#HoldShelf – Late to the Party

Sigh…..seems I have good intentions, but my follow through is not up to par.  I saw the invitation to share a picture of our library’s hold shelf and thought, “Wow!  What a fantabulous idea!”  Our hold shelf is not pretty – and books don’t sit on it for long, so I was waiting for it to fill up a bit before I took a photo.

When a book that has been put on hold comes home to us, we complete a Hold Notice to send to the main office.  At the end of the morning’s and afternoon’s announcements, students with items in the front office are called to pick them up.  So, often within a couple of hours of sending the notice to the office, an excited student rushes into the library to pick up his/her book.  (Doesn’t it just make your heart melt when a student comes in to check out a book he has been dying to read? I feel like I have just sold the winning Lotto ticket cause I know the treasure that’s within the covers of that book.)

Anyhoo, we never had more than two books on our hold shelf at any one time in the last couple of weeks so I decided to take Cathy Nelson‘s idea and use a screenshot of the holds report in Destiny to share our requested titles.

Yep, The Hunger Games  is there, just as you would expect with the media frenzy surrounding the movie’s release.  But I’m pleased to see that Thirteen Reasons Why is there (twice); Ms. Gray’s classes completed their Literature Circles a couple of weeks ago and those who had read that novel have talked it up to their friends!  (Love it when they do that!  Just blesses my heart.)  Unwind and Shattering Glass were also titles in those Literature Circles.

What books are your students requesting now?

Free Educational Posters

Poster-Street offers an array of free posters that teachers and teacher librarians can download, print, and display. And with dwindling (or disappearing) budgets, free looks even better.

The posters are divided into several categories:






Visit the site to discover posters that will inspire both you and your students.

(Screenshots of posters used here, but the site does provide embed codes.  WordPress.com does not allow me to use them, however.)

You Can Take the Librarian out of the Library, but…..

I’m into my third week of summer vacation and loving every hectic and relaxing minute of it.  I have been back to the school library a few times to water plants, check on the mail that piles up over the summer, and just visit with office staff.

Today after stopping by the school library, I headed over to my local pubic library branch (two libraries in one day – nirvana!).  I had to return a couple of public library books that had been left in lockers at school  (those rascally kids!) and also turn in one of my book reviews for our public library’s Rock and Read summer reading program.

As I walked in the door, I heard my name being called – one of my favorite students was in the library with her aunt checking out  a load of books to carry home.  When I asked her if she was participating in the teen summer reading program, she said “no” and then gave her aunt a strange look.  Turns out her aunt reads as much as she does and wasn’t participating in the adult reading program.

So here I am, a school librarian, encouraging one of my students and her aunt to join the public library’s summer reading program.  Then up walks another one of my students who is also – gasp – not participating in the summer reading program.  Can I keep my mouth shut?  Or do I urge her to sign up, too?  Whadda ya think?

Photo attribution:

“Relaxing on the Beach” by Andrew Osterberg


Organizing Booktalks

Reader’s Advisory can take many forms, but my favorite is booktalking.  The beginning of a new semester is the perfect opportunity to reach out to teachers and offer to do booktalks for their classes.

Last week, I gave booktalks for twelve classes.  Each booktalking session averaged three to seven books which can become a management nightmare.  I use the following method to organize booktalks so that if teachers wish for me to booktalk more than once to their classes, I can be assured I am not repeating myself.

Organizing Booktalks

1. First, I created a spreadsheet of the books from which to choose (and keep adding to it).

The spreadsheet includes the author, title, and up to three genres.

2. Next, I gathered the booktalks I have created (or found) on each title.  These are all titles I have read; one of the primary rules I learned in my YA Lit course was to only booktalk books you have read.  Creating booktalks is often time consuming, so when I don’t have the time, I use Nancy Keane’s Booktalks — Quick and Simple.  I file these alphabetically by title.

3. Finally, I created a simple booktalk chart template that I use for each teacher.

I keep all of this information in my Booktalk Notebook that I keep for reference at the Circulation Desk.

Giving the Booktalks

Once a teacher requests a booktalking session, I confer with him/her to determine a few factors I need to consider as I plan:

1.  length of time teacher wants to stay

2.  class composition (equal numbers of males and females?)

3.  student interests (At the beginning of the semester, teachers often can’t provide a great deal of information, but if they have done interest surveys they might be able to share if any students are in band, chorus, orchestra, student council, or participate in any sports.)

Then I pull together from three to seven books based on teacher information.  I use the template to record the titles I plan to do for each class. If this changes (sometimes I can tell from a class’s attitude as they enter the library that I need to change a title or two), I note the changes after the booktalks.

I set up a display of the books I plan to booktalk in front of the Promethean board, and as students enter and are settling in at the tables, I play an Animoto video I created on the current year’s South Carolina Young Adult Book Award nominees. Brochures on each table provide more information about each of these titles. I end the booktalks with a book trailer and tell the students that they are free to check out the titles I used on the table.  It is always SO rewarding when students run to get a copy of the books on the table!

