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Libraries often face the dilemma of unwanted books, those that have become damaged beyond repair, those that are out of date and no longer factual or relevant, and sadly, those books that no one really wants to read and are taking up space for books that are more desirable to check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


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.

Summer’s End and Fall’s Fantastic Beginning!

The month of August was quite busy this summer, although I did enjoy the lazy and dog days of the warm sun.  The fall season is now upon us, and my September is already beginning to be an exciting time.  I must say that this time of year in Chicago and Northern Illinois is one of my favorites because there is such beauty to discover in wonderful simplicity like the changing seasons.  I have the best memories from childhood of fall in Chicagoland, like the smell of back-to-school supplies and sounds of big piles of crunching leaves.

August found me not only job searching, but also working hard at my internship.  The youth department there has many great ideas, but just hasn’t had the resources or staff to put them into action.  I was very excited to take on the challenge given to me of creating a blog for the Early Learning Center’s early literacy programming.  Their programming consists of 4 different groups of programs, targeted to children at select ages.  For instance, there is a Terrific Twos program designed just for two-year old children to have fun with music, singing, talking, playing and stories.  The blog is called Ready…Set…Read! and was just launched to the library public last week!  Each of the programmers provide me with an outline of their class including the rhymes, songs and books to be shared with the kids. I am then compiling all the information, often times adding even more rhymes and songs and also creating themed booklists for each post. The feedback received has been great so far and the word is getting out to patrons to use the blog as a resource.  I’ll be expanding it to include family storytimes, and possibly additional blogs for other age groups.  It’s a work I’m very proud to share that I hope parents will enjoy reading as much as I’ve enjoyed creating the blog!

I also was honored to be featured in this article posting by the Director of Youth Services at my internship.  When she told me she was a guest writer on the ALSC blog, and wanted to include me in her story, I didn’t know what to expect.  I was so happy to see that most importantly, my photo was good!  She also made me even happier and humbled with such a complimentary article, and I was eager to share with everyone I knew, including here on my site.  Enjoy!

More to come this September!

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.

Programming Recap: Fractured Fairy Tales

For what has been a few months now, I have been assisting in weekly programming events in the Youth Services department, especially in “Medieval Mania” as part of the summer reading program events.  The best part of this experience is that I was given the chance to plan, implement and run a program of my very own. I had 60 minutes to entertain children in 3rd through 5th grades and I was so excited (as much as I was nervous about being sure I had enough to fill the time).

What they don’t teach you in library school, however, is the fine art of children’s crafts!    The stories I chose to read, games to play and activities during the program came second nature to me.  Yet, OH how I deliberated, searched online and in the library’s enormous and stocked craft storage for what was going to be my inaugural craft of the summer!  How I laughed with my friends and family that I was nervous of these kids liking my craft because I not only wanted it to fit the theme of “Fractured Fairy Tales,” but also be a simple and fun activity and age appropriate.

My program was a huge hit!  The children loved the story titled, “The End” by David La Rochelle and understood both the humor and the sarcasm in the book.  The story is a simple and original fairy tale, told backwards beginning with the words, The End and ending with Happily Ever After.  It was inventive and the kids laughed when we read it aloud.  This was a great choice for a read aloud story because of the humor, as well as offered an alternative to the traditional fairy tale, which can sometimes be either too commercialized or too complex for storytime.

The game we played was a relay race, and the twist was that the race was backwards!  With about 40 children in attendance at the program, there were at least 7 teams; each team had to walk backward with a spoon holding a ball.  In retrospect, this was a bit tough for the kids to play and I would have had another game as a backup.  However, some of the kids really liked the game and even chose to play again!

The craft was a Hansel and Gretel Gingerbread house.  Using a die cut machine, I cut out craft foam houses and luckily used them all!  Then, the children had access to glitter glue, ribbon, beads, foam shapes, buttons and markers all in a large variety of colors.  I even had small self-stick magnets to put on the back if they wanted to make the house into a magnet for their refrigerator or desk.  This was a great craft because each child could be creative and use their imagination, while it also connected to the Fairy Tale theme.  Boys and girls alike loved inventing their own house and many surprised me with just how thoughtful they were in their placement of objects.  I also allowed about 5-10 minutes at the end of the allotted time to give children who didn’t finish the craft, time to finish which turned out to be a great strategy.

