Dollars and Sense #9: Summer Reading Club on a Shoestring

You may be thinking, “Summer Reading Club is still months away–we still have plenty of time!” But it will be here before you know it.’ ‘  And, with the economy as it is and library budgets continuing to predict devastating shortfalls and cuts, how do we conduct a successful Summer Reading Club without or with little money?

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Dollars & Sense #8: Doing Your Tech for Less (or for Nothing!)

Having a snazzy web presence doesn’t have to cost a lot. One of the great things about the Web 2.0 environment is that so many tools are available for free. What’s more, you don’t have to have particularly sophisticated technical skills to create something that looks great and is fully functional. Sites like Wikispaces, Pageflakes, and Animoto provide the templates, the underlying coding, and the storage. You can even build your entire website using a free service like Google Sites. When you use tools like these, you are taking advantage of cloud computing, meaning your content lives on externally hosted servers and is accessible to anyone who has web access.

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Dollars & Sense #7 – Collection Development on a Shoestring

How do you continue to add new materials to the collection when your budget is slashed? Or when, as happened to a friend in a neighboring town, the board says, “What do you need new books for? You already have a bunch…” Even with zero budget, there are some strategies that you can use to put new materials into your collection. Here’s how:

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Dollars & Sense #6 – Advocacy: What’s Money Got To Do With It?

In October, YALSA sponsored an echat on the topic of advocacy. During the conversation participants talked about how the economy has an impact on their advocacy efforts.

This discussion got me thinking. How can libraries continue to seek support in a tough economy? Do librarians need to use different set of advocacy techniques than they would when money flows a bit more freely? Do teen librarians have to find ways for local businesses to provide support when that support can not be provided financially? Do teen librarians have to step-up advocacy efforts in order to fill-in financial gaps? The answer to all of those questions is “yes.” That being the case, how do teen librarians go about it? Continue reading

Dollars and Sense #5 – Displays on a Dime

Displays can be so important in encouraging teens to read or to broaden their reading habits.’  And there is nothing more satisfying for a teen librarian than to have a book display emptied out by teen readers.

So how do you accomplish these wonders?’  And how do you do it without spending money?’  It’s called the power of suggestion.’  You don’t have to have real palm trees or lounge chairs to create an illusion that suggests the feeling of a beach.’  A little sand, a miniature Barbie lounge chair, and the tiny dessert pails from Logan’s Road House will do the trick.’  Suggestion and illusion are the keys because what you really want are for teens to initially be attracted to the display (Oh, that’s neat!) but then to be drawn to the books.’  You are “selling” books.’  And you know you can do it as well, if not better, than the bookstores.

Use a tabletop, a display stand, a chair stationed by an easel, or a piece of your circulation desk. Try placing some books standing and some books lying flat and consider using bookends only if you absolutely have to. (You want it to be easy for a teen to take a book.) Use pieces of cloth or colored Kraft paper or construction paper to give color and define your space.’  Tie in the color or type of material to the theme if possible. (I have even used the comics section of the newspaper for a humor display.)’  Make sure you have a sign (8.5X11 computer generated backed by colored 9X12 construction paper is great) that gives the title/theme/slogan you have chosen.’  I use some scissors I got at a yard sale that cut scallops to add a little extra to the edges.

Here are a few specific theme ideas for book displays using recycled, free, cheap, or borrowed materials to get your creative juices flowing.

Author themed display: Find a picture of the author you can print out in 8X10 inch size and place it in a borrowed frame.’  Photoshop yourself or a teen in the picture to create real interest!’  Place flamboyant bookmarks with notes about the books sticking out, such as “Newest Richard Peck Title!” or “Peck Wins Newbery Honor With This Book!”

Beach theme: “Beachcomber’s Choice” with real shells scattered on a borrowed beach towel and books standing amid them.’  Forget the sand but use an old piece of driftwood to give some height if you have one.’  Otherwise a plastic beach bucket turned upside down will also work.

School spirit theme: Use the cheap paper boxes sold at home decorating stores to spell out your school initials.’  Spray paint them one of your school colors if you have some left over paint or use poster paint or cheap markers to color.’  Add curling ribbons to make it festive and place books set in schools in your display. “Back to School” or “High School Fiction” might work for a theme.

Sports theme: “Football Fever is Catching” using a goal post made from fat drink straws and a gridiron lined off on big green paper will provide a backdrop for all your football sports books, both fiction and non-fiction.’  Free pom-poms or shakers from college football games make it fun. Add some purchased bookmarks with football themes if you have funds.’  The same can work for soccer or basketball but you will need some mesh from an orange bag for the nets.’  Beware!’  If you use a purchased miniature toy frame, teens will want to play with them, so decide beforehand if you want that to happen.

Fantasy theme: “Out of this World Reading” can accompany a publisher’s planet poster used as the backdrop for books or use an old pair of sheer curtains to scrunch up on the tabletop and look otherworldly. A few aluminum foil covered stars and glitter on the title poster add to the allure.

I’m sure you guys can think of thousands more of these cheap and easy ideas now that you are revved up.’  Have fun!

Dollars and Sense #4 – Defending Your YA Budget

The topic of defending your teen services budget will be part of a YALSA echat on February 3. Stay tuned for more information about the chat on the blog. For now, here’s some thoughts to get started on the topic.

Defending your budget may presume that you have one. However, the suggestions that follow will look a bit at building the groundwork for one in the first place as well as defending it once you have been given it.

These days, no budget-even for collection development-seems to be immune from taking cuts. Always being proactive and protective of whatever budget it is you manage no matter what the circumstances is just good planning.

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Dollars and Sense #3: Dealing With Stress

Libraries and library systems across the country face budget cuts over the next year, forcing them to cut back hours, programs, services, the amount of materials ordered and even the number of staff. Because librarians are a dedicated bunch and really want to continue providing the best possible’  service this can create a lot of stress in the workplace. Today we explore some basic tips for dealing with stress in the workplace as we get through these difficult financial times.

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Dollars and Sense #2: Connecting with Authors on the Cheap

With budgets being frozen and cut, it can be hard to find the money to host a traditional author visit. Here are six tips to connect with authors – virtually and in person – for little to no money.

1. Piggyback: When you book an author, you don’t just have speaker fees. You also need to pay for travel, lodging, and other expenses. One way to cut costs is to piggy back on book tours. When Jeff Kinney came to our local Border’s, one of our elementary librarians contacted his publisher who put her in touch with his agent. She was able’  to schedule a school visit between his other engagements. While this visit was not exactly cheap, it was cheaper than it might have been.

2. Buy Local: Another way to avoid travel fees is to book a local author. YALSA has a wiki which lists YA authors by state. Local authors may be more willing to work with your budget constraints since it is a way for them to support their community.

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Dollars and Sense #1 – You Are Here

The library world is far from immune from the current economic climate. (And how tired are you of hearing phrases like “the current economic climate”?) Across the country, libraries and librarians are facing budget shortfalls and slashes, personnel cuts, and even the threat of closure–all while seeing record usage as our patrons find themselves depending more than ever on our “free” services.

Throughout the month, the YALSA blog will include daily posts in a series we’re calling 31 Days of Dollars and Sense. Topics in the series will include:

  • Managing stress
  • Defending your YA budget
  • Coming up with prizes and incentives for your teens, even with limited funds
  • …and much much more!

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