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Search Results for: professional development

Friday Finds: Special Professional Development Edition

Many of us are currently in a position to take advantage of online learning opportunities while we do our best to quarantine/isolate/distance ourselves in an effort to flatten the curve of Covid19. But where to start?

Free Archived Webinar Sites

Public Library Association


Programming Librarian

Demco Ideas & Inspiration

Maryland State Library Resource Center

Library Connect

Booklist Webinars Archives

ALA List of Professional Development Resources

Public Libraries has a list of 5 free professional development resources to check

Library Blogs

School Library Journal

Show Me Librarian



5 Minute Librarian

New York Public Library Blog Channels

Places to Check Out

PLA Professional Tools

Public Libraries Online

Did I miss anything you love? Chime in in the comments!

Middle School Monday: Professional Development. Not the Optional Kind.

A Crucial Strand of PD.

We have an early-release day coming up. Does your school have those? Where you get to squeeze the work of a whole school day with students into a shorter time frame and then stay for meetings and/or professional development? Just typing that out is making me a bit tired.

This year, our staff is breaking up into small groups to work together on a professional development ‘strand’ of our choice. Two of our ELA teachers asked me to lead a strand on diverse literature. How awesome is that?

I eagerly said yes. Not only is it a favorite subject—and my guiding framework for collection development—but, we all need to be engaging in PD on this topic. We all need to continually be learning more. Thus, our REFLECTIVE LITERATURE PD strand was born. In addition to our ELA teachers from each grade, we also count our Assistant Principal and one of our Social Studies teachers as members.

Of course, the need for reflective literature is part of a larger conversation. When we talk about having books in our schools that reflect our students, their lived experiences, and their interests, it’s necessary to situate that idea in a discussion on culturally relevant pedagogy, structural inequities, institutional racism, and white privilege.

As we engage in these discussions with school staff, it’s helpful to remember that we are all at different points on our own cultural competence journeys. I thought I’d share our four point plan for our first meeting as these are resources or ideas that you might enjoy for yourself or want to share.

One. The Danger of a Single Story.

In Chimamanda Adichie’s illuminating TED Talk, The Danger of a Single Story, she shares her own first experiences with reading to drive home the point how “impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a story, particularly as children.” She brings together insights on reading, writing, power, stereotypes and story. And the joy of reading books that reflect you. Even if you’ve seen this before, each time is a gift for us as viewers—new understandings, powerful ideas, and favorite quotes. It made an ideal kick-off to our discussion.

Two. Diversity in Children’s Books 2015 Infographic.

The CCBC infographic below—Diversity in Children’s Books 2015—appeared on Sarah Park Dahlen’s post, Picture This: Follow Up. [The powerful imagery draws on the Windows/Mirrors analogy for literature first written by Rudine Sims Bishop. If you’ve never read her original article, find it here.]


This infographic is talking strictly about QUANTITY. Debbie Reese’s post at A Close Look at CCBC’s 2015 Data breaks down the 0.9% for American Indians/First Nations even further—taking into account reviews and authors. It is a crucial complement to the raw publishing data.

We didn’t start with these numbers to depress us, but rather to galvanize us.

Three. Race: The Power of an Illusion.

After a quick walk-through of PBS’s informative site, Race: The Power of an Illusion, we broke apart to engage with the site on our own.

Four. #ownvoices.

We then talked about the importance and necessity of #ownvoices titles. I had curated a stack of novels from our library collection and gave EXTREMELY quick booktalks on the titles. We each then chose one to read for our next PD strand meeting. Below are some of the titles chosen.


I’m Julie Stivers at @BespokeLib and I get excited talking about reflective literature!

Staff Development: When RA training and diversity training meet

Earlier this year, my immediate supervisor Kathryn King and I were asked to do some RA training for youth services staff across multiple branches at the Fort Worth Public Library system and we got to envision what that would look like. We did some brainstorming and decided that we wanted to make an intentional effort to focus on diversity and inclusion. We have now done two sessions and it has been a very personally and professionally rewarding experience. Here’s an outline of what this training looks like.

As I mentioned, we decided that we wanted to focus on diversity and inclusion, but we were also asked to specifically do traditional booktalks to help staff do RA with patrons at the public service desks. In the month of January we focused on African American literature and in the month of March we focused on Asian American literature. We will be doing some additional sessions on Latinx literature, Native American literature, and LGBTQ literature to finish out the year 2019.

Each training session is organized as follows.

The Foundations

Lee and Low have a good resource to help librarians understand the Diversity Gap in Children’s Litearature http://blog.leeandlow.com/2017/03/30/the-diversity-gap-in-childrens-book-publishing-2017/

When we initially began this project, we began by discussing current diversity stats in children’s and YA lit. You can find these stats from the CBC and Lee and Low. It is disheartening to see how truly under-represented many people groups are. We shared these stats with staff because we wanted them to understand that with this type of under representation, it meant that we all had to work that much harder to make sure we are being inclusive in the books we share, promote and highlight with our communities.

Owning Our Limitations

As a cisgender white woman, it’s important for me to do some thorough background research and admit my limitations and acknowledge that I go in with implicit bias. Even with the best of intentions, it’s important for me to be aware that except for my extensive knowledge of the collection, I am not culturally the best person to be leading this training. For example, culturally we are taught to assume a white default and I have been working very, very hard to dismantle this default and change my language when training staff. It’s a process.

