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1. Where do your award-winners live?

caldecott

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.

Harold W. McGraw, Jr. fellow Lisa Nowlain designed this AMAZING graphic to explain how awesome the Newbery award is.

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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2. Día Planning Starts Now!

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

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 mlescherrer@gmail.com

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3. My Parents Open Carry

  • My Parents Open CarryWhat 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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4. Collecting Graphic Novels: What Belongs in the Children’s Library?

graveyardI was so excited when the graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book arrived in my library this week. I’ve been looking forward to the graphic novelization for months – advance reviews were glowing, and it seemed like the perfect addition to our Kids Graphic Novel section, which serves all reading children in our library (mostly ages 6-12). Then I opened the book.

Gaiman’s Newbery Award-winner famously opens with the eerie, perfectly spine-chilling line, “There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.” The graphic novelization of a novel which begins with a family’s murder was always going to be on the dark side. I expected that. I did not expect to turn the second page of a book touted as acceptable for age 8 by 4 of the 5 major review journals and see graphic, bloody images of a family with their throats slit open, red blood pooling around them. These images are hinted at but not described in the novel ( I know, I reread the chapter to be sure!)

Where did you shelve The Lost Boy?

Where did you shelve The Lost Boy?

After quickly conferring with my coworkers, we decided to move the book to the YA Graphic Novel collection. The magic power of the internet helped reassure us in our decision: none less than the venerable NYPL had shelved the book either in YA or Adult graphic novels, depending on the branch. I was bummed to lose what I am sure will be a highly-circulating book to another department, and doubly bummed after reading it – the book was excellent, just not quite a fit for the Children’s Library. I was also glad this happened, as it made me think about how much I rely on reviews when adding to the collection, and how badly reviews had failed me this time around.

Here is my question to you, fellow graphic novel collectors for children: how do you decide if a graphic novel is appropriate for the children’s library, especially when the collection has to appeal to a wider audience than kids in grades 3-6? If a book is dark but not graphic, does it stay (The Lost Boy)? If the characters are battling in a fantastical setting (Battling Boy), does it go in YA or children’s? If there are romantic entanglements (a la Drama), where do you put the book? Where did you put The Graveyard Book?

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5. Notable Children’s Books Discussion List – Summer 2014 #alaac14

Edith Ching, chair, and the rest of the 2015 Notable Children’s Books Committee, invite you to join them at their discussions, taking place on Saturday through Monday, June 28  to 30, from 1:00 to 4:00 in the Las Vegas Convention Center, Room N114.

The discussion list follows.

FICTION (INCLUDING FICTION GRAPHIC NOVELS AND FICTION VERSE NOVELS)

Alexander, Kwame. The Crossover. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Auxier, Jonathan. The Night Gardener. Abrams/Amulet.

Blakemore, Megan Frazer. The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill. Bloomsbury

Boyne, John. Stay Where You Are & Then Leave. Illus. by Oliver Jeffers. Henry Holt and Company.

Brown, Skila. Caminar. Candlewick Press.

Dauvillier, Loïc. Hidden : A Child’s Story of the Holocaust. Illus. by Marc Lizano and Greg Salsedo. Translated by Alexis Siegel. First Second.

Davies, Nicola The Lion Who Stole My Arm. Illus. by Annabel Wright. Candlewick Press.

Elliott, L. M. Across a War-Tossed Sea. Disney-Hyperion Books.

Engle, Margarita. Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Fitzgerald, Laura Marx. Under the Egg. Dial Books for Young Readers.

Foxlee, Karen. Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy. Alfred A. Knopf.

Herrera, Robin. Hope is a Ferris Wheel. Abrams/Amulet.

Holczer, Tracy. The Secret Hum of a Daisy. G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

Johnson, Jaleigh. The Mark of the Dragonfly. Delacorte Press.

Lamana, Julie T. Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere. Chronicle Books.

Lloyd, Natalie. A Snicker of Magic. Scholastic Press.

Lord, Cynthia. Half a Chance. Scholastic Press.

MacLachlan, Patricia. Fly Away. Margaret K. McElderry Books

Moses, Shelia P. The Sittin’ Up. G. P. Putnam’s Sons for Young Readers.

Oppel, Kenneth. The Boundless. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Philbrick, Rodman. Zane and the Hurricane. Blue Sky Press.

Preus, Margi. West of the Moon. Amulet/Abrams.

Sovern, Megan Jean. The Meaning of Maggie. Chronicle Books.

Turnage, Sheila. The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing. Penguin/Kathy Dawson Books.

White, J. A. The Thickety: A Path Begins. Illus. by Andrea Offerman. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books.

Woods, Brenda. The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books.

NONFICTION

Athans, Sandra K. Secrets of the Sky Caves: Danger and Discovery on Nepal’s Mustang Cliffs. Lerner/Millbrook Press.

Bausum, Ann. Stubby the War Dog: The True Story of World War I’s Bravest Dog. National Geographic.

Bolden, Tonya. Searching for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl in America. Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Brown, Don. He Has Shot the President!: April 14, 1865: The Day John Wilkes Booth Killed President Lincoln. Roaring Brook Press.

Burns, Loree Griffin. Handle With Care : An Unusual Butterfly Journey. Photographer Ellen Harasimowicz. Lerner/Millbrook Press.

Farrell, Mary Cronk. Pure Grit: How American World War II Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific. Abrams/Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Rubin, Susan Goldman. Freedom Summer: The 1964 Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi. Holiday House.

Sheinkin, Steve. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights. Roaring Brook Press.

PICTURE BOOKS

Barton, Byron. My Bus. Greenwillow Books/Harper Collins Publishers

Bluemle, Elizabeth. Tap Tap Boom Boom. Illus. by G. Brian Karas.Candlewick Press.

Bunting, Eve. Washday. Illus by Brad Sneed. Holiday House.

