attitudes toward teens?

We learned that some teens perceive libraries as having unpleasant, unwelcoming staff members—people who don’t seem to like teens all that much. For example, Meghan (age 17) noted that the previously pleasant atmosphere of her school library was ruined by a new "librarian that was like, 'No food! No drinks! No talking!' [After she was hired] people were no longer interested in going there." Once the library gets the reputation of being unwelcoming to teens, it can spread quickly throughout the teen community and keep teens away.

  1. Are your policies framed in positive language?

We also learned that negative language in library policies can send the message that the library views teens as potential troublemakers. A sign that says, “No cell phone use in the library!” sends an angry, distrustful message. A sign that says, “Please take all phone calls to the lobby to avoid disrupting others who are working” means the same thing but sends a message of trust and mutual respect. Library staff members’ actions when enforcing policies can also have a major effect on teens’ perceptions of the library. Kacie (age 18) described returning to the library after having a positive experience with library staff waiving a fine: "Yeah, the one time I had sixty cents [in fines]. One book was late, but they forgave that. That was very nice. That's why I keep going. I've been at least five times in the last two months." Framing library policies in positive language can go a long way toward promoting the image of the library as welcoming to teens.

  1. Are you matching your services to your teen community’s unique needs?

We all know that community needs and interests should drive collection development and programming, but it’s a rule that bears repeating. For example, there has been strong push in the library literature to think of public and school libraries as technology providers, but in economically-advantaged or technology-saturated communities, teens are likely to have reduced needs for technology access. As Maisha (age 15), a student in a technology magnet school, told us: "I really don't need to go to the library because I have everything at home," including several digital devices and full access to a range of online tools and resources at home and at school. In these types of communities, the more effective approach to teen library services might be to focus on providing community engagement opportunities, civic participation outlets, social activities, recreation, information literacy education, etc., instead of focusing on information resource provision and on technology access. For more disadvantaged communities, however, public and school libraries might better serve teens by focusing resources and energy on providing technology access, infrastructure, and education, and by providing information resources teens can't get elsewhere.

  1. Do you provide opportunities for teens to demonstrate their knowledge and accomplishments, such as avenues for displaying teen fiction, teen photography, teen computer game designs, teen music compositions and performances, etc.?

Libraries are perfect places for celebrating and encouraging teens' creativity and their creations. Teens in our studies described deep levels of engagement with creative endeavors like writing, photography, and music. Taahira (age 14) explained that, "I just take pictures, because I want to be a photographer when I grow up." She went on to detail her photography and to describe her efforts to find good outlets for sharing her work others. Isaac (age 16) explained that he plays "drums, guitar, and bass…. We started a [music] club, too." Libraries have the opportunity to provide community spaces where teens can share their creativity and knowledge with other teens and with their community at large, both in the physical library and online via the library’s website or social media accounts.

  1. Do you work hard to bring the teens in your community together at your library, either face-to-face or online?

The teens in our studies told us that the social support aspects of libraries are key to engaging their interest, especially for those with limited transportation options or limited access to places where they can safely or easily hang out and socialize. Public and school libraries interested in increasing teen participation should look toward providing services that facilitate social interaction and focus on promoting libraries as social organizations. Victoria (age 16) described a successful program at her local public library: "They have these things every Tuesday, these teen programs that they have. And all these teens from different places come and meet, and they play all these games, and eat, and just hang out. We actually started going on Tuesdays, because it was really fun." That’s what teen librarianship should be about at its core: bringing teens together and providing them with a wide variety of opportunities for positive social, intellectual, and personal development.

Were you able to answer yes to all 10 questions? We hope so!

Please tell us if you found this information useful by completing a short, three-question survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GRN5PMQ. For more information about our research with teens, visit our homepage: Drexel University’s Youth Online Research Group.

Thank you!

 

By Michelle Purcell, Rachel Magee, Denise Agosto, and Andrea Forte

-----

*Note: All teens’ names are pseudonyms. Quotes come from our interviews and focus groups with high school students, conducted between 2013 and 2015 in U.S. public high schools.

10 Questions to Ask about Your Teen Services” is based on research conducted by Drexel University’s Youth Online Research Group, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [IMLS], Award #LG-06-11-0261-11, and the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant No. 2011121873.

 

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28. My Thoughts: Some Adult Books I Have Read


This was a great read, but not at all on par to READY PLAYER ONE by the same author.  (If you haven;t read that yet, what are you waiting for).  This book is a bit of a genius story though--generations of people raised on video games and science fiction tales were actually being trained for an inter-galactic war.  I love that!  I love that everything people experience they can relate to a movie or tv show they watched or book they read or a game they played.  It is so much more satisfying that these things are real life (unlike the Walking Dead--how many words for zombies do they have that isn't "zombie"?).  I enjoyed this book, didn't read it near as fast as I did Ready Player One, and didn't love how neatly thing tied up in the end.  It will make a great movie someday!









I was not at all interested in reading THE MARTIAN until I saw the trailer for the movie.  That caught my interest and luckily I was able to get a copy from my library that day.  This was a fantastic read, a little slow when it was just Mark's log on Mars, but once NASA figured out Mark was alive this book just flew.  I can't wait for the movie.  The tension during some of the scenes in the book was so strong that I know seeing it on screen with totally stress me out.  Luckily I know how it all ends so watching it all will be a little easier for me!  Great story.  If you love science or survival stories, read this book.

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29. Library Programs: LibraryCon Part Two-The Big Event

Since LibraryCon was such a huge event, I've split these posts up into three parts. Find Part One-Planning here and stay tuned for Part Three-What I'd Do Differently!

And check out Valerie's post about LibraryCon!

After lots of meetings, prep, and planning, LibraryCon was finally here!

(photo credit: Valerie)

On Friday, we set up the concourse and meeting rooms with our tables and labeled everything so everyone could find where they were assigned. I also set up for my Fandom Starts Early Geeky Storytime.

We started LibraryCon with a Friday night screening of a local webseries, Drifter. They screened some episodes from Season 1 and then hosted a Q and A with some of the cast and creative team. We had a small but very interested turnout (we had around 30 people attend for this event). We weren't sure if it was the timing, the day, or having two days worth of events, but the people that came loved it. Valerie and I didn't know if we would have a small or big crowd the next day, but we went home excited for our main day of LibraryCon. 

It was finally Saturday, the day of LibraryCon! 

