Thursday, October 16, 2014

Halloween Reading Traditions

It's the time of year for ghosts, ghouls, and scares, all to be topped off with Trick or Treat on October 31st! 

Were you aware that Karen Golab (GA) traditionally re-reads Ray Bradbury's classic novel Something Wicked This Way Comes every October? Karen's tradition got me to wondering ...

Do any other SCCCLD staff have a similar October reading habit? Do you re-read an old classic horror story? Maybe you just read / listen to / watch something scary to get in the mood for Halloween. [FYI ... there is also a very scary movie based on Bradbury's book which stars Jason Robards and has the marvelous Jonathan Pryce as a devilish Mr. Dark!]

If you're looking for some Halloween reading, consider one of the seven very scary titles, some old, some new, discussed in the following article: Great Reads: Horror Directors Who Became Authors from Booklist Online.

The district owns or has On Order all but one of these books! We owned copies of Fountain Society by Wes Craven at one time but unfortunately no longer and it is now Out of Print and sad to report, not available to reorder. You could request it through ILL though!

So what are YOU reading for Halloween? Use the Comments box and tell the SCCCLD staff all about it! 

Friday, October 10, 2014

RA as a Technical Service - a Training Opportunity

On Thursday, October 9th, during the 2014 Missouri Library Association (MLA)  Conference, Kaite Stover (Kansas City Public Library) gave a great program called: Readers' Advisory for a New Age of Readers. The Powerpoint presentation and handout for her program can be accessed online at:  Click on Conference Presentations, then Missouri Library Association for 2014.

During her program, Kaite mentioned an upcoming training which will be provided by RUSA-CODES (Reference and User Services Association-Collection Development and Evaluation Section of the American Library Association). The training will be email based and will begin Tuesday morning, Oct 14 and run through Wednesday afternoon/evening, Oct 15th. This CODES conversation is free and open to any library staff with an interest in readers' advisory.

RA as a Technical Service

A new CODES Conversation begins October 14th  and will run through the 15th. 

RA does not just happen in the stacks and at the public service desk. It happens in the catalog, in collection development, and in materials processing. Join a community of over 500 librarians interested in all things RA as we discuss how to make sure that the RA service that happens behind the scenes of public service gets the attention and focus necessary to make all of RA as robust and useful as possible.

Some of the topics we will address include:

  • How best to calculate, and what factors to consider in setting, holds ratios?
  • Genre Headings: How (if at all) do catalogers/patrons/advisors agree to what constitutes a genre? How many headings do we want/need in an age of genre blends?
  • What features of the catalog support and enrich RA?
  • How can the collection development staff help the public services staff keep up with new titles and genres?
  • What use are stickers on books? How do they work with genre blends?
  • Should we interfile or have divided collections?
  • How do we ensure the best access to paperbacks? And speaking of paperbacks has the format flipped to some degree to ebooks?
CODES Conversations are focused electronic conversations on current issues facing collection development and readers’ advisory librarians—or anyone interested in those areas. The free, moderated discussions are open to all - just subscribe to the discussion at, then follow and contribute (or lurk!) as you wish.


LibraryReads November 2014 Top Ten Announced!!

The November 2014 Top Ten winner is ... Us: a Novel by David Nicholls (published by Harper) 

Kimberly McGee of Lake Travis Community Library (Austin, TX) describes the book ...
“Every once in a while you stumble upon a book that makes you wish you could meet the characters in real life. This is the case with Us, the poignant story of a middle-of-the-road British family spiraling out of control, and one man’s attempt to win back their love. Quirky, delightful and unpredictable, the novel delves into what makes a marriage, and what tears it apart.”

The full list of November Top Ten titles can be found at LibraryReads

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

RA Tip: Missouri Library Association 2014 Annual Conference

The 2014 Missouri Library Association Conference will be held in Columbia, MO starting Wednesday, October 8 through 12:00 Noon on Friday, October 10. I will be posting about the programs I attend so keep checking the blog for updates.

Yours truly, the RAT Queen will be hosting a Table Talk on Thursday morning from 9:15 AM until 10:00 AM. If you are attending the conference, stop by and join the fun! 