An Introduction and an Overview

We begin each session by outlining some basic information about the various people groups we are talking about. For example, before discussing Asian American in children’s and YA literature, we did a lot of research to make sure we understood what we were talking about. This proved to be very important because it turns out that when we say Asia and Asian American, this encompasses more than I ever imagined. We outlined countries, demographics, religions and more. I’ve never personally loved history or geography and was truly mortified to find out how narrow my understanding was and how little I truly knew about Asia.

This in depth research portion has been personally very informative and rewarding. I feel more knowledgeable about the world in general and better able to serve my patrons. I also want to serve my co-workers by being as thorough, respectful and informative as possible. I may be a white woman but not all my co-workers are and I don’t want to misspeak or cause harm while training my peers about middle grade and YA lit.

Tropes, Stereotypes and Harmful Representation

In the next part of our discussion, we use a variety of resources such as TV Tropes and multiple professional discussions to make staff aware of tropes, stereotypes and harmful representation to look for when considering using books in programming or displays. We have discussed things like a white savior narrative, bury your gays, and the tendency to focus on one type of narrative. For example, when talking about books featuring African Americans, we remind staff that we want current stories for our kids that highlight children of color engaged in every day activities because not every story needs to be a story about slavery or civil rights.

Re-Examining Old Favorites

We then go on to talk about classics and favorites that many adults and librarians use that should be reconsidered because they have problematic or outright racist elements. We have, for example, discussed the recent research regarding racism in Dr. Seuss. And before we booktalk any title at the end, we research each title to make sure that isn’t any surrounding controversy that we may not yet be aware of.

An Own Voices Authors List

We then do exhaustive research and share with staff an Own Voices author list that we hope will help staff develop a richer knowledge of the collection. For example, when we did the presentation on Asian Americans in Kidlit, we tried to research specifically each author identified with. Our hope is that we are developing as inclusive as possible collections and recommendations for our patrons. It’s important to note that no Own Voices will ever be exhaustive or thorough because authors gets to decide if, when and how they identify as own voices, but having some own voices authors and titles to discuss is better than none.


We then go on to booktalk some of our favorites. I love talking about the books I love, so this is one of my favorite parts. For example, for the upcoming LGBTQIA+ presentation, I am hoping to highlight titles that aren’t just generally LGBTQ, but that fall under each letter so that our staff can better help patrons who may more specifically ask for a book that features a bi-sexual or asexual main character. This one is still in development.

For me, this has been about getting to have a richer, more complex understanding of the collection and knowing how to better serve patrons through this knowledge. I have personally learned a lot. I have professionally learned a lot. It’s challenging and rewarding. Yes, it is taking an investment in time to do the research and make sure we are doing a good job with the subject matter, but our patrons deserve good, accurate information.

Sunday Reflections: Stop the Massage Train, we don’t need to be asking professionals to touch one another


I often like to follow a conference tag on Twitter when I can’t attend a conference because I still tend to learn from them. I will screen shot tweets and send them to people I know who have been discussing the issue or save ideas for future consideration. This is what was happening when I was following tweets from #ASRL2018 the past few days. But then a tweet about staff development stopped me cold in my tracks:

I initially thought that this tweet was about doing this activity in a staff development training at the library, but this activity happened at the conference in a session about staff development and training. A group of people who paid to go to a professional conference were asked in a professional setting to engage in a massage train. I imagine given the way that these conferences work that this was also suggested as a possible activity for a staff library training or staff development day, though I can’t guarantee that it was as I was not there.

This tweet seems to be suggesting that asking staff or conference attendees to participate in a massage train is a good idea for staff development and team building. To clarify, this would mean asking your staff or conference attendees in a professional development environment to touch others in very intimate ways. This isn’t a professional handshake, this is reaching out and massaging the person beside you. I want to state this in plain and specific terms: do not ask your staff or other professionals to touch each other or put them in a position where they may have to publicly refuse to do so.

The first thing I want you to understand about this is that light, playful massage is often a grooming behavior of sexual harassers, assaulter and predators. Massage and “playful tickling” are chosen because it helps to break down barriers and it’s hard to accuse someone of assault when it can easily be dismissed as “a light massage”. If you Google Harvey Weinstein and the word massage, you will find stories that highlight the ways in which massage is used in workplace sexual harassment cases. You’ll find more of the same if you Google the words massage and grooming. This is a very common practice among sexual harassers and it should never be encouraged in the workplace, especially in the year 2018.A large number of woman have had to find ways to prevent themselves from being “massaged” by the skeevy coworker who wants to expert power over them and wants to touch them without their permission. There are very real reasons why massage is often the touch of choice and it behooves us all to spend some time researching why that is.

Let’s flip the script. Imagine you are that pervy person who is always looking for a reason to touch other people and now you’ve just been handed a buffet. What’s more, you have reinforced their belief that this is normal and acceptable behavior and fed into the foundational beliefs of a serial harasser or abuser. You have normalized what should not be normalized behavior. You are now complicit in this person’s ongoing harassment of their coworkers.

