Posted in kansas library association, Librarian, libraries, Library Conferences, Uncategorized

#KLAC2019: Join the Conversation at Conference!

It’s Kansas Library Association Conference time again! This year’s theme is Libraries Build Communities – Healthy, Wealthy and Wise, and it will be October 23-25 at the Overland Park Convention Center. The KLA Conference Planning Committee has been hard at work putting together speakers, sessions, and activities, and we hope you have a valuable time learning and connecting with fellow Kansas librarians this year.

As chair of the Publicity Committee, I’ve had the fortune of sharing conference news and updates on KLA’s social media channels. I’m now looking forward to engaging with conference attendees through Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Not sure where to start with all that? Come to the Social Media User Group at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday!

Why should you use social media during the conference? It’s definitely not a requirement, but here are five benefits:

Keep up with conference news and updates
Social Media is the quickest way for the publicity committee to share news and updates about the conference. Follow KLA on Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook. Also, keep tabs on the official conference hashtag #KLAC2019!

Connect and engage with conference attendees
Hundreds of librarians attend the KLA conference. That’s hundreds of colleagues you could potentially connect with, but only three days to do so. Who has the time to do that in person? By following the #KLAC2019 hashtag, you can easily discover and connect with attendees who may be out of your normal conference scope.

Learn what’s happening in sessions you don’t attend
We’ve all been there. Two (or more) sessions you really want to go to are in the same time block. You can only choose one. Not a problem if someone’s live Tweeting! Monitor that conference hashtag to see if others are attending and Tweeting about the session you’re missing. Bonus points if you’re returning the favor and Tweeting about your session!

Take notes for future reference
Did you know a Twitter thread is a great method of note taking? A thread is a series of Tweets connected by replies to subsequent Tweets. Since you’re limited to 280 characters, it helps you keep notes concise, and you can easily refer back by linking to the original Tweet in the thread.

Capture conference memories
If anything else, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are perfect for capturing conference memories. Share photos, Tweet your positive experiences, create an Instagram story as you wander through the exhibits. Don’t forget to use that hashtag!

Posted in Bookstores, libraries

Bookish Adventures in Seattle

What does a bookworm do with a ton of free time in a big city (aside from reading, that is)? This week I’ve tagged along with my husband while he attends and speaks at SharePoint Fest in Seattle, Washington. As the conference takes up most of the morning and afternoon, I’ve been left to wander the city. Forget the Space Needle, museums, and the aquarium. I’ve turned my week into a bookish tour, visiting bookshops and libraries!

First stop: two bookshops in the Pike Place Market. On the corner of 1st Ave and Pike Street is Left Bank Books, a lofted shop filled with new and used books. According to their website they specialize in “anti-authoritarian, anarchist, independent, radical and small-press titles.” The floor to ceiling shelves are arranged with face out displays and decorated with hand written recommendations and reviews by staff. Up in the loft, you’ll find an office space and an adorable reading nook with a window seat that overlooks the market.

If you wander through the maze of booths and shops inside the market, you’ll find Lamplight Books. This is a small, one room storefront shop filled with new, used, and vintage books on shelves marked with handwritten signage. It’s amazing how many books you can cram into a little space. I didn’t spend much time here, because it gets crowded quickly as the shop fills with browsers.

Next stop: the Seattle Public Library Central Library. This modern downtown library is made up of 11 spiraling floors of books, computers, specialized collections, and meeting spaces. Escalate up to the top floor to peek down over the atrium from the highest vantage point, and then wander down through floors of nonfiction stacks and periodicals. Warning: if you’re not paying attention to way finding signage, you could easily get lost. I loved spending few hours working in the quiet reading room, surrounded by the people of Seattle and visitors like myself snapping photos.

As head of Cataloging and Collection Development at my library, one thing that caught my attention was the lack of Kapco protective covering on their paperback books. We apply the covers to help protect them and prolong the shelf lives of the books, but the those on the shelves here still looked in decent shape. When I asked a staff member, they said they do see some damage from their automatic materials sorter, but admitted the collection team is happy if the cost per circ of a book reaches below $1. Now I’m interested in researching this back home!

