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One month ago, I became the Head of Youth Services at a library in Western Pennsylvania and I’ve been thinking about budgets and physical space and the giant puzzle that is building a great youth services collection. I tend to believe a smaller newer collection is more appealing. Yep, fewer and newer books, even if that means we only have a few Goosebumps left on the shelf. So I’ve been doing some weeding. I think we all need a friendly reminder that it’s OK to cut your collection. Go ahead! Remove books that are in bad condition or outdated and don’t replace them. I know that Curious George and Madeline may still circulate; but I also know I have limited space (don’t we all!)
My library is fortunate to be part of a larger library consortium so our collection is technically 45 libraries-strong which means I could focus on what my community needs when they walk into my location. Now that many (most?) of our patrons order their library books online so they can run in and pick them up quickly, what can I offer my area families when they walk through our doors to browse? Maybe a juvenile bestsellers collection? Maybe a toy-lending program? Someone once said to me years ago, the library’s Achilles heel is its futile aim to be everything to everyone all the time. I’m interested in what it would look like to get specific. What if I tried to support a collection policy that relied on my specific community’s desires? What would that look like? Would that even be a good idea?
I’d love to hear your thoughts; how do you approach collection development at your library?
(Photos courtesy of guest blogger)
Our guest blogger today is Kelley Beeson. Kelley is the Youth Services Department Head at the Western Allegheny Community Library. She’s been working in libraries since high school and her favorite book is Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief.
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.
If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at email@example.com.
The post Collection Wisdom appeared first on ALSC Blog.
With my new position that I started last month I have adopted several collections. One of my new collections is the popular E (easy? everyone?) picture book collection. This collection is generally for a wide range of readers, consists of books that offer a rich vocabulary, and have stories told through text and images. Picture books, on average, are 32 pages.
I have picture books that I love to read in story times. I have a list of picture books that I recommend to adults when they are special guest readers in an elementary classroom. There are some great picture books that are informational in nature and sometimes hidden in the nonfiction collection, as they don’t necessarily tell a story but rather convey information. There are the picture books sometimes nestled in the 398.2 section, as they retell folk and fairy tales.
Today I am going to focus on the materials in the picture storybook collection – or the E’s and specifically how to weed them. I am currently engaged in the important task of weeding the E collection in my library, so it’s been on my mind.
Kendra Jones, a member of the ALSC Managing Children’s Services committee, wrote about the importance of weeding in her post from May 2015. In her post she mentioned the CREW Weeding guidelines published by the Texas State Library; when starting the weeding process, I refer to CREW to establish a quantitative baseline to decide how long to keep things that aren’t moving. Beyond the “MUSTIE” considerations, items in easy picture book collections should be analyzed according to last circulation date.
CREW states that easy picture book materials that haven’t checked out in 2+ years should be weeded. When I ran a report using this criteria, I found that there were less than 35 items (out of several thousand) that had been collecting dust and taking up valuable shelf space.
Another report that I generally run when “learning” the movement of a collection is used to find items that have been around for over two years but have never checked out. That doesn’t mean those items are automatically on the chopping block, but it is a good practice to know what moves and what doesn’t. This technique also highlights items that have not checked out because they are missing.
After looking at the most recent circulation statistics for items, I move onto items that may need to be replaced due to high usage and show normal physical wear. There isn’t one circulation number that universally works for all libraries; I’ve seen collections with items that have circulated over 200 times that are still in good shape; meanwhile other collections contain items that need to be considered for weeding due to poor physical condition after 50-75 checkouts. “Normal” physical wear is something that varies widely.
Is weeding part of your job responsibilities? If so do you have a circulation number that you use as your benchmark for replacement consideration? What constitutes “normal” in terms of physical wear for the collections you weed? Do you consider the size of your collection, regional standards, or the age of the collection? Does your library set aside a certain amount for replacements? What about audiovisual materials? I would love to discuss best practices from librarians in the weeds.
The post Picking the library weeds appeared first on ALSC Blog.
[Author dressed as Ms. Frizzle for Halloween in 2013. Photo courtesy of the author.]
This post has been percolating in my brain since I heard Ms. Frizzle’s
voice fly out of my mouth during a session of “Little Hands Art” (art class for 2-4 year olds) this summer. We were painting with ping pong balls and one of the kids put her hand in the paint. She immediately wanted to wash her hands and I challenged her to see what she could do with the paint on her hand. Without thought, the words “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” came spilling out of my mouth. While my young patron didn’t know where my words came from, they gave her the courage to use her fingers to spread the paint that day.
I grew up in a golden age of PBS. And fortunately for me, I held on to PBS for far longer than my peers thanks to my little sister and my younger cousins. Though I do not have a reason to watch PBS now, I smile every time a patron asks for “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” or “Martha Speaks!” since I know these shows are just as beloved to them as mine were to me.
A brief list of small thank yous:
- Sesame Street: for giving me Big Bird and preparing me for the questions that my preschool patrons constantly ask.
- Mister Rodgers’ Neighborhood: for teaching me how cool cardigans are and for showing me *how* things happen. I still remember that crayon factory!
- Kidsongs: for singing to me the multitude of silly songs that I use constantly. Who knew that Michael Finnegan would stick around this long?
- Ghostwriter: for learning about the importance of teamwork and that words/letters/stories have great meaning.
- Wishbone: for sharing the great stories in an accessible way. You sure taught me how to spin a tale/tail!
- Zoom: for teaching me how to do activities and experiments with kids. I practiced on my “patron” — sister and cousins — all the way back in high school!
And of course…Arthur for showing me that having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card!
When I’m buying DVDs for our collection, I’m always happy to add the latest PBS show. Who knows what kind of job I’m preparing kids for today!
Do you have favorite PBS shows/memories that help you in daily library life? Are you shocked and appalled that I never watched Reading Rainbow? Let me know in the comments!
– Katie Salo
Early Literacy Librarian
Indian Prairie Public Library
The post How PBS Inadvertently Prepared Me for Librarianship appeared first on ALSC Blog.
The ALSC Notable Children’s Books committee is charged with identifying the best of the best in children’s books. According to the Notables Criteria, “notable” is defined as: Worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding. As applied to children’s books, notable should be thought to include books of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children’s interests in exemplary ways.
If you’re like me, you have been eagerly anticipating the list of titles to be discussed at the Annual Conference. Here it is!
3, 2, 1, Go! by Emily Arnold McCully. Holiday House.
The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach. Random House/Alfred A. Knopf.
Click! by Jeffrey Ebbeler. Holiday House.
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle. Illus. by Rafael López. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Fetch by Jorey Hurley. Simon & Schuster/A Paula Wiseman Book.
A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Feast by Emily Jenkins. Illus. by Sophie Blackall. Random House/Schwartz and Wade
Fly! by Karl Newsom Edwards. Random House/Alfred A. Knopf.
