Going Green With Your Bookshelf

April is Earth month and being conscious of the environment has become a bigger priority in people’s lives.  I can remember when it seemed a complete fad that no one would take seriously.  Thankfully, our world and issues such as global warming have become mainstream.

Libraries often face the dilemma of unwanted books, those that have become damaged beyond repair, those that are out of date and no longer factual or relevant, and sadly, those books that no one really wants to read and are taking up space for books that are more desirable to check out.

It is a subject that readers also find in their own personal bookshelves.  Books that you picked up on the bargain shelf at Barnes and Noble because they were only $2 and then hated the story, books someone may have given you, but that you have no interest in reading, or maybe you found yourself simply with books you’ve read, enjoyed but don’t want to keep anymore.  Myself, I had a stack of cookbooks that I just never used and tons of non-fiction and novels from that bargain bin, and I now understand why were in the bargain bin.   In college, I  was sometimes stuck with textbooks for gen-ed classes and had no idea what to do with them once class was over, and I couldn’t sell them back because a new edition came out every year.

Try one of these ideas if you are drowning in books! Photo from pteittinen on Flickr.

What do we do with all these lonely, sad, unloved and unwanted books?  There are many options that are friendly to the environment, the reader, and the book too!  Instead of just dumping the book in the garbage can so it can fill up a landfill and never find its true reader love, consider one of these options:

Donate.  Places such as Goodwill, AmVets, and Vietnam Veterans will take used books and magazines, and you can get a receipt for a tax write-off.  Plus, you’re supporting a worthwhile cause.  I would encourage you not to donate to your library unless you know they will end up in the book sale room, should a library have one.  Libraries are often trying to find places themselves  to rid their weeded materials.

Sell them!  Places such as used book stores take books off your hands and sometimes will pay you for them!    I always take my cash and instead of running, end up buying books.  (More books!)  One of my favorite bookshops called Half-Price Books is an independent seller, has stores around the country and buys used books, cds, games, etc.  I’ve also found several smaller local used bookstores and thrift stores that may not necessarily buy them for more than 25 cents, but the shop owner will put them on the shelves for someone else to discover.  Having a garage sale this spring or summer?  A box of books is often the first place I go and I’ve scored some steals for a dollar or less, sometimes even free because the seller just wants them gone!  Ebay and other sites like CraigsList are decent resources for selling, but I’ve only had luck with series of magazines.  Ebay and other sales sites seems to work better when you have a hot collectible that you know is worth money or a very expensive textbook that is in good condition.

Recycle.  Unfortunately, the big question of what to do with your old set of Encyclopedias may be as simple as recycling them.  I know, it pains me to write that because I love them!  Yet, unless you can find a museum or historical society of some kind that will want them for archival or preservation purposes, the material in them is not always useful to an everyday user.  When all else fails, and you don’t know what to do, don’t dump your books in the garbage to end up in a landfill.  Recycle.

Pass Them Along!  Hospitals, nursing homes, gyms, hair salons and other places with waiting rooms or reading time often love free magazine and books! Just make sure you ask before you dump a pile of Martha Stewarts on the end table.  Not everyone appreciates the act of sharing.  Sites such as Paperbook Swap, BookMooch, and BookCrossing are also fun ways to trade books with other readers and join a community of readers.  They are often free or have a small nominal fee to cover postage and shipping charges.  When buying books, check out sites such as Better World Books who then donates a book to someone else across the world!

Be Creative.  Books as arts and crafts are ever so trendy and fashionable!  There are tons of ideas online and on Pinterest for turning old or unwanted books into works of art!  I thought this blog post was pretty interesting and had some great ideas.

Have you found yourself stuck with a pile of books and don’t know what to do?  Have you tried any of these and found successes or failures?  Do you have any resources you’ve used other than those shown here?  I would love to hear them in the comments.

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Sharing the Love of Reading

What does it mean to read from the heart? We are bombarded with the written word every day. We are thrown little tickers at the bottom of newscasts, huge advertisements on billboards as we commute to work, and then in our email which we get on every device possible. Sometimes all that reading overkill can dampen our spirits for reading for enjoyment, pleasure, escape, knowledge.

There are so many types of readers:

  • Casual readers who may not always have the time, and so they pick up the one great book of the year and love every bit of it.
  • There are those readers who don’t really enjoy books but prefer magazines, internet blogs or newspapers. This doesn’t mean they are not readers because they are not reading a traditionally bound book.
  • Some people simply enjoy the artistry and visual format of graphic novels or comics and stick by them through thick and thin! Are these novels? Are these comics? Such a debate in the literary world.
  • Another debate? Ereaders. Are these readers still reading books even if it’s on an Ereader? Of course! It’s just a different format.
  • Then there are those people like me who love to read, every day, will swallow up the written word and will read everything.