Many of our staff members and conference attendees are themselves sexual violence survivors. If we go by the most current statistics, 1 in 4 of them are. That means that many of the people we are putting in this situation will be triggered by this activity and they now have to figure out how to deal with it. Do they publicly opt out? If they do so, how will it affect their work relationships? Imagine you are the person in the room that your coworker has just refused to let touch them when everyone else in the room had no problem doing this activity. There are so many group dynamics and ramifications happening here. It’s not a good look for anyone.

It’s important to note that this is not just about sexual violence either. Some religions and cultures have very strict rules about touching, especially touching between people of differing genders. Other people just don’t like touching people period. Others have OCD issues and serious germ phobias. There are a lot of reasons why people may not want to touch other people and it is, quite frankly, completely unnecessary for us to ask our employees to do this.

But this isn’t just about employee comfort and safety, it’s about workplace liability as well. In the year 2018 and in the midst of the #MeToo movement, any workplace who asks their staff members to engage in this type of activity, even if we are suggesting that they can opt out if they wish to, can be seen as putting staff in a harassing environment. There is no scenario in which I would ask my staff to touch each other as a part of their job or job training because I don’t want to be sued for creating a sexually hostile work environment nor do I want to appear in the press for doing so. It’s a bad look.

It was suggested in the discussion that participants can opt out or in as they wish, but we all are aware that peer pressure is a real thing as are group dynamics. Even if someone is told that they can opt out, they may not feel genuinely safe to do so because they have to measure what the true social and professional cost will be to them. There is a social and professional cost to being the staff member who refuses to participate, especially publicly, in an staff training or staff development activity. Even if management claims it is okay, we all know that it is now possible that management has now internally labelled this staff member as an outlier, someone who is not team oriented or wants to cause problems. This sets up all kinds of potential internalized bias for a staff member all because they want to protect their bodily autonomy.

I can think of very few scenarios in which we should ask our employees to touch their coworkers or fellow conference attendees, and most of them involve saving their lives. But a massage train? It’s completely unnecessary. Whatever we believe may be accomplished by this activity can be done so in another way and in a way that respects our employees bodily autonomy and keeps us safe from liability.

Don’t get me wrong, I have hugged tons of my professional peers at a conference and sometimes even at work, but this is always because the other person and I choose to engage in this activity. We have full bodily autonomy and mutual consent, it’s not being privately or publicly suggested by a person in a position of power outside of the two of us, and there is no cost to us if we refuse to do so. In a professional environment, there is little reason to ask people to touch each other. Please don’t do this.

How Much YA Gets Published Each Year? Discussing YA Collection Development Challenges


This year has been a deep dive into collection development for me. Actually, the last two years have been. Granted, collection development is always a part of the job and it is arguably my favorite part of the job, but these past 2 years I have been deeply involved in analysis and budgets and things like diversity audits. My goal is to put together an in depth YA collection analysis and plan that can help me draw some well founded and supported action items to develop a more comprehensive collection development plan. I want to develop an inclusive YA collection that meets both the supply and demand of YA literature and has high circulation because high circulation means teens are reading. I want goals, facts and figures, and solid statistics that I can take to the table every time I’m discussing YA services with, well, anyone.

As someone who has been doing YA collection development for a solid 25 years now, I have noticed the explosion in YA literature. The number of titles being published has increased, as much as 400% according to some sources. And if you ever visit bookstores like Barnes and Noble, which I do monthly as a part of my own personal collection development, you can’t help but notice that the amount of floor and shelf space dedicated to YA lit has increased there as well. That has not always been true for public libraries. Public libraries have a lot of great qualities, I’m obviously a fan and an advocate, but they also can be slow to adapt and change. Yes, yes, #notalllibraries, but if we’re going to be realistic we have to admit that public libraries on the whole tend to be more reactive than proactive.

Part of the problem is, of course, that although YA publishing has boomed, public library budgets have not. In fact, a lot of budgets have been cut in the past ten years, just as YA publishing was experiencing this boom. In addition, without building new buildings or renovating existing ones, it can often be hard to find additional space for existing or new collections. A lot of libraries have very real space issues and find themselves landlocked. There is no room for much needed growth at a time when more and more formats are being introduced into the market and librarians are being asked to do more with less. The space and budget challenges facing public libraries are very real.

So the question is, what does an ideal YA collection look like? How much floor space does it need? How much shelf space? What is a realistic budget? To answer this question we must look not only at circulation statistics, or demand, but at the supply side. How many YA books are being published each year and how does this influence that amount of floor space and monies that we dedicate to these collections? This question is harder to answer than it looks, in part because I don’t have access to the right data. But it didn’t stop me from trying to figure out a basic beginning reference point.

A pretty regular source of new YA release lists can be found at Goodreads. Here, you can find a monthly list of new YA titles compiled by the Goodreads librarians. This is by no means an authoritative list, because it doesn’t include things like graphic novels, manga, hi/lo readers like Orca published books, etc. These lists focus mainly on big name authors, debut authors, traditionally published authors and the participation of the public. A quick look at the Goodreads list looks like this:

  • January – 50 titles
  • February – 57
  • March – 64
  • April – 46
  • May – 71
  • June – 47
  • July – 40
  • August – 38
  • September – 57
  • October – 55

November and December don’t seem to be available yet oddly, but if we go by an average let’s say there are 50 YA books being published each month. This would bring the total number of YA books published and recorded on Goodreads to 625. And remember, this list is not all inclusive or exhaustive, it’s just a beginning point of reference.

