Wednesday, August 27, 2014

To Dragon Con!

My partner and I are off to Dragon Con in Atlanta for the long weekend!  I intend to meet some awesome authors, such as Jonathan Maberry and Jim Butcher.  If I am able, I will post pictures while there.  If not, there will be some when I return home.  ... Just in time for the school year to start.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Moonlit guide to some vendors - freebies in the 200s

As a small town library director, I have to look at ways to save money on materials.  Really, it's something every librarian with a budget must do.  Regardless of how big a library you work in, no matter how good the millage is (if you have one), there will always be a lack of money to buy everything you need or want.

Where can you get the best bang for your buck?  Who is giving out freebies that you can't resist - and which free books should you just quietly stick in your book sale or free bin?

Let's start off with the freebies first.

Bridge Publications, Inc.
Types of materials offered: All of L. Ron Hubbard's nonfiction materials, in print, audio, and visual formats

L. Ron Hubbard was a prolific, influential science fiction writer, who also founded the most recent major religion, Scientology.  Regardless of what one might think of that religion, any well-rounded public library should have at least Hubbard's basic works on Dianetics.

If the library somehow does not have this or his other works, you're in luck.  Without any prompting, Bridge Publications will just send random materials to libraries.

On the other hand, the library is also likely to receive some of Hubbard's lesser known works.  Last month, my public library received two copies of Clear Body, Clear Mind.  The accompanying letter even included a suggested Dewey Decimal Classification, how nice.  I brought a copy home to peruse it before deciding what to do with it.  My partner read through it in a matter of hours, mostly chuckling at it.  But in the end, this book is no laughing matter.

The levels of niacin Hubbard recommends you take would kill you in a horrible way.  That's ironic, seeing as this book is about removing toxins from the body.

This is one gift horse I will look in the mouth.  The books are set aside for the book sale.

Quest Books
Types of materials offered: World religions, philosophy, science, and more

Quest Books is an imprint of the Theosophical Publishing House, part of the Theosophical Society of America.  This might also raise some eyebrows, but Quest Books looks to promote the study of world religions, philosophy, science, the arts, and more.

A few weeks ago, I received a four-page catalog from the publisher, offering up to 30 books free, of my choice, with the only cost being postage to mail the catalog back.  I checked the interlibrary catalog system to see if other libraries owned some of these works (several do), then went online to see if there were any negative reviews of the company and this service (nothing found in a cursory search), and how well the books did in reviews.  Then I selected 15 books - I didn't want to be greedy - then copied the flier and mailed the original back to the company.

Taking that bit of time was totally worth it.  A few days ago, I received a large, heavy box from Quest Books.  It was filled with all fifteen books, no surprise invoice, and even dust jacket covers for the hardcovers.  Thrilling!

I feel like I filled some gaps in the collection with quality materials, which cost the library no more than a postage stamp.  Take a look below.  We didn't have any biographies of the Beatles, gasp!  (I'm no fan, but I recognize their importance.)  This doubled our materials on post-traumatic stress disorder.  And new materials on New Age are always welcome.


If you receive an offer from Quest Books, take it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Autographed books in libraries

I'd like to give you, my dear readers, some food for thought for the day.  Please weigh in with your thoughts and experiences on the subject.

I love getting books autographed by their authors, to place in my libraries.  I've never given it a second thought, until now.  Patrons are often thrilled to see the authors' scrawl on the title page.  It doesn't matter the age of the reader.  Young and old alike are excited to see that the writer took the time to put their John Hancock on the pages of this particular book, often with a note specific to the patrons of whichever library it's at.

Now, as you may know, I'm going to Dragon Con in less than two weeks.  (Squee!)  One of the authors who will be there is Jim Butcher, author of the Dresden Files series.  I want to get his autograph, of course, but I also interlibrary loaned Storm Front, the first in the series, so I know a bit and don't have to be a total doofus when I get to meet him.  After receiving the book, I emailed its home library's director to get permission to have it autographed.  The reply surprised me.

"I am afraid it would get stolen. Sad world we live in."

That's something I've never considered.  Yes, library books get stolen all the time, or they simply don't get returned.  Does having the author's signature in it make it more susceptible to theft?

After a quick check of my records from the school library, my experience tells me "no."  There are currently three books signed by an author that have not been returned.  Out of probably 40-50 autographed copies.  Not bad.  Probably about on par with the rest of the collection.

How about at your library?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Yay for YA: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Do you read books that people swear you'll like?  Do you like the suggested books?  Or do you feel like the person had no clue what you actually like?

Dana at Snowbound Books has been recommending the following book to me for several years now, practically since it was published.  And Dana is a pretty good judge of what people could like to read; it's her job as a store owner, and she and I used to work together, so she does know my tastes.  I finally purchased it for the public library, and read it before cataloging it.  Did it live up to her hype?

Checkouts: New to the public library
Typical reader: Fans of teen urban fantasy, teens looking for something edgy, fans of ALA award winners and finalists
Source: Snowbound Books

Synopsis: Sam LaCroix, a college dropout working at a burger joint, is surprised to learn that he is a necromancer.  And that he has enemies because of this.

My Goodreads rating: 3 stars (3.5, rounded down)

Let's talk about what young adult literature is.  I took a class on it, back in my master's program.  And from that, I can tell you: everyone has a different definition of it.  It depends on the definition of "young adult."  Are young adults just teens?  Should college students be included?  Can it extend all the way through the 20s, especially considering how many 20-somethings are still in school, still living at home, still unemployed or minimally employed?  Can we judge it based on what the American Library Association awards in the young adult categories?

