‘Tis the Season for Book Recommendations

Every year around this time, it seems all the adults in my life–whether they’re co-workers, relatives or relative strangers who meet me at a holiday party and discover that I’m a librarian–want to know what the best new books are in time for gift giving. Although this isn’t the way I do my shopping–books, to me, are very personal gifts, and I’m not inclined to give one that I haven’t read myself–I’m usually happy to help, if I can.

But sometimes I can’t. I’m completely out of my depth when it comes to readers under the age of, say, 12, and it’s really hard to recommend a book when you don’t know anything about the intended recipient. “It’s for my nephew,” they’ll say. What does he like to read? (Does he like to read?) “Oh, I don’t know. Just… you know, what’s good?”

The most awkward situations, though, are when I admit my dirty secret: I don’t read grown-up books.
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Weeding Fiction: A Personal Tale

It’s hard not to make it personal; that book looks good or I really liked that or I’ve always wanted to read that, but never did.

There’s usually a reason you never read it. For me, that reason is usually that a better book came along. And if a better book came along for me, one probably is going to come along for a teen reader.

This year, we’re running out of space.

Every year, I do an inventory in the YA Room. I use that time for shelf reading and weeding, too. Usually it’s a light weeding; books that haven’t gone out in a while or books that need a little TLC. At first, I was operating on  a five-year shelf life, but after talking with some other YA Librarians on twitter, I realized I needed to be more ruthless. If a book hadn’t circulated in 3 years, there’s a reason. I had to find out why.

from: http://sweetheartsromancebooks.com/

from: http://sweetheartsromancebooks.com/

Some answers are easy.
* The cover is hideous. No teen in their right mind would want to be seen with that. Those are easily decided. If I feel I still need that book, I look for a version with a better cover. I wish I had taken pictures, but mostly if the cover had the 90′s feel to it, it was gone.
* The story and the cover are both outdated. Easy.
* The book is falling apart. Easy.

It’s the harder issues that make me pause and think. Continue reading

December Eureka Moments

We’re almost to 2013! Though I know you’re probably busy with end-of-year plans, projects, and tasks, I wanted to tell you about some recent news, research, and innovation you might find informative or inspiring for your library work.

  • A study recently published in the Journal of Educational Computing Research surveyed middle school students on their experiences with cyberbullying and found that those who engage are most often both victims and perpetrators. They looked at reporting behaviors, too, and found that even when students report cyberbullying, it rarely stops. If you’ve been addressing only one end of cyberbullying, you may want to consider changing up your programming to look at why it is that students both engage and suffer from it, and your teen advisory group might be interested in discussing methods that reporting and prevention programs can be made more effective.
    Holfield, Brett, and Grabe, Mark. (2012). Middle school students’ perceptions of and responses to cyber bullying. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 46(4), 395-413.
  • It’s that time of year – rather, it’s been that time of year since before Halloween – when all the ads and commercials you see have a Christmas twist to them. Have you seen this viral video that parodies the Coca Cola bears to draw attention to the harmful health effects of drinking too much soda? Called The Real Bears and sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the video features a song by Jason Mraz (no doubt to hook people who don’t know what it’s about) and shows a family of bears slowly getting sicker and sicker as they make soda more of a part of their diet. Have your teens seen it? With a lot of strong reactions in both directions, the video might make for a great conversation starter in one of your advisory groups, or it could prompt some programming or displays on health and nutrition. Continue reading
  • Getting the most of RPGS in your Library PT. 2: Collection Development

    This article is about collection development for Tabletop games. LARP games will get their own love in a post about LARP programming. If you have questions about this post or you would like to request that I focus on something specific next, please contact me @MichaelBuono on twitter. 

    Collection Development for niche hobbies is difficult. The materials are not as well reviewed as we would like, they are expensive and there is a limited audience. My friends and I have easily a thousand dollars worth of books. That says nothing of our dice, figurines or random medieval weapons. But we are fans first, and so we buy things we don’t need. There are ways to develop a collection to support the hobby without busting your budget.  First and foremost, only buy the titles that reflect the interests of your teens. I have included a list of recommended buys at the bottom of the page.

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    Getting the most out of RPGS in your library pt. 1

    Yes, that is me in the middle

    © Philip J. Hall

    I’m a nerd. How much of a nerd? I wrote my undergraduate thesis on Dungeons and Dragons. So, I can tell you with some authority that D&D is not a common hobby for the “In crowd” in high school. Honestly, it was not even that popular amongst nerds for a while. In recent years, “pen and paper” and “live action role playing games” have seen a resurgence. There have been more teens buying books, attending cons and even playing in libraries. But what are Role Playing Games?

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    Why Should We Still Purchase Nonfiction?

    In an era where every library dollar needs to be justified, should teen services departments continue purchasing nonfiction?

    YA librarians are in the perfect matrix to consider this question: patrons aren’t bringing their reference questions to library staff, teachers aren’t asking students to cite print sources, information discovery on the web is incredibly easy, and personal web access is growing ubiquitous. Continue reading

    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. Continue reading

    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.

    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