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    Book Lists Readers' Advisory

    Pop Culture Reader’s Advisory:The Big Bang Theory


    Love it or hate it a lot of people are watching it and that makes it a great place to start for some reader’s advisory. Outsiders, science, and fandom ahoy. Just some ideas to jump start your lists, displays, and more!

    Finding Yourself for the Nerds, Geeks, and Gifted


    The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller


    Winger by Andrew Smith


    Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern


    Sleeping Freshman Never Lie by David Lubar


    The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga


    An Abundance of Katherines by John Green



    Feynman by Jim Ottaviani

    basherExtreme Physics by Simon Basher


    A Black Hole is Not a Hole by Carolyn Cinami Decristofano

    or for older readers


    Death by Black Hole by Neil DeGrasse Tyson


    Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects and Activities for Dads and Kids to Share by Ken Denmerd

    Comics, Fandom, and Popular Culture


    DC Comics Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle 

    or any DK guide to comics or sci-fi.


    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline


    For the Win (or anything else) by Cory Doctorow


    Star Trek and Philosophy: The Wrath of Kant

    Many of the “and Philosophy” books would work


    Redshirts by John Scalzi

    Early Childhood Youth Services

    Beyond Rhymes: 5 Take-Aways for Better Programming

    I wanted to share with you an excellent professional development experience I just had, the Beyond Rhymes webinar series from Infopeople. Presented by Patrick Remer and Heidi Dolamore the series encouraged youth services librarians to work with their administration and think strategically to offer the best storytime experience to their patrons.

    With the abundance of easily accessible resources online for the content of storytime it was a pleasure to have a team of presenters take a different look at storytime.

    I wanted to break down what my takeaways are because I think there is a lot of inspiration and motivation to be had there. This is one more piece of how my hiatus is changing the way I will do my next job.  As I said these are Heidi and Patrick’s ideas. I’m just reflecting on them and putting them in a place I’ll be able to re-visit from time to time.

    1. Start with setting goals and priorities. What does your department want to accomplish? What impact does your library want to have on the community? Is there an age group you want to reach?  A percentage of your population? You need to know the answers before you start. Then when faced with a decision to make or priorities to set you can go back to those goals. Every decision you make should serve those goals. Working with administration to set these goals is important and brings us to the second truth.

    2. Big outcomes take buy-in and participation from everyone, not just the youth librarian. Once you know what you want to accomplish and your administrators are on board then it is time to bring in the rest of your staff in. In Heidi and Patrick’s libraries all staff are aware that storytime is an organization-wide priority and they all have roles to contribute to that. This is both a a great example of teamwork and internal advocacy. Some staff might be involved more directly in storytime than others, but everyone is on the same page on the program because they understand why it is a priority.

    3. “We can’t do that because” is not an answer, it’s an opportunity for problem solving. Space, resources, and staffing are some of the typical road blocks to presenting all the programs we would like to offer. Working as a team to come up with creative solutions such as moving storytime to a larger space or training additional staff to present storytime become more realistic when everyone knows it is a priority in service to the organization’s goals.

    4. Decide who your audience is and then design your programs to reach them. Too many times we have a cool idea or opportunity for a program and then go searching for an audience. Then we wonder why we are sitting in an empty room.  I think this is a great lesson no matter what age group you are working with. A wonderful example of this are the Black Storytimes (and storytimes in several other languages) offered by Multnomah County Library.

    5. Be welcoming and accessible in your space, publicity, and policies. Do an audit of your space, including one from the point of view of a preschooler. What looks like a small shelf to us may be a huge barrier that cuts off a large part of your space to a three year-old.

    Look at your publicity. Does it use a lot of jargon like “lapsit”?  Don’t assume everyone knows what storytime programs are, providing more information could bring in a wider audiences.

    Think about your policies. Is your schedule hard to follow? Do you limit size? Some creative thinking might remove these barriers to participation. How can you bring the storytime experience and it’s  benefits to the highest number of patrons?

    Readers' Advisory

    Pop Culture Readers’ Advisory: Switched at Birth


    Switched at Birth is and ABC Family drama about two teenage girls who discover they were switched as babies. Bay Kennish was raised by the wealthy family of a former professional athlete, while Daphne Vasquez lived with a struggling single mother. Despite an illness that left Daphne deaf at a young age she enjoys sports and cooking, while Bay’s art talents include both street art and more traditional forms.

    Books that will appeal to fans of Switched at Birth might include books with deaf or hard of hearing characters, books with teens adjusting to new or unexpected family situations, stories of false or mistaken identity, and non-fiction related to Bay and Daphne’s interests.

    Deaf or Hard of Hearing Characters

    five flavors

    Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John


    Read My Lips by Teri Brown


    Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby


    The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Burke


    New and Unexpected Family Situations, False and Mistaken Identity blacksheep

    The Black Sheep by Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout


    The Lying Game by Sara Shepherd


    The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding


    The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal


    Non-Fiction Books Switched at Birth Might Spark an Interest In: 


    American Sign Language Dictionary by Martin Sternberg


     Trespass: A History of Uncommissioned Urban Art by Carlo McCormick, Marc Schiller, Sara Schiller, Ethel Seno


    Street Knowledge by King Adz


    The Truck Food Cookbook by John T. Edge


    Frida Kahlo: 1907-1954 Pain and Passion by Andrea Kettenmann

    hopeIn These Girls, Hope is a Muscle by Madeleine Blais

    Libraries Youth Services

    8 Signs You Don’t Belong in Youth Services


    Given the library job market and youth services being a typical entry level position we occasionally see people that really shouldn’t be here. All of us can use a reminder of what kind of attitudes lead to success or failure. This post is inspired in part by Marge’s Top 12 Ways to be a Bad Selector and part by More Than Dodgeball’s post Pizza Church.