Grandma in Blue with Red Hat by Scott Menchin. Illus. by Harry Bliss. Abrams.
The Grasshopper and the Ants by Jerry Pinkney. Little Brown and Company.
How to Draw a Dragon by Douglas Florian. Beach Lane Books.
If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray.
In by Nikki McClure. Abrams/Appleseed.
It’s Only Stanley by Jon Agee. Penguin Group/Dial Books for Young Readers.
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña. Illus. by Christian Robinson. Penguin/Putnam.
Meet the Dullards by Sara Pennypacker. Illus. by Daniel Salmieri. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray.
My Pen by Christopher Myers. Disney/Hyperion.
New Shoes by Susan Lynn Meyer. Illus. by Eric Velasquez. Holiday House.
P. Zonka Lays an Egg by Julie Paschkis. Peachtree.
A Poem in Your Pocket by Margaret McNamara. Illus. by G. Brian Karas. Schwartz & Wade Books.
Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall. Harper Collins/Greenwillow Books.
Should You Be a River: A Poem about Love by Ed Young. Little Brown and Company.
Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson. Illus. by Sydney Smith. House of Anansi Press/Groundwood Books.
The Skunk by Mac Barnett. Illus. by Patrick McDonnell. Roaring Brook Press.
Spectacular Spots by Susan Stockdale. Peachtree.
Stormy Night by Salina Yoon. Bloomsbury.
Such a Little Mouse by Alice Schertle. Illus. by Stephanie Yue. Scholastic/Orchard Books.
Supertruck by Stephen Savage. Roaring Book Press/A Neal Porter Book.
Toad Weather by Sandra Markle. Illus. by Thomas Gonzalez. Peachtree.
Whale Trails: Before and Now by Lesa Cline-Ransome. Illus. by G. Brian Karas. Henry Holt and Company/Christy Ottaviano Books.
When Otis Courted Mama by Kathi Appelt. Illus. by Jill McElmurry. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
A Wonderful Year by Nick Bruel. Roaring Brook Press/A Neal Porter Book.
FICTION (INCLUDING FICTION, VERSE NOVELS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS)
Audacity by Melanie Crowder. Penguin/Philomel Books.
Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes. Little Brown and Company
Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly. Harper Collins/Greenwillow Books.
The Cottage in the Woods by Katherine Coville. Random House/Alfred A. Knopf.
A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder. Illus. by Mary GrandPré. Random House/Crown Books for Young Readers.
Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan. Illus. by Dinara Mirtalipova. Scholastic Press.
Finding Serendipity by Angelica Banks. Illus. by Stevie Lewis. Henry Holt and Company.
Fish in a Tree by Linda Mullaly Hunt. Penguin Group/Nancy Paulsen Books.
Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy by Susan Vaught. Simon Schuster/A Paula Wiseman Book.
Honey by Sarah Weeks. Scholastic Press.
The Imaginary by A. F. Harrold. Illus. by Emily Gravett. Bloomsbury.
Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lại. HarperCollins.
Moon Bear by Gill Lewis. Illus. by Alessandro Gottardo. Simon Schuster/Atheneum.
The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall. Alfred A. Knopf.
Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters by Shannon Hale. Bloomsbury.
The Question of Miracles by Elana K. Arnold. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Red Butterfly by A. L. Sonnichsen. Illus. by Amy June Bates. Simon & Schuster.
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson. Penguin/Dial Books for Young Readers.
Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper. Simon & Schuster/Atheneum.
This Side of Home by Renée Watson. Bloomsbury.
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Penguin/Dial Books for Young Readers.
Wish Girl by Nikki Loftin. Penguin/Razorbill.
NON-FICTION (INCLUDING INFORMATION PICTURE BOOKS, POETRY AND FOLKLORE)
28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World by Charles R. Smith Jr. Illus. by Shane Evans. Roaring Brook Press/A Neal Porter Book.
Big Red Kangaroo by Claire Saxby. Illus. by Graham Byrne. Candlewick Press.
Bird & Diz by Gary Golio. Illus. by Ed Young. Candlewick Press.
The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko. Illus. by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko. Scholastic/Arthur A Levine Books.
Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects by Paul B. Janeczko (compiler). Illus. by Chris Raschka. Candlewick Press.
Draw What You See: The Life and Art of Benny Andrews by Kathleen Benson. Illus. by Benny Andrews. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Clarion Books.
Earmuffs for Everyone: How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs by Meghan McCarthy. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/A Paula Wiseman Book.
Egg: Nature’s Perfect Package by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. Illus. by Steve Jenkins. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson. Illus. by Sean Qualls. Random House/Schwartz and Wade.
Enormous Smallness: A Story of E. E. Cummings by Matthew Burgess. Illus. by Kris Di Giacomo. Enchanted Lion Books.
Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow. Highlights/Calkins Creek.
First Flight around the World: The Adventures of the American Fliers Who Won the Race by Tim Grove. Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum/Abram Books.
Flowers Are Calling by Rita Gray. Illus. by Kenard Pak. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Gingerbread for Liberty: How a German Baker Helped with the American Revolution by Mara Rockliff. Illus. by Vincent X. Kirsch. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
In Mary’s Garden by Tina and Carson Kügler. Illus. by Carson Kügler. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Lullaby & Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love with Your Baby by Lee Bennett Hopkins (compiler). Illus. by Alyssa Nassner. Abrams/Appleseed.
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul. Illus. by Elizabeth Zunon. Lerner/Millbrook Press.
Rad American Women A to Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History… and Our Future by Kate Schatz. Illus. by Miriam Klein Stahl. City Lights Books.
Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre. Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane.
Swing Sisters: The Story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm by Karen Deans. Illus. by Joe Cepeda. Holiday House.
Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower by Greg Pizzoli. Penguin Group/Viking.
Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrew. Illus. by Bryan Collier. Abram Books.
Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery. Illus. by P J Loughran. Penguin/Dial Books.
The Notable Children’s Books committee will be meeting Saturday, Sunday, and Monday afternoons from 1:00 to 4:00 during the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco. The discussions will take place in Room 3022 (W) of the Moscone Convention Center. The books will be discussed in the order they are on the list.
The post Notable Children’s Books Nominees — Summer 2015 #alaac15 appeared first on ALSC Blog.
Earlier today, the ALSC Notable Children’s Books list of titles to be discussed at the Annual Conference was posted on this blog. I know many of you are also anticipating the 2015 Notable Children’s Recordings Committee Discussion List.
The 2015 Notable Children’s Recordings Committee would like to invite anyone interested to come to their meetings in San Francisco where children’s recordings and audiobooks will be discussed for inclusion on the 2016 Notable Children’s Recordings List. The committee will meet at the Intercontinental Hotel (Patri Room) on Saturday afternoon from 1:00 to 5:30 and Sunday afternoon from 1:00 – 4:00.
