Librarian Tips

  •  Readers Advisory Header

    When someone becomes a librarian at the Provo City Library, they are trained to do something we call "reader's advisory." This means that we read an awful lot, and what we don't read ourselves we find out about from others (and the internet). So if you ever feel in a bind about what to read next, just ask a librarian. Chances are, we know the perfect book.

    Sad dog

    sad bear

    shocked cat

    challenge accepted

     

  • reading hacks

     

    Like a lot of librarians, I love books – really and truly I love books. I have blown off plans with friends THREE times in the past week so that I can finish a book I’m in the middle of. But guys, believe me when I say this: I am the laziest reader around.

    I recently vetoed a book club suggestion because it was 480 pages long – I got tired just thinking about all the work it was going to be to read that WHOLE book. Sometimes I’ll lie on my bed for hours doing literally nothing because I’m not jazzed about the book I’m supposed to be reading. Like, seriously, I will sit on my bed and stare at a book instead of reading it because that is how lazy I am. 

    Unfortunately, I am a glutton for punishment, so I set my Goodreads reading goal for the year at 250 books. (A goal which, as Goodreads is happy to remind me, I am currently about 44 books behind schedule on.) Even more unfortunately, I am also a children’s librarian who can’t just admit to younger library patrons that sometimes I am too lazy to read books. Can you imagine the horror if a ten-year-old heard a librarian admit this? 

    Instead, I’ve developed a few hacks for reading more and reading better. 

    1. Get it out of your head that you are a smarter, morally superior, prettier, stronger, or a downright better person by reading those critically acclaimed books that are soooo good but that you have no interest in. Sure, there is merit to challenging yourself through reading, but there is no merit in doing something you hate to impress people. Seriously, no one cares. Stop reading books you don’t want to read. 
    2. Middle grade fiction is where it’s at. When I told my book club that a 480 page book sounded really long, they laughed at me—so I laughed it off by pointing out that I read a lot of books intended for eleven-year-olds. I’ve been feeling bad that I was so apologetic about it because I am not. Middle Grade fiction—books aimed at children ages 8-12—is usually shorter, more concise, and much more straightforward than a lot of adult literary fiction. But don’t be deceived into thinking that you are losing quality: Some of those books are good! Like life-changing, stare-at-the-page-for-a-full-twenty-minutes-in-total-awe-good. If you’re still reluctant, ask yourself why you became a reader. I guarantee it was not by forcing yourself to finish a 19th Century Russian novel you hated; it probably started when you were in elementary school. Why not return to your roots? 
    3. This is the hardest thing for me to suggest, but if you are halfway through a book and you really can’t power through – step away. Maybe not forever. Don’t be afraid to shelve that book as “did-not-finish.” If you regret not knowing the ending, you can always come back.
    4. Go fangirl over a favorite book. Do you love Harry Potter? Don’t be afraid to read ALL the books and watch ALL the movies and DO ALL THE THINGS that fans do. Go hard. Maybe it will just last for a few days, but what a glorious few days they will be. 
    5. Sometimes my biggest problem is the amount of text on a page. My most recent reading funk was broken by trying to read more graphic novels. Switching up my genres helped me get back into reading and find a new way to identify with the youths. The same thing has happened when I’ve decided to read more infographic-heavy nonfiction, magazines, short stories, or whatever it is. 

    These are my tips for lazy readers. Have more? Let us know!

  • reading without walls

     Are you ready for a challenge? We all tend to get in an occasional reading rut where we choose the same kind of story over and over again – whether it’s the same type of characters, the same genre, or the same topic. I often hear parents in the Children’s Department wishing that their kids would branch out and try something new.  Well here’s a great opportunity!

    Throughout the month of May, the Children’s Department will be participating in a national initiative called The Reading Without Walls Challenge. As part of Gene Luen Yang’s platform as the 2016-17 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Yang is inviting kids to “expand their reading horizons” and is encouraging them to “explore books of diverse voices, genres, and formats.” 

    It’s simple, really: Yang is asking kids to step outside of their reading comfort zone in one of three ways for just ONE BOOK.  Anyone can try something new for one book! And who knows, your kids may just discover something that they really, really love. The challenge is to choose ONE of the following:

    1. Read a book about a character that doesn’t look or live like you.
    2. Read a book about a topic you don’t know much about.
    3. Read a book in a format that you don’t normally read for fun. Easy, right? 

    And parents, you can be a great example and branch out of your reading rut too.

    Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, Professor Emerita at The Ohio State University and 2017 winner of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, wrote an incredible and frequently-cited article describing the power of books to act as mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors in our lives. If you have a chance, it’s a read that I highly recommend if you haven’t given much thought to the lack of diversity in children’s publishing. Referring to this article, Roger Sutton of Horn Book Magazine beautifully conveys the value of Yang’s Reading Without Walls Challenge, saying “Perhaps even more daringly, the challenge asks us all, for at least one book, to put down (to use terms introduced by Rudine Sims Bishop) the reading mirror and open the reading window. Everybody needs some air.”

    So join us—I’m seriously so excited about this! Check out our Reading Without Walls-themed display case in the Children’s Department throughout the month of May and participate in the national challenge. Kids who participate can come tell a librarian at the Children’s Desk and then receive a certificate and treasure box prize for their awesome efforts. Let’s open some windows!

