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Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category

First thoughts, #AASL13

Posted by lpearle on 15 November 2013

Initial impressions of AASL13?  Smaller than usual in some ways (fewer than 2500 attendees, about 1/3 the size of my first AASL back in Portland) but larger in others (I’ve never seen so many people at an ISS gathering!  Good for us!).  The exhibits were sparser than the last couple of conferences, too, perhaps because of the lower attendee rate and the fact that NCTE is next week, while YALSA’s Lit Symposium was just a couple of weeks ago.

This is my 9th AASL and as much as I may pretend, it’s not all about the swag.  It’s about the opportunities to learn and grow with people in similar situations as well as learn from people in schools very different from mine.  Looking over the conference offerings and seeing new names with new ideas presenting is always such a thrill – not that the old names are bad, but isn’t it wonderful that others are sharing as well?  I know that many of my friends feel the same way as they examine the offerings, sussing out what is a Must Attend session and planning a few Fun to Attends.

So why so many fewer people?  Here’s my guess: it’s not just about the economy, or lower budgets.  It’s about a glut of PDOs (aka Professional Development Opportunities).  When I was a sweet young thing just starting out, the options were ALA and AASL, with the former very large and confusing for newbies.  Then along came the SLJ Leadership Summit, YALSA’s Lit Symposium, AASL’s Fall Forum, Computers in Libraries, ISTE and BEA.  I can reach my PLN and learn via Twitter and Facebok and Nings and Pinterest and… and… and… If I need more formal learning, there are webinars and MOOCs.  Choosing where and how to spend my time and treasure is more difficult than before due to the sheer number of choices.  That’s not a bad thing, but it does mean that we constantly feel as though we’re scrambling to keep up simply because we hear so much more frequently about the things that others are doing.

No real conclusions here, just some Friday morning musings.

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Real World, Real Tools – #ALA2013

Posted by lpearle on 8 July 2013

Going to ALA’s Annual Conference is always a great time for me to learn, especially from those in situations unlike my own.   I’ll attend sessions provided by other divisions because even though I’m not in an academic or public library, or work that heavily with technology, I can take ideas and think about how they might be used in my professional life – or what the trickle down/trickle sideways effect might be.

A few times I’ve been honored to give back, to share what I’ve learned with others.  This year, it was a preconference with Wendy Stephens and Deb Logan, focusing on how to navigate/negotiate real world situations.  Sadly, all to frequently what our professional organizations and pre-service educators tell us is, well, not based in reality.  Our goal was to share the Wisdom of the Room, because even though we’re in different schools there’s so much we can learn from each other.

Here’s my main presentation, on Administration:

There was going to be a follow-up section that pulled everything together into a wiki, but that didn’t happen.  What did happen was a GoogleDoc – livescribed notes and links from the session.  Please feel free to add your wisdom and real world tools.

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Teens and eBooks – a #YALSA / #ALA2013 discussion

Posted by lpearle on 3 July 2013

pace Freud, what do teens want?

That’s the question that the roundtable I attended considered – and the overall sense was that, as with men vis-a-vis women, we just don’t know what teens want when it comes to e-books/e-readers.  We do have a few ideas, however:

  • it’s population specific – don’t trust national polls, as trends change from town to town and school to school.
  • platform agnosticity is especially important if you’re considering a BYOD program.
  • teens use reference ebooks far more than fiction ebooks – there’s no real evidence that they are using ereaders or apps to read for pleasure.
  • one huge problem: adults borrowing YA ebooks wrecks havoc with stats – we know the book is popular, but don’t know who’s reading it
  • don’t make the book native to the device (avoids age issues, platform issues, etc.)

The process needs to be seemless, even two clicks can be one click too many.  Why can’t whatever system (Follett Shelf, Overdrive,  B&T’s Access 360, etc.) be as easy to use as iTunes?

Teens also don’t understand – or care – about publisher problems.  They want their book NOW and don’t want to hear that this publisher isn’t providing an e-version (or a library e-version).  Holds? They don’t want no stinkin’ holds – it’s an e-version, right?  How can there be a limit to how many are using/reading it at one time?