Carle, Eric and Friends. What’s Your Favorite Animal? Eric Carle and friends. Nick Bruel, Lucy Cousins, Susan Jeffers, Steven Kellogg, Jon Klassen, Tom Lichtenheld, Peter McCarty, Chris Raschka, Peter Sís, Lane Smith, Erin Stead, Rosemary Wells, Mo Willems. Illus. by ditto. Henry Holt and Company.

Dempsey, Kristy. A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina’s Dream. Illus. by Floyd Cooper. Penguin/ Philomel Books.

Dolan, Elys. Weasels. Candlewick Press.

Lee, Chuku H. Beauty and the Beast . Illus. by Pat Cummings. HarperCollins / Amistad.

Light, Steve. Have You Seen My Dragon? Candlewick Press.

McDonald, Megan. Shoe Dog. Illus. by Katherine Tillotson. Richard Jackson Book/Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Nelson, Kadir. Baby Bear. HarperCollins /Balzer + Bray.

Offill, Jenny. Sparky. Illus. by Chris Appelhans. Random House Children’s Books, Schwartz & Wade.

Prahin, Andrew. Brimsby’s Hats. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Reid, Aimee. Mama’s Day with Little Gray. Illus. Laura J. Bryant. Random House.

Robinson, Michelle. How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth. Illus. by Kate Hindley. Henry Holt and Company.

Rockliff, Mara. The Grudge Keeper. Illus. by Eliza Wheeler. Peachtree.

Russell, Natalie. Lost for Words. Peachtree.

Santat, Dan. The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend. Little Brown.

Sierra, Judy. E-I-E-I-O: How Old MacDonald Got His Farm (with a little help from a hen). Illus by. Matthew Myers. Candlewick Press.

Spires, Ashley. The Most Magnificent Thing. Kids Can Press.

Underwood, Deborah. Here Comes the Easter Cat. Illus. by Claudia Rueda. Penguin/Dial Books for Young Readers.

Yoon, Salina. Found. Walker Books for Young Readers /Bloomsbury.

Yuly, Toni. Early Bird. Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan.

INFORMATIONAL PICTURE BOOKS

Campbell, Sarah C. Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature. Illus. by Sarah C. Campbell and Richard P. Campbell. Boyds Mills Press /Highlights.

Chin, Jason. Gravity. Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press

Ehlert, Lois. The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life. Beach Lane Books.

Gibbons, Gail. It’s Raining! Holiday House.

Jenkins, Steve. Eye to Eye: How Animals See the World. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers.

Napoli, Donna Jo. Hands & Hearts: With 15 Words in American Sign Language. Illus. by Amy Bates. Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Roberts, Cokie. Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies. Illus. by Diane Goode. Harper Colllins.

Rosenstock, Barb. The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio Became America’s Hero. Illus. by Terry Widener. Calkins Creek / Highlights.

Rubbino, Salvatore. A Walk in Paris. Candlewick Press.

Stewart, Melissa. Feathers: Not Just for Flying. Illus. by Sarah S. Brannen. Charlesbridge.

Tonatiuh, Duncan. Separate is Never Equal : The Story of Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation. Illus. by author.   Abrams books for Young Readers.

Woelfle, Gretchen. Mumbet’s Declaration Of Independence. Illus. by Alix Delinois.Carolrhoda Books.

NONFICTION BIOGRAPHY

Fern, Tracey. Dare the Wind:   The Record-breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud. Illus. by Emily Arnold McCully. Margaret Ferguson Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Powell, Patricia Hruby. Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker. Illus. by Christian Robinson. Chronicle Books.

Rosenstock, Barb. The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art. Illus. by Mary Grandpré. Alfred A. Knopf.

Wallace, Rich and Sandra Neil Wallace. Babe Conquers the World:The Legendary Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Calkins Creek/an imprint of Highlights.

NONFICTION POETRY

Cleary, Brian P. If It Rains Pancakes: Haiku and Lantern Poems. Illus. by Andy Rowland. Millbrook.

Janeczko, Paul B (editor). Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems. Illus. by Melissa Sweet. Candlewick Press.

Lewis, J. Patrick and Douglas Florian. Poem-mobiles: Crazy Car Poems. Illus. by Jeremy Holmes.   Random House Children’s Books/ Schwartz & Wade.

Muth, Jon J. Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons. Scholastic.

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6. Building a Home Library

Building a Home Library lists

Building a Home Library (photo courtesy of ALSC)

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 bibliographies below to provide guidance to parents, grandparents, and others interested in assembling a high-quality library for their children at home.

Librarians, educators, and others who work with families are encouraged to download and print these brochures and share them with parents, grandparents, and caregivers in their community.

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7. 2014 ALSC Summer Reading List

2014 ALSC Summer Reading List

2014 ALSC Summer Reading List (courtesy of ALSC)

ALSC recently released three summer reading lists. Each is available to download for free on the ALSC website in color and black and white. Lists can be customized to include library information, summer hours and summer reading programs for children before making copies available to schools and patrons.

The Summer Reading List was compiled and annotated by ALSC’s Quicklists Consulting Committee and School-Age Programs and Services Committee through a 2013 Carnegie Whitney Grant funded by the American Library Association Publishing Committee. The 2014 list was updated by ALSC’s Quicklists Consulting Committee.

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8. Series Collecting: How do you know?

Unless your library exists in the digital world rather than the physical one, everyone has experienced the limitations of shelf space at one point or another. With 3,000+ titles published each year for children, weeding is a way of life for the children’s librarian, lest our shelves begin to look like a particularly literary episode of hoarders! Older books and series that no longer have an audience have to make way for exciting new books and series that will become a whole new generation’s favorite books.

We still have about 12 of each of Harry, Ron, and Hermione's adventures - and they're always checked out!

We still have about 12 of each of Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s adventures – and they’re always checked out!

So my query today, fellow collectors of books for children, is this: how do you decide to take the plunge on a new series? There are some obvious indicators, like a rave review for the first title or a first printing size that indicates the publisher believes the book has legs. I place some of my trust in the selectors at Baker & Taylor, and ask to see all titles in my carts which my warehouse (South) has purchased 400 or more copies of.