  • Music Books

    Music is important in our house. I play a little piano, my husband plays the guitar and ukulele, my children are taking piano lessons, and we all love to sing. We own a lot of music books and sheet music, but as much as I would love to have my own full music library, it isn’t possible.

    Thankfully, the library has tons of music! There are many compilations, anthologies and a huge span of books from classical to currently popular artists and musicals.

    I love checking out music from the library. It adds variety to what we own. I have a chance to try out music I am considering to purchase. I am not an accomplished pianist - I'm mediocre at best - and I often need to see if the book will be enjoyable for me to own, based on how well I am able to sight-read the music (though if I would just buckle down and practice more often I would be able to play the more advanced stuff). 

    Here are a few of my favorites from the library I have tried.

    2.12 NewsiesNEWSIES
    Composed by Alan Menken
    (1992)

    I was probably a little obsessed with the movie Newsies when it came out. My friends and I basically watched it every chance we could and memorized all the songs. The library has the original motion picture music as well as the new Broadway adaptation music book. I may have also recently shown the movie to my children and given my daughter the soundtrack on CD. It makes my heart happy to have the obsession continue to the next generation and have the music playing in my home. 

     

    2.12 The Man from Snowy RiverTHE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER
    Composed by Bruce Rowland
    (1982)

    When I was in high school I learned to play “Jessica’s Theme” and “The Man from Snowy River: Main Title Theme”. I just had the sheet music for those two songs. I love that the library has the entire book of music from the movie. 

     

    2.12 Disneys Princess CollectionDISNEY’S PRINCESS COLLECTION
    By Walt Disney Company
    (2002)

    This “Big Note Piano” version is available in the children’s department. If you have a princess lover, this is the collection for you. This is a simplified version even beginning piano students can successfully play. 

     

    2.12 The Greatest ShowmanTHE GREATEST SHOWMAN
    Composed by Benji Pasek
    (2017)

    Greatest Showman songs exploded last year. I loved that it was a well done movie, with amazing music AND I could share the entire experience with my children. We listened and sang along with the music together. It has been fun to extend our experience and fill our home with the music on the piano and guitar.  

     

    2.12 La La LandLA LA LAND
    Composed by Justin Hurwitz
    (2016)

    I have always loved musicals and I am glad they are popular again. Although I haven’t yet shared this movie experience with my children, I love tinkering around and singing along to the jazzy songs on the piano. 

     
  • DM 03242016 1290

    Have you ever sat your child down in front of a children’s video so that you could have some time to go and get dinner on the table?  Probably; most American parents have, but recent guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest this might not always be a good idea.  The guidelines recommend that children under the age of two should have no regular screen time, while children 2-5 should be limited to one hour or less per day.  The guideline references studies that show that small children learn much more effectively from live interactions, and that habits of longer screen time exposure can contribute to childhood obesity, sleep problems, and developmental delays.

    There is no need to throw away your TV and or tablet yet, however.  The guidelines do recognize that there can be educational benefits when children and parents watch or play on screen media together. If the parent and child are interacting in a positive way, the child is learning.

    Of course, reading with your young child is one of the best ways to develop good early literacy skills in small children. Talking, singing, writing and playing together are also important. If you are a parent/guardian of a 2-3 year old and would like to learn more about fun and creative early literacy activities, you might consider attending one of the Library’s Parent/Child Early Literacy Workshops.

  • “Metacognition” is a favorite word of mine that essentially means thinking about your thinking. It’s trendy now to refer to all sorts of things as “meta.” We can teach about teaching, read about reading, or write about writing. Well, today, I’m going to blog about a blog: it’s all very meta.

    The Children’s Book Review Blog is the place to get a virtual librarian’s help finding something great to read. Every day, one of the children’s librarians is assigned to highlight a great book from the children’s collection. So, of course, there’s a lot of great stuff on there.

    As a new librarian who just hasn’t gotten around to reading everything in our collection, I often use the children’s blog instead of the catalog when I’m trying to find a great recommendation for a patron. Here’s how it works:

    When you go to the blog’s homepage, you’ll find a simple layout with the most recent post appearing first. However, in the far top left corner is a search box where you can type in a book you’re curious about to see if anyone’s reviewed it yet. OR you can use the handy dandy list of labels to the right of the posts. If you have a budding paleontologist in your family, click the “dinosaur” label, and suddenly you’ll have a great list of some of our favorite books featuring dinos.

    Sometimes, I’ll have patrons who want recommendations about topics a little tougher than dinosaurs, but that’s ok because we also have labels for things like “family,” “friendship,” or “education.” Although, dinosaurs are cooler than any of those things.

    Check out the The Children’s Book Review Blog! And don’t be surprised when you find your next great read. 

     

  • reading aloud

    Getting a child “ready” to start school seems to be on every parent’s mind as they look at preschool registration. There are plenty of ideas about what children need to be ready to learn. Parents often ask, "What do they need to know? Have I taught them all the things the teacher will expect?"