And here is the discussion list:
• A Plague of Bogles, 7 hrs 16 min, cd, $45, Listening Library, 9780553556261
• All Around This World: Africa, 1 hr. 24 min, cd, $18.99, CD Baby/Sugar Mountain
• Best Friend Next Door, 4 hrs 44 min,, cd, $25.88, Weston Woods,9780545857710
• Bugs in My Hair, 6 min, cd + bk, $12.95, Weston Woods, 9780545790154
• Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms, 6 hrs 30 min, cd,. $66.75, Recorded Books, 9781490664330
• Crystal, 5 hrs, cd, $51.75, Recorded Books, 9781470392963
• Cuddlebug Parade, 37 min, cd, $12.00, Sweetly Spun Parade/DBaby.com, 889211153558
• Finding the Worm, 7 hr 1 min, cd, $40.00, Listening Library, 9780553552447
• Embassy Row #1: All Fall Down, 8 hrs 34 min, cd, $74.99, Scholastic Audio, 9780545788342
• Fish in a Tree, 5 hrs 45 min, cd, $35.00, Listening Library, 9781101890691
• Glory Be, 4 hrs 27 min, download, $10.95, Scholastic Audio, 9780545735292
• Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs, 14 min, cd + bk, $12.95, Weston Woods, 9780545842709
• Magic Treehouse Super Edition #1: Danger in the Darkest Hour, 3 hrs 2 min, cd, $19.95, Listening Library, 9780553552652
• Mark of the Thief, 8 hrs 28 min, cd, $79.99, Scholastic Audio, 9780545788564
• Midnight Thief, 12 hrs, cd, $108,75, Recorded Books, 9781490651545
• Mr. Men Collection, 59 min, cd, $10.00, Listening Library, 9781101891285
• Mr. Men Collection, #3, 53 min, download, $22,00, Listening Library, 9781101891438
• Mr. Men Collection, #4, 57 min, download, $22.00, Listening Library, 978 110 1891452
• Ms. Rapscott’s Girls, 3 hrs 40min, cd, $27.00, Listening Library, 9781101890653
• Nuts to You, 2 hrs 45 min, cd, $30.75, Recorded Books, 9781490651224
• Papa Is a Poet, 18 min, cd + bk, $12.95, Weston Woods, 9780545842570
• Sing-Along History, Vol. 1: Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!, 35 min, cd, $10.00, CD Baby/Sugar Mountain
• Smek for President!, 6 hrs, cd, $30.00, Listening Library, 9780553395686
• Stella by Starlight, 6 hrs 30 min, cd, $24.99 Simon & Schuster, 9781442380394
• Stradivari’s Gift, 37 min, cd, $12.99, Atlantic Crossing/Naxos of America, 701807997837
• The Boy in the Black Suit, 7 hrs 45 min, cd, $77.75, Recorded Books, 9781490658827
• The Cottage in the Woods, 12 hrs 46 min, cd, $55.00, Listening Library, 9780553556223
• The War That Saved My Life, 7 hrs 38 min, cd, $40.00, Listening Library, 9780553556537
• This is the Rope, 8 min, cd + bk, $12.95, Weston Woods, 9780545790512
• Timmy Failure, #3: We Meet Again, 2 hrs 15 min, cd, $25,75, Recorded Books, 9781490620879
• Tombquest, Bk.1: Book of the Dead, 4 hr 37 min, cd, $49,99, Scholastic Audio, 9780545788403
• Woof, 7 hrs 4 min, cd, Scholastic Audio, $64.99, 978054583835
The post Notable Children’s Recordings Nominees — Summer 2015 #alaac15 appeared first on ALSC Blog.
This afternoon, I got the chance to do something I have long wanted to do at an ALA Conference: I sat in on the Children’s Notable Recordings Committee meeting. Anyone is welcome to sit in and listen to the meetings as this committee discuss the nominated children’s recordings.
The entire list of titles that the Committee will be discussing during the Annual Conference can be found online.
Like Notable Books, the Notable Recordings discussion follows the CCBC Discussion Guidelines by introducing the book first, sharking positive comments, and then sharing concerns and criticisms. As the introduction, a committee member had determined a clip from the recording to be played for the entire committee. This might be part of a track on a music CD or a portion of an audiobook. It seems like committee members tried to choose a portion that would reflect strengths of the book (i.e. a particular song they liked, a section of the audiobook that shows off the narrator’s skills at voicing characters, etc.). As an observed, I appreciated the clips as samples of some of the audiobooks being published this year. I want to seek out some of these recordings to listen to the whole thing!
In addition to the story, committee members must consider:
- Narration, including the skills of the narrator and any flaws (such as audible breath sounds)
- Sound effects and music included on audiobooks – are they the appropriate volume? Do they match the tone and illustrations of the book?
- Page turning signals (on picture book audiobooks) – do they leave enough time for a child to take in what’s on the page? Do they leave too much time?
- Liner notes – do they include lyrics? Do they include background information about music from around the world?
These are all items I gleaned from about an hour of sitting in on the discussion. I know there is much more that goes into their consideration of children’s recordings. This is a really meaningful discussion to tune into, especially since many committee members have listened to these recordings multiple times and made copious notes for items to discuss.
If you have any interest in improving your skills at evaluating recordings or want to keep up with what’s new in children’s music and audiobooks, stop in at a Children’s Notable Recordings Committee meeting!
— Abby Johnson, Youth Services Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN
The post Listening in at Notable Recordings at #alaac15 appeared first on ALSC Blog.
I write this blog post as I’m sitting in the San Francisco Airport, waiting to depart for home. My shuttle got me here about 3 hours before my flight is scheduled to leave. Luckily, I have some great books to occupy my time while waiting and while on the plane.
Photo by Abby Johnson
Here are a few of the great books I picked up at the Exhibit Hall and at publisher events during the conference. These are some of the books that I’m looking the most forward to and make sure to pack in my carry-on for airport/plane reading.
Fellow conference-goers, what books are making it into your carry-ons for the trip home? I would love to know!
— Abby Johnson, Youth Services Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN
The post Winging My Way Back from #alaac15 appeared first on ALSC Blog.
The Rainbow Book List Committee, a committee of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) of the American Library Association, is seeking suggestions from the field for the 2016 Rainbow Book List. Suggestions from the field will be accepted through September 30, 2015.
So what is the committee looking for? Excellent books for children birth through age 18 that reflect the LGBTQ experience for young people.
The Rainbow Book List Committee members are currently reading over 100 titles (and any that you suggest) and nominating the best of the best for inclusion on the list. The committee will meet at Midwinter to discuss all nominated titles and select those that will make the final list.