As an adult, I understand that: earlier this year I had the pleasure of discovering Cara Black’s mysteries thanks to a publisher-provided ARC on Edelweiss.  I had a trip coming up and wanted to read another on my Kindle – only the immediate previous book was available in e-version.  Two of twelve volumes available?  Disappointing!

Of course, it’s not just about publisher problems, it’s about knowing what to buy.  Reading blogs, getting recommendations from friends and family are the usual ways students find out about their next read.  Why not create genre consultants?  As your teens what you should be purchasing (keeping budget and age constraints in mind).  Put them in charge of a part of the budget (e.g., give the fantasy consultant $150 to “buy” books with) – not only do you get great support from the consultant, word-of-mouth will tell others how responsive you are and how wonderful the collection is.  Our new mantra needs to be Patron Driven Acquisition.

What about foreign languages?  Creating a collection of ebooks in French, Spanish, Chinese, etc. can be a good resource for ESL readers and those studying the language.

Current wisdom is that the OPAC is dead – no one uses it.  So how do we promote our collections, e- and print?

  • create displays of Fiction/Nonfiction books that relate to popular movies, tv series
  • use Pinterest
  • promote via GoodReads/LibraryThing/Shelfari (students love the social aspect – just be careful to separate your reading from the library’s collection)
  • Subtext can be a great book group tool, in addition to being used by teachers for curricular-related reading.  Of course, you need to be aware of what books are available in the app and it is only available for Apple products (seriously – why aren’t these people providing multi-platform tools?!)

Courtney Lewis has been doing action research on her students and reading – there’s an article in the fall YALS on her previous study, and she’s re-doing it this year (four years is a lifetime in a school, and several in tech land).  Despite what we “know” about teens not reading, her data shows different.  We need to promote that – it may not be reading canon literature, but it is reading!  She’ll share her new data via GoogleDoc – just ask her!


Posted in Books, Collection Development, Conferences, Techno Geekiness | Leave a Comment »

Minor Musings

Posted by lpearle on 28 June 2013

Books, Reading, Etc.

School Life

  • This would work in a school OR a public library: Welcome to my Tweendom’s Are You A Reader Q&A
  • As you’re revamping your curriculum and website, consider adding some of the NoodleTools Show Me tutorials.

Tech Stuff

Posted in Books, Conferences, School Libraries, Techno Geekiness | Leave a Comment »

Collection Development 2020 – #LJDOD13

Posted by lpearle on 20 June 2013

One of the things that I constantly tell friends and colleagues is that I couldn’t possibly presume to predict what a library or its collection will look like/should look like in 3-5 years, and here we have a panel that is attempting to think seven years ahead!  Brave souls…

Some of the takeaways had nothing to do with “future thinking”.  For example,

  • when selecting a children’s book collection you need to remember that there are really three audiences – the child, the staff and the parents.  Not every book has to appeal to all three, but the overall collection must.
  • demographics are not the be-all and end-all of collection development – observation of what the community reads is as important (if not more so).  You can never have too much information when making decisions (NOTE: between the DOD and now, this kerfluffle in Urbana surfaced.  ’nuff said.)
  • you gotta work the desk – it’s the best/only way to really get a sense of what’s circulating, what the community is looking for and who the community is.  Being aware of trends is important (who was there? who is there?) when buying.  A community that has a sudden immigrant influx, or where the population is aging in place, or where a major employer has folded/expanded will have different needs than the community had even last year.  It’s also a great way to see that even though you may be located in an area that has a large [ethnic group] population, [another ethnic group] is there during the day.  You can’t see that just by looking at demographics.
  • publishers don’t know what your needs are – you need to communicate with them and help them understand and learn (this is why there is usually overkill on genres).

Good collection development tools?  Twitter and GoodReads.  There’s lots of real-time information that can help you stay abreast of trends, fads and frenzies (it’s also a great way to connect with authors and publishers).

