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Reader Spotlight

The NetGalley community is rich with Librarians, Booksellers, Educators, Media, Reviewers and Bloggers who excel at helping books succeed and promoting a love of reading. We like to take a moment to highlight these members and share their stories with you.

This week’s spotlight is on. . . Kate Fais, a Young Adult Librarian at the NYPL Bloomingdale Branch in NYC!

Featured Librarian: Kate Fais

Library: New York Public Library, Bloomingdale Branch, New York City

Role: Young Adult Librarian

 

 

When (and how) did you decide to become a librarian?

I’ve wanted to be a librarian since I was five years old – and then one of my older cousins told me I had to read every book in the library. I was terrified of the Goosebumps series, so I did briefly consider other jobs.

Is there anything that your library does especially well that you’d love to continue and possibly expand?

My branch has an amazing weekly teen writing group that meets on Thursdays. It really is the best hour of my week! We have a wonderful volunteer who leads the workshop – the kids and I just love her. The teens have actually come in during random days of the week asking if Writing Club is that day! I’m also lucky to be part of an amazing team of young adult librarians with the New York Public Library. Every year we have the Anti-Prom at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (the Library on 42nd Street with the lions!), and the teens (and the staff!) have a blast.

You served on NYPL’s Best Books for Teens 2017 committee. Can you speak a little bit about this and other initiatives you’ve worked on to expose teens to great literature?

Serving on the Best Books for Teens committee was an absolute dream. Imagine, each month you meet with almost twenty of your peers for three hours to just talk books. I’m lucky enough to be serving on the committee for 2018 this year, and because of NetGalley, I’ve been able to read a good number of titles before their release dates.

Additionally, I have great relationships with the middle schools in my area. I always try to sneak in several booktalks whenever I have class visits! Plus, I just started hosting a monthly Free Book Friday for my teens – teens have the opportunity to come to the library and take home as many books (finished published copies and galleys) as they like, to keep forever. At my last Free Book Friday, as one of my teens was flipping through Grendel’s Guide to Love and War, I learned that they are a BIG fan of Beowulf and totally ships Hrothgar and Grendel.

In my prior job at Cold Spring Harbor Library, I also volunteered with the Authors Unlimited conference which connected teens with YA authors, and was a fact-checker for the Suffolk County (NY) Battle of the Books.

When it comes to motivating your patrons to read and enjoy reading, what techniques or strategies have you found to be most effective?

I’m a big believer in just stopping a book if it’s not gelling for you. Why torment yourself? I always encourage people to take home several books at a time, especially if they’re not sure what they’re in the mood for. One of their selections is bound to stick.

Do you have a favorite moment when you provided someone with a book?

It’s actually when they come back, find me, and tell me how much they absolutely adored the book I paired them with.

What is the most requested title in your library right now?

Holds wise, Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff. I actually have a copy checked out, but I have too many other things to read!

Has having access to digital galleys affected the types of titles you recommend to your patrons?

I think I’ve been able to actually read more galleys since they’re digitized! I take the subway each day to get to and from work, and honestly, it’s a lot easier to read from my phone when I can’t sit! Additionally, digital galleys are soooo much easier for me to travel with. I’m the kid who got in trouble for bringing fifteen hardcover books in her suitcase to Florida, so having a ream of digital galleys when I’m on the train, plane, or waiting in line for something has been a life-saver.

Please make sure to check out more Reader Spotlights, plus discover Young Adult books on NetGalley!


Would you like to nominate a fellow book advocate to be featured in our Reader Spotlight series? Fill out this form!

 

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Seven Librarians Share the Reasons They Love Libraries

*Originally published on Bookish.com, an editorially independent division of NetGalley.

February 14th is the day we celebrate love in all its many forms, including the love of libraries. Here at Bookish we’ve been known to swoon over our local libraries. In fact, we are so tongue-tied about our own love for them that we decided to consult the people who adore libraries so much that they have devoted their careers to them. To celebrate Library Lovers’ Day we’ve asked seven librarians to tell us why they love libraries.

Share your love of libraries in the comments below!

“I love libraries for so many reasons. First, the library made me a writer—childhood hours spent reading library books taught me how to write a sentence, how to understand my fears and experiences, and how to tell my own story. I value the library as a pure community space unaffected by the exigencies of commerce—no one expects me to buy anything or to limit my time; I can simply hang out and read. Furthermore, the library is a democratic institution: Its resources belong to all and are accessible by all. At the library, we can find information that helps us live, learn, dream, and be more engaged citizens—for a mere few tax dollars per month. Value-added bonus: The library profession is committed to protecting everyone’s First Amendment right of freedom of speech, thought, and inquiry. Libraries are badass, radical, and crucial. How can people not love them?” —Stella Beratlis, reference librarian at Modesto Junior College and author of Alkali Sink

“What makes a library? For me, it is a place of ongoing conversation and communication. It’s a space where everyone in the community is welcome to participate in those talks. When I first began working at libraries, I thought mostly about collection development. I thought about what the library housed, not who it served. Now I’d say I think about librarianship the way I think about the world around me. I want it to succeed because I want my community to succeed. Libraries are spaces that give back infinitely—they are one of the only places you can go that are dedicated to figuring out what you need, even if you aren’t sure what that thing is. Libraries are bastions of information, certainly, but they are also repositories of community service.” —Kristen Arnett, access services librarian and circulation supervisor at a law library in Florida and author of Felt in the Jaw