Our guests and "vendors" started arriving around 9:30 to start setting up. The first event of the day was Fandom Starts Early Geeky Storytime at 11:15. I had done this storytime twice before, but had always had a small crowd and not the geeky families I really wanted to draw in. This was the perfect opportunity to have those fandoms come together in a storytime and I had a great crowd of kids who loved making the TARDIS fly in a parachute, fly like superheroes, and read about Star Wars and Star Trek. We even got told by one of the parents that this storytime was "groovy!" Yay!

After storytime, it was time to start the main event. We had all of the guests and vendors set up and people could visit with each table. We had three panels throughout the day and honestly, we could have had even more. We put in a lot of time between each panel and we could have filled that time easily with other events. We had a Cosplay Panel, Author Panel, and Illustrator Panel. 


(photo credit: Valerie)

The highest attendance was for the Cosplay panel. I'm not sure if it was the theme, the fact that it was the first one, or a combination of those things. We still had a good turnout for the other panels, but I think if we had spaced them together more, we would have had more people. 

The crowd had lots of great questions at each panel and were very excited to have a chance to hear from each group. In between panels, con-goers visited with the various booths and each table got a lot of traffic and promotion. Our authors and illustrators commented several times about how great the event was and how they got to have a chance to talk to the people who came by.

(photo credit: Valerie)

People started arriving for the event around 11, just before the storytime started and LibraryCon really started to pick up around noon. Throughout the day we had 400 people attend our event. Most of the time was spent visiting with each table, talking to the people at the booths, and the teens spent a lot of time talking to the authors and illustrators and buying books and drawings! I saw many teens (and adults) leaving the event with bags full of great swag. In addition to the authors and illustrators selling items and many of the booths hosting giveaways or offering something special, we had a library prize board. We put together multiple prize packs and had a large whiteboard with photos of each prize pack, what was included, and a target age range for the prize pack up front at the greeter table. Guests could enter to win one of the prize packs and we called the winners the following week. 

We had lots of water for all of our panelists and everyone staffing a table, which was greatly appreciated by all. We also had some food donated (thanks Chipotle!) for our special guests. We had staff scheduled as greeters, room attendants and floaters, so there was always library staff available to answer questions, welcome people to the event, and take care of room needs during the panels.

(photo credit: Valerie)

We had staff at the door throughout the event to pass out fliers which served as our schedule of events. It got pretty easy to spot who was coming for LibraryCon as the day went on-you could tell who was in costume and who wasn't. We did have several people who said they didn't know LibraryCon was happening that day but they were so excited they had come to the library and found out about all these great area organizations. There were still many confused faces from patrons as well who came into the library thinking it was a typical Saturday and discovered Storm Troopers, Deadpool, Ghostbusters, and Captain Jack Sparrow wandering around. Someone even came by and asked "what's the point of all this?" which gave us a wonderful opportunity to explain that the library is a community space and we had organized an event to promote and bring together the fan and pop culture communities in our area.

The best thing about our event was that many of the groups and guests knew each other from the area or other events. There was such a positive camaraderie between all the vendors throughout the day and that really carried over to everyone who attended. Even the people staffing the tables kept visiting other booths and tables and talking to each other and hanging out, so it was fun to see the geeky community really come together.

The final event of the evening was our documentary showing of The Midwest in Panels. We kicked off the event with a Q and A featuring the owner of our local comic book store. Then we watched the documentary with a small but dedicated crowd who stuck it out for the entire day. While the documentary was showing, our vendors closed up and Valerie and I did a lot of clean up. We ended the event at 8:30 that evening and had about thirty minutes to clean up, put away last minute things, wrap things up before the library closed. It was a long day but it was totally worth it!


Two tired librarians after a long day of LibraryCon!
(photo credit: Valerie)




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30. More Chronicle Books!

Sometimes you just need a new board book - I hear you!  Well I have a few new ones that crossed my desk today that I think you will enjoy.

Friends and Trucks by Sara Gillingham are adorable board books.  The baby in these books is playing with friends - experiencing all different activities throughout the day - but what sets these books apart is the spinning head on the baby - you can make him/her sad or happy depending on what you'd like.  How fun to interact with you little one with these engaging books!



Two others that you will enjoy sharing with your little ones are Who's There?  and  All Shook Up by Alain Crozon.  Both are colorful books with flaps - you can turn each page and have your child guess what is hiding under the flaps.  These are fun and the illustrations are hilarious as well. 



Lastly, a picture book for the older set - The Bear's Surprise by Benjamin Chaud.  This is a book that will provide HOURS of entertainment.  The illustrations are so intricate that you want to look over and over to see what you missed the first time.  The cut outs in the pages also make for a fun way to read/guess with your child what will happen next.  AND the author has given you questions right in the text to get you talking and thinking as you read.  This would be a super title for a circus theme as well - and sometimes those are hard to find.



I was sent these titles by the publisher for an honest review on my blog.

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31. The Book of Lost Tales, Part One

The Book of Lost Tales. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1983/1992. 345 pages. [Source: Library]

Did I enjoy reading The Book of Lost Tales, Part One? Yes and no. I'll try my best to explain why. First, The Book of Lost Tales traces Tolkien's writings about Middle Earth from the very beginnings. Many of these stories and poems (yes, poems) date from around the first World War. Tolkien sets up a framework for his fantasy stories. A man, Eriol, stumbles across The Cottage of Lost Play, and, meets a bunch of storytellers essentially. Tolkien's mythology is at its earliest and in some ways its weakest. It was interesting to read these early pieces, in a way, to see the origins of what would become a great fantasy. And a handful of these stories can be seen--to a certain degree--in what would be published as The Silmarillion. I'll be honest though, I preferred the more-polished stories of The Silmarillion. One does learn that Tolkien kept working and working and working and working on some of these stories. That this mythology was always a work in progress. From the first version of the story to the latest version of the story, they'd be BIG changes. Other stories he edited or rewrote perhaps only two or three times, and then almost sort of forgot about. Some stories he never finished at all. I believe there is at least one unfinished story in The Book of Lost Tales. Since I've started reading the introduction to the Book of Lost Tales, Part Two, I might be slightly confused. But. Generally speaking, what readers are being "treated" to is fragments, captured moments of his early writings.

In addition to reading Tolkien's own work, one also is privileged to read Christopher Tolkien's commentaries on the stories included. At first I had my doubts that commentaries would be interesting. But I can say that without the commentaries, the stories themselves wouldn't make much cohesive sense. So I was quickly proven wrong!

But as interesting as I found it. (And I didn't mind the poetry, by the way) I can't say that I "loved" it or found it wonderful or thrilling. I'm undecided on if I'll continue on with Book of Lost Tales Part Two.  