What's the topic you ask? Here's the full description right from the conference guidebook:

Table Talk: Creating Displays with Whole Readers' Advisory
Looking for ways to promote your collections? Always searching for additional material to include in a displays? Have a bright, innovative idea for a display? Whole Readers' Advisory encourages the use of all formats in displays. Come to the table to hear how others create and maintain displays and talk about your own successes (or failures). Display examples will be available for discussion along with an exercise for working with others to develop ideas. Let's sit down and brainstorm about displays--the more the merrier!

Handout links and (hopefully) a photo or two will be posted to the blog later!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Blogging 101: Learning How to Post

A number of staff contribute to the SCCCLD Book Challenge. Others may have considered joining in on the fun but are reluctant because they've never posted to a blog before or have never written an annotation or review as a blog post.  

Laura Pirondi (SP-Reference and book challenge blogmaster) and Lucy Lockley (the RAT Queen) will be hosting two (2) RA training demonstrations on learning how to post to the blog. Staff are invited to the session of their choice - the demonstration will be the same each time so there is no need to register for both sessions. 

Blogging 101: Learning How to Post
  • A Readers' Advisory Training session on how to use the 'SCCCLD Book Challenge' blog to produce exciting, informative, and entertaining posts about titles you have read, listened to, or viewed. Come and learn how to post to our staff blog and help the district win the Missouri Book Challenge competition in 2015!!
    • Wednesday, Oct 29, 2014 from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM in Room 112 at GA
      • -- There will be few mobile devices (laptops & tablets) available for this session or attendees may bring their own device, if they wish to follow along during the demonstration.
    • Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM in Room 221 (Technology Training Room) at SP

These training sessions are listed in e-vents as 'Staff Only' programs and are OPEN for registration to all SCCCLD staff. Please speak with your manager if you need to arrange time to attend one of the training demonstrations.

Hope to see you there! If you are reading something scary for Halloween, you should be able to blog about it before the Trick or Treaters come knocking at your door!  :-)

Links from the Staff - Week of September 28 to October 4, 2014

Well, your co-workers have been at it again, posting fun and informative links for all to see and checkout!

  • Melanie F (KL Reference) posted "Greetings! FYI - PBS programming for this October... Enjoy!" (9/30/2014)
  • Laura W (ILL Dept) forwarded a link from ALA news saying "Here is a little quiz to determine which banned book best fits your personality. Mine is The Grapes of Wrath (not sure what that says about me?), which is amusing since I really did not like that book. I did enjoy the movie though :-) (10/01/2014)

Friday, October 3, 2014

One Blog to Bind Them - The Booklist Reader

The lovely and clever folks at Booklist and Booklist Online have launched a new one-stop access point for all their great blogs: The Booklist Reader

"Launched in September 2014, The Booklist Reader provides a single home for the respected and well-established Booklist Online blogs: Likely StoriesBook Group BuzzBookendsAudiobooker, and Shelf Renewal, all brought to you by Booklist Publications, a part of the American Library Association."

IREaDAlert - Newsletter # 137 - October 2, 2014, Keir Graff, editor for Booklist Online, describes the new site as "One Blog to Bind Them
Check out The Booklist Reader and follow all your favorite Booklist blogs at once!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Lit in the Lou - 1st Annual St. Louis Book Festival

Did you know St. Louis will be having it's first book festival in October? There will be author readings, book signings, writing workshops, exhibits, family activities, food, music, and more! Sounds like fun! 