“I am not the first to love libraries, and won’t be the last—thank god for millennials! Beyond the more obvious reasons to love libraries (love of reading, free programs for adults and children, free wifi, and so on), I really love libraries for their grit, tenacity, and revolutionary, rebellious spirit! Not what you think of when you think about your public library? Ditto. Until I began to learn more about the quiet, unassuming chutzpah libraries have shown since their inception. Libraries exude an incongruous mix of innocence and hope with a serious rage-against-the-machine attitude. Within these walls exist the librarians—protectors of books, intellectual freedom fighters, and guardians of patrons’ rights. Imagine a world where Harry Potter was successfully banned. You can thank a librarian that these treasures are still on the shelves. Libraries have been at the forefront of the battle for net neutrality, fighting for equal access to the internet. And right out of the pages of a superhero comic comes the real life story of the Connecticut Four—four librarians who, under a gag order as well as threat of imprisonment, steadfastly fought the federal government’s unwarranted, overreaching demand for personal and private information on patrons. Libraries provide refuge to those in need, from assisting homeless populations every day to helping victims during catastrophic events. Many librarians are now being trained to administer Narcan to help in the opioid crisis. And fearless libraries have kept their doors open to the public during the Ferguson unrest of 2014, the Baltimore protests of 2015, and even during the civil rights marches in Selma, Alabama. By providing this refuge, libraries create a gathering place where communication can occur, information can be shared, and community can grow. With what seems like an ever-shrinking amount of empathy and understanding among humans, libraries provide an opportunity for people to interact with each other in person, and to subsequently gain awareness about the others sharing this planet alongside us. By doing so, libraries help build a more resilient people. I am Groot. (I love libraries.)” —Erin Tuomi, assistant director at the Newbury Town Library

“One winter morning in 2005, I locked myself out of my house. I’d just driven my daughter to school and was still in pajamas and slippers under my parka. No spare key in the garage, under a rock, at a neighbor’s. My husband wouldn’t be home till 7:30. My wallet was on the kitchen island next to the house key. Frazzled, I wondered where I could go to kill the hours without imposition or expense or—most crucially to me— embarrassment. The answer was obvious: my local library. There, a friend on staff chuckled sympathetically at my predicament, offered me coffee, spare socks. I meandered through the dusty stacks, slipping into the forgotten pleasure of aimless perusing, and narrowed in on Seamus Heaney’s verse translation of Beowulf. I sat by a glass door with a view of woods, nodded good morning to some cheery seniors, bundled my parka closer, and got lost until I had to pick up my girl. Now I work at that library and love the idea of the place as refuge as well as resource. A place of welcome, no matter how unwashed, half-dressed, needful, frantic, demanding, snobbish, chatty, nervous, exuberant, or miserable a patron is. A place to get safely lost.” —Eileen Frankel Tomarchio, staff librarian at a New Jersey library

“I think I fell in love with libraries before I understood what they were, before I could tap their limitless potential just by wandering their square footage and running my finger along the books’ spines. You see, there is a black and white photograph of me sitting on my father’s lap at his desk at his library. I am about three years old, and he is young and his beard is big and puffy like a lumberjack’s. My father was a librarian at a year-round school for severely physically handicapped children and in the summer he would take me to work with him so that I could play with the kids while he worked. I remember how he welcomed each child as he or she entered the library. I would stare and take in in, and even feel a little jealous of how loved he made those kids feel.” —Olivia Gatti, librarian at Brooks School

“Outside of the high school library I run, I spend many of my hours at Central Library, part of the Brooklyn Public Library. I take photos to celebrate the library as sacred space, where one can both confirm who they are and become someone else. What I love the most about the library is the people, because without the people, a library is a building full of information without purpose. I love that the library is where my mother took English as a second language (ESL) classes and where she wrote her first poem in English. I love the people who inhabit the art section and sit and draw and collage or make watercolor paintings. I love the people who build forts of books around them and consult well-worn stacks of notes, presumably writing a book or a manifesto or nothing at all. I love the men and women studying for nursing or civil service exams. I love that the library is one of the last public spaces anyone can go and take, take, take without giving a cent. In my writing and in my life, I seek the unexpected in the everyday and the library never disappoints.” —Adalena Kavanagh, librarian at Sunset Park High School Library

“It is hard for me to articulate why I love libraries. They have always been in the background of my life. I grew up in my hometown’s public library. I attended story time as a kid, joined a mother-daughter book club as a teen, and even worked as a page in high school. I worked in my college library, interned at an antiquarian society, and helped friends start an anarchist collective library. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to pinpoint the moment that libraries became the foundation of my life, walking through Georgetown’s library where I work now, watching students frantically typing and dust motes floating through shafts of sunlight. I love the people, the conversations, the constant opportunities for learning—but I know that isn’t why I stayed. I love the fight for patron privacy, the fierce commitment to fair dissemination of information, the care and concern for all members of our community—but I think for me it’s something even simpler. I love the structure and order, the noble attempt to classify the intangible. I first fell in love with the Dewey Decimal System, its arcane largess able to contain nonfiction multitudes. I’ve grown to love the Library of Congress Classification System, with its rigid yet ever-modernizing classifications. I love archival finding aids, homebrewed special library systems, comic-shop pull lists, the color-coded books in my own home. Books contain everything we know, everything we’ve seen, everything we are, and naive and arrogant, we can’t stop trying to find ways to organize that. Every day I head into the stacks to track down a book, and every day I uncover new knowledge by proximity. The structure leads to discovery, to the words I hear hundreds of times a year in my job, that ‘I was looking for this book but then I found this one’ moment that opens doors. It encapsulates a very human need to understand each other, to draw connections, and at the core, that’s what I love about libraries.” —Dana Aronowitz, access specialist at Georgetown University Library