If we work with a strict definition of "young adult literature is for teens, under 18," I wouldn't call it YA lit.  The protagonist is a college dropout.  There are also elements to the book that would make me hesitate to hand it to immature high school students.  If they pick it up on their own, fine, it's their business and their parents' or guardians'.  I'm not one to censor.  But would I put this in a school library?  No.  Would I shelve it in a teen section?  *squirm*  Eh ...

On the other hand, ALA committees liked it and called it YA.  Hold Me Closer, Necromancer was a finalist for the 2011 William C. Morris Debut Award, which is for a new author's first book in the YA realm.  It was also on the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) Best Fiction for Young Adults top ten list for 2011.

I also don't think it would appeal to typical adult readers.  If your library has a "new adult" section, perhaps this book should be there.  It's probably the best place possible.  If not, YA works.

What did I actually think of the book?  I suppose you are here for the review.

I greatly enjoyed the character development.  Learning about Sam's background, which had many secrets and tantalizing revelations, captivated my interests.  Characters are well-rounded, intriguing, and quirky.  And the back of the book is amusingly vague, almost misleading, about his "undead friend" and "hot werewolf girl."  Surprises can be fun, particularly in this book.  I thoroughly enjoyed finding out all of what James was.

The plot ... it was an interesting twist on coming-of-age and finding one's place in life, certainly.  But if you read a lot of this sort of genre, it blends in and is unremarkable.  It suffers from a problem that gamers familiar with the Old World of Darkness settings would understand: The trope that everyone is actually supernatural, and the last human just became a hunter.  Yawn.  A bit of normalcy would have been exciting, if you get where I'm coming from.

That said, I did enjoy it overall.  I could find myself reading the sequel, because there is a curious thread left hanging.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Now on Facebook

Thanks to my previous post, and a Magpie Librarian living up to her moniker, I had an incredible amount of hits in the past day.  Thank you, everyone who stopped by to read about my experience with sexual harassment in my library.

With this momentum, I am hoping to take my blog to the next level.  As such, you can now like this blog via Facebook.  You can find it at  I am very excited.

Please stay tuned for book reviews, interactions with local authors, and my opinions on some vendors.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Never proposition your potential employer.

Sexual harassment in libraries has been a bit of a trending topic, ever since the American Library Association had its annual conference in Las Vegas.  Apparently attendees were not on their best behavior, which even included a speaker at the conference.  Another blogging librarian, Magpie Librarian, ran an online survey afterward to bring awareness to what a problem sexual and other forms of harassment are at conferences.  Check out her results.  The stories are interesting.

I was not at the conference.  But that doesn't mean I cannot contribute to the online discussion of how librarians get harassed while on the job.

A little over a month into my current job as director of a small-town library, my evening/weekend circulation clerk resigned.  Therefore, the job had to be posted, and applications started pouring in.

One day, I helped an older man print off some PDF forms from his email.  (This is an extremely routine thing, ever since emails started offering previews - which you cannot actually print from - of documents within the email screen.  Whoever designed the email clients to do that, be it Gmail or Yahoo or whatever - that was an incredibly bad idea.  It is the bane of library staff everywhere.)  Afterward, we were making small talk.  As is pretty typical, he asked about my background in libraries.  It came up that he had been part of his high school's library club way back in the day, and he helped the school librarian by shelving books.  I asked if he would be interested in applying for our opening, and when he showed interest, I handed him an application.  No big deal.

Until the next day.

He came back to the library, application in hand.  I was going to direct him to hand it in next door, at the billing office, when he started talking.
"I am going to hand this in, but if you interview me, I have to be able to ask you out."  Or something to that effect.
I leaned back, away from him, and said, "I have a boyfriend."
That did not dissuade him.  In fact, he continued on, that my boyfriend didn't have to know.
At one point, he even touched my left hand and made a comment about my lack of rings, and that I was still available.
I shot back, "Give me a month."
"Blues Fest?"
"No, Dragon Con in Atlanta."
(I really hope we can find something small, round, and shiny at the vendors there.  Heh.)

Obviously, I will not be interviewing this man.  There are plenty of other applicants, including one with actual library employment experience.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Yay for YA: The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

I haven't written in a couple weeks, despite having books to review.  I apologize.  It's because my review is of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, which has been hugely popular and made into a movie.  That's very stressful, reviewing something familiar to the masses and something that could draw viewers to this blog.

But without further ado:

Checkouts: New to both libraries
Typical reader: People curious about the hype/movie; fans of John Green
Source: Snowbound Books for the public library's copy; Scholastic for the school's

Synopsis: Hazel is a teen with terminal cancer.  At her support group, she meets Augustus Waters, who shakes up her existence.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars

There are two reasons a teen book becomes immensely popular: either it's so horrible that it's incredibly accessible, or it's amazingly good, yet can have widespread appeal.  John Green, thankfully, is a good writer, and can hit nerves with many readers.  Overall, The Fault in Our Stars is a worthwhile book.

I enjoyed the fact that this book used its fictional bits and put them out into the real world.  You can find Hazel's favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, on Goodreads, which thrilled me.  Or ... at least it was on there while I was reading the book.  Alas, the link is now broken.

I also liked that the ending was not what I predicted.  It could matched a foreshadowing in An Imperial Affliction.  That would have been a little cliche, which this book is not beyond doing.  I knew a particular character's fate as soon as he was introduced.  Good heavens.  But some things did go past what I expected, and I was grateful for that.

The author, Peter Van Houten, is a great conversational piece, because he's such a jerk.  At least once while reading this, I put the book down, went to my partner (a budding author), and said, "Honey, don't ever be like this guy."  While Hazel and friends were engaging, Van Houten evoked the most emotions.

Fans of John Green's other books and interesting characters will delight in how quirky Augustus is.

This is a good, though not mind-blowing, book.