    What if I told you the absolute best thing you can do to prepare a child for Kindergarten is read to them from the day they are born? Really. No need to spend time using flashcards when they are toddlers or preschoolers in a drill and kill fashion. Just start reading to your child early on—every day. If you don’t have a routine yet or didn’t start early, start now: read stories and books 15-20 minutes each day. Spend time engaging with your child by asking questions, pointing to pictures, laughing and crying at wherever the story leads.

    Research has shown time and time again the success of children who have been read to. Children who were not read to spend years making up for lost time. From ages 0-3 the brain of a child is forming, making connections, and soaking up all the information and experiences in life. The best time to start exposing children to reading and new vocabulary is during these early years. Do you need more information to help you start? These will get you going . . .

    1.31 Read Aloud HandbookTHE READ-ALOUD HANDBOOK
    By Jim Trelease
    (2013)

    You know when a book is on its 7th edition that it must have some good information! Jim Trelease has continued to update the statistics of his handbook that was originally released in 1982. He answers the why, when, and how of reading aloud. He includes stories of people who have been impacted by experiences with reading aloud to their children. There is a treasury of read aloud books in the back which Trelease updates in every edition, especially for those who are new to the idea of reading aloud and are wondering what books to start with. 

     

    1.31 Reading MagicREADING MAGIC: WHY READING ALOUD TO OUR CHILDREN WILL CHANGE THEIR LIVES FOREVER
    By Mem Fox
    (2001) 

    Fox’s enthusiasm for reading to children is contagious. This quick read is a perfect jump-start to inspire parents and educators to implement more reading aloud. If you already have been reading aloud to children, it is the reminder that what you are doing is important. When a child is between the ages of 0-3 the benefits are not always as obvious right away; it is reassuring to know that spending the necessary time reading aloud to children is worth it. 

     

    1.31 Thirty Million WordsTHIRTY MILLION WORDS: BUILDING A CHILD’S BRAIN: TUNE IN, TALK MORE, TAKE TURNS
    By Dana Suskind
    (2015)

    This is a heavily research-based guide on the importance of speaking and engaging with children in the early years. Suskind, a medical doctor, has found through her practice that the success of cochlear implants depend on the involvement of parents who spend time talking and interacting with their children. It doesn’t matter if the children have the ability to hear if there is no one helping them exercise those new abilities. Suskind started an initiative to educate parents, using what she has learned about the importance of her easily implemented “Tune in, Talk More, and Take Turn” program. Every child benefits when they have caregivers who know how powerful these simple ideas are in the life of a child.

     
  • here to help

    I recently took a phone call from a library patron who was interested in learning how to use some advanced functions in Microsoft Office software (Excel, Word, etc), but taking a formal class was cost prohibitive. This patron wanted to know if we had any resources that could help them.

    Oh do we have resources…

    Can I just tell you? Asking a librarian what resources are available for [insert task/project/assignment here] is one of the best ways to make us love you. We want to tell you all about the amazing resources that you can use for FREE!

    For this patron, I recommended four different resources:

    1. The Computer Help Lab which takes place Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00 – 5:00 PM in the Special Collections Room. This particular patron wasn’t available during those hours, so next I recommended…

    2. Book a Librarian. With this service the patron can request a time that suits them to meet with a librarian one-on-one to get individual help. The patron liked this idea, but was also interested in self-directed learning. So I also recommended…

    3. Learning Express Library, which has a lot of great resources that range far beyond just basic computer and Microsoft Office skills, including standardized test resources (ACT, ASVAB, GED, GMAT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT, Praxis, SAT, TOEFL, TOEIC, etc.), resources for becoming a U.S. citizen, basic math, reading, and writing resources, and so much more that this is just the tip of the ice berg.

    4. And finally, one of my favorites, Lynda.com. I don’t really know where to start when trying to describe the wealth of resources available on here. In addition to Microsoft Office courses, Lynda offers fantastic and professionally produced video courses on subjects relating to and including: 3D and animation, audio and music, business, CAD, design, courses for developers, education and e-learning, IT, marketing, photography, video, and the web.

    For the Provo City Library, providing our community with access to information, instruction, and learning is central to our mission. We are here to help, and want to make sure you are aware of the amazing, FREE resources available to everyone.

    The next time you come in, ask a librarian what great resources the library can offer, and watch their face light up.Just try it.

    I dare you.

  • writerfriendly

     

    Here at the library, we love having authors come to speak with our patrons about the books they've written. But one thing I've noticed at almost every single author event is that they also talk about the act of writing, and they give advice to others on how to improve their writing experiences. It strikes me as an incredible opportunity to hear from people in the trenches, who have a lot of experience and knowledge to share.

    Libraries would be nothing without writers and authors, and we try to support them here at the Provo City Library. I know several writers who come here regularly to write on our quiet floor. Each November we host a series of NaNoWriMo events to encourage and support writers in our community. Our Authorlink events are a great opportunity to meet with professional writers and get advice and maybe even a little cheerleading from them.

    We also have a few items in our collection that may help you on your path as a writer. I'd like to recommend these titles if you're looking to improve your craft or even turn your work into a profitable creation:

    THE WRITER'S MARKET
    (note: we also have Novel & Short Story Writer's Market, Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market, and even Poet's Market) 

    These amazing books are published yearly, and have thousands of listings for book publishers, magazines, contests, and literary agents. They also include interviews, articles, and advice from top writers and instructors.