My bookish adventures continued with two stores in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. This is my favorite district to explore, mainly because of the rainbow crosswalks and pride flags that decorate every other shop window. The Elliott Bay Book Company is a large independent bookstore located among the coffee shops, boutiques, bars and restaurants. This large, one and half story space offers new and bargain books, a coffee bar, tabletop and staff picks displays, events and book clubs.

My husband and I love supporting locally owned, independent stores, and after wandering around Elliott Bay for close to an hour, we picked up Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett and Dry by Neal Shusterman. We probably would have bought more, but since we only packed a carry on each for our flight, we had to exercise restraint.

The other store on Capitol Hill is probably my absolute favorite. It’s a cat loving bookworm’s dream, but for fans of straightforward organization and those with pet allergies…not so much. Though, I might want to watch what I write here, as I may end up memorialized on plaque in the shop! Seriously, though, I personally have no complaints about this bookstore.

Twice Sold Tales is the home of thousands of books, four cats, and a friendly owner who will rave about almost any book you bring to the counter. Genre sections wind around corners, pause for overstock shelves, and continue across the shop in this maze of shelves. Books are stacked here and there along the floor among open boxes, book carts, chairs and cat trees. When I brought a Star Wars book the counter, the owner exclaimed that she had just bought it the day before, and my buying it that day was a sign that she should get it again.

The last bookish location I visited was the Capitol Hill Branch of the Seattle Public Library. This vine-covered, modern building with its window seats, multi-story windows and interior exposed brick wall is like something out of an urban fairy tale. It didn’t take long to explore this quiet, open lofted space, but I could have spent hours there. In fact, if we were to ever move to Seattle, it’d probably be the first place I’d apply if there were an opening. (Don’t worry friends and family, only hypothetically speaking!)

It’s been inspiring to be in a city with so many bookish places to visit (though, I admit, I didn’t get much work done on my current project as I intended). I’ve enjoyed my week in Seattle, but now I’m ready to go home and see my cats again!

Posted in Cataloging, Collection Development, Poetry

Poetry on the Move

We’re trying something crazy and new at my library: we’ve broken poetry books out of the 800’s nonfiction! Is that crazy? Is it new? Well, when asked in an informal Facebook poll on the Library Think Tank group, 114 people responded that at their libraries, poetry is still in nonfiction. Two said they have a separate section. So…maybe?

Libraries that have completely ditched Dewey could say, though, that their poetry has its own section. We’re not going that far. My catalogers would revolt. But they are up for trying this new home for poetry, especially since the way we’ve chosen to do it didn’t cause a ton of work. It was actually accomplished in less than a few hours!

First, why are we doing this?
Our selector for the adult collection has long wanted to better highlight poetry, and he thought breaking it out of the 800’s would accomplish that. When he brought it up about a year and a half ago, we weren’t quite ready for it. However, we came up with a compromise and added purple labels above the spine labels so they would stand out better on the shelves.

Earlier this year, we visited the offices of Andrews McMeel, a publishing company based in Kansas City that specializes in poetry. You may be familiar with their best seller, Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey. They said poetry is kind of having a moment and libraries could take advantage. That got us thinking again.

Dewey, or don’t we?
When our selector suggested phasing out our MP3 audiobook collection, he brought up breaking out poetry again. Since we’d have the space, we thought why not? But part of the discussion was whether we would keep poetry organized by Dewey or relabel the books and shelve them by the last name of the poet, like in fiction.

We had arguments for both. People who just want to browse poetry or are looking for a particular poet might find it easier if everything was under the poet’s name. Dewey, however, provides extra organization, breaking the collection into geographic regions and time periods. But wouldn’t it be confusing to have this random Dewey-organized section outside of the nonfiction stacks?

Ultimately, it was the fact that we’ve broken other collections out and then later refiled them in the past that helped make the decision. If, say, five or ten years down the line, a new selector or collection management team wants to refile poetry back into the 800s, it would be much easier if we keep the Dewey. So we did.