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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32. Va Va Vavoom!

Like the photo I'm using on this page?

It's from this year's birthday present to me: I did a pinup photo shoot at Vavoom Pinups in Chicago.

Vavoom Pinups is about "empowering vintage photography" and I can say that description? Is totally, a thousand percent true.

I had heard about Vavoom Pinups from friends; I was wanting to do something for me. And I was thinking about my younger self, and how sometimes I just wanted to go back in time and say you look amazing, you're not fat, wear that bikini. And I can't go back in time, but I wondered, twenty years from now am I going to be saying the same thing? So forget the self doubt and all that.... and get my picture taken.

I recommend the experience to anyone! It began with hair and makeup, and wow, it takes a while to look that good. No, seriously -- I had no clue that it would take as long as it did. I loved the results.

Vavoom Pinups provides the clothes; and perfect fits don't matter because it's about the photos. So if there are gaps, are things that need to get pinned up, that's all fine because it's about looking right for the photo.

Here are the results:








 
 
One of the reasons the photo shoot was so fun was I didn't do it alone. Kelly Jensen of Book Riot and Stacked also got her photos taken -- and we had some taken together. It was a blast.
 
 


It was so much fun, and it showed, that Vavoom Pinups used one of the photos on their Facebook and Instagram.


Since I did this for my birthday, it only seems right to post about it on my actual birthday.

This was my extravagant gift to myself: and I have no regrets. I love the photos; and I love the experience; and I can't wait until I'm in Chicago again and can do it again.




Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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33. Library Programs: LibraryCon-Part 3-What Worked and What I'd Change

This is part of a three part series about the LibraryCon program we hosted at my library. Be sure to check out:


Many cool people who helped make LibraryCon awesome!
(photo credit: E.M. Ervin

So there were many, many things that went wonderfully at LibraryCon and we pulled off an amazingly fantastic event. I'm so proud of all the work that everyone did and what a fun program it turned out to be.

Here's what worked well:

-Involve the local geek community.  We reached out to so many organizations, cosplay groups, gaming groups, authors, illustrators, and other area cons to create our booths. In turn, those groups gave us names of others to include. This worked well because it helped us find people who really wanted to be part of this event.

-Provide water! And food if possible. We provided lots (over 100!) bottles of water for the people staffing tables and speaking on panels. They told us over and over again how thankful they were for this and it was such an easy thing to do! We also got a donation for lunch for our panelists and provided snacks for those staffing the booths, which was another nice treat. We also made sure we had staff available to sit at their booths while they took a break to eat.

-Have something for all ages. We had a huge mix of ages from kids to adults and lots of families attend LibraryCon because we really wanted it to be a family friendly event. Our booths all had something fun to offer for all ages and having various Cosplay groups was a huge treat for the kids. We also had a Geeky Storytime, which was a huge hit with kids and parents. We could have added even more kid events and plan to do so for next year.

-Have assigned tables clearly marked for vendors.  Also be sure to have lots of extension cords and power strips on hand. We had every table assigned and the list was left with the greeters at the front door. This made set up very easy and run smoothly.

Most of the feedback we had was positive, and the comments about what to change were actually very minor. But no event is absolutely perfect, so here's what I'd change for next year:

-More Signage-We had a whiteboard outside the panel room and had a flier with a schedule of events and room locations. Everything was kept in our main concourse of the library and the rooms are all located right off the concourse, so it was pretty well contained to the front. But people still requested more signage about what was happening where and where rooms were located.

-Bring people into the library. Since most of the event happened in the main concourse, there was very little traffic into the library. This was good (it kept noisy things up front) and bad (people didn't explore the library as much as they could have). We had a scavenger hunt happening in the stacks and not many people knew about it because they didn't make it back to the Children's Department. We also had some kids crafts there as well that got ignored after storytime. I would like to find a way to bring people into the library more and show off lots of library resources and geeky book displays next year. Also, bring over a lot of your Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror/Graphic Novel collections to highlight at your event. We created a last minute geeky kids book display and the books flew off the display!

-Have a booth for the library. This might seem like a no brainer, but we didn't think about it. We thought oh, hey, people are coming to the library so they'll find out about what we offer. But that wasn't the case. Next year, I want to have a booth for library card sign ups and have information about upcoming programs.

-Create a hashtag. Neither Valerie or I are very active on Twitter, so it didn't occur to either of us to create a hashtag for the event until the day of! This is a great way to collect pictures and feedback from attendees on social media and spread the word about your event.

-Make sure you have enough trash cans. Another silly one, but we noticed that by the end of the evening, the trash cans located in the concourse were overflowing! Something else we really hadn't thought about! But for the most part, there wasn't much trash to pick up and the event itself was very clean.

-Offer even more things to do! We only hosted three panels because this was our first LibraryCon. We spread them out throughout the afternoon because we were trying to think of when people would arrive, want to take breaks, eat, etc. As my husband pointed out to me, "people will eat when they want to eat-you just have events and let them figure it out." Next year, I think we don't have to worry about spacing things out and having breaks, but instead offer more panels, fandom meetups, and gaming demos.

Overall we had a fantastic event it was lots of fun. You don't need to have a huge budget to put on an amazing event. Our entire LibraryCon was put together on about $80, and most of that could have even been taken out and not really needed. Include your community and you will get a great response. I can't wait to do it all again-bigger and better-next year!

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34. Pine and the Winter Sparrow retold by Alexis York Lumbard

Pine and the Winter Sparrow is a retelling of a traditional Native American tale.  In the book a sparrow with a broken wing seeks shelter during the winter. All of the trees refuse him, except for Pine.  As a reward the pine tree becomes the only tree to not lose her leaves in the winter.  This is a nice book that teaches kindness, as well as a little bit about the rhythms of the seasons. 

Also Try:
The Magic Boat by Demi
A Grain of Rice by Helena Clare Pittman
Zomo the Rabbitt by Gerald McDermott

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35. Comics for back to school!

I know, I KNOW. It’s July 29th. It doesn’t feel like it’s time to go back to school.

And for lots of districts, it’s not.

But for huge swatches of the South and the Midwest, it’s happening this week or next week. It’s so early, it’s so hot. The kids are so cranky (I would be, too, if I had to go back to school so soon!)

What’s the solution?

COMICS.

Here’s some great, recent comics/graphic novels to give to your kids. Throw these up on a display, handsell them, or stealthily slide them across your circ counter. Your tweens will thank you.