So what about the dreaded O word (that’s Outsourcing, in case you were wondering)?  Given budgets, staffing and changes, sometimes “good enough” needs to be ok.  Let go: allow the vendor to do what the vendor does best.  It’ll give you depth and lack of worry on standing orders (I’ve used them in three libraries and it really is a relief to know that books by an author will automatically arrive, no need for me to remember a pub. date!).

And then there’s the “self-published” world – and let’s change the name to “author services” because it’s really not self-published, it’s almost micro-presses where authors pay to publish.  Anyhoo, it’s going to be a huge issue in our world, especially with shelf space at a premium.  Plus, the books aren’t necessarily not great, they’re just not known.

  • it’s a great way to support local authors (bringing the community into the library) – can they come and do a program in the library?
  • think about the numbers: 30,000 publishers, 1,300,000 titles per year at least – who has the time or opportunity to actually go through all them? and, of course, as yet there are no good finding tools. yet.
  • we need exceptional cataloging and readers advisory to help us (and readers) navigate all that’s out there.
  • authors need copy and line editors but… look at 50 Shades of Grey: 75% of its readers just didn’t/don’t care about the writing.

If authors are our rock stars, then bloggers are their pr people.  Find some good bloggers to follow for ideas of what to purchase (esp. with the non-Big 6 titles).   Since many of these books won’t get reviewed in the traditional places, try to find reviews on social media.  Things to watch out for:

  • how many reviews?
  • are they all 5-star or are there negative reviews?
  • are all the reviewers from the same town as the author?  do they all share the same last name? the same writing style? (big red flag!!)
  • if there are many reviews, lots of word-of-mouth from all over – Buy It.  Now.

With any book, is there a video, newsletter or author blog/website that you can use to promote the book from your website/blog/Facebook page?

It’s also critical to remember that “quality” doesn’t always resonate with patrons (remember the 2004 NEA report that said no one reads literary fiction any more?) – get over your feelings about certain genres and authors.  Having said that, sometimes, a huge buzz about a book can elevate it to a “must read”/”must buy” for non-readers.

E-books are an increasing issue.  How do we add them to the collection (both traditional pubbed or self-pubbed on Amazon)?  The reality is, we have no idea what will happen – there’s too much turmoil in the publishing world and delivery systems are often flawed.  The panel’s best guess?  Devices, models and platforms will change and mutate, with luck into something less DRM’d. However, as of now, we don’t own anything digital, we lease it.  This is a huge issue that needs to be resolved.  Additionally, publishers need to release backlists (sometimes that’s difficult, particularly if an author has switched publishers or if the backlist is really, really long; for traditional print, backlists are frequently paperback only).

The other reality is that even with the explosion of e-books and e-print, we’re still buying traditional print at the same rate: why is this?  One idea: reading is format blind.  Often e-reader users are new readers, new parents, and they’re often drawn to books they didn’t know existed.  It’s also important to remember that with e-books, there is no “ghetto shelving” – genres and formats are all in the same place, they’re shelf-blind.  That all leads to the question of PDA.  It’s not just a budget issue, it’s also an issue of availability and can often be heavily weighted by genre, or hijacked by heavy readers: how do you ensure that an infrequent reader asking for you to buy a literary book (or work of non-fiction) has the same opportunity as the person who reads 10+ romance novels a week does?

Finally we came to the futuristic part of the program, and the panel was asked about their dreams and what they thought reality would be.


  • everything would live in the same ILS (Overdrive, ILS, databases)
  • more open source options
  • better discoverability
  • more/better outsourcing
  • authors getting out of the current publishing system (much like early 1900s actors formed United Artists)
  • funding increases
  • device neutrality
  • more RA, and not just by librarians (reading is social – we aren’t the first stop source for their next great read but our community does trust us – build on that)
  • we’ll all know how to read a license


  • digital devices will still exist
  • democratization of sharing and creation of information

Final thought:  there is a book reading community, not just a library community.