Beyond that, deciding to purchase a new series that has decent but not astounding reviews becomes a puzzle with many pieces – do we have kids that read this type of fiction? Do we have similar series already? Does that series have any distinguishing factors, either character or plot, that will make it stand out for the pack? I admit that we have become very wary of purchasing new fantasy series without stellar reviews, as their popularity (at least in our library) seems to be on a slow decline.

Coco Simon knows what girls like to read!

Coco Simon knows what girls like to read!

Our most recent series decision was a long time coming. We didn’t purchased those pink-and-purple, absolutely adorable Cupcake Diaries for the first 6 months of their lives, for a few reasons. The series was publishing at a fast rate, which meant we would have to devote ever-increasing amount of shelf space to it each month. Additionally, our library already had several multi-book series about girls, cooking, and cupcakes. Demand for the series rose and we made the decision to weed a few of the older cupcake/cooking series to make room for Katie and her friends. Of course, the series circ’d like hotcakes and I was kicking myself for not snapping them up immediately!

How do you know when to purchase? How do you know when to let a series go?

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9. Happy 50th Anniversary CCBC!

I've always consdered myself one lucky duck to work in the same state as the Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) in Madison. This book examination center headed by K.T. Horning and womaned by an amazing staff that includes Megan Schliesman, Merri Lindgren and Emily Townsend (as well as a stellar universe of former librarians who continue to shine out wherever they are employed - and hats off to Ginny Moore Kruse for her work in developing the CCBC into a national as well as state force) has been a touchstone throughout my career.

There have been a number of celebrations this year around their 50th anniversary, including a recent one at the Friends of the CCBC annual meeting. I was thrilled to be asked to be part of a panel presenting on ways in which the panelists used the CCBC resources in their work. Our panel was comprised of a research university prof; an author/historian researcher; a university prof/researcher/writer...and me!

Here are my actual notes for the talk I gave. Lots of laughter when I showed the audience what I was speaking from. The catalog card is significant for many reasons not least of which the CCBC has meant so much to me and my practice of youth librarianship that I only need a hint to share the good stuff.

Library School Student - the CCBC was just a hallway down from SLIS. As a youth focused SLIS student I could access the newest books and get to know the breadth of children's literature and research on it with the best reference desk. I got strong.

Collection Development - the CCBC was a must-go early in my career as I honed my collection development chops. I would bring down stacks of old catalog cards with titles jotted on the blank side to look at and decide if we REALLY needed that particular title. And I found great unreviewed material like books in the incredible Small Press Collection to add to the collection. I could go back to my director with a stack of cards of what we didn't buy because I actually had the book in hand. He made the connection, and always funded these quarterly, 3 hour round trips to Madison.

Colleague Connector - the CCBC was the unsuspecting facilitator of some of my strongest connections with school colleagues. My favorite connection happened with Judy, our district reading coordianator. An invite to experience the CCBC with me and spend those 3 hours commuting resulted in big ideas and a lasting connection that informed our amazing partnership work for twenty years between the library and schools.

CCBC Advisory Board - I served on the board twice and I learned even more about the resources and the many ways both school and public libraries accessed the collections and information. It helped me hone my leadership skills as well!

Book Discussions - the time I spent participating in the monthly book discussions taught me how to truly learn the art of careful listening and powerful advocacy for books. National level book award committees use the CCBC Discussion Guidelines for a reason. They work! Eveything I am as a reviewer for SLJ and in my award committee discussion work I owe to the CCBC and that modeling and training and experience.

Intellectual Freedom Service - not many people outside of our state know, but for decades the CCBC has helped WI librarians navigate book challenges by providing, in complete confidentiality, reviews and other support materials to help answer a challenge. Ably run for the past twelve years by this year's WLA/WEMTA Intellectual Freedom Award winner Megan Schliesman, this service has helped me twice in my career. And I appreciate it.

Multicultural Focus - The CCBC , with its annual CCBC Choices publication and long-running observations and discussions of muticultural issues in publishing, has helped me hugely in creating a collection that reflects our world. Conferences, speakers, authors and illustrators have been brought to me as well through their work in this area. They helped me develop a strong collection early on.

I was honored to be asked to represent a working librarian's perspective on the panel (and I tell you humbled by the company I was keeping!). Congratulations to the CCBC on their 50th and many, many more great years to you!

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10. Creative Reader’s Advisory

There are kids who walk into the Children’s Library, walk right up to the desk, and tell you exactly what they’re looking for. There are kids with definite opinions and kids whose taste is harder to suss out. All these kids are a part of the joy of Reader’s Advisory – the easy ones make you feel like you’re aces at your job, while the difficult ones make you feel like a superhero when you find the perfect book for them to read.

But there is another group of kids that we noticed we were not reaching – the ones who won’t approach the librarian for suggestions, even when coaxed. At the same time, we noted our new fiction displays were not emptying out as quickly as they once had. In an effort to reach those children who don’t like to come to the librarian for RA and to help kids realize that there were worthy options among the new fiction, we started adding a simple and effective bit of hands-off RA to our displays.

ab5

Sneaky RA!
photo provided by the author

What we did was simple and not groundbreaking, but it has amped up our new fiction turnaround to the point where are there are days that we run out of new books in the library! I used the die-cut machine to punch out roughly 1 zillion (a real number) bright yellow medallions, on which we wrote “For Kids Who Love….” and then inserted the title of a similar book that kids will know. The thing that makes this so effective is we exclusively link the new books to massively popular titles and authors. This lets both kids and parents who might not be familiar with popular but mid-list titles recognize books they may want to read. Does the book have family issues or emotional plot beats? For kids who love Wonder. Are there animals who talk/have feelings? For kids who love The One and Only Ivan. Is there any magic? For kids who love Harry Potter.