Gotham Academy Volume 1. Do your kids love Batman? This comic is set in a prestigious prep school right in the heart of Gotham. With great supporting characters, secrets, and possibly a ghost, this hits all the superhero buttons. The mysterious Wayne family might even make an appearance…

Oddly Normal! Image Comics just reprinted this with a new cover. It’s INCREDIBLY fun. Oddly is a half-witch and having a mother from Fignation isn’t always a walk in the park. It’s even less fun when her parents disappear and she has to go live in Fignation. She’s the only being in the whole world that’s even remotely human. Hijinks ensue.

Baba Yaga’s Assistant is out next week. It’s a bit spooky but not outright scary. Masha needs some adventure so when Baba Yaga advertises for an assistant, she decides to try it out. But she has to be clever and wily enough to earn her place.

BONUS:

I am Princess X is actually a novel, but there’s a story-within-a-story here that’s told in comics, and it’s a very cool example of mixed-format storytelling. May’s best friend Libby passed away a few years ago in a really tragic accident, and she’s been lonely ever since. But all of a sudden, she sees Princess X popping up all over Seattle: Princess X was a childhood creation that only Libby and May knew about. As May dives into the world of Princess X and webcomics, she begins to wonder–could Libby be alive?

Enjoy the last part of your summer!

*

Our guest blogger from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a Library Consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.

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36. New Baby Books

With the imminent arrival of my own new baby, I’ve had baby books on the brain these past few months. From the books we recommend to sleepless parents to the books about childhood and technology we give to the parents of savvy teens, librarians are sometimes intimately involved in the struggles of our patrons’ childhoods. Never is this more clear than when we’re asked for books about a new baby. A great new sibling book can help immensely in easing the transition from being an only child to being one of a group.

julius_baby_of_the_worldKevin Henkes’s Julius, the Baby of the World is one of my favorite picture books, period, but it also is one of the best new sibling books I think I’ve read. I recommend it to parents all the time, and have the personal experience to back it up – this is the book my parents gave to me and my sister before the arrival of my much-younger baby brother. Children of all ages can identify with Lily’s excitement about her new sibling before he arrives and her horror at the way her life changes afterwards! The resolution, when it comes, is perfect. Of course Lily can say mean things about her brother, but no one else can!

peter's chairAnxiety over a new sibling is a universal issue, which is why a book first published in 1967,  Peter’s Chair by Ezra Jack Keats, as relevant today as it was the day it was published. When Peter’s parents repaint his crib pink for his new baby sister, Peter is perturbed but willing to let it go. When they decide to paint his chair, however, Peter takes a stand. Again, Peter’s eventual acceptance of his sister’s place in his life shows a way forward for children hearing the story that is both natural and comforting. Life will change with a new sibling, but it doesn’t have to change for the worse.

What are you favorite books about new babies?

 

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37. Choosing a new Librarian of Congress

I’ve been talking about this topic now in a few different places. Here is an article I wrote for Medium spelling out some of the things I only noted briefly on the Librarian of Progress site.

The Next Librarian of Congress

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38. App of the Week: Specimen: A Game About Color

Title: Specimen: A Game About Color
Cost:  Free
Platform:  iOS

If, like me, you've always loved the paint chip aisle at your big box hardware store of choice -- the orderly color squares andSpecimen rectangles, the fun color names, the act of comparing a Bubblegum Pink and a Primrose Blush until you can see their subtle differences plainly -- you, too, might think you'd be a whiz at a game that's only objective is the matching of colors. If so, I wish you better luck than I've had.

Specimen: A Game About Color is a color-matching game that puts your eye for color to the test. Instead of gazing at rows of orderly paint chip samples, players are called to match jellybean-like blobs of color floating in an inner circle to the color that fills the screen outside the circle, all while a timer ticks away the seconds.

The game gets tough pretty quickly, though you can earn extra lives by showing exceptional skill, and the addition of special blobs in the higher levels allow you to do things like detonate two color blobs at once (or so I hear.) Lives and special blobs can also be purchased through the app to further gameplay.

At first glance, a color-matching game might not seem to lend itself to library programming, but for those libraries with Apple devices, Specimen could be an unexpected addition to an art-based STEAM program. And much more fun than staring at paint samples.

Have a suggestion for App of the Week? Let us know.  And find more great Apps in the YALSA Blog's App of the Week Archive.

 

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39. On My Honor

On My Honor. Marion Dane Bauer. 1986. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]



The good news is that the jacket copy of this book is so straight forward I would have known to avoid this one as a kid. (Sad books and I did not get along.)

What is the book about? Joel and Tony are close friends, perhaps even best, best friends. But Joel isn't honest with Tony. And Tony isn't honest with Joel. If either boy had been honest, then the book wouldn't exist essentially. The truth is, Joel doesn't want to go with Tony to Starved Rock state park to climb the bluffs. And Tony doesn't want to go swimming at the city pool with Joel. Joel's last hope is that his Dad will say no to the boys biking over to the state park. Is Joel honest with his Dad? Of course not! Don't be silly. His Dad thinks his son wants to go biking with his friend. And though he knows it may be beyond his child's ability to bike eight or nine miles each way, he says yes. Perhaps he wants his son to like him and think he's cool? Joel tries to hide his disappointment that his Dad failed him by setting up good boundaries, and reluctantly Joel sets off on a very long journey. (In the Dad's defense, Joel and Tony are not honest about what they're going to do once they get to the state park.)

At some point, perhaps halfway, perhaps not. The boys take a break on the bridge. Tony decides to change plans. Now Joel had promised his Dad that they wouldn't change plans, that they would go where they were supposed to go, and do what they were supposed to do, but, does Joel have the integrity, the "honor," to stand his ground? Of course not! Not in this book! Tony decides to go swimming in the river, the river that both boys had been warned was dangerous dozens and dozens of times. Tony talks his friend into going swimming in a dangerous river. Joel knew he was making a bad decision, a "wrong" decision, a breaking-all-rules, and going-against-my-parents-decision, but he goes along with Tony anyway. Into the water they go. But Tony has a big secret: he can't swim. And, as you can imagine, swimming in a dangerous river with strong currents and whirlpools is not the best idea if you can't swim. So Tony drowns.

What little regard I have for Joel is completely lost in the next half of this oh-so-short novel. (I was so thankful this one is short!!!) Is Joel honest with anyone after the accident? Does he tell the police? Does he tell Tony's mom? Does he tell his Dad? It's not that he doesn't tell anyone--he tells a stranger, someone near the scene that he gets to look for Tony in the river--but when this stranger wants to do the right thing, the only necessary thing, Joel makes promises he has no intention of keeping. The lying begins. He has no idea what happened to Tony. He left Tony on the road, on his way to the state park. Tony was alive and biking the last time he saw him. He has no idea why he isn't back home yet.