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Poetic Thoughts – #LJDOD13

Posted by lpearle on 17 June 2013

I’ll come right out and say it: I’m not a huge poetry fan.  Inserting poetry into a text makes my eyes glaze over, and those books in verse? Thanks, but… (having said that, I did enjoy Sharp Teeth, so it’s possibly more a question of “finding something I don’t mind”).  So it’s with some trepidation that I settled in to hear the Poetry Panel at the Day of Dialog.  For those of you who feel the way I do, the following might help change your mind.

Robert Pinsky opened by stating that children have a natural instinct toward rhyme: just look at children’s books like Dr. Seuss, and the sing-song way they often speak (not to mention the rhyming games they play).  He also said that the way to appreciate poetry is to say it aloud – it will make you a better writer and reader.

So, how do we go about marketing poetry?  It’s risky, because then we’re treating poetry as “other”, right? has great resources to help you find poetry (including a great Poem-a-Day program).  Several suggestions arose, including casually adding it to your displays (e.g., scarey poems as part of a Hallowe’en display), keeping books of poetry next to the check out (much like candy bars at grocery check outs).  Asking random members of the community to read their favorite poems for a podcast or videocast and posting it on your website.  Tweet great opening lines, or short poems, with a link to information about the poet or the poem.

We were also reminded that there are no rules for poetry.  Yes, teachers say that (and there are, of course, rules about poetic form) but that’s really just wrong; they want to be able to say “smart things” about poems and poetry, when in reality, poetry is what sounds good when you say it – in other words, do not overthink a poem.  Just enjoy it.  As MacLeish said, “A poem should not mean / But be.”

Need resources?  Library Journal is launching a poetry blog that will be gathering news, collection development ideas, tools and more. has a Poem-A-Day program.  Many current poets are on Facebook and Twitter, which is a great way to connect to living poets. Poets House has some great programs and ideas.

In other words, don’t let poetry scare you – treat it as any other part of your collection, promote it within your community, and watch things blossom.

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Conference Advice

Posted by lpearle on 15 May 2013

The past few days have seen some great posts about how to get the most from conferences from INALJ.  First there was  a great round-up of ALA conference ideas and then tips for a conference newbie. That reminded me of a post I bookmarked years ago, intending to post it: How to Get the Most Out of Conferences on Half an Hour.

My personal tips for conferences?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Sleep Deprived in Seattle

Posted by lpearle on 4 February 2013

In addition to my final ENFYA committee meeting (and the incredibly exciting Youth Media Awards, where our winner took two other medals), there was much to do in Seattle.

As I always try to do during conferences, I spent time with non-librarian friends outside the confines of the professional bubble (you know there’s a problem when you meet people on your way home and they’re wondering 1. what day it is and 2. if anything has happened “out there”).  First up, before things started, was breakfast at the Hi Spot Cafe  in the charming neighborhood of Madrona  with my friend Patrice.  We had wonderful food and coffee (it is Seattle, after all) and chatted for three hours.  Then she drove me around Cap Hill and a few other neighborhoods before alighting at  her favorite used bookstore, where she was looking for a specific Middle Eastern cookbook.  They didn’t have it, but I did, so as soon as I got home I popped it in the mail to her.

Sunday gave me a few hours with Nancy and her husband.  We traipsed through the Ballard Farmer’s Market, where I wished I could bring home with me so many items (colored beets! incredible jams! amazing chocolates!) but… well… maybe next time.  It was a little drizzly, so we stopped for tea at Miro Tea, where I found my new favorite drink: a London Fog Latte (aka a latte made with Earl Grey tea).  Then we drove around a little, looking at other areas and architecture and ended our time together at Chocolati with some incredible European sipping chocolate.

When everything was over, I had six hours before heading to the airport for my redeye home (ugh).  Luckily, Wendy also had free time and we went to The Crumpet Shop, walked (in the rain!) to Twice Sold Tales to poke around and get a fix of cat cuddling and finally for an early dinner at Le Pichet (more hot chocolate). Perfect way to end my time there….