Over at Book Birds blog, you can find another list of 2018 YA releases. This one states that there are “over 500 titles” on the list. That’s not a very specific number, and I didn’t go through each monthly list to count and come up with a more specific number. It’s a good resource, however.


You can also find good lists of new YA releases at TeenReads.com and at YA Books Central. Book Riot frequently publishes lists that cover a 3 months period, breaking the year into quarters, that contain around 150 titles on each list, which would be around 600 titles as well. And of course we use our professional journals and additional sources like Baker and Taylor Growing Minds. An infographic published by The Blooming Twig indicates that an average of 30,000 YA books are published each year, which is a much bigger number than you see in the several sources listed above.


This infographic from New York Books magazine shows the increase in the total of YA publishing through 2012 and indicates that in 2012, 10, 276 YA titles were published. I believe that YA publishing has grown even more since 2012. So in the most basic sense, it seems safe for public libraries to begin at the starting point that at a minimum, anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 YA titles are being published and marketed to teen readers. Libraries can’t and shouldn’t purchase every title, and not every title deserves to be purchased, which is where selection comes into play, but it’s important that we have a realistic starting point when considering what amount of space and budgets we want to devote to our YA/Teen literature collections.

If we go with the most basic source, Goodreads (and please don’t go with the most basic source when doing collection development), libraries are looking at having to add an average of 52 titles per month, if they bought everything listed on Goodreads. And remember, not everything is listed on Goodreads and not everything listed on Goodreads is worth purchasing for each specific library. And again, it’s worth reminding us all, that this bare minimum purchase doesn’t include things like hi/lo readers, Christian fiction, a lot of series fiction, graphic novels, manga, midlist, re-issues or replacement titles.

Most libraries also use vendors to purchase their books, so they get a pretty decent discount, sometimes as much as 40% off. On average, I have found over the years that I can expect to pay an average of $10.00 per YA book. This means that working with the Goodreads list alone, you would need to have $6,250 in your annual budget to purchase all the popular YA titles listed on Goodreads alone. That’s one copy for one branch to get all 625 titles listed on Goodreads. That’s obviously not how book budgets work, but I think having an idea of what that starting figure might be helps us to develop budgets moving forward. It’s a fact to keep in mind and use in combination with all of the other facts to help us in the process of collection development.

So as a very basic starting point, if a school or public library serving teens was to buy 1 copy each of every YA title listed on most major resources that teens use to help them determine their reading at an average price of $10.00 a book, they would need to have a basic budget of $6,250 to buy around 625 books. At an average of $17.99 retail price, teens would need $11,243.75 to purchase these same titles on their own at retail prices.

I know of school and public librarians who are tasked with building YA collections, including graphic novels and manga, nonfiction and more, with a budget of only $3,000. Collection development is a challenging process in the best of times, but in conditions like these, it can be incredibly hard.

I began this journey by just wanting to find out some basic YA publishing figures to help me get an idea of how many YA titles were being published each year to help me better understand what size a YA collection and budget should be if we weighed supply in with demand. The numbers that can easily and publicly be found (I believe there are industry statistics that others have paid access to that I don’t), indicate that on the whole, most school and public libraries are in fact greatly underfunded and under-spaced when it comes to developing YA collections in relation to the amount of YA titles being published, and this accounts for the fact that we can’t and shouldn’t be just willy nilly buying every title published. I also acknowledge that this is not universally true, there are many libraries that have bigger YA spaces and budgets, but on average I would anecdotally posit that even with the growth of YA services and collections in our school and public libraries, we are still under-serving our patrons in terms of budgets and dedicated floor/shelf space.

I also want to point out that another very real challenge to YA librarians is that teens are no longer exclusively reading traditional published YA books. In addition to a very real and vast transition to digital media, digitally published titles, and a deeper investment in time into social media, teens are also reading a wider variety of self-published titles and fanfiction. Internet sites like Wattpad are changing the ways that teens read and where they get their books. So as challenging as YA collection development is for YA librarians, it’s interesting to note that an additional challenge is that teens want and are reading titles that they don’t need libraries or YA librarians to provide access to. Now, teens have more choices then ever about reading, there are more titles to choose from and more nontraditional ways to gain access to them. The challenges are real for YA librarians who are serving a new generation of digital natives who have far more choices than previous generations.

It’s also an interesting corollary statistic to note that adolescents, or teens, make up around 13.2% of the United States population and ask ourselves if we are dedicating 13.2% of our library resources to this population. Again, this isn’t the only statistic we should be use when determining how to allocate our resources, but it is a statistic we need to keep in mind when considering how best we can help to meet the very real and unique needs of our teens. And it’s not just our teen patrons who are reading YA literature, so developing good YA collections isn’t just about serving our teen patrons, though I hope that when we are engaged in YA services they are always our primary concern no matter who else may be reading YA literature. Teens deserve dedicated services by passionate library staff who are knowledgeable about and invested in their success.

Edited on August 27, 2018 to add this note: As of today, there are already 577 YA titles listed on Goodreads as being published in 2019. Source: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/88845.YA_Novels_of_2019

Putting the Science Back in Library Science: Collection Development, Diversity Audits, & Understanding Teens – Analyzing Data for Decision Making

I began working at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County in Ohio in January of 2015, for the second time. This was actually the public library I got my start in and I, along with a peer named Holly, were the first people ever hired to do teen services at this library. We started the collection from scratch as paraprofessionals and it has been interesting to return and work with this collection once again, a little over 20 years later.