Lit in the Lou
Friday, October 10-Sunday, October 12
Ackert Park & Walkway
Delmar @ Melville, UCity Loop

The full schedule of events for Lit in the Lou - the First Annual St. Louis Book Festival can be found at: 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Book Recommendation Sites

I recently read (or re-read) two readers' advisory articles from Public Libraries Online. Each mentions online book recommendation sites which may be of interest to staff and our customers:

Need More Romance? There's an App for That by Christyna Hunter on Publc Libraries Online - September 24, 2014

Your Role in Readers' Advisory by Brian R. Smith on Public Libraries Online May 29, 2014

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Links from the Staff - Week of September 21 - 27, 2014

The following links were posted for all staff this week:

  • Jim B (Director-SCCCLD) mentioned a Pew Research Center study on Millennials and Public Libraries at Adult Services meeting on Wednesday, Sept 24th. He said :"If you have not read the report I would encourage you to do so. It offers some very interesting perspectives on how those under 30 engage with libraries and think about the role of the library in their lives." (9/25/2014)
  • In a reply to Jim B's post, Laura W (ILL Dept) provided a link to "A similar study (which) was done by Partners for Progress of Greater St. Charles last November that, while not focusing on libraries, is specific to St. Charles County Millennials." (9/25/2014)
  • Melanie F (KL Reference) posted (9/26/2014) "It's drama time again on PBS!  Check out what's coming on this Sunday..."

    Thursday, September 25, 2014

    Science Fiction Book Talks

    One Wednesday morning, Sept 24th, there was a RATraining book talks session for the Science Fiction genre. The titles talked about were:

     Redshirts by John Scalzi 
    Sheri K (DE) really liked the book even though she is not a science fiction reader. When she learned it was read by Wil Wheaton (who also read Ready Player One, the RAT Round 4 Science Fiction benchmark), she borrowed the audio version from St. Louis County! [ NOTE to self: need to order the audio book for SCCCLD... :-) ] The story revolves around a TV show called "SSS Intrepid" and is a spoof of  the original Star Trek television series. Sheri said you don't have to be a science fiction fan to enjoy the book, would highly recommend it to anyone, and thought YA readers would like Red Shirts as well. Sheri's full review has been posted on the SCCCLD Book Challenge.

    Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear  
    Lisa K (KR) read and listened to the book; with the audio version, she occasionally found the dialogue hard to follow. The book starts out with no background build up - a young man wakes up from a frozen state, trying to pull himself free from a pod while being encouraged to hurry by a young girl, and proceeds from there. He is in one of three sections (hulls) of an enormous space ship, each of which wakes up at a different time. But things have gone wrong ... The story is written from the main character's point of view and the  author does a good job of tying everything together. Lisa said the book is very Sci-Fi oriented but believes Young Adults would find it interesting as well. Lisa's full annotation/review is also to be posted on the SCCCLD Book Challenge.

     Archetype by M.D. Waters
    Although Sue D (MK & Float) was unable to be at the book talks session she posted about her Science Fiction title on the SCCCLD Book Challenge.

    A book talk for After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress will be posted soon to the SCCCLD Book Challenge blog by Michelle N (CP). 

    Other Science Fiction book talk posts will be linked from Tales from the RAT Queen to their entries on SCCCLD Book Challenge as they show up on the blog.

    Tuesday, September 23, 2014

    Science Fiction Book Talks from SCCCLD Book Challenge

    Searching the 'Blog Archive' on our SCCCLD Book Challenge I found a some entries from staff for Science Fiction titles posted in 2011. Click on a title to read what your co-workers had to say about these books:

     Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

    Matched by Ally Condie 

     Cinder by Marissa Meyer

    Watch for links to other Science Fiction entries from the 'Blog Archive' of our SCCCLD Book Challenge in future posts. :-)

    Saturday, September 20, 2014

    Links from the Staff - Week of September 14 - 20, 2014

    Posted this past week by your co-workers in the district:

    • Louise P. Cheli (SP Reference) mentioned she "recently read Joyce Saricks article, "In Praise of Browsing," (Booklist Online) and as usual, (Saricks) had insightful observations, suggestions and ideas." (9/18/2014)
      • Display idea from Joyce: "...pull titles only from those bottom shelves, where good books languish."
      • Quotes from the above link: 
        • "Browsing also gets us into the stacks, where we’re more likely to come upon readers and to start conversations. Librarians behind the desk can seem forbidding, but librarians loose in the stacks are fair game, more open to conversations and sharing titles." 
        • "If we’re open to the power of browsing and the magic of serendipity, we become more open to all possibilities, more able to meet readers, listeners, and viewers wherever they are."
    • Posted by Anna Sylvan (MK) - a TED talk from Mac Barnett ...(9/17/2014)
      • "Childhood is surreal. Why shouldn't children's books be? In this whimsical talk, award-winning author Mac Barnett speaks about writing that escapes the page, art as a doorway to wonder -- and what real kids say to a fictional whale."