What's your favorite book's soulmate?  photo provided by the author

What’s your favorite book’s soulmate?
photo provided by the author

We started applying this to our themed fiction displays as well. For example, in February, we had a Book Soulmates display. We invited kids to discover the soulmate to their favorite book and then linked massively popular titles to older books that need an new audience. This allowed me to FINALLY convince a child to check out Good Night, Mr. Tom, a book with some of the worst cover art I have ever seen, but which I love so much I wrote about it here. I advertised it’s soulmate as Number the Stars, since they’re both about children’s experiences during WWII. And Mr. Tom hasn’t been checked in since!

The author's favorite tiara and everyone's favorite song.  photo provided by the author

The author’s favorite tiara and everyone’s favorite song.
photo provided by the author

We plan to keep this up for as long as it’s effective. Patron feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Both parents and kids have remarked that they love the new displays, and our only questions have been about whether or not it’s ok to disturb the display and/or take a book with a medallion on it.

Now I just need to figure out how to tie together princesses, RA, and like titles for this display, and I’ll be golden!

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11. 5 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Apps and Ebooks

When it comes to physical books and materials, librarians are confident reviewers and collectors. We can distinguish between a so-so beginning reader and a truly excellent one. We know what makes a particular work of middle grade fiction absolute shelf candy versus a hard sell. We can appreciate what goes into the creation of a brilliantly designed picture book.  The good news is that many of the same critical skills used to evaluate physical media are transferable when evaluating digital media.  Ebooks and apps, however, do present new challenges as well as new possibilities.  It can be helpful to go in armed with a simple set of criteria for evaluation.

The following is a rough checklist for evaluating book-based apps and enchanced ebooks, compiled from expert advice on the SLJ Touch and Go blog*, leading children’s app developers, and my own trials and tribulations navigating this brave new digital world:

1. Does it expand and enhance the traditional reading experience?

There’s not much point in offering an ebook or app if it is simply a page-by-page replication of the physical book.  A great app or ebook should be interactive and encourage creative thinking and problem solving.  It should take the characters, the setting, the themes, or the world of the book and allow the reader to explore them in new ways.

2. Does it allow a linear reading experience?

While cool games and interactive features can distinguish a good app or ebook, it can also be its weakest attribute.  As Michel Kripalani, CEO and founder of Oceanhouse Media Inc., a leading children’s app developer, explains, “it is important that the games and additional features have purpose and do not diminish the reading experience.”  Kripalani recently related the story of a friend who had a rather disappointing experience while sharing a book-based app with his daughter at bedtime: The app interrupted the story so many times with games and activities that the little girl and her dad were never able to fully enter into the narrative. The magic of that shared reading experience was lost.  A well-designed app should strike a balance between opportunities for exploration outside of the narrative as well as opportunities to lose oneself in the story alone.

3. Does it engage multiple literacies and learning styles?

An excellent book-based app or ebook should offer the user a dynamic experience that engages the senses and allows for interaction in a variety of ways.  For example, many apps are geared, by their very nature, towards visual learners.  What about an app that also engages auditory or kinesthetic learning styles?

4. It is intelligently designed? Is it intuitive, flexible and customizable?

Just as a well-designed picture book achieves a fine balance between tension and surprise, and expertly employs the “turn of the page” as a means of creating drama, an intelligently designed app or ebook can maximize (and individualize) the unique relationship that exists between screen and user.  Above all, a good app will be user friendly and easy for children to navigate.  Beyond that, a great app may offer customizable features such as the ability to alter the settings (easy/medium/hard) and accessibility options (such as font size or narration speed.)

5. Does it have legs (i.e., longevity)?

As far as whether or not any particular ebook or app will be technically compatible with future devices and services is hard to say.  That depends a lot on the vendor, the device(s) currently used, and how libraries wind up negotiating and reimagining terms of service contracts with publishers, developers, and service providers.  Be that as it may, it is still useful to look at the overall shelflife of any particular app or ebook.

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12. App of the Week: Bluefire Reader

Title: Bluefire Reader
Platform:
iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch with OS 3.0 or higher
Android app is coming soon!! According to MediaBistro AND Bluefire Facebook page   
Cost: Free!

As a school librarian, summer is one of my favorite times to catch up on professional development and read as much as possible. This year I was lucky enough to attend ALA Annual (post on this coming soon) where I was showered with galley after galley of upcoming summer, fall and even winter titles. I left New Orleans with an entire extra suitcase full of finds.

Only occasionally during my rounds through the exhibit hall was I reminded of the great service NetGalley, which allows “professional readers”  (i.e. librarians and other eligible persons) access to DRM and DRM-free Galleys of upcoming titles.

The list of publishers in NetGalley’s arsenal is long, and I’ve found out about many great titles through this service.  I turned a few books down when I discovered they were on NetGalley…less to carry.

Upon my return from ALA, I learned that the iPads we ordered for the coming school year were in, so I picked one up with plans to try it out. I’ve put several different reading devices on the iPad; Kindle, Copia, Stanza, Bluefire have all been added, to name a few.

All are free apps, and all have their benefits,* but I’m highlighting Bluefire for a few reasons:

13. 30 Days of How-To #7: Collection Development on the Fly

HOW TO: Collection Development on the Fly

It’s time for that little bit of money to be spent and quickly or it will be spent by someone else. You haven’t had any time to work on an order and you don’t want to make a mistake. Look to the lists below to help you find all kinds of exciting books, DVDs, and audio books that should be in your library.

Every title on every YA list will not be automatically suitable for your collection. To double-check yourself, when you add a title to your order list, you can quickly skim the reviews provided by your jobber to see if an item matches your needs. Look to the sections for older readers in the children’s lists for other titles, especially if you serve middle school age.

YALSA Best Books for Young Adults
YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults
YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens
YALSA Printz Award and Honor Books
YALSA Amazing Audios for Young Adults
YALSA Fabulous Films for Young Adults
YALSA/ALSC Odyssey Award

ALSC Notable Children’s Books
ALSC Notable Children’s Videos
ALSC Notable Children’s Recordings
ALSC Newbery Award and Honor Books
ALSC Sibert Informational Book Medal and Honor Books

Projects of the Children’s Book Council in collaboration with ALA and other professional organizations:
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12

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14. Book Club Kits

Looking for a way to highlight your collection, increase circulation, put your expert knowledge of children’s literature to great use, and remind your users that the library is the beating, pulsing heart of your community? It may be as simple as a few duplicate copies, a handout of discussion questions, and a quiet corner for groups to meet.