As an experienced and now professional librarian, I work with collections much differently than I did when I began in the early 1990s. For one, there is now far more YA literature than there was in the beginning. Also, my understanding of adolescent development, collection development, and the role of libraries has changed dramatically. I have a greater sense of purpose that comes with having more experience and a stronger foundational knowledge. The collections I build today are more purposeful, and less personal, than they were in the beginning.

So after spending the first year getting re-acclimated to my home library, I dived deep into some real data analysis. I like working with data, facts and figures, to help me better understand who I’m serving, what they’re reading, and how I can best meet their needs. Below I will outline the lengthy process I went through to put together some good data and a plan of recommendations that I drew from analyzing that data.

Step 1: Understanding Teens as a Whole

Serving Full TILT Infographic

As part of our Serving Full T.I.L.T. series a few years back, several fellow YA librarians and myself went through and put together a good, foundational statistical report of what we knew about teens today in the United States. This helps us understand what teenage life is like in the United States.

Step 2: Local Community Demographics

communityprofile3 communityprofile2 communityprofile1

I then went through the process of putting together an extensive local community demographics profile. I searched high and low for every piece of data I could find about our community, including census data, poverty rates, high school graduation rates, etc. I didn’t just focus on teens at this point, though it does have a lot of data about teens which I eventually extracted out for my final report. These two steps gave me a solid portrait of what the national picture of teens looks like as well as at my local level. I won’t go into the process in depth here because I wrote a post about this step here: Doing a YA Collection Diversity Audit: Understanding Your Local Community (Part 1)

Step 3: Diversity Audit


I then spent a solid month really look at my library collection, focusing on YA fiction and GNs/Manga, to get a look at how diverse my collection was – or wasn’t – to help guide selections and acquisitions. My goal was to build a more diverse collection to help my teens live in a more diverse world. I wanted them to see both themselves reflected and to step into the shoes of lives different than their own to help increase their knowledge, understanding, and compassion of the world they are living in. Again, I have previously blogged about this process and you can read those posts here:

Doing a YA Collection Diversity Audit: The How To (Part 2)

Step 4: Circulation and Collection Analysis


I then worked with reports to do a lot of weeding, a lot of purchasing, and a lot of data analysis. I looked at what percentage of the collection each part of my YA collections made up and compared it to the overall library holdings. I compared circulation statistics in the same way. For example, I could determine that my YA Fiction holdings were approximately 2% of the entire library holdings and then look to see what percentage of the overall circulation YA Fic items made up. You want the percentage to be the same or more than the holdings. So if YA Fic is 2% of the overall holdings, you want the circulation to be 2% or more of the overall circulation.

If the percentage of holdings is less than the percentage of circulation, you then have to work to find out why. For example, we have a small physical YA Audio collection that is an even smaller percentage of our overall circulation. The most probable reason why is that most teens no longer have CD players to play books on CD on. But the statistics make it clear that these items are not circulating well for us and we should devote less money and shelf space to these items.

In comparison, we have a fairly small collection of GNs and Manga, but the percentage of their circulation is higher. This means that one way we could increase our circulation may be to increase the size and holding of our GN and manga collection.

The data I collected included:

  • Total number of items held in the library collection
  • Total number of item per each collection that I purchased for, including YA fiction, graphic novels and manga, YA audio, and YA nonfiction
  • Total number of circulations for the entire library collection
  • Total number of circulations per each collection that I purchased for, including YA fiction, graphic novels and manga, YA audio, and YA nonfiction
  • Total percentage of holding for each collection that I purchase for
  • Total percentage of overall circulation for each collection that I purchase for
  • Percentage of collection that hasn’t circulated in the last calendar year
  • Number of items added to each collection in the last calendar year
  • Total amount spent on purchasing new items for the collection in the last calendar year
  • Average cost per item spent in the last calendar year
  • Total number of items weeded in each collection in the last calendar year

Some of the data I wanted to analyze I did not have good access to. For example, we subscribe to Hoopla and they do not break out YA items from children/youth items. We have contacted Hoopla and hope that they will work to provide some better data for us in the future.

We do not catalog or shelve our YA titles by genre, but if you do this type of analysis can also help guide future purchasing as you develop a better idea of what types of books your teens are reading. I can do this to some extent just by weeding because I have a long track record in YA, read it a lot, and have just worked a lot with YA fiction. Someone new to YA would have a harder time, though it would definitely help them learn more about their new collection.

Step 5: Findings and Recommendations

I took all of this data and put it into a visual report, an infographic, and then submitted a number of findings and recommendations. For example, I suggested that we stop purchasing YA on CDs and allow the collection to self-weed and put a greater emphasis on our digital YA audio collections. I recommended a variety of other things as well, such as moving the physical location of a couple of collections, increasing the size of a couple of collections, and looking into keeping track of in-house item use for materials such as GNs, manga and nonfiction because a lot of our patrons tend to read them in-house, put them on a shelving cart, and never really check them out. I have observed teens sitting in the YA area and reading entire stacks of GNs and manga that never get checked out and we are missing not only circulation stats, but useful collection development numbers to help guide series retention.