    Tuesday, September 16, 2014

    HAPPY 1ST ANNIVERSARY - Tales from the RAT Queen!

    On Monday, September 16, 2013, Tales from the RAT Queen opened with it's first post welcoming all SCCCLD staff to Round 5 of the district's RA Training program. The Readers' Advisory Training (RAT) Program post introduced the blog and talked about the great staff training workshop in August which kicked off the current round -- a program presented by none other than Duncan Smith of NoveList!

    The Round 5 genre study then began with participants reading 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill in preparation for a Horror book discussion to be held at the end of September. The blog continued on from there with new material being posted for each new genre session, allowing staff to expand their knowledge of books and learn new ways to assist customers with readers' advisory queries.

    To celebrate the first anniversary of the blog, I invite all staff to 'talk' about what title they are currently reading, viewing, or listening to and why they selected it. Use the Comments link below to share your title and join in the fun by expanding our readers' advisory training experience!

    Saturday, September 13, 2014

    Links from the Staff - Week of September 7 - 13, 2014

    Your co-workers out in the district often post links to interesting articles or information about events and programs on our internal listserv. I thought it might be fun to share those through the blog as well ... 
    • For all PBS viewers, Melanie Foster (KL Reference) posted the following (9/12/2014): "Barring any last-minute pledge drives , here's what's coming up on PBS, beginning tonight ..."

    Friday, September 12, 2014

    LibraryReads October 2014 Top Ten Announced!!

    And the winner is ... A Sudden Light: a Novel by Garth Stein (Published by Simon & Schuster)

    From the LibraryReads announcement:

    "Garth Stein has given us a masterpiece. This beautiful story takes readers on a thrilling exploration of a family estate brimming with generations of riveting Riddell family ghosts and secrets. This is a true exploratory novel, taking readers through secret passageways, hidden rooms, and darkened corridors that engage all of the senses."
    Whitney Gayle, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT
    The full list of October 2014 Top Ten titles can be found at:  LibraryReads 

    Thursday, September 11, 2014

    Penguin First Flights

    At the District's Discussion Leaders meeting in August, Penguin First Flights was mentioned as a good resource for learning about titles by debut authors. The program is run by Penguin using forthcoming debut titles with monthly live chat sessions hosted by Nora Rawlinson of Earlyword

    The titles vary from genre to genre, so one month the book may be a mystery or science fiction and the next month it could be literary fiction or fantasy. The main connection between the books is that they are always forthcoming titles by debut authors. 

    A few titles previously introduced in First Flights are: The City of Women by David R. Gillham, The Movement of  Stars by Amy Brill, The Yonahlosse Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani, The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker, Archetype by M. E. Waters, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal and Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer. As I mentioned before, the debut titles cover a wide range of genres.

    The October debut title is Unbecoming: a Novel by Rebecca Scherm - "a thriller about a small-town girl who charms her way into the world of international art fraud." (Penguin) The author chat session for this title will be held October 22 starting at 3:00 PM Central Standard Time.

    One of the perks of being a member of Penguin First Flights is receiving an ARC of the next title (for FREE!) in the mail - a month before the live author chat session. This allows participants time to read the book and be prepared for the chat session. NOTE: you are not required to submit comments during the chat, you can just 'lurk' during the session if you wish. This can be handy if you haven't finished the book but would still like to learn about the title and/or the author ... :-)  

    Participants receive email reminders ahead of each chat session and also have the opportunity to submit questions about the book (or the author) in advance.

    If you are interested in the Penguin First Flights program, click on the link listed under RECOMMEND SITES.