    NO PLOT? NO PROBLEM!  A  LOW-STRESS, HIGH-VELOCITY GUIDE TO WRITING A NOVEL IN 30 DAYS
    by Chris Baty
    (2004)

    The founder of NaNoWriMo has written the definitive handbook for extreme noveling.  It's a mix of optimism and practical solutions that are perfect for both first-time novelists and seasoned writers.  It's the perfect kick-start to get your next novel written.

    READING LIKE A WRITER
    by Francince Prose
    (2006)

    Reading is a key tool for writers.  Prose invites you to take a guided tour of the tools and tricks of master authors. A heightened appreciation and understanding of their work not only leads to better reading, but better writing as well!

    stiefvater signing

    This picture is from a signing that Maggie Steifvater did.  I loved her advice and it's one of the best things I can recommend for up-and-coming writers!  Best of luck!

  • what to do winter

    True confessions of Carla: I hate being cold and winter can be a challenge for me.  I grew up in Utah, so freezing temperatures should be old hat.  But about this time each January, the excitement of Christmas is fading and our “Winter Wonderland” makes me wonder why I live here.   

    However, a couple years ago, a friend of mine encouraged me to take up skiing and since then I actually look forward to that first snowstorm and obsessively check the new snow accumulation at Utah ski resorts.  (Side confession: That friend was a cute boy and I wanted him to fall in love me…fortunately, I surprised myself and truly love skiing and he did in fact fall in love with me! So…big win/win!!)  

    The moral of this story is that winter becomes a whole lot more enjoyable if you take advantage of the great outdoor activities we have access to during those cold winter months.  So, where to start?  The Provo City Library has created a great list of winter activities and events just for you!  

    On our What To Do In the Winter page, after scrolling past all the amazing Christmas activities that you should really check out next year, you will find a whole list of ways and places to have fun in the snow and cold.  You'll find information about: 

    • Cross-country skiing
    • Sleigh rides
    • Sled dog rides
    • Snowmobiling
    • Snowshoeing
    • Tubing
    • Skiing
    • Snowboarding
    • Ice skating
    • Hockey  

    Don’t get cabin fever this year!  Get out and take advantage of the greatest snow on earth!

  • book club 2

    So you've put together a great group for book club, and everyone's excited to get reading. If it's your turn, hosting can feel intimidating, but hopefully these tips will help.

    1. Choose books carefully
      If you're choosing what the group reads, be thoughtful about your selection, and don’t leave it to the last minute. Be mindful of what the group will enjoy and have a good discussion about. It can help if you or someone else in the club have already read the book. That way no one is caught off guard by content and you know you'll have plenty of topics to discuss. If a few group members have already read it, don't hesitate to choose the book anyway. Chances are they'll enjoy the month off and will still be excited to discuss their thoughts.

      Be sure to mix things up as far as genre and audience go. Contemporary adult literature, historical fiction, and classics don't have to be your only options. YA and children's lit provide plenty of depth and a wonderful change of pace from typical book club reads, as do fantasy, science fiction, mysteries, and nonfiction.

      Still feel a little overwhelmed by options? Bring it to the group! Even though the host selects the book each month in our club, they typically discuss options with all of us before making the final call.

    2. Review the book before you meet
      Even if you’ve just read the book, doing a quick refresher on timelines, character names, and themes is a good idea. Sparknotes or Shmoop are perfect tools for this. I’ve been guilty of skipping this step and have been amazed at how much I’ve forgotten in the moment. It’s helpful to do as a book club attendee too.

    3. Plan out discussion topics and questions
      You might think discussion will happen organically, and occasionally it does, but more often than not, you’ll need a plan. Discussion guides are easy to find online for classic and popular books at sites like LitLovers and Reading Group Guides. Author interviews or biographical articles also add a great depth to conversation.

      If the book you’ve chosen is one of our library book club sets, you’re in even better luck. Even if you aren’t checking out book club set, we’ve already done the research for you and have discussion guides and relevant articles for each book available on our website (see an example here). 

    4. Let them eat cake (or buffalo wings)
      You don’t have to go all out, but refreshments can help loosen the mood and make things more fun. Don’t feel like cooking? My group often meets at restaurants, sometimes in ways that are vaguely related to the book (we met at Wingers while discussing CODE NAME VERITY, for instance).

    5. Allow time for casual chatting
      Book club is about books, but it’s also about friendship. We usually spend a good hour catching up on each other’s lives before discussing what we’ve read, and we don’t feel guilty about it at all. It’s all about finding a balance.

    Well, faithful readers, that brings our series on book clubs to an end. What did we miss? Why do you love your book club? How have you kept it alive and thriving?

  • Tips for the Compulsive Audiobook Listener

    It’s the beginning of September and I just finished my 90th book since January 1st. That is a lot of books, if I do say so myself.  I’m asked fairly frequently how I manage to get through so many books and the answer is that I listen to them.  I read physical books occasionally, but I admit to being an almost exclusive audiobook listener.  (Which it totally legitimate!  Don’t let anyone lit-shame you into thinking listening isn’t as valid as reading!  It is!!)

    Below is a list of a few things I do to facilitate my voracious appetite for audiobooks!