You can follow along with committee activities at the blog and see what titles have already been nominated. We would love to know about any great LGBTQ books for kids and teens that you’ve read that have been published since July 1, 2014! For more information about the Rainbow Book List Committee click here.
The post Send Us Rainbow Book Suggestions! appeared first on ALSC Blog.
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.
Kevin 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!
Anxiety 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?
The post New Baby Books appeared first on ALSC Blog.
By: Public Awareness Committee,
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Do you often field gift book questions from patrons around the holiday season? I’ve had my share of parents ask me for the best new picture book of the year for their daughter or a grandparent who wants to gift their tween a book but has no clue where to start. If you have also had these experiences, check out ALSC’s updated booklists! These are a great resource to help parents, grandparents and caregivers of all sorts purchase great books for the children in their lives during the winter holiday season- or any time of year.
Image from http://www.ala.org/alsc/building-home-library-2014-update.
The ALA-Children’s Book Council (CBC) Joint Committee, with cooperation from ALSC’s Quicklists Consulting Committee, have updated the four Building a Home Library booklists to provide advice to caregivers and others interested in constructing an excellent, star quality library for children at home. The committee looked to include less mainstream gems, wonderful multicultural books, beloved classics and new, notable titles.
The CBC Committee has included two printer-friendly versions of the bibliographies for four specific age groups. You will find suggested titles of exemplary content and quality for children from birth to age 3, children ages 4-7, children ages 8-11 and even for tween-aged children 12-14. The brochures are great for putting out at your desk for interested patrons. Does your library receive donation gifts for area shelters, churches or other organizations? You can place these brochures next to your donation bin for easy suggestions the busy patron can bring to their local bookseller when shopping.
Some of my favorite choices from the lists that would be perfect gifts are:
Carle, Eric. La oruga muy hambrienta/ The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Philomel/ Penguin, 2011.
This classic story from beloved author and illustrator Carle is indeed a great gift for babies birth to age 3. This publication is particularly great because it will introduce both English and Spanish words to your little one.
Snicket, Lemony. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. The Dark. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013.
The Dark by Lemony Snicket. Image from www.hachettebookgroup.com.
Children ages 4-7 are sure to enjoy this wonderful picture book that gives a voice to the dark. This is an especially fun read-aloud with two readers and a perfect opportunity for caregivers to participate in their preschooler’s reading time!
Palacio, R.J. Wonder. Knopf/ Random House, 2012.
8-11 year olds of all reading levels will appreciate this heart-warming story of a 5th grade boy with facial abnormalities. It’s realistic tone and kind message make it a lovely holiday gift choice.
Telgemeier, Raina. Drama. Graphix/ Scholastic Inc., 2012.
Encourage caregivers to snag this title if they have a reluctant tween reader to please. This graphic novel about middle-school drama club and making new friends will become a well-read book at home.
What books do you love to recommend for holiday gifts? If you have any favorites, please share them with us in the comments!
From everyone on the Public Awareness Committee, happy holidays!
Nicole Lee Martin is a Librarian at the Grafton-Midview Public Library in Grafton, OH and is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submit your Bookapalooza application by Feb. 1, 2015 (image courtesy of ALSC)
Dream of expanding your collection with a huge shipment of books, videos, and audio books and recordings? Boy, have we got an offer for you!
ALSC and the Grants Administration Committee are now accepting online applications for the 2015 Bookapalooza Program. This program offers select libraries a collection of materials to be used in a way that creatively enhances their library service to children and families. The materials are primarily for children age birth through 14 and include newly published books, videos, audio books and recordings from children’s trade publishers.
Applicants must be personal members of ALSC, as well as ALA members to apply. Deadline for submissions is Sunday, February 1, 2015. For more information about the award requirements and submitting the online application please visit the Bookapalooza Web page.
Hands down, my favorite part of an ALA conference is the ALSC Collection Management Discussion Group.
Whether you select children’s books for your branch, a small military library, a school library, or an entire library system, you are welcome to join this open discussion group to talk about the issues unique to this part of librarianship. Popular topics include comparing vendors, the challenges of collecting self-published books, how floating collections work at public libraries across the country, or how to deal with Common Core. E-books? DVDs? Cataloging issues? The topics run the gamut and are really vital to compare and discuss with people who are dealing with exactly the same issues.
Like so many things in our division, finding colleagues to share the load is great for moral and for saving yourself the time & effort of re-inventing the wheel. Join us!
The post ALSC Collection Management Discussion Group #alamw15 appeared first on ALSC Blog.
The 2015 Youth Media Awards have been announced at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting. I could not be prouder of the hard work EVERY committee did in selecting a phenomenal list of winners! (And I can’t wipe this silly grin off my face. I love the YMAs!)
Check out this press release from ALA for all the details of the winners and honor books which were announced this morning.
The post The YMAs have been announced at #alamw15 appeared first on ALSC Blog.
Lately, there have been many questions regarding censorship floating around social media. A majority are phrased as collection development questions. e.g. “Is it okay to put this book in the Children’s Department?” Librarians are becoming increasingly concerned with themes such as a character’s sexuality or gender identity, and wonder if these topics belong in children’s collections. Some librarians are also hesitant for fear of community backlash, or maybe they just aren’t comfortable with the themes themselves. Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that as librarians, it is our job to protect everyone’s access to information, from babies to great-grandparents!
If you’re unsure if you’re self-censoring I encourage you to check out the New York Library Association’s Self-Censorship Test. The test hasn’t been updated in a while, and I encourage you to add the question “Have I not shelved a book in the children’s section because of it’s themes or content?” There is also a great article about self-censorship on the CCBC website, written by Megan Schielsman about the controversy that swirled around The Higher Power of Lucky.
Finally, reach out to the Intellectual Freedom Committee -we’re not just here for help with challenges! Feel free to email us with any questions you might have.
Aly Feldman-Piltch, ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee
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As school districts across the country continue to adopt leveled reading programs like Accelerated Reader, school and public libraries are under increasing pressure to label library materials with leveling information. This can be a distressing proposition for many reasons, but it is particularly concerning from an intellectual freedom standpoint. What does it mean for young readers when they are limited to certain reading levels, and what might be the effect of having one’s reading ability stamped onto the cover a book for all to see?
Librarians want to support their local educators, parents, and children. So when does leveled reading begin to infringe on students’ intellectual freedom, and how can we help our communities understand these problems?
We asked Pat Scales, retired school librarian, past President of ALSC, and spokesperson for first amendment issues, to share some information on leveled reading systems, labeling, and their relationship to intellectual freedom.
Additional resources that you might find useful include Labeling and Rating Systems: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights and Questions and Answers on Labeling and Rating Systems, both from ALA.org.
School Library Journal also offered a free webinar in September 2014, School Library Journal Webinar: Let’s Talk About Banned Books, which is archived and can still be viewed. Pat addressed many of these questions in more detail during her section of the webinar.