A quick and easy move
Since we already had the purple poetry labels on the books and we opted to stick with Dewey, we weren’t going to have to do another relabeling project. It would just be an easy update in the ILS using a global item modification wizard where you can quickly update location and classification codes.

We pulled all available books with poetry labels off the shelves, scanned them through for the update, and shelved them in the new location. Then our cataloging librarian used the new location and classification to single out and export the MARC records, edited the local call numbers with MarcEdit, and overlaid the edited records with a special report that also updated the item call numbers.

For everything that’s currently checked out, our Materials Handling team will send down any item our sorter doesn’t send to the proper bin, and a cataloger will manually update the location, classification and call number.

Here’s to the road less traveled
So far, at least on the Facebook and Twitter posts announcing the move, we’ve had a positive response. But that’s just social media. I’m sure we’ll get some feedback once our poetry regulars wander into the stacks where it used to be and realize things aren’t as they once were. We’ll just have to wait and see!

Posted in Book Review

Echo and The Traveling Cat Chronicles

I recently celebrated my cat’s 20th birthday. Echo is a grey and caramel colored tabby that I’ve literally had since the day she was born. I love to tell the story. On April 20, 1999, I came home from school to find her mother birthing kittens under a picnic table on the porch in front of god and everyone. The last kitten born I claimed as my own and called her Echo.

The reason I remember so clearly is because of the infamous incident that also took place that day. After my siblings and I moved the mother cat and four tiny kittens into a towel lined box and took them inside, we turned on our television to the news of the Columbine school shooting. The diametrically opposing images of the surviving teenagers fleeing death for safety and mewling newborn kittens were permanently ingrained in my mind.

Not to make light of that tragic event, but I’ve long since considered Echo a survivor too. When they were old enough, her two eldest siblings, grey tabbies we called Bud and Missy, were given away to strangers. We kept Echo and her sister, a yellow tabby we named Milow. A year later, a tornado ripped through our town. Before seeking shelter in the hallway of our basement-less modular home, I ran through the rooms looking for the cats. Echo was the only one I couldn’t find. She must have been outside.

In addition to her birthday, a recent book I picked up made me reflect more on Echo’s life. The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa is an adventurous, fictional tale about a cat named Nana and his caretaker, Satoru, who tries to find a new home for him among his acquaintances. The story alternates between the perspectives of Nana and Saturo’s connections, who reflect on how they know Saturo and events in his past.

Satoru drives Nana from place to place across the countryside, but none of them turn out to be the right fit for the cat. Through most of the novel, the reader is left to wonder why Satoru is trying to find a new home for this seemingly friendly, well behaved feline. Is he moving to a less pet friendly apartment? Is he seeing someone new who’s allergic to cats? All is eventually revealed, and I’ll just say the story is beautiful and heartbreaking in unexpected ways.

Like Nana, I like to say my cat Echo is well traveled too. After that tornado, when we emerged from our home to survey the damage, Echo turned up, having found a safe place under our front porch. Over the next two decades, she followed me from rural homes, to tiny Lawrence apartments, through a three year move to Iowa, and then back to Lawrence. She’s weathered storms, colds, unfortunate flea infestations, the loss of her mother and sister, and the arrival of two new, young feline housemates.

I honestly couldn’t imagine the past twenty years without her. The times when she’s curled up on my lap purring, I cherish the most. I know her time may be drawing to an end, but I look forward to having a few more adventures with her.

Also posted on the Lawrence Public Library Blog

Posted in Reflections

When I First Fell in Love with Reading

Do you remember when you first fell in love with reading? I mean the first time you truly, deeply felt that the world was not right unless you had a book in your hands? For me, I didn’t experience this kind of love until high school.

My grandmother was an avid fan of Jill Churchill, and she introduced me to the mystery author’s Jane Jeffries series when I was a freshman. We quickly bonded over the misadventures of Jane, a suburban housewife turned widow turned amateur detective, and together we’d anticipate each new pun-filled title. Grime and PunishmentSilence of the HamsA Quiche Before Dying  – what’s not to love?