    You might try a different specialty if:

    You do all the talking and none of the listening where patrons are concerned.

    If you truly want to offer great customer service to your patrons you need to listen to them. Do your best to offer them the programs they are interested in at times they can attend.  Provide the materials  THEY find useful, entertaining, or informative.

    You consider enforcing library policy, and sometimes additional rules you’ve created, your #1 priority.

    Structure and consistency is important, but if this becomes your main function you will make everyone miserable including yourself.  Don’t have rules for the sake of having rules. Is the behavior actually unsafe or dispruptive (actually disruptive to users and not just annoying to you)?  Who cares how many people are sitting at a table if they are safe and relatively quiet.

    You make assumptions.

    If you put kids and teens in neat little boxes based on first impressions you will never build authentic relationships with young people. Teens and children, being individual humans and all,  are more than one thing.

    There will always be the super needy kid and the perfect volunteer, but if you spend all your time with them you are missing out on other relationships. Teens especially are trying on all sorts of identities which creates wonderful opportunities for us to provide information if we’re paying attention.

    If you are shy and find it hard to break the ice be seen at a football game or school play. Kids and parents will notice.

    You only offer one level of engagement.

    I’ve seen it both ways. On one end of the spectrum you have the those that offer only traditionally educational and book related programs. On the other end either the bar is lowered because of assumptions about your patrons, or the librarian is stat-padding by offering only casual fun programs.

    Instead of this we should be offering a range of engagement to meet our patrons where they are. Just like YouMedia programs have students go from “hanging out” to “messing around”, to “geeking out” our programs can offer points of entry at various levels and encourage young people to be more involved.

    You don’t read widely. 

    This one just blows my mind. There are plenty of types of librarianship where you don’t actually have to be an avid reader, but youth services isn’t one of them. Read good books, read popular books, read books you wouldn’t normally pick for yourself.  You will never be good at your job if you don’t know your collection.

    Your degree was the end of your education, not the beginning. 

    Let’s face it, most of us had a handful of youth services classes in library school if that. Even the best professors (shout out to Dr. McKechnie) can’t teach us everything we will ever need to know. Technology evolves, best practices change, and publishing trends come and go. To give our patrons the best service we need to keep learning and improving.

    You think children’s and teens’ culture is beneath you. 

    Contempt for those you are supposed to be serving is not attractive. Information needs come in all varieties including the birthdays of One Direction. Marketing your programs and collections means tapping into things kids love. On the other hand if you don’t mind an excuse to watch a little Disney Channel now and then you might be in the right place.

    You were looking for a desk job. 

    Youth services is an out on the floor, visit the schools, shake your sillies out kind of job.  You need to be visible and enthusiastic in your library and your community. This of course refers to a sit-on-your- ass attitude, not actual physical differences.

    Do you disagree? Have one I missed? Want to write a guest post going into more detail on one of these?  Speak up.

    Books Readers' Advisory

    Outstandingly Useful: Outstanding Books for the College Bound

    Every five years YALSA and ACRL collaborate on Outstanding Books for the College Bound. Committee members select the best non-fiction, fiction, and poetry in five different academic areas. This time around some of my librarian friends were involved in the process and I really started to think about how useful this list could be, even if it often doesn’t get as much buzz as the yearly selection lists and awards.

    First, it helps us do non-fiction reader’s advisory which can be a challenge for most of us. The gap in quality non-fiction on academic subjects  between highly illustrated books whose complexity is more suitable for upper elementary students and adult materials is real.

    That’s not to say that nothing exists, or that there is anything wrong with the high interest pop culture books we also need,  but it can be challenging to serve the serious teen non-fiction reader. The OBCB list not only helps us serve these readers looking for the next step of reading, but it gives us the tools to turn open-minded readers onto reading non-fiction for pleasure.

    The YALSA report The Future of Library Services For and With Teens points out teens need libraries that “Leverage teens’ motivation to learn.”  It states that “Libraries live outside of a school’s formal academic achievement sphere and offer a space where interest based learning can occur in a risk-free environment.” Watching teens develop what may become lifelong interests and supporting them with the information and resources they need is one of my favorite parts of being a teen librarian.

    The OBCB list is an amazing tool to do just that. Imagine introducing a young math whiz to Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—But Some Don’t or placing a hold on a copy of Eula Biss’s Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays for a budding activist. Broadening a young person’s sense of a subject beyond the parameters of the classroom into real world applications is one of the greatest motivators for learning.

    Finally, the OBCB gives us another tool to open communication with schools and teachers. Growing emphasis on non-fiction and increased pressure for students to read across the curriculum provides an excellent opportunity for public and school librarians to promote our collections and develop partnerships with classroom teachers. Having a vetted list of titles to offer, one developed along with ACRL colleagues, is a great starting point.