    Tuesday, September 9, 2014

    RA Branch Visit

    Monday, Sept 8th, I spent all day at our Kisker Road Branch having been invited by Diana T, the branch Manager, to attend the monthly staff meetings at 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM. In advance of my visit, Diana had encouraged her staff to sign up for individual 30-minute NoveList training sessions to be held throughout the day.

    For the staff meeting, I had 15 minutes to talk about readers' advisory, what it is, how staff can work together to assist customers, and suggest ways to prepare in advance for future RA inquiries. The NoveList training sessions were great fun! The  Kisker staff challenged me with their queries on how to use the database and I came away learning as much as they did from those 30-minute sessions.

    I would love to do similar readers' advisory training at all the branches in the district and plan to spend a day at other locations in the coming months. If you wish to arrange for an RA branch visit, have your branch Manager contact me at General Administration.

    Saturday, September 6, 2014

    SCCCLD Book Challenge

    Are you interested in posting to the SCCCLD Book Challenge blog but never know exactly what to say about the title you've read? 

    The guys from UNSHELVED (an online, subscription e-comic about life in a public library...) use an interesting format for their Friday postings. Click on the following link to see the format they use to review books for the weekly 

    From the examples in the link above, your annotation / review format might consist of the following elements:

    ----------     ----------

    Subject line format (recommended for SCCCLD Book Challenge blog):
    Title / Author / Page # / (Challenge/Bonus - if applicable)

    Plot description (2-3 sentences; could also include a cover graphic - if available)

    Why I picked it up:

    Why I finished it:

    It's perfect for: (Telling who you might suggest the title to and why you think they would enjoy it.)

    Readalikes: (Optional - but useful if you have one or more titles to suggest and why they could be appropriate readalikes)
    @bookblrb:  (Optional - a 110-120 character plot summary; great to use as a tweet!)

    ----------     ----------

    Another format you could use is the PRES technique mentioned in the October 29, 2013 post and explained on this blog under the Resources tab.

    If you're interested in participating in the staff reading challenge blog, contact Laura Pirondi at Spencer.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014

    SCIENCE FICTION - Discussion Questions & Book Talk Titles

    The staff genre study book discussion for the Science Fiction benchmark will be held Wednesday morning, August 27, starting at 9:00 AM in Room 112 at General Administration.

    A complete set of discussion questions for Fortune's Pawn have been posted under the Book Discussions tab.

    In addition, a suggested list of alternate Science Fiction titles to consider for the next meeting in September, has been posted under the Book Talk Titles tab.

    SCIENCE FICTION Book Discussion - Question # 6

    Now let's talk about appeal ...

    Will this appeal to female readers? Devi is female, but acts typically male. Will this turn off male readers? How will you entice various readers to try this series?

    Please enter your response by using the COMMENTS: link at the bottom of the post.

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014

    SCIENCE FICTION Book Discussion - Question # 5

    And what about the story ...

    Is there too much action and not enough explanation/world building? Does it really require so much shooting and blasting to make it a good story?

    Please use the COMMENTS: link below to enter your response.

    Monday, August 25, 2014

    SCIENCE FICTION Book Discussion - Question # 4

    What about the other characters in the story ...

    The Glorious Fool's crew is mixed with several alien characters. Are they relatable? Do they add to the story or are they just there for color?

    Please enter your response by using the COMMENTS: link below.

    Sunday, August 24, 2014

    SCIENCE FICTION Book Discussion - Question # 3

    What about characterization ...

    Is Devi a believable main character? Do her actions match her motivations to become tops in her field?

    If participating in the online discussion of Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach, please enter your response by using the COMMENTS: link below.

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

    SCIENCE FICTION Book Discussion - Question # 2

    Let's look at another aspect of the novel ...

    Can a romance be successfully mixed into space opera without alienating science fiction readers? How would you suggest this title to romance readers?

    Please enter your response by using the COMMENTS: link below.

    Friday, August 22, 2014

    SCIENCE FICTION Book Discussion - Question # 1

    The online book discussion for our Science Fiction benchmark, Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach, starts today! 

    I will be posting a question-a-day through Tuesday, August 26th so any and all staff can participate in this section of the Genre Study Program. 