How do book leveling systems such as Accelerated Reader, Lexile and Action 100 limit intellectual freedom for children?
There are many troubling things about these leveling systems, but the systems don’t abridge freedom to read. It’s the practice of limiting students’ access to materials based on reading levels that infringes on students’ right to read. Unfortunately this is common practice in many school libraries, and some public libraries feel pressured to implement such restrictions. Librarians serving children should evaluate how these systems are used and develop policies that promise free and open access to students of all ages.
Some school libraries are labeling their entire collections so that children can find books on their required reading levels quickly. What issues do you see with this?
Labeling is an unacceptable practice, and violates the spirit of the Library Bill of Rights. “Organizing collections by reading management program, level, ability, grade, or age level is another form of restricted access.” (Restricted Access to Library Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights) A library promotes reading, but isn’t a reading classroom. Instead it should be a place where children discover the magic of story, and the power of information. Reading levels shouldn’t be worn as a badge of honor or a badge of shame. That is what happens when libraries are reduced to reading laboratories. Additional points:
- Students may be able to handle books that are beyond their “tested reading level” if they are interested enough in the book. Chronological age and emotional maturity play a much greater role in what children choose to read than reading level. Gifted students are often expected to read far beyond their maturity level simply because they can read a text. There are documented censorship cases where elementary schools purchased books more appropriate for young adults all because the books had a higher reading level.
- Students who need a quick overview on a topic may find it in an “easier” text, but may then be led to more difficult books on the subject.
- Students should expect a certain amount of privacy when making their reading selections. If books are labeled with reading level stickers, whether on the cover or on the inside of the book, there is the possibility that other students take note of the labels, thus violating a student’s privacy.
- Librarians are trained in collection development and reader guidance. Reading leveling systems preclude them for doing their job.
How should school and public librarians work together to ensure that children get access to the books they are required to read as well as the books they want to read?
Public librarians should ask to meet with school librarians or teachers in the spring when reading lists are likely developed for the following school year. Ask that schools share these lists to assure that public libraries have the books in the collection. Exchange email addresses so that the public library and schools can stay in touch regarding services. Sponsor a back to school program for teachers and parents (advertised on the public library and school websites) and include the following:
- Encourage the group to share their favorite children’s books – whether from their childhood or ones they share with their students.
- Ask adults to share their library experiences as a child. Take what they say and lead a discussion about best practices. How did their experience shape their view of libraries today?
- Make sure that parents and teachers understand that a child shouldn’t be tested on every book they read. And, the point should be made that children don’t need to comprehend every nuance in a book to enjoy the story.
- Invite readers (from the summer reading program) to share some of their favorite books.
- Encourage older readers to suggest titles for younger readers.
Often librarians struggle on the front lines when parents refuse to let their children check out books not in their reading system or on their reading level. Do you have any suggestions for gentle ways that librarians can advocate for the child’s intellectual freedom while respecting the parents in the middle of a readers advisory or reference transaction?
- Ask to speak with the parent in private and explain all the reasons that children read.
- Suggest that the parent allow the child to take several books – variety of topics and reading levels.
What are some of the limitations of book rating websites such as Common Sense Media, The Literate Mother, and Facts on Fictions?
These sites aren’t really book review sites, and some of the people writing the entries don’t really know children’s books. The focus isn’t on the entire book as a work of literature. Instead they rate the content of books using emoticons or graphs – calling out issues related to sex, profanity, violence, and drinking and drugs. Some of the sites make specific reference (by page number) to what they view as troubling content. This is a real threat to libraries and the patrons they serve. For example, a chaste kiss may be interpreted as having a lot of sex in the book. There are documented cases where books have been removed from libraries based on Common Sense Media reviews. The most troubling thing of all is that there are librarians who rely on these sites because they think knowing about “controversial content” protects the library. These aren’t selection tools. Don’t be sucked in by such a false sense of security. Instead take the time to get to know these sites, and it will become crystal clear that these people don’t know how to evaluate books.
While we know that librarians are the best resource for connecting kids with the right books, how can librarians let their communities know they are there to help? How should we be advocating for ourselves?
Find opportunities to speak to civic groups and tell the public library story. Share a little of the history of children’s programming in the local library, and make a connection between services offered in the past and those offered today. Civic groups tend to respond to statistics, but tell human interest stories as well. Perhaps a teen parent brought her baby to the public library to find books for him, and you worked with the teen parent to help her know how to interact with her child through story.
Also, be in touch with various agencies and organizations serving children and families and suggest books and materials that may help them with their work. These may include the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, a homeless shelter, Safe Houses, detention centers, the city or town’s parks and recreation system, arts councils, etc.
Consider a library blog that showcases public library programming. Encourage parents to ask librarians reader guidance kinds of questions. For example, “My daughter loves the Harry Potter Books. What else what else might she like?” Respond with a specific answer, or simply ask the parent to bring the child to the public library so that librarians can guide her.
BIOGRAPHY: Pat Scales is a retired middle and high school librarian whose program Communicate Through Literature was featured on the Today Show and in various professional journals. She received the ALA/Grolier Award in 1997, and was featured in Library Journal’s first issue of Movers and Shakers in Libraries: People Who Are Shaping the Future of Libraries. Ms. Scales has served as chair of the prestigious Newbery, Caldecott, and Wilder Award Committees. She is a past President of the Association of Library Service for Children, a division of the American Library Association. Scales has been actively involved with ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee for a number of years, is a member of the Freedom to Read Foundation, serves as on the Council of Advisers of the National Coalition Against Censorship, and acts as a spokesperson for first amendment issues as they relate to children and young adults. She is the author of Teaching Banned Books: Twelve Guides for Young Readers, Protecting Intellectual Freedom in Your School Library and Books Under Fire: A Hit List of Banned and Challenged Children’s Books. She writes a bi-monthly column, Scales on Censorship, for School Library Journal, a monthly column for the Random House website, curriculum guides on children’s and young adult books for a number of publishers, and is a regular contributor to Book Links magazine.
The post Leveling and Labeling: An Interview with Pat Scales appeared first on ALSC Blog.
The audiobooks in your library’s digital collection are easy to access from computers, tablets, iPods and smartphones. As you build and market the collection, keep in mind the different ways that children and families use audiobooks, and select titles to meet a variety of needs.
Preschool children may be drawn to the stories and characters of their favorite picture books. Think carefully about how the text will play without the pictures that help tell the story. You’ll also want to take checkout limits into consideration. Collections of multiple books, like Green Eggs and Ham and Other Servings of Dr. Seuss, and early chapter books like Hooray for Anna Hibiscus! may be more attractive to borrowers than a title which only lasts a few minutes.