 

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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: The Indigo Quill
Blog URL: http://www.theindigoquill.com
Your name: Lis Ann Morehart

A nice place to start is with your library origin story – when did you decide to become a Youth Services Librarian? Can you briefly explain your role and your favorite aspect of your job?

That’s a great question! I have always loved books, education, and the power of imagination. When I was a kid, I’d ask my parents to drop me off at school 30 minutes early so I could roam the library and pick out my next read. My friends and I started our own book club, which became a sort of competition. From Elementary through High School, my librarians knew my name.

When I began college, I was torn between majoring in Music and English.  At first I chose music, but then I got to Music Theory III and decided it was time to switch gears (think of “Chemistry” class being the point where Biology majors drop out…that’s Music Theory III for Music majors!). I have so many hobbies, it took me a while to decide what I really wanted to do. In 2013, I started The Indigo Quill, and that is when I decided to become a librarian. The more I researched what a Youth Services Librarian did, I realized all of my hobbies and passions fit into this one vocation.

My job, in my opinion, is the best job in the world. I oversee ages 0 to early 20s and work with kids and teens through every phase of their lives. As someone who doesn’t sit still well, my job is always changing, and I love that. I keep up with the best practices for providing not just literacy, but also life skills and development for my patrons. I am in charge of collection development, program planning and execution, bookmobile services, volunteers, outreach, and anything else pertaining to children and teens. I am also the caregiver for our three library guinea pigs, Dobby, Dougal, and Nimbus. That’s just an added bonus. 🙂

Can you speak a little bit about your journey to becoming a book blogger? Do you find that reviewing books helps you better recommend them to students?

I have been a blogger since I was in the junior high, but I wanted to book blog for years before I finally did it. It wasn’t until I had read the end of a series I had followed for nearly a decade that I decided to start my blog. I waited almost ten years for this couple to get together, and then they ended up marrying other people! I won’t name any names, but I was so upset I had to find others who felt the same way. Thus, The Indigo Quill was born. Once I started, I was suddenly connected to several authors and publishers and the entire experience became much more than I ever anticipated. Here I was starting a blog so I had an outlet to complain expecting nothing to come of it, and aside from helping me become a better reader, writer, and editor, it assisted me in landing my last two jobs.

Reviewing has absolutely helped me better recommend books to people. It provides me navigation for picking the right ones to order for the library, and aids me in choosing books for storytime, Tween Book Club, and Teen Book Talk.

What are your favorite genres to read and review? Are there any upcoming book(s) on NetGalley that you’re excited about recommending?

I love Juvenile Fantasy, because you will find the greatest depths of imagination there. It keeps me young and aware of life’s possibilities. But I also enjoy balancing that out with Non-Fiction. I grew up with a fascination for learning things, so whether it’s a biography, cookbook, cultural, or health, I almost always emerge from the pages enlightened.

It actually released earlier this month, but I recommend the book, Women Who Dared by Linda Skeers. If you love books that empower women in history, this title is distinguished and comprehensive. Although it doesn’t provide extensive details (especially the less glamorous ones) for each gal, it introduces women from all over the world in a way that doesn’t intimidate young readers.

Do you have a favorite moment when you provided someone with a book?

At the beginning of Summer Reading, I had a parent who told me her son, who is about 10 years old, hates reading. Every time a parent tells me that, I get a little overly excited. Challenge accepted! 9 times out of 10, the child just needs to be introduced to the right book. They just need to discover something in their “language.” Sometimes that’s My Little Pony, other times it’s Minecraft. This particular child I directed to our graphic novels. He was so excited to find Pokemon books! He had the entire series read by the end of the Summer, and has now moved on to our Juvenile Fiction. He was one of my top readers for the Summer Reading Program this Summer, and I couldn’t be more proud. Sometimes you just need to find the right key.

What is the most requested title in your library?

Anything by James Patterson. We have pages of waiting lists for his books, and they won’t see the shelves for at least 6 months after we receive them.

Lightning Round!

Your blog in two sentences:

First impressions and occasional adventures by a Youth Services Librarian. The days of suffering alone at the hands of a good, or horrible, story are over!

Your all-time favorite Middle Grade book:

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Your favorite character in a book or series:

Hermione Granger is without a doubt my literary parallel.

And to finish off our interview, if you could have coffee (…or something stiffer) with any author, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

Neil Gaiman. He is absolutely brilliant on and off the pages.

Thanks so much, Lis Ann, for spending time with us and answering our questions! 

Please make sure to check out The Indigo Quill blog plus more Middle Grade and Children’s Fiction on NetGalley!

Would you like to nominate someone to be featured in our Reader Spotlight series? Fill out this form!