The truth does come out, of course, but not in a way that puts Joel in a good light, an honorable position. The book ends with Joel and his Dad having a heartfelt conversation. But that conversation didn't sit right with me. Joel wants assurance that there is a heaven and that his friend, Tony, is there. And his Dad tells him that no one can be sure that there even is a heaven. But if there is a heaven, then he's sure Tony is there. I'm not sure which annoys me more. The emphasis that "no one can be sure" there is a heaven, or, the assumption that anyone who dies automatically goes to heaven. I'm not suggesting that the book should end with a discussion that heaven is a real place and hell is a real place, and unless you're trusting in Christ as your Savior, you're destined for hell. That's an unlikely book ending for sure.

Who's responsible? Who's to be held accountable? Who's to blame? The book spends some time devoted to this, mostly through showing and not telling. (Though that last conversation with his Dad does bring this up.) The book certainly can bring a reaction out of the reader.

On My Honor was a Newbery Honor book in 1987.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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40. The Washington Office

Before speaking with Marijke Visser, Associate Director of the Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP), I honestly had very little knowledge of what exactly was involved with the duties of the Washington Office staff other than advocating on behalf of ALA and libraries in general. In my usual over-imaginative fashion, I envisioned their days spent in conference rooms filled with charts (as seen in The American President), having power lunches (image courtesy of West Wing), and standing up for libraries using some incredibly uplifting call-to-action speeches (think Braveheart). While I’m sure these moments exist (or at least some version of them), talking with Marijke about the structure of the Washington Office and some of the exciting projects staff are currently exploring broadened my view of their work and inspired me to advocate for our profession with a renewed Scottish-like vigor.

As Marijke explained, the Washington Office is separated into two distinct offices: The Office of Government Relations and the Office for Information Technology Policy. When I thought of the Washington Office, I associated it with direct lobbying on the hill; The Office of Government Relations is the group that works to follow and influence legislation, policy, and regulatory issues on the hill. The Office for Information Technology Policy works with a variety of groups, such as the Department of Education and the SEC, on outward facing issues, such as issues supporting a free and open information society.

One way that the Washington Office, particularly the Office of Government Relations, helps to inform and influence legislation and policy is by identifying and building champions on key issues. This is one way that Marijke highlighted for ALSC members to help and become involved. Creating and nurturing strong relationships between legislative members and local librarians can provide opportunities for librarians to bring attention to key issues impacting library services to children while legislative members build connections on a local level and gain a more direct understanding and/or experience of how issues like literacy, media mentorship, or the digital divide are directly impacting youth. One example Marijke provided of this concept is an interest in how the digital divide is impacting disadvantaged teenagers. The Washington Office was able to connect interested legislative members with local librarians in their service area to discuss how the digital divide impacts teenagers and how libraries are able to help bridge the economic gap for this population.

Towards the end of our call, Marijke explained the Office for Information Technology Policy’s Policy Revolution! Initiative. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this initiative is in its second of three years. Described by Marijke as “shaking up how we do policy”, this initiative is designed to examine how libraries are branded to other organizations, look for more ways for their office to become proactive rather than reactive, and to build connections between agencies many people do not usually associate with libraries, such as HUD and Veterans Affairs. Ultimately the goal is to increase the perception of libraries as essential to policy and community conversations in a way that influences organizations to view library professionals as essential participants at the discussion table.

How does this apply to us? How can a little (seriously… I’m only 5’2”!) children’s librarian in Akron, Ohio stay current on legislative and policy issues? How can I best use this information to make a difference? Marijke suggested following the Washington Office’s blog, the District Dispatch. (http://www.districtdispatch.org/). You can sign up for news and alerts and locate a lot of other advocacy pages at http://www.ala.org/offices/cro/legislationandadvocacy/legislationandadvocacy. ALSC’s Everyday Advocacy website is essential for staying informed and inspired on all facets of advocacy. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out (what are you waiting for?!) you should stop what you are doing right now and visit it at http://www.ala.org/everyday-advocacy/. Also, reach out to your local, state, and national representation to share successes and challenges. While you may not need to directly advocate for an important issue today, building those relationships now may someday prove to be invaluable.

Libraries offer such a valuable service to the public, and librarians are consistently doing important work that directly improves the lives of children. I urge each of us (myself included) to remember the importance of our work on the toughest days and to channel our inner William Wallace (blue face paint is optional).

*********************************************************************

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Today’s guest contributor is JoAnna Schofield, member of the ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee. JoAnna is a children’s librarian at the Highland Square Branch Library where she enjoys singing Laurie Berkner’s “I Know a Chicken” more than most people. She finds her greatest inspiration from her three rambunctious children, Jackson (5), Parker (4), and Amelia Jane (2). JoAnna can be reached at jschofield@akronlibrary.org. More than anything, she wants you to know if any information in this blog is not accurate, it is completely her misunderstanding and no fault of Marijke Visser. Marijke is truly lovely.

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41. Get the Word out about Your #SummerLearning Successes!

You work hard all summer to provide teens with a variety of activities to help them learn and grow.  But chances are, your elected officials do not know about the great work you do and what it means to teens and to the community.  So, it's up to you to show them!  Elected officials need to know about the vital role libraries play in helping teens succeed in school and prepare for college, careers and life.  Without this knowledge, they will not be able to make informed decisions regarding key pieces of legislation, such as the Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA) or the Library Services & Technology Act (LSTA).  District Days--the time when members of Congress are back in their home states--are the perfect chance for you to show off all the great things you do for and with teens through your library, by inviting your Congressperson to come and visit any time between Aug. 1 and Sept. 6, 2015.  You could also bring your teen patrons to them at their local office.  YALSA's wiki page has everything you need to extend your invitation, plan for a visit, and be a great host!  Your teens are relying on you to speak up for them, so be sure to seize this opportunity.  Then, tell us how it goes by sending photos and information using the #act4teens hashtag.

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42. My Thoughts (& Giveaway): Stone Rider by David Hofmeyr

4 soft frosted sugar cookies.

Cover Love:  I like how it is simple but eye catching.  Appealing to many readers.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
This one actually flew under my radar until I was offered a chance to participate in the blog tour.  I looked up the synopsis and decided I wanted to give this one a try.
Here it is from GoodReads:
In the vein of The Outsiders and the early Western novels of Elmore Leonard, this inventive debut novel, a cross between the cult classic Mad Max movie series and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, blends adrenaline-fueled action with an improbable yet tender romance to offer a rich and vivid portrayal of misfits and loners forced together in their struggle for a better life.