A few of our popular Kids Book Club Kits.

Launched last fall, Kids Book Club Kits have been an extremely popular (and easy to manage) new service at my library. The kits are designed to make patron-led book discussion groups fun and easy. Each kit contains several copies of a librarian-selected title, a book summary, discussion starters and questions, further resources such as websites or extended reading opportunities, and suggested activities related to the book’s themes.  In addition to the kits themselves, parents who register with the Children’s Library are also given the opportunity to reserve a meeting space to host their discussion group.

Choosing the Books

We began by surveying our Kids Fiction and Kids IRead (chapter book) collections, noting the titles we owned in multiple. We decided to start by choosing ten titles for early elementary (grades 1 to 3) and ten titles for older elementary (grades 4 to 6.) In addition to being available in duplicate, we looked for books that were exciting, highly discussable, slightly off-the-radar, and that naturally lent themselves to extended activities.  It helped that we booktalk new titles each spring to our local elementary schools and purchase multiple copies of those titles. As a result, after a few years, we are able to go back and resurrect these great books as Book Club Kits.

Writing the Content 

A selection of our Book Club Kit handouts.

The most time-intensive aspect of launching the Book Club Kits service was researching and preparing the handouts. We decided to make a template consisting of a picture of the book cover, a brief summary, 1 or 2 discussion starters (or icebreakers), 4 to 6 discussion questions, a list of further resources (often consisting of the author’s website or related material), and an activity related to the themes or characters.  As an example, check out  The Year the Swallows Came Early Kit.

While getting the discussion questions together took some time and consideration, it was one of the most enjoyable in the process. The entire children’s staff, including our summer intern, was encouraged to participate by reading and re-reading the selected books and thinking of great questions and activities to add to the handout. When stumped, we were often able to find questions and discussion starters from several publisher websites. Although we decided to create our own templates, libraries could just as easily print out discussion guides straight from the publishers.

Kits and Meeting Spaces

Once we had our 20 initial kits ready to go, we had to figure out how we would store them and how patrons would check them out. We decided, after a bit o

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15. Fusenews: “Peppa Pig is likely to fall into American hands”

SLJ represent!  Though I could not attend this year’s KidLitCon (the annual conference of children’s and YA bloggers) many others did and they have all posted links to their recaps of the event here.  So while I could not be present, fellow SLJ blogger Liz Burns of Tea Cozy showed up and has a fabulous encapsulation of that which went on.  Lest you label me a lazy lou, I did at least participate in a presentation on apps.  Yes, doing my best Max Headroom imitation (ask you parents, kids) I joined Mary Ann Scheuer and pink haired Paula Wiley.  It went, oddly enough, off without a hitch.  Attendees may have noticed my gigantic floating head (we Skyped) would occasionally dip down so that I seemed to be doing my best Kilroy imitation.  This was because the talk happened during my lunch and I wanted to nosh on some surreptitious grapes as it occurred.  You may read Mary Ann’s recap here and Paula’s here, lest you fail to believe a single word I say.

  • Speaking of Penderwicks, the discussions fly fast and fierce over at Heavy Medal.  To my infinite delight, both Jonathan AND Nina are Penderwick fans.  Wow!  For the record, I agree with their thoughts on Amelia Lost as well.  That book has a better chance at something Newberyish than any other nonfiction this year.  This could well be The Year of Amelias (Jenni Holm has an Amelia book of her own, after all).
  • Heads up, America!  According to an article in The Guardian, “The debt-laden businesses behind some of the biggest names in childrens’ TV and books are selling off some of the nation’s best-loved characters.”  Personally, I figure the Brits can keep their Peppa Pig.  It’s Bagpuss I want.  Or The Clangers.  I grew up watching Pinwheel on Nickelodeon so I’ve an affection for these.  Any word on the current state of King Rollo?
  • Aw yeah.  Authors talking smack about authors.  Granted it’s living authors talking about dead authors (dead authors talking about living authors is a different ballgame entirely) but it’ll stand.  Two dude who write for kids break down J.M. Barrie, The Yearling, etc. and then end with unanimous praise for what I may consider the world’s most perfect children’s book.  Go check ‘em out.
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16. Selection Tools Outside the Box

Part of good collection development is knowing where to find the newest and greatest books. For so long we have relied on the standards such as School Library Journal, Horn Book, Book List, and H.W. Wilson’s Core Collection for Children among others, and while these are great selection tools if you want to wait six months to read the reviews, today’s library patrons want books that are still being unpacked at the local bookstore. Everyone knows the release date to new and upcoming books – think back to when Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins came out. Weren’t you waiting with bated breath? How many times have you been asked, “When is Inheritance by Christopher Paolini coming out or the next Diary of a Wimpy Kid?”

Library vendors such as Ingram, BWI, Baker and Taylor and Brodart do a great job of letting us know the forthcoming titles through catalogs and lists but if you don’t use a vender you might not have access to them. One of the best is Baker and Taylor’s Publishers  Presents Powerpoints provided on their webpage. My second favorite is BWI’s What’s New section but you have to have your own log-on to access it.

Other sources to help in collection development and selection are newsletters, blogs, author’s websites and other sites dedicated to children and young adult books. Check out these sites and sign up today to start receiving information on upcoming children’s books.

Know of any other selections tools outside the box that you use? Where do you find out about new books?