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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: The Fairview Review
Blog URL: http://fveslibrary.blogspot.com
Your name: Suzanne Costner

A nice place to start is with your library origin story – how did become the school library media specialist at Fairview Elementary School? Can you briefly explain your role and your favorite aspect of your job?

I have always wanted to be a librarian, and after several years as a classroom teacher, I realized that my favorite activities all revolved around the books I used with my students. So I completed my LMS degree and moved into the library. I had a wonderful mentor in the school where I was teaching, and she helped me with the transition to the nearby school where I am now librarian. I teach a library class for each homeroom once a week, and also have classes schedule extra time to come in for research or other projects. My favorite part of the job is connecting my students with the right books and watching them become avid readers.

How is technology incorporated into your library, for your students but also for yourself and your staff? Do you have any goals for incorporating further technology into your library?

I began the blog as a way to incorporate more technology into the library program. I wanted to offer the students an authentic audience to share book reviews, rather than just writing a book report for the teacher to check off in the gradebook. I’ve had a few students take advantage of the platform, but most are more excited about reading the books rather than writing about them. I’ve slowly been adding MakerSpace activities to the library, and the most popular so far is the green screen. Our plan is to record student book talks, then attach QR codes to the covers of books for other students to access the videos.

I serve as a “tech teacher leader” for my school. Part of the role is to model technology integration for the other teachers, and to offer support as they try to implement new things. We have used the Quiver AR app and Plickers in guidance classes, robotics and computer coding in the library, and apps like Epic! ebooks and Quizlet in classrooms. The big focus lately has been the green screen. I’ve used it to record voter public service announcements with the 5th graders; the 4th grade has recorded math instructional videos on how to solve word problems and also infomercials starring the founding fathers of the original 13 colonies; the basketball teams even came in and made an appreciation video to show the coach at their banquet. I lead training sessions on using online resources, STEM lessons, and equipment like the green screen or document cameras.

Which book(s) would you suggest for a middle grade level reluctant reader?

There are so many great stories that are not thick, intimidating books, so I usually start with those. Series like The Zack Files, Eerie Elementary, or The Imaginary Veterinary are fast-paced and include lots of humor to up their appeal. I also reach for anything that is heavily illustrated or in graphic novel/manga format such as the Dragon Breath, Babymouse, and Amulet series or anything by Doug TenNapel (Cardboard is a big favorite). And then I look for topics that appeal to the students like the I Survived books. Once I find one book they enjoy, it is much easier to say, “If you liked that, then try this.”

How long have you been reviewing books online and why did you start? Do you find reviewing the books helps you better recommend them to students?

I began the blog in June 2013, as something to offer the students in place of writing book summaries or taking AR tests. I wrote out some reviews to show them a sample of what they might do, and became hooked on it. I have always read children’s and YA books to be able to find new titles to use in my classroom or to add to the library, so sharing my thoughts about them was a natural progression. Reviewing definitely helps me think of which student(s) a certain book would be perfect for. It has become a ritual when they come up to the circulation desk, they ask me which of the books in their stack I have already read. And there are several students who come in the door and call across the room, “What should I read next?”

Do you have a favorite moment when you provided someone with a book?

My first year in the library I had a family come in for the book fair on a Friday afternoon and the father asked me to help his son find a book. “He hasn’t found anything that he likes since he finished the Harry Potter series,” the dad said. So I showed them The Lightning Thief and told them to take it home and try it over the weekend, and if he didn’t enjoy it, I would exchange it for something else. Monday morning both parents came in and I asked if their son had started the book and did he think he would like it. The mother replied,” Start it! He read the whole thing in one sitting and we’re back for the rest of the series!” And I thought to myself, “The library is where I belong.”

Which upcoming Middle Grade book(s) on NetGalley are you the most excited about recommending?

Oh, I’m glad you put that (s) on book, because there is no way to pick only one. For fantasy readers I would say Jen Calonita’s Tricked (Fairy Tale Reform School #3). For graphic novel lovers, Gene Luen Yang’s Secrets and Sequences from the Secret Coders series (coding, robots, and graphic novel format all together). If readers enjoy humorous fiction with action, then The Matchstick Castle by Keir Graff. And for a bit of suspense/supernatural elements I would say Journey’s End by Rachel Hawkins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lightning Round!

The last book that made you smile:

 

 

The Dragon Hunters by James Russell and Link Choi

 

 

Your favorite Storytime book to read:

Anything by Mo Willems. We Are in a Book (with Elephant and Piggie so excited to be the characters in a story), is a great one. My students also love Double Trouble in Walla Walla by Andrew Clements. I think they like listening to me try to read it without getting tongue-tied.

The most popular books in your library right now:

I Survived series, A Series of Unfortunate Events (thanks to the Netflix series), Secret Coders series, and spooky books by Mary Downing Hahn.

And to finish off our interview, if you could have coffee (…or something stiffer) with any author, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

I would love to have tea with Anne McCaffrey and talk dragons with her. I periodically go back and read through all the Pern books and remember when I found the first one while I was in middle school. She wrote such a wide range of science fiction/fantasy and I love all the various worlds she imagined and shared with us.

Thanks so much Suzanne, for spending time with us and answering our questions!
Please make sure to check out the The Fairview Review and more Middle Grade available on NetGalley! 

Would you like to nominate someone to be featured in our Reader Spotlight series? Fill out this form!