But it wasn’t just all fun and chocolate!  Because this is a Meeting, not a Conference, there weren’t too many sessions I could attend (and those I could were often at inconvenient times) so I contented myself with going to many publishers book sessions and the RUSA awards.  Yes, I picked up many, many books – 70 overall, 9 of which I’ve already read:



Death.  Sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, but death.  Examples?  Dead is a Killer TuneScorchForgive Me, Leonard PeacockThe Finish-up List. Boy Nobody. Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia.

Dystopia. Even though the publishers recognize that we might be “dystopianed out”, they’re convinced that this one is different. Examples? Dualed. Middle Ground. When We Wake.

What I’m excited to read. The new Stephen Dobyns (I loved his Saratoga/Charlie Bradshaw series and Church of Dead Girls, so that he finally has a new one…).  The new Camilla Lackburg. Kent Haruf’s Benediction, The City’s Son (sounds like Gaiman’s Neverwhere for YA).  The Astor Orphan.

While I may not hit last year’s 400 books, with this group I know I’ll have a great time attempting it!

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Behind the locked door – finale

Posted by lpearle on 28 January 2013

It’s over. By now, you know which of our five finalists won the Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults award. What you don’t know is how it all happened.

When I last posted, the committee had just decided on the shortlist of five finalists. That was November, and since then we (the committee) have reread, rereread, rerereread (etc) those books, pondering the pros and cons of each. Can this perceived flaw negate that wonderful quality? Does this amazing story overcome a lack in another area? Is this the perfect book? HOW CAN I CHOOSE???

And, of course, because there’s an announced shortlist there is time for others – many others – to comment. How much weight do you give to the extra input? Some pointed out things that we noticed and commented on in our discussions, some found things we’d overlooked. Trying to ignore all that to form an opinion in a vacuum is impossible but….

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Books, Conferences | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Behind the locked door, part four – nearing the end

Posted by lpearle on 3 December 2012

Our selection year is over – the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults award covers books published between Nov. 1 and Oct. 31, so anything published after October 31, 2012 is eligible for the 2014 award but not the one to be awarded in a few short weeks.

Since my last post, I and the rest of the committee have continued to read, re-read, mull over and discuss the various books.  We had scheduled chats in ALA Connect and conference calls, all following the format I described earlier (first talk about the book’s pros, then the cons). Total, I’d guess we’ve at least looked at 90 books.  Of those, there were so very many books nominated (both from within the committee and from the field – aka you, the general reading public) for us to choose from.

Everyone reads differently, and everyone weighs elements of a book differently.  What was great about the discussions was that often the things I’d missed but that had struck the other members were things that changed my mind… and vice versa.  Hearing that others caught the same issues I’d caught, or had loved – LOVED – the same things I did validated my thinking.   It’s different from being in a book group, believe me.

As October wound down, we were asked to choose a preliminary top five from the eligible nominated books.  Some books were easily chosen, others easily left off.  But a few… really, it was quite difficult to choose from some of the titles.  The “good” part was that this was the Preliminary Top Five, not the Real Top Five.  Then we had a conference call to discuss that list.  We all felt that there were some books “on the bubble” but overall we were pleased that there was so much consensus.  Next task: the Real Top Five.

Again, weighing what everyone said during our first talks about the books, other comments made during the year, and this recent conference call, I re-read and pondered.  And came up with a Real Top Five.  Because this was such a difficult choice, it didn’t surprise me to learn that we were clear on four titles, and very very close on two others.  After some discussion, we have our Top Five (ALA has it, too, and will announce it later this week).  The e-mails after the list was finalized were so emotional – surprisingly so.  I mean, you hear about that from other committee members but until you’re there, well…

But wait, there’s more!

Remember how earlier in this post I said we’d had a lot of books nominated?  The Top Five, the shortlist for the award, are set.  But there’s still work to be done.  The books nominated by the committee that didn’t make the Top Five now need to be annotated and given out  (see previous years here – login required, sadly).   And of course, in January we’ll be meeting for one final session to talk about that Top Five – which one will be The Most Excellent Non-Fiction Book for Young Adults???  That, of course, will be announced during the Youth Media Awards on Monday, January 28, to be followed by a reception for the authors of all five books on the shortlist.

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