It was my grandmother’s love of these cozy mysteries that inspired me to read more. She revealed to me that Jill Churchill was the pseudonym of Janice Young Brooks, a Kansas City area author who previously wrote historical romances. My grandmother had duplicate copies of a few of these, some even signed by Janice, and she let me borrow them to read too.

My absolute favorite was Seventrees, a multi-generational saga about a Pennsylvania family settling in pre-Civil War Kansas. Crown Sable offers a fascinating look at the American fur trade, Cinnamon Wharf details interesting facts about the spice trade in England and Singapore, and Guests of the Emperor, about British and American women who were imprisoned in a Japanese camp during World War II, was adapted into the television movie Silent Cries.

All of these titles went out of print by the late 1990’s. In the days of dial-up internet, I researched the author and found the full list of her published titles on her now-defunct website. I was excited to share with my grandmother that there were even more novels under her real name and other pseudonyms. Because my grandmother was such a fan, I tasked myself with tracking down ones she didn’t have.

There used to be this perfect used bookstore in Mission. Hidden around the corner of a strip of shops, the store was a maze of book shelves with hardcovers and paperbacks stacked in piles lining the aisles. Definitely not a fire marshal’s ideal, but a bookworm’s dream. One of those places you could get lost in. It was owned and operated by a bearded, heavy set man and his wife. Monthly, I would make the drive out there just to see if they had any of Janice’s books. Each time, I’d ask at the register, and the owner – knowing they were out of print and rare – would pull them from a shelf behind the counter and gruffly hand them to me. Each time I walked away with a new title, I was thrilled to share it with my grandmother.

The summer after my sophomore year at college, my grandmother passed away, and I inherited a number of her books. I remember sorting through musty bookshelves in her sitting room and her basement looking for Janice’s books specifically. Much like you might cling to memorabilia from a first relationship, I’ve held on to these well worn and loved paperbacks. 

I don’t know when or if I’ll get to reading the historical romances or the mysteries again, but I’m really glad that my grandmother introduced me to Janice/Jill and inspired my love of reading. I’ll always think of her when I see them on my bookshelves and feel her with me when I do pick one up.

Also posted on the Lawrence Public Library Blog.

Posted in Cataloging, Collections Diversity and Inclusion

One World, Many Languages

When he accepted the Oscar for Foreign Language Film for Roma, Alfonso Cuaron said that he grew up watching foreign language films like Citizen Kane and Jaws and The Godfather. Since the creation of this category in 1956, it’s been pretty clear that the Academy Awards is “America first” or “English first.” Though Alfonso’s comments may not affect much change at the Oscars, it definitely got me thinking about our work toward inclusiveness at the library.

In my last post, I shared about our months-long relabeling project to improve access and representation in our DVD collection. In addition to discontinuing the “miscellaneous” language category and filing the films under their specific languages, we’ve taken this opportunity to update the umbrella term for this specific section of the media collection. Instead of “Foreign,” the section will now be labeled “World.”

Why are we doing this? By definition, “foreign” implies otherness, strangeness, and outside-ness. When we were discussing this collection in our Diversity and Inclusion task force, we immediately knew we wanted a word that didn’t designate English as the default. We considered “International,” but with the size of our labels, we thought that would be weird to abbreviate so it could fit. So we chose “World” instead. An added benefit, unlike international, “world” encompasses languages that aren’t associated with a national entity. It’s also consistent with other world language collections in the library.

How are patrons going to find this collection in the catalog? Because the Academy still uses “foreign films,” and we assume patrons will still use it when searching our catalog, we have decided to leave the 650_0 “Foreign films” subject heading in the records for now. However, we are also adding the local subject heading, “World films.” Otherwise, the collection won’t be moving physically, so we’re pretty sure the regular browsers of these films will find them with no trouble.

It’s a small change, but now we hope this collection won’t imply to people who speak certain languages that they don’t belong. Because everyone belongs at our library.