No matter what kind of reader you are, or what type of material you identify with the best, make sure you read. Even if you think you don’t have time to read a book, the amount of reading you do throughout your day is worthwhile.  You’ll find that even taking in little bits and pieces of reading every day will help you find a new outlet in the world to strike up a conversation or simply feel like you are involved in the world. I keep a small notebook where I write a note of something I want to visit later when I have time.  This simple technique can help you be a passionate reader again.

Try to remember how you felt when you were learning how to read as a child, was it a good experience? Hopefully, you were able to appreciate how it felt to read your first chapter book and the thrill to read the next one. If it wasn’t a good experience, wipe that slate clean!! Start over!  Even if you struggled with reading in school and gave up on the magic of books, you can get it back.  Try starting with a shorter book, a young adult novel, or a graphic novel and you just might surprise yourself.

Is there a child in your life whom you could share the love of reading and books?   I guarantee you it will be a joy you’ll want to experience over and over.   It might even make you appreciate picture books as an adult!

Since it’s February, and our theme is LOVE, I though I would share my love of reading with you, most particularly, my love of reading complete escapism books.  They are quick, easy, and allow me to forget the nonsense of the day.  My guilty pleasure is Nicholas Sparks books.  They are formulaic, often tragic or dramatic, but they always leave me feeling that I can believe in love and good in the world.  My other favorite author is Sophie Kinsella who wrote the Shopaholic series.  Her humor is witty and fun and her books always put a smile on my face.

Don’t let the stress of your day dampen your spirits for reading.  It’s the perfect destresser for even a 5 minute alone time moment!

Do you have any romance novels you want to share?  Any books you find to be complete enjoyment?  Any tips on how to rediscover your love of reading?  I’d love to hear them them in the comments or email me!

Another Spin on Bibliodiversity

I came across this blog post about International Bibliodiversity day, which occurred last month on Sept. 21st.  I never knew there was such a day!  I also love that there is an additional meaning added to the word: independent booksellers.  With the closing of Borders, the conversation from booksellers turned to independent shops.  As our country observes protests of big business across the country, I find myself asking if independent will be embraced by book lovers more than before.  Personally, I love Barnes and Noble, but I find now that I’m living in a small town, my favorite bookstore is a good 35 minutes away.  I’ll be visiting the local independent shop more now that my in-person choice is taken away, but I would have gone there anyway.  Regardless of where you buy books or the pros and cons of big booksellers vs. independent, I think what I love most is the new conversations created from what seems to be such a simple topic.    So, enjoy this new take on one of my favorite words.   Next year, I plan on celebrating diversity in books not only in their topic, but in the diverse world created by a simple existence of the written word.

Filtering the Internet in the Library

Working in the youth services department means there are many requests to use the computer for games and internet access.  The youngest children of what must be no more than 5 years old always amaze me at how easily they navigate the fun games provided.  Talk about the Digital Divide! The older children already have homework assignments and projects.  What I also notice is how many of the kids are usually on the internet without an adult next to them to provide some guidance.  Yet, I continue to ask myself if these kids really need an adult next to them to monitor their usage since they are in what is considered a safe place, the youth computer area.  This had me thinking of the debate among librarians and patrons alike about filtering the internet in the library.  How far does freedom of information and access really reach?

I am reminded of a situation proposed by a former professor.  She provided an example of a child being abused at home and asking the librarian for help.  I have no doubt that computers and internet access play a role in that search for help.  This raises the question of not only just how much privacy the child is entitled, but also how filtering affects this child’s ability to research for help.

Reading this posting by David Lee King on his blog, had me asking the same questions he does.  Then I have to ask what happened to access of information?  Despite the objections we may have against what people are looking at on the internet, they should be able to access the information they desire.  That’s what makes our country so great, is because we do have access to all kinds of information and the right to make our own decisions about what we read and see.

A commenter on this post brought up a great point that libraries do filter through collection development, policies, etc.  Yet, a physical collection can only be so big fitting the size of the building and the means of the library, so not every material can possibly be purchased.  We as selectors need to be sure we are addressing a diverse point of view or at least making the attempt. We also need to be sure that we meet the needs of the community served. Does this entail ‘filtering’ our collections?  If the intention is to filter because a librarian doesn’t agree with an idea, then yes. If it’s a matter of cost and space, then no.

There are no easy answers to these questions and no easy solution.  I could probably write an entire dissertation about the subject.  What I find myself comparing are the banning of books and filtering.  While they raise many of the same issues, the reach of the internet and the role in our daily lives makes this issue so much more complicated.

For more about Banned Books Week, which starts on Sept. 24th, check out ALA’s robust resource page.  I personally love reading banned books, but I was always a bit rebellious!  Enjoy.

Bibliodiversity: Diversity in Books? Books that are Diverse?

I recently discovered a really great podcast called Books on the Nightstand which is a weekly 30 minute discussion on books, hot topics and reader comments.  I love the diversity of the books they discuss and there is always a new idea that has me thinking.  I’ve been catching up on old episodes, and a topic came up called “Bibliodiversity.”  Now this wasn’t an original idea of BOTN, originally a concept from an academic journal.  Yet, I just loved the word and all the possibility behind the meaning.  It really had me thinking and asking questions!