I did all of this background work while doing the daily business of managing staff, maintaining a Teen MakerSpace, working the Reference desk on occasion, etc. So yes, it took a few months to almost a year, but the information I have gained has been invaluable. I now have a much deeper understanding of my local community and a more comprehensive knowledge of my collection. I feel like I am making more informed decisions all around in serving my teens and building our collections. I enjoyed both the process and the outcome. I highly recommend it.


Teen Services 101

Things We Didn’t Learn in Library School


Posts Tagged Professional Development

The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services

Reflections on Life at a Branch Library

Blogs We Follow

Building the Stacks: What I wish administrators, publishers and authors knew about collection development

The other day, I was interviewed by up and coming ya author Victoria Scott regarding Collection Development.  Collection development is, of course, one of the biggest parts of our job.  Although, ironically, I once worked at a library that put together a spread sheet of how much time you should spend each week of your 40 hours doing what and they allotted 1 hour a week to collection development. This was, of course, a pretty absurd time table.  It takes a lot of time to read reviews, put together carts through your jobber, weed collections, etc.  All of this helps us reach our primary goal: having collections that teens want to check out and read.

It must seem to others like some type of a magical process . . . new books keep appearing in the library.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I take my job to build collections very seriously.  In order to have a good collection, I need sufficient funds, and in order to have sufficient funds, I need to have a well circulating collection.  It can be an upward spiral or a downward spiral.  But the truth is, we can’t have good circulation numbers if we don’t have good materials.  This means we continually need new materials – and in a timely manner.  Library systems don’t always have ordering processes in place that allow for the quick acquisition of new materials.  And we all know that budgets are shrinking.

In my previous library system, we ordered materials every two weeks and it was a beautiful thing.  Realize that all your copies of Catching Fire have been lost or damaged?  No problem, a new order goes in every two weeks.  Did you just find out that book you ordered was number two in a new trilogy?  Also not a problem, you can order book one pronto.  (And yes, yes I have done this more times than I would like to admit. I would love it if reviewers would make a point of mentioning that a book is in a series, what number it is in the series and, if at all possible, the other titles in the series – especially if this is book two.)

Here are some things I wish that administrators knew:

We can’t have a high circulating collection if I don’t have the funds and ordering processes in place to build high circulating collections.  You can’t put the cart before the horse and demand it be successful.  Sometimes, you have to invest in something in order to see good results.  High circulating collections need time, space, and money.

Teen publishing is literally exploding these last few years.  There are so many titles being published, and such high demand for the titles, we need to make sure our budgets and spaces account for that.

We need space for face out shelving. That is all.

In my interview with Victoria Scott I mention the requirement that some libraries have that a book have a professional review in order to be added to the collection. Not just a professional review, but a positive professional review which justifies spending money to add the material to the collection.  But, the truth is, the Internet and inclusion of books in places like Wal-Mart and Target are changing the landscape of reading and what teens ask for.  In addition, they want to see tie-in novels to their favorite tv shows and movies, which are often not reviewed.  There needs to be ways to successfully include recreational reading in our collections.  These type of collection development policies leave teens with two choices, read only those books that adults have declared “quality” reading materials or read nothing.  I would rather that they read something, anything, with the hope that it will be the bridge to reading that finally makes them a satisfied library customer than walking out our doors unsatisfied.

We can’t keep ignoring the success of e-books.  We need to look at our collection development policies and budgets to make sure we have successful ways of meeting our patrons e-book needs. Yes, teens read e-books.  Even my tween has an e-book reader.  One can make the argument that not everyone has an e-reader and we dilute our funds for many but reaching out to meet the needs of a few; but we also risk alienating those few – and they are growing in number – as library supporters if we don’t prove our relevancy and meet their needs.  They will see no need to vote for supporting us because we no longer meet their needs and they have gone elsewhere.

The bottom line is this, if teens can’t find what they are looking for in the library, they aren’t coming back because there are so many other ways for teens to find what they want to read.  We may be free, but if teens have continued unsuccessful trips to the library, we still become irrelevant.

Here are some things I wish publishers knew:

If at all possible, try and show your book cover as much as possible in your ads, online, etc.  Teens judge a book by its cover and I am going to be honest, I judge a book by its cover.  It is, of course, not the most important factor – but it is something that I have to realistically consider.  If I have to cut an order because I have gone over my budgeted amount (which by the way is always), I am going to cut those lesser known titles that have boring or outdated covers because the bottom line is my teens won’t check them out.

If a book is a part of a series, make sure and mention that.  If at all possible, mention the other titles in the series.  It’s win/win for us both.

Every time you mention your book or show your cover, please make sure your ISBN is there.  I can’t order a book without the ISBN (with the ordering system we use, ISBN is the easiest access point) and it muddies the process if I have to go looking for it.  Along with less funds, we have less time as well.

All hail the power of the ARC! Although it is true that I can’t read every ARC I get, I look at them all and read a great many.  Like I said in my interview with Victoria, it really helps take some of the (albeit educated) guesswork out of collection development.  It also allows me to get actual teen feedback before making a purchase.  This is especially true for newer authors, new series, etc.  New is always a risky proposition, but you can help me take some of the risk out of it.