Posted in Cataloging, Collections Diversity and Inclusion

Project: Improving Access and Representation in Our Media Collection

Over the past several months, the catalogers and I have been working on a large relabeling project in our DVD collection. Previously, DVD feature films were processed with a genre label at the top of the spine and an alpha sticker at the bottom, based on the first letter of the first word of the title of the film. Because they’re a highly browsed collection, they weren’t shelved in exact alphabetical order, just grouped by letter.

When our Look Play Listen team explored ways to improve access to the collection, we experimented with alphabetizing the Drama films and then surveyed patrons. A number responded that the alphabetization helped them find the movies they wanted. Others said they hadn’t even noticed. Staff and volunteers, though, said it was hard to keep them in alphabetical order because of the varying fonts, sizes, and colors of the titles on the spines.

Our solution: spine labels! Revolutionary, I know. Following the cuttering rules from virtually all of our other collections, we’ve gone back and added spine labels with the first 8 letters of the titles, and a second cutter if it’s a sequel or a part of a series, like Star Wars or Harry Potter. On the third Friday of each month, the catalogers pulled a genre from the shelves to relabel, and anything that was currently checked out and returned in the weeks to follow were held for relabeling. It’s been a months long process, but we’re finally nearing the end.

This has also provided an opportunity for us to rethink the way we label our films in different languages, as a part of our Collections Diversity and Inclusion initiative. Originally, languages in which we had more than 20 or so titles got a color coded label, and all others got filed under miscellaneous (MISC on the label and in the catalog). To be more inclusive and to make it easier to find languages in the collection, all films in the languages collection will now be filed under the first language listed in the 041 MARC field no matter how many titles we have in that language.

So have the spine labels worked? From a distance, the shelves definitely look much more organized, and we have gotten comments from staff that it’s much easier to find movies. As far as keeping everything in exact alphabetical order, our Materials Handling staff discovered that it’s still much more work than it might be worth. Currently, we’re only attempting to keep our TV shows and the Drama collections in order. Even that seems like it could be a full time job…

Posted in Library Marketing

My Go-to Library Tweets

About eight years ago, I was asked to help run my library’s Twitter account. We didn’t have designated marketing staff, we were just starting to build our presence on social media, and I had no idea where to start. Thankfully I was working with a brilliant fellow librarian turned marketing guru who taught me a few things.

Now with eight years of Tweeting for libraries on top of maintaining a personal Twitter account and a quasi-famous librarian parody account under my belt…I still can’t claim to be a pro. However, over time I have come to mostly recognize what works and what works not so well when promoting your library’s resources and services on Twitter.

That being said, here are my go-to’s for Tweeting for my library:

Tweet about books (and other materials) you and your coworkers love
Twitter is great for marketing the materials in your collection, and adding a personal touch will help it go that much further. Patrons love staff picks and recommendations from librarians. #FridayReads, #WeekendReads and #whatareyoureading are all fun hashtags that you can use with these tweets, or you could start one that’s specific to your library (i.e. #LPLstaffpicks) so you can easily curate a list of picks exclusive to your library.

Tweet @ authors
If you’re sharing a staff pick of a book and the author is on Twitter, tag them! Most authors love to know that their books are in libraries and that librarians are loving, promoting and supporting their work. And they might just respond. Even if it is just a like, it’s a wonderful feeling!

Tweet links to bookish web content
Does your library have a blog? Easy Twitter fodder! No? Book Riot, Buzzfeed, Read Brightly — there are tons of popular bookish blogs and websites out there. If you are strapped for time and can’t create content, these sites produce perfect articles and lists to share daily. And it’s OKAY to share other libraries’ blog posts too! You’re helping your patrons discover new books they could come back to you to get.

These are just a few of the blogs and websites I’ve got bookmarked:

Tip: Tweets with images tend to get the most engagement. Most of the time, Twitter will pull a featured image from a website when you share a link. I like to test a link by pasting the URL in the mobile Twitter app, because it will load a featured image while you’re composing the Tweet. If it doesn’t, I’d recommend finding and attaching a relevant image.