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Reader Spotlight

We’re excited to be spotlighting Charmaine Atrooshi, who works in the Homebound Services department of the Ottawa Public Library. She is passionate about social justice, and providing equitable library services in order to build strong communities. She has been in her current role for the past seven years, and spends most of her days providing readers’ advisory services to her homebound customers. She believes robust readers’ advisory skills and services are important in public libraries as they help to connect people, and provide access to library materials that help us relax, learn and escape….. Charmaine holds a Master of Arts in Legal Studies (Carleton University), Bachelor of Arts Honours in Law (Carleton) and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology (Carleton). She is currently pursuing an MLIS online with the University of Alberta, and is looking forward to fusing her legal background with librarianship.

A nice place to start is with your library origin story – how did you become involved with the Ottawa Public Library (OPL)?

I started working for OPL as a summer student while I was completing my first undergraduate degree. My role was to provide children’s programming in rural library branches. I later applied for a paging position, was hired on permanently, and here we are now, 11 years (and several different roles and degrees) later! Public libraries are a dynamic place to work—they are constantly changing, innovating, and creating new ways to reach out to their communities in order to construct services and programming that are relevant to their needs. Every day brings something new and exciting!

Can you describe what Homebound Services does, those who use it, and why it’s essential to your community?

Homebound services is a department that selects and delivers library materials to OPL customers who have difficulty accessing a library branch on a regular basis due to age, illness or disability. The majority of our customers are older adults and seniors. We offer two types of services; one is a home delivery service where library materials are selected monthly by staff and delivered to their door, and the other is a mini library service where we bring a selection of library materials to various retirement residents for the residents to peruse and select from. We have around 500 customers that we select for monthly, as well as approximately 150 mini library customers. OttawaHomeboundServices

Services like these are really important in our community as they help to remove barriers to access, provide equitable library service, promote information literacy, and are a means of connecting customers with the resources, materials and services they require. We encourage our customers to contact us with feedback on their selections, and to request titles/authors they enjoy.

Has having access to digital galleys/proofs impacted your collection development strategy? Has it also affected the types of titles you recommend to your customers/patrons?

Having access to digital galleys assists greatly when it comes to recommending and selecting titles for our Homebound customers. Many want to hear what the next ‘big thing’ is, and to find read-alikes for their favorite authors, and they look to us for feedback. Reading the blurbs on NetGalley and having the opportunity to access some of these materials ahead of time is great, as it helps me keep my finger on the pulse of publishing trends—so when someone asks me for the next “Girl on the Train” I can provide some great suggestions for new thrillers!

OPL has a centralized content services department that is responsible for the materials selection for all 33 Ottawa Public Library branches (plus Homebound and Bookmobile Services). They do a great job of providing us with materials that are relevant to the needs of our Homebound customers, and are always open to suggestions for items we think our customers would enjoy.

Do you have a favorite moment when you provided someone with a book?

Years ago, I read a book from NetGalley called Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler. Calling Me Home
I loved it so much—Kibler painted such a vivid, incredible (slightly heartbreaking) story and I knew that this was something that many of our Homebound customers (and colleagues) would enjoy. I sent this title to many of our historical fiction/family sagas customers in hopes they would enjoy as much as I had—and I was right. A few people who we rarely heard from contacted us to say how much they enjoyed this—and would like more by this author (unfortunately, she hasn’t published anything else yet – but we found some read-alikes in the interim). One customer at a mini library enjoyed it so much, she gave a mini book talk to the other residents in the room- encouraging them to read it as she enjoyed it so much! It was a great feeling!

Which upcoming book(s) on NetGalley are you the most excited about recommending?

Jojo Moyes- Paris for One & Other stories (as we have a big Moyes following) and Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter. I don’t read a lot in the science fiction/fantasy type of genre, but Crouch had this way of sucking you in right from the first chapter. I couldn’t put it down—it was a refreshing shift from what I normally read and I think many others would also find this book captivating! Mini libraries are excellent opportunities for recommending titles and having readers’ advisory conversations—these chats help us all to expand our reading horizons and try new titles/authors/genres that we may not have picked up otherwise.

Paris for One     Dark Matter

What is the most requested title in your library?

We have had a lot of requests recently from our homebound customers for Jojo Moyes and Louise Penny titles as well as Giller Prize winning authors.

And to finish up, what is the last book that made you smile?

I Regret Nothing by Jen Lancaster
I Regret Nothing  

Thanks so much Charmaine, for spending time with us and answering our questions!
Please make sure to check out the Ottawa Public Library and their Homebound Services

Would you like to nominate someone to be featured in our Reader Spotlight series? Fill out this form!

*Interviewed by Tarah Theoret

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At NetGalley, we’re definitely fans of librarians and how their passion for reading and knowledge influences so many readers (young and old), so we wanted to highlight an event geared towards librarians that helps provide them with tools and resources so they can continue to evolve. The New York City School Library System is holding their 26th Annual Fall Conference on November 3rd at the famed CitiField, with the theme: Libraries for ALL Learners, which will focus on equity and all that it entails. We had the chance to sit down with Melissa Jacobs, a coordinator for NYCSLS, to talk about her interactions with librarians, their annual conference, what her department does to help libraries.

As coordinator at the New York City School Library System, can you describe some of the projects you work on? Do you have any favorite aspects to your day?