Adam Stone wants freedom and peace. He wants a chance to escape Blackwater, the dust-bowl desert town he grew up in. Most of all, he wants the beautiful Sadie Blood. Alongside Sadie and the dangerous outsider Kane, Adam will ride the Blackwater Trail in a brutal race that will test them all, body and soul. Only the strongest will survive.

The prize? A one-way ticket to Sky-Base and unimaginable luxury.

And for a chance at this new life, Adam will risk everything.

Romance?: Not really, although Adam does have a crush during the book.

My Thoughts:

Dystopian books used to be my absolute favorite genre.  There have been some great ones--The Giver, The Hunger Games, Unwind, The City of Ember.  The problem is that The Hunger Games was so successful that the genre got diluted for awhile there.  (This doesn't count the books I consider "apocalyptic," like Rot & Ruin and The Knife of Never Letting Go).  So I have kept away from them for some time.  When I got a chance to be part of this blog tour I read the book synopsis and decided I wanted to give this dystopian book a chance.

And I am glad I did!  t set up a very interesting world, one that I want to learn more about.  Not necessarily the world of the "Left-Behinds" on earth, but the world of the Sky-Base.  That place sounds both amazing and awful.  I have a feeling that anyone who wins the right to move to the Sky Base don't really get to be part of the Sky Base.  I bet there is a lot of dystopia on the Sky Base.  I wouldn't mind a prequel book either.

Back to the story, each person involved in the race own a byke/motorcycle.  But they are made of a material that seems to remember previous riders and that adds to the abilities of the current rider.  Winners of the races win a ticket to Sky Base and the second and third place riders earn points that they can save up to eventually purchase a ticket.

The world Adam lives in before the race is awful and crazy and bleak.  Basically people can be miners (I can't remember the name of what is being mined, but they are pulling it from the earth's core) or have a job in town (and by town I mean old Western type town).  If you are young enough you can ride in the race.  This race reminds me of a novella I read a long time ago that was written by Stephen King back when he wrote under the pen name of Richard Bachman called The Long Walk.  It was the story of boys who walked, just walked, but if you fell or stopped walking you were shot and there could only be one winner.  Not everyone dies, but a lot of people do and it's ok to try and kill other riders.  The strong survive and all of that.

Adam literally doesn't have anyone.  He has no family and no friends.  However, a strange rider named Kane enters his life early on and although they don't connect right away, Kane soon becomes someone Adam realizes he can trust--warily.

The one thing that didn't quite jive with me is that Adam has no confidence, yet he is a really good rider.  One that many consider the one to beat.  And he knows he's good, he feels it.  That should give him some confidence, but he has a hard time making decisions.

To Sum Up:  This is a book that would appeal to many YA readers, especially those that like dystopian.  I have many questions about this world and look forward to book 2.  I will be adding it to my order for the fall!

I am giving away a copy of Stone Rider to one lucky reader from the US or Canada.  Please fill out the form below and I will inform you if you win.  Contest ends on August 12.
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43. Peace is an Offering by Annette LeBox

Peace is an Offering is a short but nicely illustrated book about peace and kindness.  It gives many examples of peace, all of which kids can relate to. There is a lot of detail in the illustrations, so parents can expand on each page and talk about the various topics.

Also Try:
One Family by George Shannon
Whoever You Are by Mem Fox
Old Turtle by Douglas Wood

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44. Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure by Nadja Spiegelman & Sergio García Sánchez, RL: 2

Something that I adore and deeply appreciate about TOON Books is the attention to detail that goes into each book. Of course the writing and illustrations are exemplary. The packaging is superb, from the trim size to the recognizable TOON wallpaper pattern that appears on the spine to the way that the books look so wonderful lined up on the shelf. TOON Books are so visually appealing and

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45. Tell Me What to Dream About by Giselle Potter

This is a very sweet, whimsical book that will delight kids.  It's also a sweet book about sisters and the relationship between them.  The little sister has trouble sleeping, so the big sister comes up with increasingly outlandish suggestions to dream about. The illustrations are cute and colorful.

Also Try:
Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins
Wild by Emily Hughes
Home by Carson Ellis

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46. Interview with Author Michelle Houts

Michelle Houts, author of Kammie on First: Baseball’s Dottie Kamenshek, shares how her book highlights Kamenshek’s life of integrity alongside her professional achievements.  Houts, also the editor of Missing Millie Benson by Julie K. Rubini, reflects on the role nonfiction plays in shaping children’s reading interests and how librarians serve these readers, researchers, and writers.  I received a complimentary copy of these two books in the Biographies for Young Readers series published by Ohio University Press before this interview.     

Author Michelle Houts (Image provided by Ohio University Press)

Author Michelle Houts (Image provided by Ohio University Press)

1.  How did you first learn about Dottie Kamenshek, the famous baseball player loosely based on Dottie Hinson from the popular movie A League of Their Own?  What inspired you to write your book for young readers, Kammie on First: Baseball’s Dottie Kamenshek?

I first read about Kammie in a one-page entry in the book Profiles of Ohio Women. As soon as I read about her, I knew she would be a perfect first subject for the new biography series Ohio University Press was planning. She was a pioneer in women’s sports, a humble leader, and an outstanding person, on and off the field.

2.  Kammie on First is the first book in a new series, Biographies for Young Readers.  What unique challenges have you found when writing this type of nonfiction for children?  What makes biographies a unique and valuable resource for children to access in a public library?      

After three fiction books, I was so excited to be writing biographical nonfiction! That’s because I can remember selecting from the biographies section of my own local library. I loved those matching books about different historical figures. I wanted to replicate that excitement I felt, but I wanted the books to have an altogether different look and feel. The books I remember had a few line drawings, were text-heavy, and somewhat drab in their appearance. I was challenged to create a narrative arc in this new series and create a book that was factual and interesting all at once.

3.  What intrigued you most about the life of Dottie Kamenshek as you learned more about this athlete? What have children found to be most intriguing about her life after reading your book?        

Kammie on First: Baseball's Dottie Kamenshek by Michelle Houts (Image provided by Ohio University Press)

Kammie on First: Baseball’s Dottie Kamenshek by Michelle Houts (Image provided by Ohio University Press)

 Dottie was two things: a stand-out athlete and a humble leader. Sometimes it’s hard to find both those qualities in one person. Most young readers are fascinated by the fact that Dottie and her contemporaries played baseball in skirts, even if that meant sliding injuries were common. The readers are getting a history lesson about life in the 1940s and early 1950s when we begin to discuss the reasons the AAGPBL players wore skirts, had chaperones, and went to beauty school.