    1. Use Overdrive/Libby

    If you don’t already, you should really get to know the Libby app which lets you download audiobooks for free from your library!  It works a lot like Audible, so if you are familiar with that, Libby will be easy (and free)!  Learn more here.

    2. Give Up Bingeing on TV

    There was a time in my life when I watched a lot of television, and I loved it. However, over the past few years I’ve given up binge watching dramas and sitcoms to find time to listen to more books.  I have always been one of those crazy multitaskers and so switching my entertainment distraction from television to audiobooks wasn’t that hard and I have found I really like the trade-off.

    3. Embracing the Chipmunks

    With either the Libby or the Overdrive apps you can speed up the readers! This is really great because if you double-time that speed a 10 hour audiobook only takes 5 hours to actually listen to, which is great.  There are a few drawbacks in that some readers sound like chipmunks when sped up that much and if you are particularly fond of a narrator you can miss out on their delightful cadence or amazing accents.  So, sometimes I slow it down and just revel the experience and sometimes I speed it up and get to move on to the next book that much faster.  And you don’t have to go double time.  You can just speed it up a little, say 1.25 times the speed and you still save a good chunk of time.

    4. Don’t Get Caught Unprepared

    I always keep two audiobooks downloaded to my phone. Nothing is worse than finishing one and not being connected to wifi to start listening to the next one!  Hopefully your phone has enough memory to allow you to do this but the serious book listener should definitely consider getting a phone with enough memory to keep appropriately well-stocked with audiobooks.

    5. Listen Constantly

    This is probably an obvious tip. I listen to audiobooks while driving, while cooking, while cleaning, while feeding my newborn, while unwinding at the end of the day and playing mindless puzzle games on my phone.  I listen whenever I can.  It’s surprising how fast these little chunks of time add up to a whole book!

  • Tips for the Compulsive Audiobook Listener

    Feel like you'll never make it through your to-read list? Audiobooks to the rescue! Along with last week's post, these are my best tips for audibook fans.

    6. Remember Your People

    This is more of a warning than a tip. Although I recommend listening constantly, please do not do so to the expense of the wonderful people in your life.  Stop listening when others join you in a room or use headphones so they don’t have to listen to what you are listening to.  Just remember to be courteous and present…even if you are trying to sate your hunger for literature!

    7. Tuesdays are for Searching

    As you find audiobooks to listen to on Libby or the Overdrive App, you will undoubtedly have to place things on hold and then wait for your turn. The hold lists are seldom as long as they look, so hopefully you aren’t waiting too long, but as an insider’s tip:  New titles are usually added on Tuesday afternoons.  I like to search for new releases on Tuesday afternoon or evening  and hopefully get on hold for things before they anyone else knows they are even available.

    8. Keep “Always Availables” in Your Back Pocket

    Even with a carefully curated hold list, there may be times when everything you are SUPER excited to listen to is on hold and you need something to listen to NOW. This is where the Always Available (https://utahsonlinelibrary.overdrive.com/utahsonlinelibrary-provo/content/collection/29749) titles come in handy.  These selected audiobooks can be checked out any time and they are great for those days when you need something now.

    9. Don’t forget Books on CD

    As the popularity of downloadable audiobooks increases, we are noticing that our Book on CD collection is not being used quite as heavily. I will sometimes grab a Book on CD to listen to in my car, where I still have a CD player, while listening to something else on my phone when I’m in my home or while walking in the park.  CDs aren’t as convenient as they once were, but they are still a format that can come in handy and may be available faster than the downloadable version.

    10. Try Something New

    Finally, I like to encourage people to listen to genres they may not have enjoyed while reading. I can sometimes get bogged down in a thick nonfiction title, but as an audiobook, it seems to go much faster and I tend to enjoy them a whole lot more.  So, don’t be afraid to download something a little different from your normal fare.  You may just find a whole new category of books to enjoy!

    While your goal may not be to listen to over 100 books each year, using audiobooks to fit reading into your busy schedule is a great strategy.  Happy listening!!

  • Umbrellas text

     

    Last month, I found myself riding in an elevator with someone delivering an exhibit to the library. While there, he remarked, “Man! I can’t remember the last time I stepped foot inside a library!” Our conversation proceeded in the way you might imagine: 

    “Well you should visit more often! Libraries are awesome!”

    “Yeah, well, I mostly just listen to audiobooks.”  

    “You know you can check out audiobooks from the library, right?”  

    “Sure, but I just like to listen on my phone.”  

    “Well if you download the Overdrive App, you can get them on your phone.”  

    “Yeah, I just use Audible.”  

    “But you have to pay for that.”  

    “No, I just do their free listens. They’re not always great, but they’re free.”  

    At this point, I’m trying not to be a little exasperated, “But you could get great stuff for free!”  

    “Well, I mostly play Candy Crush.”  

    I can’t tell you how often I’ve had this conversation. Too often. Or how many times I tell someone the kinds of things I do for work and they say, “Wait, the library does that?!? That sounds amazing!” I’ve started to consider myself a kind of missionary for the library, just trying to help people see that the library is here for them. 

    The library is here for you. It’s not just here for kids; it’s not just filled with books (though it is for kids, and we have lots of books!). It’s here for you, and it’s filled literally and figuratively with tools for you to succeed and enjoy your life. 