Families listening together need titles that appeal to everyone. Stories like The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher include characters of multiple ages. Parents listening with older children will find a lot to talk about in nonfiction like The Port Chicago 50.
Children who have their own tablet or iPod can download and listen independently. For older elementary kids, having what they want the first time they look is crucial. Order at least once a week and pre-order when you can, so that your homepage shows the freshest new titles and you always have the latest books in their favorite series.
What are your secrets for building a great e-audio collection? Please share them in the comments.
This month’s blog post by Rachel Wood, ALSC Digital Content Task Force
We would love to hear from you. Please email us at email@example.com and join our ALSC Digital Content Task force group on ALA Connect. Share ideas! Add to discussions!
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It’s a great time to be a comics fan.
There are loads of amazing ones coming out right now. The Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz committees all recognized graphic novels as honor books this year. People are starting to sit up and pay attention to the world of comics and graphic novels, so I am here with a list for your kids (AND YOU!). Happy reading! And welcome to the comics life.
Lumberjanes is by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen. It’s published by Boom studies in single-issue format, but the first trade paperback (collecting issues 1-4) is out on April 7th. Y’all, this one is so incredible. Feminist, funny, and constantly focused on friendship, this series is set at a summer camp and shouldn’t be missed.
PrinceLess by Jeremy Whitley has been a relatively new find for me and I’m obsessed. Princess Adrienne is tired of sitting around in her tower waiting for a prince to slay her dragon and rescue her. So she and her dragon decide to go do the rescuing themselves. Completely turns sexist and racist tropes on their head, as displayed by this panel:
PrinceLess hasn’t been checked in since we got it. Your kids are gonna love it.
The Explorer books (there are three) are comics anthologies edited by Kazu Kibuishi, whom your students already know because they adore amulet. This trilogy asks well-known comic artists like Raina Telgemeier, Emily Carroll, and Faith Erin Hicks, to write comic shorts based on a topic. They’re amazing. There’s something for everyone in this series!
Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson. Kamala Khan is a Pakistani-American teenager in Jersey City who suddenly and quite accidentally becomes empowered with extraordinary gifts. She has to figure out how to handle being a typical Muslim teenager–who’s now a superhero.
Honestly, when I discovered these (there are two so far), I bought them based solely on the tagline: “Yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl.” Basically, that’s enough to sell me, but Mirka is fun and amazing and her religion is shown as something that’s part of her life, not something to be overcome or chafed against. Plus, dragons.
This is just a really small cross-section of all of the wonderful comics for kids that are being published right now. I hope you and your kids love them as much as me and mine do!
Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 6 years.
The post Comics, Comics, Comics! appeared first on ALSC Blog.
Let’s talk about This One Summer. I know many of you have already talked about it, and I’m sure some of those conversations have been very interesting. As a member of the 2015 Caldecott Committee that chose This One Summer by Mariko & Jillian Tamaki as an honor book, I’ll try to clear up some points that have lead to questions. According to the Caldecott definitions, “’A picture book for children’ is one for which children are the intended potential audience. “Children are defined as persons of ages up to and including fourteen and picture books for this entire age range are considered.” (Caldecott Manual, page 10) The Expanded Definitions also says, on page 69, “In some instances, award-winning books have been criticized for exceeding the upper age limit of fourteen. If a book is challenging, and suitable for 13-14 year-olds, but not for younger readers, is it eligible? Yes…” Yes, this book is for older readers. Here’s an interesting look at that question in Travis Jonker’s interview with the Tamakis.
This One Summer is a coming-of-age story about a girl entering adolescence and both appeals to and is appropriate for young readers age 12-14. Twelve, thirteen and fourteen year-olds fall well within the scope of audience for the Caldecott Medal and Honor books. Although this book is challenging in many ways, the committee found it to be “so distinguished, in so many ways, that it deserves recognition” as well as “exceptionally fine, for the narrow part of the range to which it appeals, even though it may be eligible for other awards outside this range.” (page 69 – Caldecott Manual). There are many people who do not realize that the Caldecott terms include books for older readers. I see this as an opportunity for us, as ALSC members and librarians, to deepen understanding of the award.
Committee member Tali Balas add sticker to the book. Photo by Angela Reynolds
According to The Caldecott Manual, a “picture book for children” as distinguished from other books with illustrations, is one that essentially provides the child with a visual experience. A picture book has a “collective unity of storyline, theme, or concept, developed through the series of pictures of which this book is comprised.” (page 10) The committee followed this definition closely, and This One Summer shows, through pictures, a collective unity of all three, with particular strength in storyline and theme. Graphic novels certainly provide us with a visual experience. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has a great article on using This One Summer in a classroom, which you can read here, and a “make your case” article for adding it to your collection here. And for those of you who are graphic novel fans, don’t miss this podcast with Mariko Tamaki. I love how she talks about the images being like paragraphs.
The Caldecott Committee, as directed by the manual, considered each eligible book as a picture book and made our decisions based primarily on illustration. The committee gave This One Summer an honor because of its excellence of pictorial presentation for children, as defined in the manual. If you haven’t seen it, take a look at the amazing use of just one color. Jillian Tamaki creates mood so vividly with her washes of indigo, deepening the shade when the plot gets darker. The story has much to do with water; the monochromatic blues remind us just how changeable a lake (and an adolescent girl) can be. The images in the book intertwine and play with the words, creating an authentic summer experience. I just love the image on pages 70-71 where Windy is dancing around the kitchen. It shows her personality, and Rose’s, perfectly: setting up the tension of youthful energy and quiet contemplation. There are many images throughout the book that give us this deeper insight. Go looking for them. They will astound you.
*Special thanks to fellow committee member Sharon McKeller for help with this article.
The post Let’s talk about Caldecott: This One Summer appeared first on ALSC Blog.
Where should I live?
Certain collections are associated with a little bit more parental angst than others, and books about puberty, changing bodies, and human sexuality often seem to fall into this category. Some parents see their value and appreciate their inclusion in the collection, while others are aghast that a children’s library would carry such material.
While librarians agree that books dealing with these topics are important to own in a collection, the trickier subject of where these books should live often pops up, usually after a child has checked out a book with a puberty or human sexuality theme their parent is less than thrilled about. Do we keep these books in our offices and only offer them to those who ask, or is that censorship? Do we file them with the rest of the books and deal with whatever fallout may come as it happens, or are we inviting an unnecessary headache?
What about me?
At my library, we use a two-fold solution. There is a collection in the Children’s Library called F5 Parents. The Parents collection contains a “best of” selection of parenting books, such as Raising a Digital Child and Your One-Year Old. It’s also home to a group of picture books we call “Special Topics” that parents can check out to facilitate conversations with their children about issues such as new babies, potty training, adoption, illness, and human sexuality. The younger human sexuality books, such as Hair in Funny Places, live here, as do books designed to be shared between a parent and a child, such as It’s Perfectly Normal.