Analyzing the Booktalking Session’s Effectiveness

Often I can tell if a title is going to get checked out as I am doing the booktalk.  High school students don’t fake interest in books; their body language speaks volumes.  And, bless their hearts, some students are not ashamed to say, “I’m getting THAT book.”

Other ways I use student feedback to help me improve my booktalks:

  • A quick look over at the table a bit later as students are checking out books lets me know if a title (or titles) didn’t get checked out.  I make a note of this on the template.
  • If a title did not get checked out, I discuss the booktalk and title with my service learners and the other media specialist to see if I can pinpoint the reason for lack of interest.  If possible, I revise the booktalk before giving it again the next block.  Sometimes this works, sometimes not.
  • If students ask me if I have more copies of one of the titles I booktalked, I put the title on hold for them and make a note of it on booktalk template.

I would love to read about your booktalking methods and sessions.  How do you organize your booktalks and what techniques have you found to be successful?


Free eBooks for Your Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, etc.

I finally did it; I gave in and  asked for a Kindle 3 for Christmas.  (Looks like I wasn’t the only one:  “Kindle 3 Is the  Best Selling Product in Amazon History.”)   Friends and family have had Kindles for quite some time and have all been pleased with them, but I was holding out for an eReader that met all of my requirements.

Did I find it in Kindle?  No.  But, after playing with several of these eReaders at my local Best Buy, I decided Kindle was the best fit for me.  (The one thing Kindle lacks as far as my definition of the “perfect” eReader is the ability to read EPub format so that I can borrow and read books from our public library on it.)

My good friend and gadget guru, Heather Loy, had shared a blog devoted to free and low cost eBooks with me months ago.  I had added it to my Google Reader and even downloaded some of the free books to read on my iPhone, iPod Touch, and Mac.

Since my Kindle arrived, I have discovered a couple of other worthy blogs devoted to free eBooks and thought I’d share them:

Books on the Knob

Free eBooks and Tips

Kindle Nation Daily

Happy reading!

2010 Edgar Award Winners Announced

Mysteries have long been my favorite genre. Give me a good whodunnit and I’m happier than an allergist in spring time.

The Mystery Writers of America met on April 30 to announce the 2010 Edgar Award Winners.

Young Adult Nominees

The nominees for this year’s Best Young Adult Award were:

Abrahams, Peter Reality Check

Cooney, Caroline B.  If the Witness Lied

Ford, John C. The Morgue and Me

Low, Dene Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone

Mitchell, Saundra Shadowed Summer

And the winner is….Reality Check.

Juvenile Nominees

The nominees for this year’s Best Juvenile Award were:

Barnett, Mac The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity

Beil, Michael The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour

Hahn, Mary Dowling Closed for the Season

Reynolds, Aaron Creepy, Crawly Crime

Springer, Nancy The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline

And the winner is…..Closed for the Season.

We only have one of the young adult titles (If the Witness Lied) in our school library so I’ll be checking the public library for the other nominees this summer.

Speaking of Mysteries

The South Carolina Young Adult Book Award nominees for 2011 include Something Wicked by Alan Gratz.  Seems it is the second title in the Horatio Wilkes mystery series.  I just recently read Something Rotten, the first title in the series, and loved it.  English teachers who are looking for modern day novels to pair with Hamlet need to give this one a spin.

Now I’m reading Something Wicked, a modern day version of Macbeth.

What good mysteries have you read lately?

Photo used through a Creative Commons license


Overwhelmed by Series?

Photo used with permission under a Creative Commons license

Photographer's Assistant, Bird and Beckett

School librarians often find book series to be both a blessing and a curse.  Students who might normally  read one book per semester will read three or four books in a series.  Hooking students on one series can whet their appetite for more books just like the series they devoured in two weeks.

But these same series can also cause problems.  What happens when a student finishes book one in a series and rushes into the library to find that all copies of book two are checked out? What happens if a student begins a series unfamiliar to you and wants to know the order of the books?

Resources to the rescue!

Need to know the order of books in a series?

Need ideas of other books to recommend?

  • Check out the ATN-Reading Lists Wiki’s Read Alikes page.  You’ll find suggestions for a wide range of books, both fiction and nonfiction.
  • What Should I Read Next? Enter details (title or author for example) or the ISBN of a book you’ve enjoyed.  You’ll be given a list of suggestions.  Currently (April 2, 2010) the site has over 70,000 titles in its database with more being recommended by readers daily.

Photo attribution:

Photographer’s Assistant, Bird, and Beckett


Reading Challenges

J. Kaye of the Home Girl’s Book Blog has issued the 2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge.  The rules of participation are simple:

1. Anyone can join. You don’t need a blog to participate.

–Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post. To learn how to sign up without having a blog, click here.

2. There are four levels:

–The Mini – Check out and read 25 library books.

–Just My Size – Check out and read 50 library books.

–Stepping It Up – Check out and read 75 library books.

–Super Size Me – Check out and read 100 library books.

(Aim high. As long as you read 25 by the end of 2010, you are a winner.)

3. Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, YA, Young Reader – any book as long as it is checked out from the library count. Checked out like with a library card, not purchased at a library sale.

4. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

5. Crossovers from other reading challenges count.

6. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010.

7. When you sign up under Mr. Linky, put the direct link to your post where your library books will be listed. Include the URL to this post so that other viewers can find this fun challenge. If you’d prefer to put your list in the sidebar of your blog, please leave your viewers the link to the sign up page. Again, so viewers can join the challenge too.

****You do NOT need to review your books. That is optional.****

(excerpted from the Home Girl’s Book Blog)

What a great way to promote your library and resources!  Imagine using this as a contest in your own library.  Create fliers with the challenge’s image and post throughout your school.  This would be a great advocacy tool to share with your school community.

J. Kaye has other reading challenges listed on the website.  Encourage your students to choose one or more of them.

Downsizing, or Can’t I Just Keep Them All?

To Weed, or Not to Weed:  Is that really the question?

As a library media specialist, I make weeding decisions: books that are in poor condition, outdated, contain inaccurate information (can you say “Pluto”?), or that haven’t been checked out in years – these must go to make room for new books. However, making decisions about books to weed from my personal collection? Not as easy.

This Christmas, my husband and I decided to gift the family with a new living room. We literally sold all the furniture we had (including a three piece wall unit with 10 bookshelves) to make room for a new, and might I say, much more inviting living space. I love the spacious, uncluttered look of the room, but it required me to box up hundreds of books and begin making decisions.

The first round through my weeding, I was able to let go of  five boxes of books – and I took them almost immediately to Goodwill so that I wouldn’t have time to change my mind.

In Search of Weeding Criteria

I love books on organizing and clutter control.  None of those went to Goodwill, and some are currently stuffed into boxes with the hundreds of other books with which I couldn’t bear to part.  The others? (Clearing throat here.)  They have their own shelf on one of the six bookcases downstairs.  Ironically, that shelf cannot now be accessed without moving the seven boxes of books that joined the party from the living room.

So, this weekend I decided to investigate the ebooks our public library offered and found The Clutter Cure. In it  author Judi Culbertson shares “The Top Ten Reasons to Let a Book Go”:

“1. You couldn’t get into it…

2. You enjoyed the book, but you know you’ll never read it again…

3. Your interests have changed…

4. The information is outdated…

5. The book is attractive but too general…

6. You mistakenly think the book is valuable…

7. The book is falling apart physically…

8. You don’t have room to display your books without looking cluttered…

9. The best thing about the book is that it is inscribed to you…

10. You don’t love it.”

~p. 52-53

Although this is great advice, it didn’t turn on any light bulbs.  I had already used quite a bit of these strategies in the first round of  my weeding process.

Still Looking….

That’s why I was pleased to find the N.Y. Times article “Books You Can Live Without” this morning.  Authors Francine Prose, Billy Collins, David Matthews, and  Jane Smiley share their criteria for weeding their personal libraries.   These authors have inspired me to march myself downstairs and get to work.

However, in all fairness, two other authors were interviewed for the article.  Their stories must be heard, but I cannot focus on them, or all is lost.

Author Joshua Ferris’s personal philosophy about books:  “Get rid of a book? No way. Every one is a brick keeping the building standing. Books are my life. I leave and come back, and the books I find there tell me I’m home.”

The other author interviewed for the article, Chang-rae Lee, says, ”  Although periodically I have fits of discarding all sorts of sentimental flotsam like old note cards and photographs and perfectly decent dress socks, I can’t bring myself to get rid of even a book I dislike, perhaps because I read “Fahrenheit 451” at an impressionable age. Still, there are too many books in our house, a good number of them not chosen but sent or given to me, and so here’s some I’d cull…”

Then Lee proceeds to share the criteria he would use if he were to pare down his personal library.  Sigh….

I’ve Put It Off Long Enough

I could go downstairs, shove those boxes of books over, and look to see what advice my organizing and decluttering books offer on weeding personal libraries.  But that would just be delaying the inevitable.

As one of my favorite television hosts says, “I’m going in, people!” (Neicy Nash, Clean House)


Because every bibliophile wants their books to have good homes, I’m going to sponsor a contest.  The prize?  A book (of your choice from ten that I will list) shipped free to your home.  (Sorry, U.S. residents only.)

Complete this form by midnight EST, December 30, 2009 to be entered into the contest.  The winner will be announced on the blog on December 31, 2009.

If I Were a Book…..

I suppose I have been reading them (books) rather than keeping up with my Google Reader, so just found these quizzes today. My result from the original Book Quiz:

You’re Catch-22!

by Joseph Heller

Incredibly witty and funny, you have a taste for irony in all that you
see. It seems that life has put you in perpetually untenable situations, and your sense
of humor is all that gets you through them. These experiences have also made you an
ardent pacifist, though you present your message with tongue sewn into cheek. You
could coin a phrase that replaces the word “paradox” for millions of

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

There’s also a Book Quiz II you can take, but I’ll spare you reading more about me. Instead,tell me, what book are YOU?