Tweet @ other libraries and bookish accounts
Especially if you’re sharing their content, it’s great to tag other libraries and bookish accounts. They may like, reply to or retweet your post, which will increase your reach. Also, interact by replying to, liking and retweeting content. This is the number one way to build a following!

Tweet @ local businesses, organizations, and groups
Just like with other libraries and bookish accounts, it’s great to interact with businesses, organizations and groups in your community by sharing, liking and retweeting them. This helps your reach, helps you stay aware of what’s happening in your community, and helps your library in its goal of connecting people with resources in your community.

Tip: If you or your library administrators are concerned about promoting/endorsing businesses and organizations as a public institution, consider developing a policy stating that Tweets aren’t endorsements or other guidelines on what’s acceptable.

Posted in Collections Diversity and Inclusion

Taking Action: Collections Diversity & Inclusion

My library’s leadership team has been talking a lot about equity, diversity and inclusion. With these discussions, I’ve made it one of my goals this year to lead a closer look at the library’s collection to see how well we are meeting the needs and interests of our patrons at the same time as reflecting the diversity of our community, and to see where we can and need to improve.

Last year, members of our Readers’ Services staff and I took Library Journal’s Diversity and Cultural Competency Training online course, which helped in preparing us for this initiative. Sessions covered what a diverse and inclusive collection is, how to do a diversity audit of the collection, and how to recognize stereotypes, tropes and cultural appropriation. They’re offering a similar course this year, Equity in Action: Taking Your Library’s Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives to the Next Level.

Now, we’re taking that action. This is a broad initiative that affects a number of departments, so that means, Yay! New Task Force! With a representation of department coordinators, back end and front line staff, we’ll be able to fine tune the focus of the initiative.

Here’s the charge we’re starting with:

  1. To gauge how diverse and inclusive our collections are currently
  2. To review possible problematic collections/access points (i.e. labeling, call numbers, subject headings in the catalog) and develop improvement plans (involving affected departments/staff)
  3. Provide (some) direction for student interns who will be working with the collections to help with this initiative (i.e. performing a diversity audit, reviewing diverse book lists for purchase suggestions)

We’ll have our first meeting later this month to decide on exact initial direction and focus. Whether we’ll do a complete collection diversity audit, adopt new cataloging practices with radical subject headings, or ditch outdated classification systems all together is yet to be seen, but I’ll plan to share our progress here. Stay tuned!

The “Wak’ó Mujeres Phụ nữ Women Mural” was recently completed on the Lawrence Public Library’s south wall by local artists to illuminate and honor the stories of women and girls of color in the community
Posted in Recommended Reading, YA Books

5 YA Books on My Holds List

Getting to order for the library’s teen collection means I get an early heads up on new releases. It also means my holds list is constantly growing, as I can’t help but get in line for the titles that catch my attention. Here’s what I’m looking forward to reading in the next few months:

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America edited by Ibi Zoboi

Release date: January 8, 2019

What caught my attention: It’s my goal to read as diversely as possible and learn more about experiences unlike my own, and I definitely need to read more books by Black authors. There will never be enough stories by Black authors about Black teens, and I’m excited to have this one on the library’s teen shelves.

Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Release date: January 15, 2019

What caught my attention: This gorgeous cover! Also, a kidney transplant hits kind of close to home, and I’m a sucker for stories about recovery from illness, unrequited love, plus bisexual representation.

The Fever King by Victoria Lee

Release date: February 1, 2019

What caught my attention: A gay, technopathic teen goes up against an oppressive government in post-apocalyptic United States? Yes please!

The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg

Release date: February 26, 2018

What caught my attention: It’s a book by Bill Konigsberg! I loved Openly Straight and Honestly Ben, and I’m looking forward to reading another story about a complicated relationship among two guys coming of age.

You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman

Release date: March 5, 2019

What caught my attention: Harvard hopeful fails a calculus test, enlists a tutor, and falls in love with him. Sounds adorable. Diverse characters and gay and bi representation a plus!