4.  In the author’s note from Kammie on First, you share a childhood memory about listening to baseball on the radio. How do you believe children’s memories shape their reading interests?  What should the role of children’s librarians be in encouraging these interests?

 What a privilege and responsibility librarians have when it comes to young readers! To be able to converse with a child, detect what sparks his or her interest, and to then suggest a great book is nothing short of magical. I’m not sure it’s children’s memories as much as their experiences that shape their reading interests. A positive experience with one book can lead a child to quickly choose another in the same genre or on the same topic or by the same author. I recall that as a child, once I’d found mysteries, I had to read every Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden book I could get my hands on.

5. How have public libraries impacted your process of gathering research? What do you believe the role of librarians is in providing accurate information for children and teens?

Since Kammie on First was my first nonfiction title, I started into my research alone and uncertain. It didn’t take long before I found the first research librarian eager to guide me along the path to discovering more about Dottie. Dottie had passed in 2010. She had never married and had no children. She was also an only child, so I would find no siblings or nieces or nephews. With the help of those well-versed in research methods, I was able to find her school yearbook, some early pictures, and eventually, two first cousins. I’m quite certain that libraries provide many children with their first experiences in research – how to look something up and discover more information. It’s a skill they’ll use their entire lives, and they most often learn it from a librarian.

6.  Kammie on First features a great variety of photographs to provide a snapshot into the life and times of this era.  Are there any particular images from your book that you recommend librarians share with a young audience when highlighting this athlete’s life?

 Students always seem to gravitate toward the picture of Lois Florreich being treated for a sliding injury. To me, it speaks to the fact that these women weren’t just out having fun. They were professional athletes, giving it everything they had, and sometimes enduring painful injuries. That’s a photo that tells a great deal about the grit of all the women who played in the AAGPBL.  My favorite picture of Dottie is one of her signing an autograph for a young girl outside the locker room. Even though they are both looking down, you can see that Kammie and her young fan are smiling. It was an important moment for both of them, I’m sure.

7.  How have public libraries shaped your experience as a reader growing up and as a writer today?

 I grew up in Westerville, Ohio, where we had – and still have – a fantastic public library. I can still tell you the exact shelf location of the first book I could ever read alone (I actually believe I had memorized it, but I was convinced I could read!) and the exact shelf that housed the Little House series, which I read through more than once. Going to the library was always a treasured experience as a child. I believe exposure to all kinds of stories at a very young age has really shaped the reader and writer I’ve become today.

8. How can librarians best promote nonfiction books to young readers?

Ah, well, it seems suddenly nonfiction is no longer playing second fiddle to fiction in a lot of situations. I think newer, narrative nonfiction reads more like fiction. I like to tell about how I was so engrossed reading Candace Fleming’s Amelia Lost a few years ago, that a small part of me forgot I knew the ending! As I read, the suspense was real, even though I knew the outcome of Amelia Earhart’s story. That’s what good nonfiction does to a reader. I think that if librarians are promoting great nonfiction right alongside fiction, the stories themselves will grab the reader and send them back for more.

9. What advice would you give to young people interested in a career in writing biographies? How can children’s librarians best support young writers?

 To the young writer, I would say, “Be observant. Be inquisitive.”  Great stories are all around you, and they don’t all belong to the famous. Your elderly neighbor, your teacher, even a classmate may well have had some amazing experiences worth sharing. Ask if you might tell their story and write it down. To the children’s librarians, I would direct young readers first to a book, but then also to the author or illustrator. Helping children realize that behind every book is a writer and sometimes an artist, and always an editor, just might lead a young person toward a career they will love.

10. The next book in the Biographies for Young Readers series,  

Missing Millie Benson by Julie K. Rubini (Image provided by Ohio University Press)

Missing Millie Benson by Julie K. Rubini (Image provided by Ohio University Press)

Missing   Millie Benson by Julie K. Rubini, chronicles the life of the author who wrote twenty-three of the first thirty books in the Nancy Drew Mystery series.  As you are the series editor, did Nancy Drew’s adventures resonate with you as a child?  Why do you think they are relevant to young readers today?

 When Julie Rubini approached the publisher with her proposal to write about Millie Benson, I was on board from the beginning. Nancy Drew has withstood the test of time. I’m amazed that young readers still know this fictional character. It’s very interesting that most of the qualities we love about Nancy are qualities Rubini found in Millie: independent, determined, confident, and hard-working.  Those qualities, whether they be found in fiction or in real people, will never become irrelevant.

Thank you for explaining your writing process and for sharing your perspective on the role libraries play in serving young readers, writers, and researchers!

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47. What's On Your Nightstand (July)


The folks at 5 Minutes For Books host What’s On Your Nightstand? the fourth Tuesday of each month in which we can share about the books we have been reading and/or plan to read.
The Unbelievable Gospel: Say Something Worth Believing. Jonathan Dodson. 2015. Zondervan. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Dodson writes of a culture and society that doesn't believe the gospel, a culture where the gospel is so strange and foreign that it is unbelievable. He encourages readers to rethink how they evangelize. And he does so in a way that does not compromise the truth and the exclusivity of the faith. He is honest in his assessment that people struggle with how to communicate the gospel and face challenges that seem impossible. I'm almost halfway through with this one--and so far I am liking it. It's a very thought-provoking read.

Wouldn't It Be Deadly: An Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins Mystery. D.E. Ireland. 2014. St. Martin's Press. 336 pages. [Source: Library]

The first in a new mystery series. I've been reading this one off-and-on for a few weeks now. I never seem to be motivated to read more than a chapter or two at a time. But it has potential. It is Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins after all. So I'll keep reading.

Murder on the Bride's Side (Elizabeth Parker #2). Tracy Kiely. 2010. St. Martin's Press. 304 pages. [Source: Library]

I'll be reviewing the first book in the series soon. The heroine, Elizabeth Parker, is an Austen lover. She's attending the wedding of a best friend, and her best friend's family is quite dysfunctional. The wedding will be melodramatic--but will it prove deadly? I am liking but not loving this series. But it's a light read that is amusing enough.

Dissonance. Erica O'Rourke. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 512 pages. [Source: Review copy]

YA speculative fiction. The heroine "walks" between alternate/parallel universes. I'm enjoying it so far.

Bitter Truth. (Bess Crawford #3) 2012. HarperCollins. 368 pages. [Source: Library]

I am loving this mystery series. Bess Crawford is a World War I nurse. The books have depth to them that many mysteries don't manage to have.