I have been working as a coordinator in the New York City School Library System for a little over 12 years. I provide support services to librarians and help develop strong library programs. What does that look like on a daily basis? No day is ever the same… yesterday, I spent eight hours weeding out a collection that has been neglected for years and mentoring a new librarian. Last week, I facilitated two professional learning community meetings for librarians in Brooklyn and Staten Island. Next week, I am traveling off to Lake Placid, NY for the New York Library Association’s Annual Conference and facilitating the School Library System Association of New York State’s Executive Board Meeting and General Membership Meetings as President.

What is your greatest achievement so far, and do you have any projects you’re looking forward to?

So many amazing things are happening in libraries throughout this country. In the last year, we have seen libraries being highlighted as sanctuaries from the world’s chaos, artificial limbs being fabricated in Makerspaces and Maker Labs, and mobile technology infiltrating society and K-12 education. Several years ago I founded the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Best Apps for Teaching and Learning. Watching that task force grow into a nationally recognized committee and seeing the work continue on by my peers has been truly rewarding. It makes me smile knowing teachers, parents, and students now have a professionally vetted list of apps to refer to.

A major project you’ve been working on, the New York City School Library System’s 26th Annual Fall Conference, which NetGalley is proud to be a sponsor of, is happening next month – can you describe the conference and the events at the show that you’re most excited for?

The New York City School Library System hosts an annual conference for K-12 public and nonpublic school librarians.  It is an amazing day of collaboration, learning, networking, sharing and a celebration of school libraries. This year, we are so excited to welcome Jacqueline Woodson as our closing keynote and Dr. Alfred Tatum as our opening keynote. We will also be hosting an amazing panel of authors in a session moderated by Susannah Richards called The Lens of Diversity: It is Not All in What You See. This session will bring together Sophie Blackall, Daniel Jose Older, and Sean Qualls for a lively discussion on their views on diversity for young and older readers.

Do you find that the conference has changed or evolved in any particular ways over the years? Are there any trends that you’ve noticed or are there any you would like to see, on behalf of librarians, publishers, or relevant companies/services?

Absolutely! Our world changes daily and so does the needs, concerns, and issues of librarians. Five years ago, mobile technology was cutting edge and few people even had a smart phone. This year, I expect social media to play an enormous role in librarian’s access to information before, during, and after our conference. Anyone can now follow along the day’s events on Twitter using hashtag #nycsls2015 or on Facebook.

I’ve always admired librarians in general for their ability to adapt and then excel when it comes to major shifts in our culture, like the transition to ebooks and the use (and almost dependence) of phones and tablets. Have you witnessed, or personally administered, any creative ways to meet the challenge of evolving the traditional library so it’s more accessible and fun for patrons? Do you see any new challenges on the horizon that you’re preparing for?

Equity is an issue librarians struggle with and school librarians are confronting it daily. How do librarians provide the same level of practice and a strong library program in every neighbor and corner of New York City? It is something that keeps me up at night.

And for fun, if you were going on a long journey and could bring no books or devices, but you had time to commit just one book to memory, which would it be?

A secret confession… I love cookbooks and read them like novels. However, it would be impossible for me to select just one of the 400 plus I have indexed at home.

I’d like to thank Melissa for answering our questions during this very busy time of year. I’d also like to remind our librarian members to add your ALA number to your NetGalley Profile, nominate titles for LibraryReads, check out the latest monthly lists here and request the titles!

*Interviewed by Tarah Theoret

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Librarian_spotlight

 

 

We’d like to welcome Alicia Vandenbroek as our featured librarian from Shackelford Library at Shackelford Junior High School. Alicia is a long-time NetGalley member, a tech-savvy librarian, an author, and reviewer who shares how she incorporates technology in her library, which upcoming titles she’s looking forward to, and tips for considering which books to read and review for your audience.  

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A nice place to start is with your librarian origin story – how did you become a junior high school librarian?

I’ve had a passion for books for as long as I can remember. Even at a young age, my mom always made sure I had access to books from the library. I found out in high school that being a writer might be harder than I thought, so I began to investigate jobs that would allow me to write and also explore other passions (like working with kids). I soon fell in love with teaching. After six years, I started to look for ways I could still teach, but reach a larger audience. The library was the perfect fit! It is an ideal place for collaboration, the geeky tech stuff I enjoy, books, and kids… lots of kids! Add a makerspace into the mix, and it is literally my dream job. Right now it is such a joy to see students experience things that they never thought possible and challenge themselves to do more.

As a self-proclaimed “tech nerd,” how is technology incorporated into your library, for your students but also for yourself and your staff? Do you have any goals for incorporating further technology into your library?

Yes, I’m a nerd. That used to bother me, but I embraced my inner geek a long time ago. I even rock a Haven and a Firefly shirt from time to time (only nerds will get that). What I love most about tech is that it isIMG_0009 continually evolving. Life is a journey and you can never be complacent. Technology forces us to keep growing and expanding. I started learning code last year. I stink, but I know enough Scratch to stay one step ahead of my makers and we learn together. In the library technology is a huge part of my makerspace and my lessons. Last year we got a grant for a 3D printer and 3D Doodler pens, so I’m very excited to incorporate those into curriculum this year. We’ve added some life skill tech in the form of sewing machines and a button maker too. The plan is to do some cool wearable art this year.  In lessons we use tech to enrich the curriculum through activities like online research, speedbooking, and student lead projects. I try to lead by example and then I also offer classes at both a local and regional level.