    Sometimes even our faithful patrons don’t realize all the amazing things the library can do for them.  Please indulge me for a moment as I wax passionate about some things happening in the library that I think you really shouldn’t be missing. Maybe you’ve heard us talk about them before; maybe this is the first time. Either way, if I ever meet you in an elevator and we decide to talk instead of awkwardly avoiding eye contact, here are the things I’ll tell you not to miss: 

    LYNDA.COM

    As a former film student and a dabbler in design, animation, photography, and filmmaking, I’m not sure if I can adequately express just how awesome this is.

    Lynda.com is hands-down the best collection of online tutorials to learn just about anything you can do on a computer. I’m the daughter of a do-it-yourself master, and sometimes I like to think that I can teach myself to do anything. Then I sit down with a Lynda.com class and realize that in just 15 minutes I’ve learned more about the basic functions of Adobe Illustrator than I’ve learned in over a year of unfocused tinkering. Lynda taught me simple ways to do things that I thought were really complicated in the Adobe Suite of programs. It can do the same for you. Don’t be stubborn like me; let Lynda help.  

    I plan to use Lynda.com to up my photography game in the next year. What will you learn with Lynda?  

    (Still not convinced? Here's some more information about why Lynda.com is amazing! Prefer to be convinced through numbers? We've got those too.)

    THE ATTIC AT ACADEMY SQUARE  


    The Attic is the hidden gem of the Library, a sleek, modern exhibit space housed in the attic of our gorgeous historical building. Accessible only by elevator, The Attic hosts traveling exhibits from all around the country. A visit to the Attic is a great family or date night activity, and we do our best to provide interesting supplemental activities for each exhibit. You can check our website to see what exhibit is up right now.  

    LIBRARY NOTIFICATIONS THROUGH TEXT  

    It may shock you to learn this, but working at a library doesn’t magically cure my lifelong inability to remember when my library books are due. Thankfully, I’ve set up text notifications that tell me when I have books that will be due. Even better? I can text back a response to renew my books (as long as they’re not on hold for someone else). I wish I could say that I always remember to bring my books back on time, but with this I at least remember to renew them so they’re not quite so overdue.  

    MONDAY NIGHT @ THE LIBRARY  

    Do you like free music, dance, and theatre performances? What about magic? Or professional storytelling? (If not, I have a follow up question: Are you a zombie?) Our Monday Night @ the Library performance series features local musicians, dance groups, theatre for young audiences, and more the first and third Monday of every month from September–May. Performances begin at 7 pm and are always free.  

    In addition to our performance series, our Children’s Department also hosts Make and Take Crafts on the second and fourth Mondays each month from September–April. Again, it’s all free.  

    So come to the library! Utilize our online resources! Realize that the library is here for you, and we’re here to make your life better. 

  • Book Disaster 628

    I know we don’t even like to think of it, but sometimes when you check out a library book, disaster strikes. 

    I remember when it happened for me; I was in graduate school, and had to do a book review of a new title in my field. I wasn’t particularly enjoying the book, and left it on the back of the couch while I went to take a shower. Apparently, I was sending out some serious, “I don’t like this book,” vibes, because when I came back downstairs I discovered that my new, adorable, naughty puppy had ripped the back cover to shreds. This was frustrating because not only did I have to pay for the book, BUT I DIDN’T EVEN LIKE IT! Proof positive that adorable puppies can ruin your life. 

    We know that accidents happen: your toddler got too excited to turn the page; you did not anticipate the sauce splatter from your spaghetti dinner; your relaxing bath was interrupted by a spider and the book fell into the tub during the mighty struggle. 

    So you damaged a library book: now what? I talked with our circulation and book repair department to help you navigate those troubled waters as gracefully as possible. 

    Q: Actually, let’s get this one out of the way first: what if I notice that a book has damage that I didn’t cause? How can I avoid being charged for it? 

    A: If you notice an item is damaged, the best thing to do is to bring it in and talk to the clerks in the circulation department. Show them the damage, and explain that it was like that when you checked it out. If you aren’t able to come in, place a sticky note near the damage in the book (but sticking out so it’s noticeable) with a note that says the book was damaged before you checked it out. The worst thing you can do in this situation is to just turn it back in via the book drop without saying anything; if our clerks notice damage when they’re checking the book back in, they will see who checked it out last and hold that person responsible. 

    Q: Okay, I admit it. The damage is my fault. What now?

    A: Bring the damaged item to the Circulation Desk and we will go over the damage with you. If we determine that the book is no longer fit for circulation, you will be charged for its replacement. Once you have paid for the item, it is up to you if you keep the book or give it back to us. If you give it back to us, we will discard it and it will be placed in our Used Book Store.

    Q: How do you determine the fee for the book?  

    A: The fee for the book is based on the list price for the book when it was purchased. 

    Q: I’m going to be honest: sometimes that seems like a lot. Can’t I just buy an identical copy and donate it instead of paying the replacement fee?  

    A: Nope, because we need to make sure it really is an identical copy. The replacement fee also covers the staff time of locating, ordering, and processing the book for our collection. 