A Little In Love. Susan Fletcher. 2015. Scholastic. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 Reading this because I am a big Les Miserables fan. This is a novelization of Eponine's story.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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48. An Impartial Witness

An Impartial Witness. Charles Todd. 2010. HarperCollins. 352 pages. [Source: Library]

An Impartial Witness is the second book in the Bess Crawford mystery series by Charles Todd. I love that the series is set during World War I; An Impartial Witness is set in 1917. Bess Crawford is a nurse, and, she's nursing wounded soldiers both abroad and at home. (Bess spends a good amount of time in this novel in France, very close to the front.)

The book opens with Bess arriving in London on leave for thirty-six hours. She's just spent time on a convoy with a wounded soldier--a pilot with severe burns. He keeps holding on because he loves his wife. Her photograph is something he always has close by. She would recognize his wife anywhere she's seen it so often the past few days. But she didn't really expect to see her--this wife--at the train station seeing another soldier off. The scene was VERY emotional, and quite inappropriate if she's the wife of another man. The scene haunts her.

And with good reason, it turns out! For she soon learns that this woman--this wife--is found murdered that evening. She tells what she saw at the train station--several hours before the crime. She describes the man--the soldier--with her. That might have been all...except that she can't stop thinking of the case, of the tragedy of it, and she keeps talking with Scotland Yard about what she learns...

A man is arrested. But is he guilty? She doesn't think so. She really, really doesn't think so. For could she be falling in love with him?! Michael Hart isn't capable of murdering the woman he was supposedly in love with for years, is he?

Can Bess find the real murderer?!

I love, love, love this series. I love the characterization. I love the historical setting. I love the mystery itself. It's just a fabulous read.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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49. Volunteer Now for Award/Selection Committees and Taskforces!

*Please note that the PPYA and Amazing Audiobooks Committees are virtual. YALSA members with book selection and evaluation experience and who are comfortable working in an online environment with tools like ALA Connect, Google Docs, Skype, etc. should put their names forward for consideration.

Past-President Chris Shoemaker noted in his blog post last month that the YALSA Board adopted a new policy about serving on award committees.  Beginning Feb. 1, 2016, any individual who has served on any YALSA award committee will need to wait two years before he or she is eligible to serve on another YALSA award committee. For more information, see this board document from Annual.

If you have been on selection and award committees before, please consider volunteering for the new Selection and Award Committees Oversight Committee (more info can be found in this board document).  This new committee needs experienced YALSA members to serve as liaisons and to standardize policies and procedures for selection and award committees.

The Fine Print

  • Eligibility: To be considered for an appointment, you must be a current personal member of YALSA and submit a Committee Volunteer form by Oct. 1, 2015. If you are appointed, service will begin on Feb. 1, 2016.
  • If you are currently serving on a selection or award committee and you are eligible to and interested in serving for another term, you must fill out a volunteer form for this round (so I know you're still interested and want to do serve another term)
  • Qualifications: Serving on a committee or taskforce is a significant commitment. Please review the resources on this web page before you submit a form to make sure that committee work is a good fit for you at this point in time.
  • Need more information? Click on the links above. Check out the Committee FAQ.  Watch the Selection Committee Webinar.
  • Please free to contact me with any questions or issues at gsarahthelibrarian at gmail .com.

Thanks for volunteering with YALSA!

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50. Library Programs: LibraryCon-Part One-Planning

I've been wanting to host a huge fan convention at the Library for awhile now and I knew it could be done! Many years ago I hosted a Mini-Anime Con for the teens and it was a great event and our Cosplay prom was always huge, so I knew we had an audience ready for an event like this. When I hired Valerie as the Teen Librarian, I knew she would make an excellent LibraryCon partner in crime and so our first annual LibraryCon was born!

(Here's myself and Valerie, all smiles and ready for an epic day!)
photo credit: Valerie


The planning: Planning for this event started many, many months in advance. We are very lucky that our branch manager is a huge comic fan and fellow geek, so we had great support. The three of us met and had several brainstorming meetings of who to invite and we made a field trip over to our local comic book store to talk to the owner about local artists we should include. Valerie also made a trek to another area con that happens in the winter to scout out some possible guests for our event.

We had a date and had every possible space in the Library reserved. We came up with a schedule of events and then we started emailing and contacting people. We decided on three panels and ending the evening with something big, but we weren't sure just what yet. We put out a call to fellow staff and asked them who they knew and could connect us with. Valerie and I pooled together our geeky community connections and set up a list of people we wanted for panels or booths at our event.

We recruited people for a Cosplay Panel, Author Panel, and Illustrator Panel. Between the two of us, we were able to bring in guests for the panels (and many were friends of ours, so they offered to do the event for free-even better!) It worked out we each had two big events to host/moderate during the day of the Con.

We were able to have groups in the community have booths at the event which was a great way to showcase the geeky offerings our area has. We featured our local comic book store, a couple of local geeky podcasts, two area gaming and fan conventions, a gaming organization, a Ghostbusters group, a LARPing group, a Star Wars group, a local group called Eternal Armory who makes amazing metal and costume pieces, and some local Cosplayers. These groups were all in our main concourse right when people walked in.

(The very crowded concourse full of geekiness!)
photo credit: Valerie


We made one of the meeting rooms located in the concourse our Author and Illustrator room, which worked out really well.


(Some of our great authors and illustrators!)
photo credit: Valerie


Then word started to spread and people started to contact us which was great. We honestly didn't expect such enthusiasm for our event and we ended up with about 13 tables/booths for groups and organizations in our concourse and around 14 tables for authors and illustrators. Through a friend of mine I met Captain Logan, who had recently filmed a documentary, The Midwest in Panels, about comic book stores in the Midwest-and he was willing to let us screen in at our LibraryCon! Another great connection and win! The documentary is fantastic, by the way, and if you like comics you should check it out!

We organized a schedule and the amazing Valerie kept in contact with everyone leading up the event. Seriously, I couldn't have done it without her! I made a list of staff we would need and where and sent out a call for extra staff to help us out the day of LibraryCon.

Our Community Relations Department made us some amazing fliers and we took these to the stores that we would be at our event. We also found out at the event that dedicated fans passed out fliers around town for us and helped spread the word.

Then, we waited, stayed in contact with our guests, and excitedly promoted our event!

Find out what happened at the event here: Library Con Part Two-The Big Event and Library Con Part Three-What Worked Well and What I'd Do Differently 

And check out Valerie's post about LibraryCon!



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