In addition to being a librarian, you also run a blog, Poetry of Words – can you describe the focus of your blog and the types of titles you review there? 

Initially, it was going to be a book blog only, but occasionally I also blog about some of the cool things happening at school like our STEAM festival. I mostly review YA books because that is largely what I read, but I review other books also like professional, nonfiction, and some christian fiction. The blog gives a summary of the book, what I thought of the book, and then some other tips like grade level, genre, etc. Continue reading “Librarian Spotlight – Alicia Vandenbroek”

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Review Tips, From the Librarian Perspective

We’re happy to welcome Amanda Buschmann, a Middle School Librarian and reviewer for School Library Journal. Amanda has provided tips for writing reviews, which were also included in our live-webcast (which you can watch here). Read on for her tip 5 tips!

Organize
Briefly sketch out an outline before you begin. A helpful review is one that is organized; begin with an eye-catching introduction that entices and intrigues. A quote, a statement of the narrative situation, and your “thesis” lead the way.

Share
Summarize the plot, sure, but spend most of the review discussing your personal commentary. What did you like/dislike, and why? What makes this book different than others of its ilk?

Insert
Quotes are helpful and give the potential reader an idea of the verbiage–something you found interesting, something that confused you, a cool line that makes you pause.

Entice
Identify a theme/key idea and introduce it to entice the reader. Does the book touch on whether or not it’s morally acceptable to terraform another planet, or covet your friend’s promotion, or so on? Discuss it without spoiling the “answer”!

Recommend
Include “If you like this, then you’d like…” recommendations, as well as recommendations on age group (if applicable) and applications.

Click here to watch the full webcast, where Amanda is joined by other review experts & read our other informational Recipes for Success articles!

To connect with Amanda, follow @thegoodread on twitter. 

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Librarian_spotlight

 

 

Welcome Mandy Peterson, Media Specialist at Schuyler Community Schools in Schuyler, Nebraska, as our guest. Mandy is a long-time NetGalley member, a plugged-in librarian and has been generous enough to answer our questions about the role of technology in her library. Keep reading to discover how Mandy became a librarian, what a 1:1 school is, and what she’s reading via NetGalley!

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A great place to start is your librarian origin story – how did you become a school librarian?

In my fifth year of teaching, I realized that the library was my favorite place to go. When my students were at lunch or in specials, I frequently could be found browsing or volunteering to reshelve books. During these visits, the librarian and I developed a nice comradery and I began bouncing ideas around for what grad program I should begin. Originally, I was thinking math or science. She suggested the library program at University of Nebraska at Omaha. The head of the Library program drove 2 hours to come visit me at my house. After that meeting with Dr. Rebecca Pasco, I was not only “sold”, but I was also confident that library was the right direction for me. I continued teaching while taking graduate courses to become a librarian. When the high school librarian in my district retired, I was fortunate enough to snag the position. We are currently taking the library from a traditional library to a 21st century library (as well as changing the role of librarian). I love working with the students, parents, teachers, staff, and community at Schuyler Community Schools!

How has having access to digital galleys impacted how you recommend titles for purchase but also to your students?

Through digital galleys, I know what’s coming up. As I read, I may not personally love the book but I can usually think of the student who will. So I talk to them, “Hey, I’m reading this book you might like. Here’s what it’s about…” Then I allow students to help me decide what to purchase. If they seem interested, I’m all over it. Digital galleys have also encouraged me to go outside of my personal preference zone. I am usually decidedly dystopian and sci fi young adult lit. Through NetGalley, I’ve discovered paranormal/horror, contemporary, and historical fiction that I really enjoyed. These purchases have been incredibly easy to make because I’ve seen the quality of the material. Purchasing on blind faith with tax payer money is rough. I am able to feel more secure when I’ve already previewed the material. I’ve actually recommended NetGalley books to family members, other library buddies, and community organizations. Since I also post my reviews to our blog, Twitter, Amazon, Facebook, and Goodreads, strangers are using my recommendations to decide what they should read – which is a very flattering notion!

Do you have a certain strategy for finding new titles, particularly on NetGalley?

I immediately head to Young Adult/Teen books. Not only is it what is mostly in the SCHS Library, but it is also what I enjoy reading personally. Don’t tell anyone but I am a bit of a total cover snob. The cover is what first attracts me. I am more apt to read the galley of an author I have never read before. Publisher summaries are a big deal. I find that a well-written summary can move a book from “meh, I’ll read it when I get time” to “I MUST READ THIS IMMEDIATELY!”.

What upcoming book on NetGalley are you the most excited about sharing with your students?

WOW! Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran hands down. I hadn’t read any of her books before and historical lit wasn’t really my interest. This book blew me away. I have my dystopian kids who are devouring the Shatter Me series (by Tahareh Mafi) and historical fiction fans reading The Walled City (by Ryan Graudin) – all are eagerly awaiting the release of Rebel Queen.

Click to view on NetGalley
Click to view on NetGalley

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading “Librarian Spotlight”

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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: A Library Mama
Blog URL: http://alibrarymama.com
Your name: Katy Kramp

What genre(s) does your blog focus on?