Just what is Bibliodiversity?  Could it be a fancy way to say, “multicultural” literature?  Perhaps. Could it mean the diversity in reading materials such as print and ebooks?  Sure.  Yet, that word diversity, in relation to the huge bibliophile universe could mean any multitude of ideas.  Of course, the English major in me wanted to break down the actual word, taking in the prefix “biblio” and suffix “diversity” and Google them to see what overwhelming internet results would show.  Too much.  Dictionary.com defines the word “biblio” as that ‘used in the formation of compound words with the meaning “book”.’   They define the word “diversity” as ‘ 1. the state or fact of being diverse;  difference; unlikeness.  2. variety; multiformity. 3. a point of difference.’  Now, the possibilities are really endless with this absolutely magical word! I still have no idea how to narrow this concept down!

I suppose I like to think of the word Bibliodiversity as my own concoction of reading tastes in being an eclectic and different mix of genres in books.  Someone else could say it was their own formation of a diverse group of books in unique formats.  Or perhaps taking into account the simplicity of there being just a matter of point of difference, it could mean someone’s collection of French cookbooks but from different regions.

Of course, then I could take those meanings and make it about authors or book covers or even bookmarks! I could literally write a whole book, pun intended.

I love this word. I may need to visit it again.

Internship Fun (out of) the Sun!

I am so excited to write to you today about my experience this summer in my internship at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin, IL.  Not only has the exceptional Youth Services staff embraced me as one of their own, but the work I am doing is truly helping the young customers at this fantastic library.

I’ve been interning here since January, 2011 on special projects yet, this summer with more available time on my hands, began regular weekly hours.  With the advent of the summer reading program, it was the perfect time!  Gail Borden has outdone itself with adapting the theme of “A Midsummer Knight’s Read,” the iREAD theme for this year.  The library, and especially the Youth Services department has been transformed into a medieval dream complete with a castle in the center of the lobby area!  Registrations began on May 24, 2011 and I was there in the booth to help kids of all ages from Pre-Readers to Middle Schoolers sign up.  On the first day, it was nonstop, and it was a joy to see the smiles on the children’s faces as we gave them their reading log plus encouraged them to check out some books to begin their summer journey.  Since the first day, the registrations have been steady and I’ve been in the booth helping ever since! It is a truly heartwarming and worthwhile experience to see kids excited to read and know I’ve had a part in bringing that to their world.

Another project I’ve delved right into is regular weeding and development of the collection.  I began with the Fairy Tale NonFiction collection.  The most challenging aspect of this particular collection is one can see merit in almost all fairy tales as many offer a unique version of the story.  Some considerations I took when evaluating were:

Is this author, title, story unique to the collection?  In some instances there were books that were clearly not appealing in cover art appearing dated and old, yet because it was unique, I debated whether or not it was worthwhile keeping the book.  Most often I looked within BWI to find a newer or alternative version that would be more appropriate, but there were instances when it was not possible.  In those cases, I then checked the circulation numbers and had to make a decision of whether or not to weed the book.

Is the book able to be repaired?  These books that could be repaired and were worthwhile to the collection were then sent to tech services to be fixed.  In some cases, the age of the book was new but was such a well-loved story that I ordered a new book to replace the worn one. However, the challenge became when the book was too damaged to be repaired, and it was no longer in print to order.  I then had to go back to my previous decision making of uniqueness and alternative authors and stories.

This was a great project and I’ve since been able to work on other similar collection evaluation and development processes.

Next week, I will be showcasing my program to children in grades 3rd through 5th at the weekly Medieval Mania event.  My theme is fractured fairy tales and I have stories, a gingerbread house craft and games planned for this hour long segment.  It has been so fun to plan the crafts and games, organize the flow of the event, and choose stories to read aloud.  I can’t wait to share the success of the program!

More to come this summer so stay tuned for additional posts!

Communicating and Managing Change

Communicating and managing change is perhaps one of the most important aspects a manager must employ in order for the operations of their department, their library, to function at its best.  By nature, people are not receptive to change, they don’t know to handle the differences that are now occurring at their library.  When the changes are communicated in a positive manner and managed with a mentality that change is an opportunity, library employees will better understand what is happening and not be fearful.

One example of assisting librarians to embrace and manage change is through a collection development resource guide.  Through such a guide, new librarians can quickly get acclimated with their new surroundings and current librarians can get updated with policy and department changes and updates at their convenience.  This central location for a resource guide also provides one place for all librarians to communicate when a wiki or discussion board is added to the guide.

Review the guide I created for the University of Illinois Rare Books and Manuscripts Library

Another example of change in a library is the process of weeding.  Addressed in this presentation is why weeding is necessary, the fears and misconceptions, positive ways to communicate and manage the process, and several case studies of how poor management and communication negatively affected the library’s perception to the community.