    There will also be an in-person book discussion on Wednesday, August 27th in GA Room 112 starting at 9:00 AM for any staff who can and wish to attend.

    Now, the first question ...

    With a female main character who is in a typically male role (mercenary), does it change the way readers view her aggressive/masculine actions and speech?

    So everyone can follow the discussion, please enter your response by using the COMMENTS: link at the bottom of the post.

    A complete list of the discussion questions for this title will be posted Tuesday evening, August 26 under the Book Discussions tab

    [My thanks to Jessica Moyer, Assistant Professor, School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for generously supplying the discussion questions!]

    Scroll down for additional information about Fortune's Pawn, the SCCCLD staff Readers Advisory Training (RATraining) program, and our current Genre Study.

    Sunday, August 17, 2014


    The 2014 Hugo Awards were announced this weekend in London during Loncon 3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention

    FYI ... This year's Hugo winner for best novel, Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, is also this year's winner of the Nebula, British Science Fiction, Locus, and Arthur C. Clarke Awards.

    Saturday, August 16, 2014

    Genre Study Program - SCIENCE FICTION

    Just in time for the 2014 Hugo Award Winners to be announce, the Readers' Advisory Training Genre Study program is beginning it's sessions on Science Fiction!

    The benchmark for the SF book discussion is FORTUNE'S PAWN by Rachel Bach. It is a fast-paced, military sci-fi, adventure story featuring a "tough, sexy, armor-clad space chick ..." (Kirkus Reviews)

    NoveList description: "When professional mercenary Deviana Morris took the security guard job aboard the Glorious Fool, all she wanted was a fast route into the Devastators --- the elite league of armored fighters entrusted with the most important duty on her home planet of Paradox."

    The science fiction book discussion will take place on Wednesday, August 27 starting at 9:00 AM in Room 112 at General Administration. Any SCCCLD staff who are interested in reading Fortune's Pawn, copies are available for checkout on the district catalog (book or CD spoken) or by contacting Lucy, the RAT Queen at:

    For more information about Fortune's Pawn look under the Benchmarks tab.

    Thursday, August 14, 2014

    Crystal Gardens / Amanda Quick/ Audio Book 9 discs/ Romance

    Crystal Gardens by Amanda Quick is not your typical historical romance as the main characters are plagued with paranormal gifts that prevent them from leading a normal societal life.

    Our protagonist is Evangeline Ames, a female author and private investigator who has left London for the calm life of a country village after an attempt on her life. Her employers have forced her to take time out to recover her wits, enabling her to work on her novel.  However, trouble seems to follow wherever she goes, and when we first meet her she is fleeing out of her window from a man who wishes to murder her. This second attempt on her life sees her escaping from her cottage onto the grounds of Crystal Gardens, the country house owned by the mysterious Lucas Sebastian.  Whilst our heroine is investigating who could be behind the attempts on her life, Lucas is trying to discover who murdered his uncle, the previous owner of Crystal Gardens.  It becomes clear that their investigations could be linked, making Lucas and Evangeline work together to decipher the truth.

    Crystal Gardens is for readers who enjoy their historical romance with strong paranormal elements. This was my first experience with the paranormal-romance genre and I found I enjoyed listening to this book on audio. The narrator had a very dramatic way of reading it, though sometimes her voice sounded a little odd (especially when she narrated the male characters).  Her British accent was authentic and each character sounded distinctive.  Quick's books seem to lend themselves well to audio books. Her style is very focused on the mystery components, but the romance seemed to take a bit of a back seat at times.  That is not to say that the romance wasn't good. It was. I just expected more. I do feel that she emphasized the paranormal elements a bit too much, using the term 'psychical' excessively. Readers get the point about the paranormal energies and she could have added depth by building up the story in other ways. Descriptively, Quick excelled in her portrayal of the Crystal Gardens and its otherworldly atmosphere, truly transporting the reader there.

    This title is the first in the Ladies of Lantern Street Series.

    Similar Titles:  Touch of a Thief  by Mia Marlowe, Heart of Iron by Bec McMaster, Firelight by Kristen Callihan