    Q: Why do you keep circulating books that you know are damaged? I’m sick of getting blamed for damage that other people cause!  

    A: If the damage is minimal, sometimes the book can still be used. Circulating gently damaged books is a way for us to keep costs down so we can buy more new books instead of paying a lot of money to replace old ones. Again, if you notice damage, please either bring it to the desk or put a note where the damage is and we will make sure you’re not charged for it. 

    So the overriding message from our conversation is this: if you notice book damage, whether or not you caused it, please talk to us! We’re here to help. 

    Also, keep your books away from puppies. They’re the worst.

  • when I grow up

    I like to tell people that working at the library is the dream job I never knew I wanted. Let me explain. 

    I grew up coming to the Provo City Library – it has been my library since it moved to Academy Square, and even before that I remember going to the old library on Center Street. My family would visit the library at least once a week, and we would leave with armfuls of books and VHS tapes. My mom was a stickler for “summer learning,” and so once school let out we would come by even more often – we would earnestly participate in the summer reading program, we checked out educational videos (I’m not kidding - my mom was really invested in expounding on our intellect during the summer), and my sister and I would go to library programs to make crafts – some of which my parents have still saved.

    I think the library meant more to me than my siblings - when they all got interested in sports, I stayed interested in books. When they grew up and went to college and stopped visiting the library, I would still find reasons to go. I stopped reading as much, as people tend to do when life gets busier, but even then I would still come and check out CDs or DVDs regularly. This library has always been a special place for me. I still have a copy of my favorite book from childhood – BOSTON JANE by Jennifer L. Holm– that I won at a children’s program when I was in fourth grade. When I was choosing my prize, I remember the librarian in charge of the program guiding me towards that particular book –

    “You’ll really like this one,” she told me, “since you like historical fiction.”

    She was right. 

    Now that I work at the library, I strangely feel like my life has come full circle. I like to sit at the reference desk and smile at the families leaving with arms full of books and DVDs (some things do change) and I love recommending books to readers in the hopes that I’ll manage to find a new group of kids their favorite novel. I really do love watching the kids running around the children’s section or coming into the programs I teach and hoping that someday they will learn to love books and this library in the way that I do.

    I never imagined myself as a librarian, but after all the good the library has done for me it only seems fitting that I would feel right at home working here. The dream job I never knew I wanted, if you will. 

     

     

  • book club

    January 5th will mark my book club's four year anniversary. Team Don’t Read Crappy Books (sorry about the name, but we have T-shirts and everything – we think we’re funny) has hit a few bumps along the way, but I can still confidently declare it a rousing success.

    In my next post I’ll share some tips for keeping your book club alive, but it may just be that you need convincing to join one in the first place. With that in mind, here are my top five reasons to start or join a book club:

    1. TO DEVELOP FRIENDSHIPS
      Book clubs offer a great way to make new friends or, as is the case for me, to stay in touch with old ones. After years of talking about it, my college friends and I finally got around to starting one in 2014 because we were finishing school, changing jobs, starting families, and spreading out throughout Utah and Salt Lake Counties. We weren’t seeing each other as often, and book club provided a structured way to get together regularly. Those ladies are my closest friends, and I think meeting every other month for book club is a significant part of that.

    2. TO EXPAND YOUR READING HORIZONS
      It’s easy to get stuck in a personal reading rut and avoid new genres, but in a club of diverse readers, you’re sure to avoid that. There have been a few books chosen by my club members that I never would have read on my own and initially felt wary about, but they’ve ended up sparking great discussion. Book club sometimes forces me out of my reading comfort zone, and that’s a good thing.

    3. TO HAVE REQUIRED READING
      This might sound weird (who wants homework, right?), but hear me out. As a librarian, I read constantly, but when Team Don’t Read Crappy Books was founded, I was in the midst of grad school and barely found time for recreational reading. Our club forced me to prioritize reading, and it was a delight to read for fun without feeling guilty about it. 

    4. TO THINK ABOUT BOOKS IN A NEW WAY
      Outside of school, we sometimes get out of the practice of reading critically. Knowing that an in depth discussion is coming causes me to look for themes and profound quotes and to think them through more deeply than I might when just reading casually. I love hearing my friends’ perspectives and often leave our meetings with an entirely different approach to the book than I came in with.

    5. TO PLAY MATCHMAKER
      Books are my friends. I always wait anxiously for my chance to choose our book club read (it’s my turn again soon!) because it’s an opportunity to introduce the people I love to the stories and words and characters that mean so much to me. What could be better than that?

    So, in the spirit of New Year's resolutions, why not start a book club of your own in 2018? We even have book club sets to make it easier.

  • wildgenres

     

    Books at the Provo library (as you may know) are divided up into fiction and nonfiction, and then fiction is further subdivided into general, mystery, romance, and sci-fi. Ideally, this categorization makes it easier to browse and find books. Sometimes, however, it’s hard to decide where a given title or subgenre should be. I’ve composed a short guide for the dedicated literature quester to help track their quarry down in the stacks.

    SCIENCE FICTION

    Despite the name of this collection, the vast majority of the works contained therein are actually some variant of fantasy. Another name for this collection type is speculative fiction; whether science or magic, the idea is to picture a world fundamentally different from our own in some way. In our collection, in addition to the many subgenres, we actually have a unique classification for Star Wars, Star Trek, and the Forgotten Realms books.