Fantasy and science fiction for all ages are my favorite, though I write about a fair number of picture books and graphic novels as well.

Which book(s) would you suggest for a middle grade level reluctant reader?

That really depends on what that particular reader is most interested in! But lately I’ve been recommending one of our Cybils finalists, Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra by Jason Fry. It’s fast-paced adventure featuring privateers in space (so fun!) and at just about 200 pages, is a lot less intimidating than the average middle grade novel these days.

I’ve also been talking up the Nick and Tesla series by Bob Pflugfelder, illustrated by Steve Hockensmith, for those who like a little more realism. These are mysteries also in the 200-age range, starring gadget-making twins, with instructions for the gadgets. The first book is Nick and Tesla’s High Voltage Danger Lab.

For readers right on the borderline of early chapter books and longer middle grade books, I love the Lulu series by Hilary McKay, illustrated by Priscilla Lamont (which starts with Lulu and the Duck in the Park) and the classic Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron, illustrated by Ann Strugnell.

Those are all prose novels, but often graphic novels are really important for helping reluctant readers bridge that gap between thinking in pictures and thinking in words. Personal favorites include Zita the Space Girl by Ben Hatke, Astronaut Academy by Dave Roman, the Mouse Guard books by David Peterson, Giants Beware! by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado, and anything by Raina Telgemeier.

How long have you been blogging about books and why did you start?

This month – gulp! – marks my eleventh year of book blogging. I started right around the time I got pregnant with my son because my on-line pregnancy group kept asking me what I was reading, and then wanting to go back to my old recommendations. I kept going after I joined an in-person parenting group. I found so many parents who had been readers before they had children. They often said that they didn’t have time for reading now, but it turned out that mostly they didn’t have time to go to a library or bookstore with their kids and pick something out for themselves. It’s so important for parents to keep reading, both for our own sanity and so our children can see us reading! As our children have gotten older, I’ve tried to deepen my coverage of the kids’ and teen books I’ve always read for myself to help parents match them up with their kids.

How has being a NetGalley member impacted your blogging?

NetGalley – oh, NetGalley! Why do you offer me so many new, enticing books to read, when there are already so many waiting for me on the library shelves? Now instead of just needing a book to read and at least one backup in print and on audio at all times, I need to have the same on my e-reader, too, or my book addiction starts twitching! More seriously, I really appreciate seeing what’s coming out, and besides letting me see those cool books early, being a NetGalley member has reminded me of the importance of communicating my thoughts back to the publisher, as well.

What is the most gratifying thing about being a book blogger?

The most gratifying thing is being able to help even more people find just that right book, especially if I can have conversations with people about the books. I’ve also gotten to know other wonderful book bloggers, which means discovering more authors and more discussions about the books we love.

Do you feel that your role as a blogger and as a librarian impact and/or influence each other?

Absolutely! I’m better at being a book blogger because of my experience helping people choose books in the library, while being a book blogger keeps me up-to-date on the books that are out there, which helps me do my work in the library better. I often find myself searching my old reviews for the title of a book I read a few years back that would be perfect for the patron in front of me. And while I know I’ll never be able to read all the books I want to, my fellow book bloggers help me seem more like I have with my patrons.

Are there certain questions you usually ask when trying to match someone with a book?

With reluctant readers especially, I usually ask what kinds of things they’re interested in, so I can find books to tie into their outside interests. Even though I think interest is more important than level, I usually ask kids about their reading level and how long a book they want to read. With kids and adults, I ask questions to figure out if they want genre or realistic fiction and whether they care more about plot or characters.

You work closely with the CYBILS (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards, can you explain the importance of these awards and a little about the nomination and awards process?

I love the CYBILS awards! I’ve been following them for a few years now, and was honored to serve as a Round 1 judge in the Middle Grade Speculative Fiction category for the first time this fall. Here the way they work: In August, book bloggers apply to be judges, and find out in September if they made it or not. In October, books are nominated. From mid-October through December, the Round 1 judges read all the nominated books and come up with shortlists, which are announced January 1. Then the Round 2 judges take over and select one winner from each shortlist, which is announced February 14.

I love the CYBILS especially for several reasons:

One, the nominations are open – from October 1-15 each year, anyone can nominate one book in each of the categories. That means kids and teens can nominate their own favorite books, and small press or self-published books will get read right along with the books that get lots of hype.

Two, there are lots of categories, ranging from book apps to picture books to teen graphic novels. That means that if someone comes to the library looking for a book in a category that maybe I don’t read in so much myself, I can show them the Cybils categories and they can pick. Which leads me to

Three: the lists of finalists. I know it’s a good thing to have one final winner for simplicity, but my heart is with the list of five to seven books in each category that really showcase the breadth of good books in any given year. They are so helpful for giving people a choice without being overwhelming.

What is your favorite cover on NetGalley right now?

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein… no, wait, Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman.

   

If you were going on a long journey and could bring no books or devices, but you had time to commit just one book to memory, which would it be?

The easy answer here is the book that I carried in my suitcase the year I traveled with Up With People – Beauty by Robin McKinley. These days I do a lot less re-reading and there’s a lot more competition – I’d say Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater would be a close contender.

Thanks so much Katy and congratulations on 11 years blogging! Please make sure to check out A Library Mama and  stay tuned for our next Blogger Spotlight! *Interviewed by Tarah Theoret

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