Turns out, 60 minutes quickly expires when a program is run well!  I would attribute it to not only observing my fellow librarians over the past weeks to see what works and what doesn’t, but also research and planning!   In addition, my many years in event planning really paid off in being able to control the crowd, keep things moving along and engage the children.

Knowing at least 3 weeks in advance was also a big help in determining what I could test out to be sure it would run smooth.  Questions I kept in consideration included asking myself:

  • if the activity would hold the child’s attention span
  • is the craft or game too easy or too difficult
  • will the story make sense to a child of this age
  • what is the flow of the program and is the scheduling fluid to accommodate on the spot changes

When I asked the kids as they were leaving if they had fun, the majority said YES…what I think is a fairly good gauge of a good time!

Check out my Gingerbread House example.

Program Outline:  Storytime, Game and Crafts by Jennifer A. Peterson

June 2011; Grade 3-5/Ages 8-10  Theme: Fractured Fairy Tales

Program Description

The program will begin with a general welcome and question to the kids if they know what a fairy tale is and what their favorite fairy tale is.  A fractured fairy tale will be briefly explained. Aproximately 10-15 minutes.

The story, The End by David LaRochelle will be read.  The question will be asked if they know the tale of “Hansel and Gretel.”  Aproximately 15 minutes.

Then a game will be played.  10-15 Quotes such as “I’ll Huff and I’ll Puff” will be given and the kids need to guess which famous fairy tale person said the statement.  Aproximately 10-15 minutes.

The craft will follow the question game.  It consists of a craft foam blank gingerbread house decorated as the kids wish, with buttons, glitter glue, markers, beads, ribbons.  Aproximately 15-20 minutes.

A relay race game will be played but backwards!  Teams will be divided and each child will race backwards with a spoon and a ball.  If kids don’t want to play the game, they can continue to work on their craft.  Aproximately 10-15 minutes.

Additional books and crafts will be used if time allows:

  •  Beware of the Bears by Allan Mac Donald.
  • The Truth About Hansel and Gretel by Karina Law.
  • The Three Silly Billies by Margie Palatini.
  • The Frog Prince Continued or the Stinky Cheese Man story both by Jon Sczieka.
  • Additional craft to make will be an origami frog.


Gingerbread House:   Using the die cut maker, various colored foam in the shape of a blank gingerbread house will be available.  Materials such as buttons, beads, ribbon, markers, glitter glue, and foam shapes will be available for the kids to use to decorate their house.  Small magnets are also available if the kids want to stick them to the back of the house to create a magnet.

Origami Frog:  Square sized, green and red paper, small google craft eyes, black markers.  There are two types of origami frogs the kids can choose to make, one is more simple than the other.

Materials Needed:

  • Craft foam, decorating materials, glue, scissors for craft; Approximately $1 in cost per craft
  • Large spoon and ball or round object for the game
  • Power point and laptop for the question game

Room Setup: 

  • Three tables on the stage for craft
  • 1 table on the floor for miscellaneous
  • Computer for power point game

Teaching Others

Teaching others is at the core of what the librarian does every day.  It is through engaging in all of the other 6 principles do we effectively take on that which is teaching others how to read, learn, be entertained, discover and hopefully want to then teach someone else.  It is by using creative solutions that librarians are able to connect users with information, provide access to and freedom of information, and take advantage of new information needs and opportunities all for the ultimate advantage of serving the patron.

Such creative solutions involve many aspects, two of which are exemplified here.  Through creative use with what is otherwise a simple flyer, ideas are fostered, information is shared, and opportunities arise for further learning and enjoyment of an author or a subject.  It is by providing this access that we serve the library patron.

Children’s Author James Marshall

Christian Fiction for Young Adults

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:


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.


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.


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.