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

Our guest blogger today is Danielle Day, the Youth Services Manager at the Carnegie-Stout Public Library in Dubuque, IA. Danielle can be contacted at dday@dubuque.lib.ia.us

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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17. Read Any Great Books? Watched Any Great DVDs? – Final Call for 2012 Notables Submissions

All year, the ALSC Notable Children’s Books Committee and the Carnegie Medal/Notable Children’s Videos Committee have worked diligently – reading and viewing –  in an effort to identify the best of the best in children’s books and videos/DVDs. These committees are now issuing a final call to the ALSC membership for submissions of items to be considered for inclusion on the 2012 Notables lists.

Notable Children’s Books

The 2012 Notable Children’s Books Committee invites ALSC members to suggest titles for consideration for the annual list of notable children’s books. “Notable” is defined as: Worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding. As applied to children’s books, the term “notable” includes books for all age levels (through age 14) of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry, folklore, and picture books that reflect and encourage children’s interests in exemplary ways.

The evaluation criteria to be used are:

1. Literary quality
2. Originality of text and illustration
3. Clarity and style of language
4. Excellence of illustration
5. Excellence of design and format
6. Clarity of organization and accuracy of information
7. Subject matter of interest and value to children
8. The likelihood of acceptance by children.

The list will be voted on during the ALA Midwinter Conference to be held in Dallas, TX, in January, 2012. Only books first published in the US in the 2011 publishing year will be considered. Send suggestions to notableskti@gmail.com.  The deadline for submission of suggested titles is December 15th. Be sure to include the appropriate bibliographic information and your reasons.

For more information about this list visit the ALSC website. Click on “Awards and Grants” in the left-hand navigation bar, then click on “Children’s Notable Lists,” and finally “Notable Children’s Books.”

Notable Children’s Videos

The 2012 Carnegie Medal/Notable Children’s Videos Committee invites ALSC members to suggest titles for consideration for the annual list of notable children’s videos. Notable is defined as worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, and outstanding. In identifying notability in videos/DVDs for children, notable should be thought to include videos/DVDs for all age levels (through age 14) of especially commendable quality that demonstrate respect for the child’s intelligence and imagination; the video/DVD should, in exemplary ways, reflect and encourage the interests of children

Official criteria used in evaluation of videos and DVDs includes:

  1. Utilization of media
  2. Technicality
  3. Organization and appropriate treatment of material
  4. Authenticity
  5. Subject matter of interest and value to children

ALSC members may send nomination suggestions of DVDs/videos released this year to be considered for inclusion on the Notable Children’s Videos list to msimpsonmls@comcast.net. The deadline for submission of suggested videos is December 15th.

The committees are waiting to hear your suggestions!

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18. Thoughts on beginning readers and refrigerators

My husband and I have been shopping for a new refrigerator. The old one has  been fine, keeping cold foods cold and frozen foods frozen.  Other than that, I never gave it much thought.  But now that our kitchen remodeling project is done, it’s time for a new one.  We’ve searched three appliance stores and checked out all the new models. We’re leaning towards a French door-style refrigerator with a freezer on the bottom, although a side-by-side has its advantages, too.

The funny thing – for better or worse, is that by not looking at new refrigerators over the years, I didn’t know what I was missing.  Now that I know what else is available, I begrudge each time that I have to get down on my knees to look in the vegetable and fruits bins.  Who ever decided that freezers should be on the top anyway?

And that got me to thinking – who ever decided that beginning readers must be 8.5 x 6 x 0.2 inches, with a banner on the top and number in the corner?   Though the publishers do not agree on readability levels, there has been apparent agreement in matters of shape, size and general appearance.  For years, my beginning reader shelves were the neatest in the library – each book a perfect match to its neighbor.

Newer shapes and sizes have been steadily increasing in volume, however.  The Elephant and Piggie series (Hyperion) stretched the genre by about an inch (the better to see the delightful duo).  The I Like to Read series (Holiday House) is the same size as a typical picture book.  

The always innovative Toon Books has turned the usual shape on its side with their new Level One books measuring up at 9.4 x 6.3.

(My kids grew up with the non library-friendly, but nevertheless tiny and wonderful, Bob Books, so I am familiar with the appropriateness of little books for little hands.)

However you measure them, it seems to me that there is a trend toward greater choice in the shape, size and appearance of beginning readers. One size does not fit all. The newfound possibilities are limitless – for readers and refrigerator buyers. My shelves have never looked messier and I’m happy with that. (My kitchen, I prefer neat).

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19. A Great Día in Farmington, NM

One of the most energetic celebrations of El día de los niños/El día de los libros has to be the celebration hosted by the Farmington (NM) Public Library. Since 1997 this library has celebrated bilingual literacy. The Farmington Public Library does many things that other libraries do, like bilingual book readings and author programs. For several years they have also hosted a tailgate party in the library’s parking lot as part of a day-long celebration with vendors and partner organizations. Community groups and organizations are able to distribute information about their programs for youth while also offering educational activities, games, and crafts for families. I love the idea of a tailgate party because it takes any mess out of the library while still keeping the celebration at the library. It’s also a great way to handle limited meeting room space and supplements what staff can do by having partner organizations provide activities and games. Check out the library’s website for a diagram showing how the parking lot was organized and photographs from past tailgate parties.

Not every library will be able to pull off a big event like this but Farmington includes some other activities in their programming that is easily emulated elsewhere. For example, the April 30th celebration of El da de los niños/El día de los libros also serves as the kick-off for summer reading registrations. One of my favorite ideas is the poetry garden. Children and teens are encouraged to write their own bilingual poetry or copy a favorite poem onto a paper flower. The flowers are then shared in the Poetry Garden/Poesia Jardín. Children are encouraged to bring a book wrapped as a gift. In a literary version of musical chairs, books are handed around until the music stops. Each participant then leaves for the day with a new book. Donations ensure that every child has a book.

