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Libraries often face the dilemma of unwanted books, those that have become damaged beyond repair, those that are out of date and no longer factual or relevant, and sadly, those books that no one really wants to read and are taking up space for books that are more desirable to check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

Creative Solutions

With the advent of social media and more and more libraries embracing these technologies, it becomes necessary to define just how these tools and technologies will be used.  One creative solution is to establish a Social Media Policy in the library so that these technologies are used to their full advantage in promoting the library, reaching out to patrons, and in a manner reflective of the library’s goals and mission.

I wrote these guidelines with the intention for a small, public library with the notion that it would be given to all employees at a new hire orientation and regardless of their role in the library.  The assumption is that all the librarians and staff will have some type of use for social networking tools whether it be the youth services department posting photos of a recent event or the reference librarian using an IM service.

Social Media Buttons From Mashable.com

Social networking is an important part of the library communications with our patrons.  It allows us as librarians to use various online tools such as email, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and instant messaging in order to virtually answer reference questions, share book reviews for reader’s advisory services, and even keep the local and larger communities connected to our library through discussions and photos.

Remember most, that the reputation of the library, its employees and the community it serves is foremost when posting to the web.

We advise all those working in our library to keep the following in mind when using our social networking tools for library purposes:

Communication

Our social networking tools are used in order to not only provide service, but to community and learn with our fellow librarians and industry professionals, our patrons, and the community around us.  We encourage everyone to seek out new uses of our tools, develop relationships through these tools and to learn more about the people we serve.

The social networking tools we use at our library are as typical as the majority norm of Facebook and Twitter and yet must remain fluid to keep up with the advances in social networking and technology.  If a social networking tool becomes obsolete or we find another tool more apparent that serves our needs and the patron’s needs, all efforts will be made to review the tool and test it in real use.

Respect

Please remember that even though we are online through social networking tools and our patrons or fellow employees don’t see us, we are still visible.  We must maintain professionalism and service through our choice of words and (for example, typing in all caps can often mean you are shouting to the other person), in addition to the actual answers and information we provide punctuation even though the tone of our communications can be more conversational.

When in doubt of whether or not the information you are posting or using, use the side of caution and save a draft.  Look at the information an hour later and if you still agree with the post, move forward.

Privacy

We also need to be aware that not all patrons want to share their information and may only provide a first name or just an email address, and that they are our patrons seeking our help.  We also need to be sure to get permission of patrons when posting photos, captions, names and other personal type of information.

In addition, we also need to be aware to not disclose any personal information about our coworkers or other sensitive library operations information that is not public knowledge, such as salaries or board member phone numbers.

For questions about or suggestions to these guidelines, please send them to the technology department.  The department also reviews our social networking sites regularly to ensure they adhere to these guidelines, maintain professionalism and legality.