Here are some things I wish authors (and publishers) knew:

The other day, as I read my fifth book in a row about teens trapped somewhere – a mall, a school, wherever – I thought about diversity.  Not people diversity, but book plot diversity.  It is true that a lot of my teens are looking for the next Hunger Games – but that doesn’t mean it has to be a literal Hunger Games type plot. Sometimes when they say they want the next Hunger Games, it just means the are looking for the next big thing.  And to be honest, I have a lot of teens who haven’t read the Hunger Games or didn’t finish the series because they just didn’t like it.  There must be that temptation, I am sure, to write and publish those books that seem so similar to what is selling like hotcakes.  Heck, there is that same temptation to add it to our library collections.  But everything has a saturation point.  And I can’t help but look at those teens coming into my library who don’t find what they need in our collections; who don’t find themselves reflected in the books that they read.

Case in point: I’m going to age myself here, but when I was growing up I used to watch this little show called The Cosby Show. It was a funny, touching show about a family that was basically just like mine.  They fought over every day things.  Their parents were embarrassing but for all the right reasons. And they often did stupid things.  They did, of course, happen to be an African American family.  But the show wasn’t about them being an African American family, it was about them being a family.  Twice this week – and it’s only Tuesday as I write this – I have had tweens come in looking for books and everything that we discussed that was popular had a fair skinned main character.

One of the reasons that I loved The Downside of Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez is because it tells the story of a boy who doesn’t usually get to have his story told.  Girls are not swooning over him.  He does not have washboard abs and a killer smile.  But Charlie’s is a story that needs to be told because there are so many Charlie’s out there.

Sometimes, it is precisely because something is unique and different that it becomes so special.  We need those stories on our shelves to.

Now it’s your turn.  What do you wish your administrators knew about collection development? How about authors and publishers?

Edelweiss, Or Crack Cocaine for Librarians/Collection Development People (Stephanie Wilkes)

This is one of those ‘informative training type’ posts where I want to let you guys in on a little website that has completely blown my Snuggie off.  (Don’t steal my phrase…I’m gonna trademark that.)  Basically, if you are a librarian who orders books or if you work in collection development, you are going to want info about this website.  Edelweiss is a website that has this tagline: “Whether you’re a bookseller, sales rep, librarian, reviewer, or publisher, you have the same goal: to connect readers with books”.  I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Basically, this website is an amalgamation of publisher’s catalogs.  All of them.   EVER.  Well, probably not all of them but pretty much all of the ones that you are ordering books for your collection from.  Random House, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Egmont USA, Houghton Mifflin….you name it.  (I’m not paid by anyone to rep their publishing companies at all…if I left you off it was just because of a major lack of coffee and like I said, every publisher in the WORLD is on this site.  So that is your inclusion.  I’m going to stop now.)

So, instead of waiting for those color catalogs to come in the mail and letting them pile up on a corner in your office along with all other mail that we get daily, you can create an account and peruse the catalogs one by one all day long.

Now why is it crack-cocaine for you?  Because you can sit there and go through these catalogs for hours. Days.  Weeks.  Possibly months if you are an extremely slow reader, clicker, and you have an older computer.  Basically, the books are all listed in the catalog and you can see publication date, a ranking on Goodreads and the blogosphere of reactions, if it is the Frontlist or Backlist, the blurbs for the book, about the author info, publicity info from the publisher, and the list goes on.  Here is a sample of one of the listings for a book that I am absolutely salivating over:

See the page here

You can see the sale date, the ISBN #, the targeted audience, pages, sales rights, the Goodreads meter that shows the popularity of the title, summary, bio, marketing plans, selling points (which can be used for book talks), and quotes and reviews.  What more could you ask for?

Oh, well this:

See the page here

That little green button?  Yes, on Edelweiss you can Request a Review Copy for your e-reader.  So, it takes what NetGalley has done and brought it up to a collection development level.  I will say that NetGalley does have more YA titles than Edelweiss though, not sure why. 

Here’s the deal…with the abundance of rights being sold for trilogies and series, it is in your absolute best interest to use resources like these when you are working on collection development.  I preach day in and day out that Amazon should not be your discovery point for book selection and I 100% stand by that statement.  If you are a true professional, you should be using professional resources.  If you are training to be a librarian, work in a library, or want to ever work in this field, you should be learning how to use professional resources, not websites like Amazon, to determine what books are coming out and when.  There are several websites that collect information about release dates for YA books (http://yalit.com) and TeenReads (www.teenreads.com).   And, personally, if you want to browse a website to see what is selling, I urge you to use Indie Bound (www.indiebound.org).

There are other options you can use on this site to help you, some of which I am just now starting to use now that the glazed eyes have worn off after a three-day collection development spree.  For example, creating your own collections and even using a feature called GeoSearch, which enables you to find materials published that may have your city mentioned or authors near you. 

Okay, so a recap.  Schedule yourself a good 4 days in your office.  Make a large pot of coffee/tea/beverage of choice and sit down at your computer.  Crack your knuckles.  Pop your neck.  Go to http://edelweiss.abovethetreeline.comand create an account.  We’ll see you next week and Karen and I will try not to post anything very exciting until then.  And for those of you who already have an addiction to Edelweiss, we will be having our first Edelweiss Non-Anonymous meeting soon via Twitter. 