Located in the Four Corners region of New Mexico, it is natural that Farmington’s celebration would include the Navajo language (Ałchíní Baa Hózhóogo Bee E’e'aah Naaltsoos Wólta’ Bee E’e'aah is Dia in Navajo). Although you may not have Navajo speakers in your community, you can share this beautiful language and culture through books like The Navajo Year, Walk Through Many Seasons by Nancy Bo Flood. The text includes many words in Navajo with pronunciation assistance provided in the back matter and the book is beautifully illustrated by Navajo artist Billy Whitethorne. Salina Bookshelf, Inc. is the publisher of this and many other culturally authentic books, a number of them with accompanying CDs with both English and Navajo narration. There are other books that feature Navajo stories but Salina Bookshelf is the only bilingual English-Navajo publisher so check out their other titles.

Don’t forget that you can get ideas from other Día celebrations, register and share your own

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20. App of the Week: Art Authority

Title: Art Authority
Cost: $4.99
Platform: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.Requires iOS 3.0 or later

I think a lot about how apps can extend the collection for teens or even replace materials on teen shelves. If you have art books in your teen collection, Art Authority provides new options for what you provide teens on the topic of art and art history. The screencast below gives you a view of how the app works and its benefits to teens.

For more App of The Week posts, visit the App of the Week Archive.

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21. What Does It’s OK to Read YA Mean to YA Collection Development?

question mark made out of puzzle piecesI have to tell you, I’m nervous about the state of YA collection development. Why? Because I worry that teen collections may transition from collections for teens who read YA to collections for adults who love reading YA. Don’t get me wrong, I am a reader of YA and I know that that reading can be just as good, if not better, than adult book reading. But, yet, I don’t think my library’s YA collection should be filled with the YA that I want to read if teens don’t also want to read it. And that’s why I worry. There is so much talk of late about adults reading YA and why that’s OK that I begin to wonder, who are we building YA collections for? The adults who love YA or the teens who are simply looking for a good book to read?

My take is that we always build for the teens. If adults want to read YA titles that aren’t popular with teens in the community, then those titles should go in the adult collection and be a part of the adult collection purchasing budget. Those serving teens often have to struggle with budgets as it is. So, if they are buying books for adults that read teen AND teens that read teen how are they going to have enough money to do both? They won’t. The teen collection is the teen collection. That’s the priority. That’s who teen library staff serve. That’s the bottom line.

Yet, I continue to worry. I think about the books a library buys that circulate and have great statistics and so more of that type of book is purchased and put on the shelves. Yet, if the library really delved into those statistics they may find that it’s not teens checking out the books, it’s adults. But, circulation can drive collection development so the books continue to land on the shelves. That just isn’t right.

I worry that a teen walks into a library filled with titles that are being read and titles that are published for teens, but, yet, the titles aren’t of interest to the teen or his friends. Or, for that matter to a large part of the community’s teen population. So, what does that teen think and do? He doesn’t think of the library as a place that serves his reading needs. And, he doesn’t use the library to find materials for leisure or informational reading.

Or, what about the teens who hang out in the library and notice that the stacks are always inhabited by adults looking for their new favorite teen novel? What message does that send? If you were a teen would you really want to be hanging out in a teen section filled with adults looking at and talking about the books that are supposed to be for you? Come on be honest. Would you?

I have to say, “be careful.” Sure, it’s OK that you and other adults you know read YA but don’t make that the focus of your teen collection. If you know adults in your community are really into a dystopian series but that the teens just don’t show an interest, then don’t buy that series. Inform the adult collection development staff of the adult interest. Save your money, and your shelf space (virtual or physical) for the books teens want and need. That’s really what you are there for. Right?

Are my worries completely unfounded? Let me know what you think in the comments.

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22. Can we talk?

With the school year winding down and the summer reading season gearing up, it’s a good time to reflect on the partnership of public youth services librarians and school media specialists.  The recent cover story by Rebecca T. Miller and Laura Girmscheid’s, “It Takes Two,” in the May edition of School Library Journal offers up some food for thought, and I urge everyone to read it.

Many of the partnership ideas suggested in “It Takes Two,” are great ones, including “middle school booktalks, outreach to school groups, shuttle buses between schools and libraries, and age-appropriate book clubs.” Miller and Girmscheid also suggest the possibility of a purchasing collaboration, noting that “the results of SLJ’s first survey of public library spending habits on children’s and young adult services reveals a disturbing trend: only 30 percent of respondents say their library collaborates with local schools to coordinate book purchases to support the curriculum—leaving 70 percent that don’t.”

I’d be interested in hearing others’ thoughts on this.  Here are mine.

My library system has a centralized collections department, but that isn’t to say that individual branches do not have some say in the purchase of books.  Several times per year, I am offered the opportunity to submit purchasing or replacement requests.  Having a close connection with my community, I, of course, request books that I know will appeal to local children or will fulfill the need for commonly requested resource materials (e.g., Ancient Egypt, Colonial America) However, there is a definite difference between a public library and a public school library, particularly when it comes to the  library’s collection.  Personally, I believe that the school library’s mission should be to support the curriculum of the school and the education of its children.  To some degree, public libraries do this as well, but I believe that our main focus is to foster literacy and a love of reading and learning, and to provide appealing, inclusive, informative and desirable books, programs and materials, as well as a place to enjoy them.  This, I feel, is where our paths diverge.

Anecdotally, I can say that, over the years, to fulfill homework assignments, I have had children request lower elementary school level books on the brown trout, sea lettuce, Chinese stirrups,  Ancient Egyptian jewelry making, anchovies, and obscure local inventors. These materials (were they actually to exist) would not necessarily meet the collection development criteria of the public library.  With school and public library budgets shrinking, we definitely have ourselves a dilemma.  The school library often doesn’t have the needed books.  The students come to the public library, which may not have them either.

I am very fortunate to work in town where I have very close connections with the local school media specialists, as well as some teachers and school administrators. When I contact my district’s media specialists, to let them know of my inability to find age-appropriate reading material on some of the aforementioned topics, they commiserate. They in turn, contact the teachers from whom the requests originate. The teachers may also commiserate.  Their requests are often dictated by government requirements.