Meanwhile, our Kids Self non-fiction section, which debuted Fall 2013 as a part of our non-fiction reorganization, holds the puberty and human sexuality books that are squarely aimed at the 10-14 year-olds who are experiencing these changes, such as The Care and Keeping of You and Will Puberty Last My Whole Life? This allows kids to browse for books they might find helpful, while providing parents with a dedicated place to go for the same topics.
Where does your library keep the puberty books? Do you believe librarians should be cognizant of parental feelings on the subject, or check books out to children who want them regardless of potential parental objections?
The post Where do I live? Finding a Home for Puberty Books appeared first on ALSC Blog.
Like most of you, we look closely at our collections, their arrangement and their kid-friendliness. We successfully morphed our Picture Book collection into Picture Book City "neighborhoods" and stopped fighting board books and made them 100% browseable in easy-to-access bins - both great "accessibility" decisions.
Since Alan, our new head of Collection Management (CM), started two years ago - and we changed our ILS - these types of changes have been far easier. Why? He has two kids and he really "gets" youth services. He knows how challenging big collections are for children seeking information and favorite books. The Dewey Decimal and multiple fiction collections with strange letters and symbols sitting atop author's last names and so.many.books.everywhere. can make a library visit overwhelming.
Our newest collection update was something that Al suggested as soon as he started working here. "Why," he mused, "don't you just color code the spine labels for your different fiction collections (early readers, graphic novels, chapter books, illustrated fiction)?" Why indeed. This coincided with an observation I made when I had first started. Since our catalog clearly spells out what particular fiction collection a book is located in (thank you automation), why do we need to even have a suffix (+, P, E, jgn or jif) as part of the call number in the catalog? We could save cataloging time by simply going suffix-less in the call number field.
Then, like peanut butter and chocolate running into each other and producing a peanut butter cup, we realized that if we took our two ideas (colored labels and no call number suffix on both books and in the catalog) we would save a ton of processing time and reach a hoped for goal- easy kids access. Al's idea sparked us!
We designated unique colors for each of our fiction collections - and while we were at it divided out our chapter book collection into tween and chapter books: early readers = pink; jgn = red; illustrated fiction = purple; chapter = green; tween =orange. Then we simply added the appropriately colored overlays to our existing collections and did global changes to wipe out the suffixes in the catalog's call number field (there's that slick new ILS!). All new books come down from CM without a suffix ((E, +, jgn, jif) - the spine label simply has the first three letters of the author's last name or main entry. YS staff quickly determines which fiction collection each belongs in, puts on a colored overlay and batch updates the catalog.
|Colored overlays show what collection books belong to. Top three books display sleek new suffix-less labels!|
- Kids (and shelvers!) more easily can spot the types of books they are looking for.
- The colored collections make a quick shorthand way for desk staffers to direct kids to books ("Let's find that in the red section where graphic novels are.") ,
- Our Collection Management catalogers and processors no longer have to agonize over exactly which collection a book fits in or do small batch processing to cope with the differences between fiction collection labels.
- If we think a book would be better in a different collection, we simply make a quick change in overlays and a catalog update.
- The overlays themselves - which we have used on other collections around the library - are long lasting but still peel-offable if we want to do a reclass of individual books.
|Left: Illustrated fiction (purple labels). Right: Graphic Novels|
A strong partnership with a visionary CM manager and a willing YS team made the difference in making this user friendly and more efficient library workflow change.
I think simplifying Dewey numbers may be next!
Like a garden, a collection needs to be weeded regularly in order to thrive. Many weeds are beautiful, but left to their own devices they will take over a garden and drown out the things you are actually trying to grow. A library is the same. We must weed out grubby and unwanted items to make room for popular titles, and attractive copies of classics, and other materials to round out our collections.
Just a few grubby items from juvenile fiction
When I began in my current library, the collection needed to be weeded badly. Popular items were falling apart, and other items (including a vintage 1983 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles chapter book, which I failed to take a picture of!!) had been sitting so long that glue dust flew from the binding when opened. By the time I finished Juvenile Fiction (chapter books), more than 1500 items were discarded or replaced. Look how pretty the stacks look now!
Do not put off weeding until you are in this situation! Sit down right now and make a weeding plan. Decide the order in which collections will be addressed, and/or assign collections to staff members to focus on. Determine the criteria you will use for weeding, and how you and staff will regularly fit time into your schedules for this important task. Look at your budget to determine how much money can be allocated to replacing shabby copies, or filling gaps in series and subjects.
Revamped Series Section
If you have a large weeding project like mine, make a plan for how you plan to use the additional shelf space- displays? special pull out collections? a passive program in the stacks? -to get jazzed about the possibly daunting task before you. Motivate yourself and your staff by keeping track of circulation statistics and taking before and after pictures.
Go forth and weed!
Consider these sources for more on weeding:
– “Why We Weed” from Awful Library Books.
-The CREW method (pages 69-70 are specific to youth collections) may be especially helpful if you are new to weeding. Keep in mind, however, that depending on your community and the use of your collections, the number of years you allow an item to sit on the shelf may vary. In my library, most juvenile fiction items sitting for more than one year need to be reviewed, as this is a high circulating collection. They may be put on display, or find themselves in the book sale.
–Weeding Library Collections: A Selected Annotated Bibliography for Library Collection Evaluation from the American Library Association
Today’s blog post was written by Kendra Jones, a Children’s Librarian at the Tacoma Public Library in Tacoma, WA on behalf of the ALSC Managing Children’s Services Committee.
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- What obligation do public or school libraries have to purchase materials that present a range of views on controversial subjects?
- Must every controversy be treated the same way?
- How do our personal biases affect our purchasing decisions?
- Should libraries take the opinions of their patrons or the ethos of their communities into consideration when making these decisions?
- If there are no materials that meet our selection criteria, should we add materials of poor quality simply to ensure that all viewpoints are available?
- Should well-known titles on controversial topics be retained once better-written books are available?
- Is there a difference between adding donated materials and spending taxpayers’ money to purchase them?
These are a few of the questions which occurred to me in response to the recent discussions about MY PARENTS OPEN CARRY by Brian Jeffs and Nathan Nephew (White Feather Press). The publisher kindly sent me a review copy of the book in response to my emailed request and it arrived yesterday, giving me time to examine it carefully and to share it with my coworkers.
Though formatted as a picture book, the character whose parents “open carry” is a 13-year-old girl named Brenna. And despite the title, she doesn’t narrate the text. As the authors indicate in their, “…note to home school teachers: This book is an excellent text to use as a starting point on the discussion of the 2nd Amendment,” which suggests that they are hoping to reach a market with a broad age-range.
I was hoping the book would be well-enough written that I would find it a plausible purchase for our collection, but my hopes have not come to fruition. The text is tedious, the conversations are repetitious and attempts at descriptive writing fail to convey information.