If you have questions about Edelweiss, feel free use their help page or contact them via Twitter @weiss_squad.  They are super helpful, super friendly, and as with all metaphorical drug dealers, readily available. – Stephanie Wilkes

National Poetry Month Week 2 with Lisa Krok

National Poetry Month continues throughout April with week two of novels in verse!  I have been posting a verse novel on Twitter @readonthebeach each day, along with a corresponding poetry activity. Click here for my previous post about using my book, Novels in Verse for Teens to reach marginalized and reluctant/striving readers, and here for the round-up from week one. On to week two!

Day 8: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson


Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir in verse has family at its heart. Summers in the South with her grandparents bring crickets, frogs, and owls singing a lullaby, while time with her mother in Brooklyn involves double dutch, music without the word “funk” in it, and the Kingdom Hall. She genuinely loves both places and wishes for a way to have one AND the other. As she begins her journey becoming a writer, she realizes that “YOU decide what each world and each story and each ending will finally be”.

Ode to family poetry activity:

Woodson has said this book is an “ode to family”. Learn how to write your own ode: https://powerpoetry.org/resources/writing-ode-poem

Day 9: Redwood and Ponytail by K.A. Holt


Kate’s mom is pushing for her to be captain of the cheerleading squad, but Kate prefers being the mascot. When she befriends Tam, she begins questioning her sexuality. When Kate’s mom shuts down her revelation, she seeks validation from her sister, who happens to be estranged from her mother.

Sorry, Not Sorry poetry activity:

Kate is attracted to girls, and she is not sorry about it. Sorry, Not Sorry poetry stemmed from “This is Just to Say” by William Carlos Williams. Try writing your own!


Day 10: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo


Xiomara Batista is growing up in Harlem with her strict Dominican Catholic family. She often feels she has no voice in choosing what her life will be. The decisions in her life have been pre-determined by her mother and the church. Xiomara has a passion for words, and finds an outlet in her school’s slam poetry club. Her twin brother and her leather notebook hold all of her secrets, including a new love interest at school. When Mami finds the notebook, she tries to silence Xio’s dreams, but Xiomara has more to say.

Slam poetry:

Xiomara has a passion for words, finding an outlet in her school’s slam poetry club. Discover how to create slam poetry:

https://powerpoetry.org/actions/5-tips-spoken-word and see Elizabeth Acevedo perform



Day 11:  Some Girls Bind by Rory James


Jamie has been keeping a secret…she binds her chest each day to feel more like herself. She is questioning why she does this, and feels she isn’t like other girls. She is afraid to tell her friends that she is genderqueer, but finds some solace in her brother’s support.

Advocacy poetry activity:

All teens deserve to live their authentic lives. Support trans rights by writing advocacy poetry:


Day 12: A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman


Aspiring Indian teen dancer, Veda, thinks she will never dance again after a terrible accident leaves her an amputee from the knee down. Her grandmother, Paati, encourages her to be independent and extends her pants and skirts for her while she is on crutches waiting for a prosthetic. Working with her physical therapist, Jim, Veda sees posters of dancers with prosthetics. When Jim tells her “One day, kiddo, I‘ll add your poster to my collection”, she pursues Bharatanatyam dance with a newfound resilience.

Hopeful Haiku activity:

When Veda loses her leg in an accident, her hope is restored by the inspiration of the words and actions surrounding her. Write a haiku using the themes of hope and resilience.


Day 13: Crank (Trilogy) by Ellen Hopkins


Although this book is not about a beast or a dragon, it involves a monster. The destructive, life changing monster that is crystal meth snatches Kristina and she transforms into her brash alter-ego, Bree. Based upon the author’s own daughter’s addiction to crystal meth, this realistically portrays the hold meth has on an addict.

Cinquain poetry activity:

Drug abuse within families can bring up strong emotions. Write a cinquain about something you feel strongly about. Cinquains are similar to other Japanese poetic forms like haiku and tanka.


Day 14:  Amiri & Odette: A Love Story

by Walter Dean Myers, paintings by Javaka Steptoe


With gorgeous mixed media artwork of Javaka Steptoe and his signature lyrical voice, Walter Dean Myers creates a modern retelling of the ballet Swan Lake surrounded by poverty, basketball, and gang violence.

Music inspired sonnet activity:

Listen to both versions of Swan Lake, traditional

  and urban mix  (explicit)

Play both versions for teens, having them write down words and phrases that come to mind from each one. Next, they select one of the versions to use as inspiration for a sonnet. A sonnet can be a perfect style of. poetry for expressing strong emotions. Choose some of the words and phrases written down to inspire a sonnet: https://powerpoetry.org/resources/write-sonnet-poetry .

-Lisa Krok

Find all of these activities and much more in Novels in Verse for Teens, available now.

Buy from Barnes & Noble

Buy from Amazon

Add it on Goodreads

Request it at your Indies.

Lisa Krok, MLIS, MEd, is the adult and teen services manager at Morley Library and a former teacher in the Cleveland, Ohio, area. She is the author of Novels in Verse for Teens: A Guidebook with Activities for Teachers and Librarians, available now from ABC-CLIO. Lisa’s passion is reaching marginalized teens and reluctant readers through young adult literature. She was appointed to the 2019-2020 YALSA Presidential Advisory Task Force, served two years on the Quick Picks for Reluctant Reader’s team, and is serving on the Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA 2021) committee. Lisa can be found being bookish and political on Twitter @readonthebeach. Facebook TwitterShare