I’m not offering an opinion on the initiative,  but like it or not, the Common Core is coming. (Read USA Today article here)  Read more at the  Common Core State Standards Ini

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23. Wading through the Weeds - Deselection and Me


Collections are big and ungainly things. No matter how hard you try, they grow like topsy. But like any weedy thing, too much growth sucks up space, oxygen and *things* start taking over. Soon the weedy things completely obscure the healthy things and before you know it, kids and families start wandering aimlessly through the growth praying to the gods and goddesses to get them out of there.

Ah, it is clearly August in libraryland. A time when the minds of youth librarians turn to tending those shelves and making some progress through the weeds. There I found myself today working with a colleague and talking about what, for me, is an absolute favorite library activity - deselection!

Maybe I like it because weeding as an activity is a microcosm of management - a hundred tiny decisions that need to be made with confidence. Some are quick; some are slower and some can't be made at just that moment and the book needs to be re-shelved to see how it fares for a little more time.  Perhaps a bit more face-out display time for this one or handselling to kids might jumpstart it. There is an element of careful consideration and finesse that I enjoy as well.

Today we were in chapter books discussing the kind of criteria that we need to think about to make good weeding decisions.  Condition is always easy (Eeeee-yooooo = toss!). Of course, if it's popular, then we need to re-order. 

How is the circulation on the item?  With a three week check-out period, an item could have 17 circs per year in a perfect world of everyone keeping books exactly three weeks and no overdues. But more realistically, we expect most chapter books to have an annual turnover average of 4-6 circs. Way over that number and we may buy an additional copy. Way under...oh-oh, not making the shelf-rent and we'll have to evict you.

What is this book really?  Has it stood the test of time and emerged as a keeper?  Has the story, the writing, the plot and the language endured and found a home with the readers in our community.  We have many books that are between 4-5 years old that have not crossed over that divide.  Reviewed well but never truly a fit; sadly un-checked out; written by authors once - or never- popular, these books need thought but often must leave the island as well.

Books that are pedestrain in content (think the equivalent of series nonfiction - churned out; undistinguished; full of bad cover art and clearly aimed at a school audience that needs to "keep to a reading level") are an easy fling.  Books once popular but fading in appreciation (oh Beverly Cleary, this is killing me), get to stay but only in a guilty way.  As a resource library, we can always make the argument that our collection needs to be deep after all.

And finally, how does the book fit into the overall collection. Is it just one of eleventy-zillion fantasies and a poor circ'er? Good-bye. Is it our only book written from the viewpoint of a camel (let me check the circ on that and get back to you) with fairly wretched original reviews?  Buy-bye. Do we only have the third book in the series and the rest are out of print? Sayonara.

Though the reader in me calls out to keep them all, the realist knows that we have reached a capacity that calls for one book weeded for every one cataloged. So it comforts me to think of these books going to our Friends who will sell them and give us the money to fund our programs and initiatives.

And don't our shelves look dandy and the beep of increased circs for the remaining books sound nice?

Image: 'La caverne aux livres' http://www.flickr.com/photos/24183489@N00/395079578

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24. Rich Beyond the Dreams of Avarice: Start with a Book Blog Tour


This week I'm joining the Start with a Book blog tour organized by Amy over at Show Me Librarian.

It was an easy yes when Amy asked if I might be interested in participating. The Start with a Book site is so rich I almost feel like a millionaire when I am using it. So.much.at.my.fingertips.

As busy librarians, we juggle so many balls in the air - desk work, programming, budgets, selection, displays, outreach, planning and more. So time is often precious no matter what size library we work at. With summer around the corner, the speed of the balls increases exponentially.

When I discovered this resource, a project of Reading Rockets, my work got immeasurably easier.  While the site supports parents and caregivers, it a treasure trove for librarians as well. I'd like to sprinkle some gold and jewels on one of my favorite parts of the website: the 24 Learning Summer Themes.Once there we are greeted by lots of fresh-faced and diverse children ready to take us on incredibly rich adventures in math, science, social studies - all with strong literacy support.

Pick a theme, click, and scream with happiness!  You find a  list of excellent book titles for multiple ages that can be used as a selection tool to strengthen your collection or to pull for a display inhouse if you already own them at the library.  You also discover a nifty downloadable pdf  "Reading Adventure Pack" that supplies activities, questions and information on effectively using both fiction and non-fiction books for kids. These packs could easily be put together and made available to your families to check out.

Each theme also has a number of resources  featuring more activities, videos, apps and exemplary websites for kids and families to browse to learn more information. One of the perks of this portion of the theme is it lays out rich content that can be easily used to build programs for kids at the library.  Everything in the themes truly underscores literacy and adventure for kids.

It's almost a steal to have this kind of resource at our fingertips as librarians. If you haven't been here before, be sure to dig into this treasure chest of ideas not only for summer but also year round!


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25. How many reading apps does one kid need?

Kids’ reading platforms are proliferating like crazy. The best offer a great reading experience and some great books. But none of them have all the best books. And only a few are available to libraries.

Why do kids have to jump from app to app to get the content they want? This publisher here, that one there. History over here, science over here. Picture books in one place, chapter books in another.

Why can’t we pull it all together?

No matter how many books their families buy them, kids always need free books. Not a select list or a special of the week. The books they want the moment they’re ready for them. From the best and most reliable source, the library.

I want the library to be the first place kids look for ebooks.

I want to show them everything we have to offer in one place–our catalog.

I want to offer a great reading experience on any device, not just for chapter books, but for picture books, graphic novels, and photo-heavy nonfiction.

I want to load up our collection with the best books that publishers–all publishers– have to offer.

I want it all in our catalog and accessible with a click.

This is the experience libraries could provide. Why are we settling for less?

 

What do you think we could do to make better e-reading experiences for kids? Please share your ideas in the comments!

We would love to hear from you.   Please email us at digitalcontenttaskforce@gmail.com

Also, please join our ALSC Digital Content Task force group on ALA Connect.  Share ideas! Add to discussions!

Rachel

This month’s blog post by Rachel Wood, ALSC Digital Content Task Force (virtual committee)
Acting Materials Division Chief
Arlington (VA) Public Library

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