Here are some examples of the writing:
“One morning, Brenna was sleeping and dreaming dreams only a 13-year-old girl would dream.” (p. 1)
“All in all, Brenna had a great day with her mom and dad. She again realized how much they loved her and how lucky she was to have parents that open carry.” (p. 21)
And then there are the creepier moments: “To increase Brenna’s awareness, her dad often tries to sneak up on her to catch her off guard; it’s a game they play.” (p. 15)
In addition, the robotic figures depicted in the illustrations with their stiff postures and eerie, fixed smiles are rather discomfiting.
I confess that the level of paranoia Jeffs and Nephew express to justify their need to carry guns in plain sight whenever they go out in public disturbs me, but I won’t debate the Second Amendment here. Whatever our personal opinions on the matter may be, we librarians still must grapple with the sorts of questions I’ve framed above.
I feel honor-bound, however, to point out that Jeffs and Nephew espouse the consumption of canned spinach and this is a sentiment that any right-minded person would find abhorrent. Fresh spinach is delicious and frozen spinach is an acceptable substitute in recipes calling for cooked spinach, but canned spinach is an abomination. The only proper use for a can of spinach that I can think of would be to aim at it during target practice.
But spinach aside, if this book had received a starred review, would you add it to your collection?
Miriam Lang Budin, ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee
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The National Program Registry opens for Día on November 1st, so make sure to mark your calendars! The registry serves two purposes. First, your library will be recognized as participating in the El día de los niños/El día de los libros events on April 30, 2015. Additionally, by joining the registry, your library’s program will be part of a national searchable database in which other librarians can peruse your program ideas, get inspired, and hopefully design their own programs around diversity in literature. As a bonus, the registry also increases your library’s publicity and gives you some bragging rights.
I regularly check ALA’s Día website for program ideas, book lists, book club kit ideas, and free downloads. It’s where you can register your 2015 program and become part of the growing Día community. The Día booklist this year will have a STEAM focus, providing enticing possibilities of integrating STEAM content into your programs, displays, or book clubs. The booklist will be out in December, and I’m already anticipating it. I have in mind several STEAM-related programs or displays, including a scientist display honoring minorities in the field; a program on using technology to discover your own unique background and heritage (genealogy); and a program using blown-up prints of various engineering feats for children to guess which counties or persons designed them. The possibilities are endless!
Build STEAM with Día Mini-Grants (image courtesy ALSC)
Don’t forget that there are mini-grants available this year. You can check out more information on how to apply for one, and the approaching deadline, via the Día website or the Día Facebook Page. In previous years, libraries across the country have hosted everything from poetry readings, border dances, festivals and food tastings as Día events. We can’t wait to see what you all come up with for 2015! Start thinking about Día now. Remember to put your program in the database so we can all be amazed at what you’re doing for your diverse and dynamic communities!
Reminder! ALSC is now accepting mini-grant applications for libraries through the Día initiative. Mini-grants will be used to initiate a Building STEAM with Día program in libraries. Up to 20 mini-grants will be awarded at $1,500 each. Applications are due Friday, October 17 at 5pm Central.
Emily Scherrer is the Library Administrator for Sierra Vista Public Library, Arizona and is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee. As a librarian living and working in a “border town,” she is a big advocate for diverse programming and collections. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
ALSC Awards, the Children’s Librarian version of the Oscars!
With the end of 2014 on the horizon and all eyes turning towards the excitement of the ALSC awards in January, it’s a great time to talk about where we keep award winners in our libraries. There is something to be said for democratic shelving, where each book is shelved in accordance with a system that does not take into account its shiny, shiny medals. Are award winners too noble to mingle with their less-professionally-lauded brethren, especially when those other titles occasionally get more love from children themselves? At the same time, students and parents often come in and ask for award winners. Shelving them all together makes sense.
At my library, we’ve worked around this issue with the addition of two collections which did not subtract any books from the exisiting collection. First, at the direction of then-Head of Children’s Services Kiera Parrott in 2012, we added the F5 Favorites Caldecott section. The F5 (First Five Years) Favorites collection already contained all of the picture book award winners, so it was easy for us to add this collection without adding a new collection code. We purchased two more copies of each award winner, stickered them at the top of the spine with Demco labels, and shelved the new copies together at the end of the Favorites collection. In this way, patrons had the best of the both worlds: they could browse a section of excellent award winners, or find the same great books on the shelf if they were looking for a specific author. The new collection had a very successful debut – circulation was so high we were able to allocate additional funds in 2013 to add popular Caldecott honors to the collection, too.
Darien Library’s Harold W. McGraw, Jr. fellow Lisa Nowlain designed this AMAZING graphic to explain how awesome the Newbery award is.
With the success of the F5 Favorites Caldecott collection, we turned our eyes towards the Newberry award. Current Head of Children’s Services Claire Moore correctly reasoned that older readers (and their parents) would be just as happy to have a collection of librarian pre-approved titles, and this summer we set about ordering at least 2 copies of every Newbery Award winner. Contrary to popular belief, they are not all still in print (or at least, not all available from our vendor). Learning from our Caldecotts, we also purchased additional copies of extremely popular or excellent Newbery Honor books as well.
The Kids Newbery collection debuted in September and has proven to be just as popular, if not more popular, than the Caldecott collection. Shelves that were pleasantly full looking in August now look empty, a happy problem to have!
Although this idea isn’t new, implementing it at our library caused a noticeable bump in total circulation while not costing nearly as much in man-hours as other collection projects. Where do you shelve your award winners? Do they live together?
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In June, when Simon & Schuster made their ebooks available only to libraries who agreed to add a “Buy It Now” option to their catalog, I was torn between two important promises libraries make to kids and families: we will do everything we can to get you the books you want, and everything we offer is free.
My library holds the line on keeping things free in many ways, even to the point of refusing to offer summer reading coupons that require an additional purchase to get that free ice cream cone. Parents value libraries as places where they know they can escape the relentless pressure to buy stuff, and our commitment to keep it so extends online.
But what happens when the trade-off is keeping popular titles out of our ebook collection? I was stumped. I spent the past few months not taking a stand, simply delaying. Looking askance at every detail of the program and trying to find a good way out of two bad choices.
So I’m thrilled now that the requirement is gone and I can welcome Simon & Schuster to our ebook offerings! Welcome Bunnicula, Olivia, Lucky, Caddie, Derek and Rush! Thanks to libraries who tried “Buy It Now” and those who didn’t and everyone who keeps lines of communication open and advocates for books and readers. Thanks Simon & Schuster for listening and being flexible and working with us to find the way.
This month’s blog post by Rachel Wood, ALSC Digital Content Task Force & Materials Division Chief at Arlington (VA) Public Library.
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