    Here you'll find: 

    • Epic Fantasy
    • Military Science Fiction
    • Dystopia/ Post-apocalyptic
    • Urban Fantasy
    • Women’s Fantasy
    ROMANCE

    It’s ok for love to be in the air, just as long as our books aren’t! Most stories have romantic elements or sub-plots, but our romance collection reserves its space for those books where love stories and romance are the main focus of the story. Our romances therefore are almost a slice of every genre, since a love story can take place within the backdrop of deep space, a cooking mystery or anything between.

    Some of our more popular subgenres are:

    • Regency romance
    • LDS romance
    MYSTERY

    “If there was a problem, yo, I'll solve it! Check out the [book] while my DJ revolves it!” Even Vanilla Ice is into our mystery section. From the classics to the culinary mystery trend, our collection strives to cover all the bases. See if you can find one of each:

    • Animal sleuths (cats & dogs)
    • Christian Mysteries
    • the Classics
    • the Cozy
    • Crafting: antiquing, knitting, flower shops, etc.
    • the Culinary
    • the English Mystery
    • the Historical Mystery
    • Noir Crime
    • Paranormal Mysteries
    • Police Procedurals
    • Senior Sleuths
    • the Whodunit
    GENERAL FICTION

    By far the largest collection, our general fiction section can seem eclectic. I promise though, there is a method to our madness. The nature of general fiction stems largely from its purpose as a home for genres out of place in other collections; hence you will find:

    • Horror
    • Thrillers
    • Chick Lit
    • Historical Fiction
    • Inspirational Fiction
    • Westerns
    • Classic Literature
    • Mixed and indeterminate genres 

    Two collections we haven’t discussed are the young adult and the Spanish sections. We work very hard to maintain and expand these sections, but we don’t segregate genres within them. Both collections do have a new books display, and you should definitely check them out! 

    Happy hunting!

  • Encyclopedias

    School is in session and that inevitably means homework. Last year, my first grader came home from school and informed me that he had a report due in a few days, and that he needed to research an animal of his choice and use reputable sources for his information. When I was his age, I would pull an encyclopedia off our bookshelves, but these days physical sets of encyclopedias are expensive, quickly outdated, and almost obsolete. Before I panicked, I remembered that with my Provo City Library card, I have access to World Book Encyclopedia online (http://www.provolibrary.com/a-z-resources-list/list/alpha/w).

    As my son and I researched his report, I realized that we have access to five different versions of World Book! Here is a little summary of each:

    World Book Online

    This option gives you access to all the other versions as well as Timelines and eBooks.

    World Book Kids

    This was the obvious choice for my little guy. This version is filled with fun graphics, easy to understand articles, and even games and interactive maps.

    World Book Student

    This version is geared toward elementary and middle school students. The information is a bit more detailed than the kids’ version, and it comes with neat tools like an option to sign in and save your research, as well as a citation builder that helps students create MLA, APA, and Harvard citations.

    World Book Advanced

    Here we have the graduated, grownup version of the encyclopedia. This no-frills edition has a more advanced search tool, and links to primary and secondary sources.

    World Book Spanish

    As expected, this version is in Spanish and is geared toward Spanish speaking students. The interface targets young kids and has activities and games as well.

    Wikipedia is awesome, but sometimes you need resources that are a little more curated and that is where World Book steps in to help!  Each of these portals provides quality information that is easily referenced and designed for its specific audience. 

    Sometimes, I’m a little nostalgic for that physical encyclopedia set of my childhood, but hopefully my son will build memories too as he discovers the wonders of information in a format made for his generation.

  • vhs danger 01 1

    I was shocked a few months ago to learn that my VHS tapes are in danger. While I thought that they had another few decades of life in them, it turns out that 15-20 years is about the healthy age range you can expect. The reason for this is their magnetic fields, which fade over time until the magnetism is so weak that the tapes become unplayable - and it’s not possible to get it back. Most tapes were recorded in the 1980s and 90s, which means now is the time to save them!

    If your VHS tapes aren’t stored carefully, that lifespan can be even shorter.  “VHS tapes degrade easily from exposure to heat and humidity, causing poor tracking, reduced color saturation, and static.  Many tapes stored in attics or garages break during fast-forward or rewind operations.  Unless the case unscrews, which is rare, there is no easy way to repair the tape" (Saving Stuff: Digital Preservation for Family Historians, pg. 19. Computers in Libraries, April 2017).

    Before you break out in a sweat thinking of all the childhood memories stored on tapes hiding in a closet somewhere in your house, you should know that there are plenty of services out there to digitize tapes, including a VHS converter we have right here at Provo City Library. The best part is that it’s free to use!

    I have been bringing in a few tapes at a time to convert, and the process is easy enough to do yourself, although our librarians can also walk you through it. It’s pretty magical seeing memories I haven’t thought of in 20 years come back to life before me. Even if the tapes weren’t expiring soon, the thrill of re-visiting important moments from my life and sharing them with family and friends online has been worth the time.

    You can call 801-852-7681 to make a reservation to use this equipment any time the library is open. We also offer audio transfer services if you have old LPs or cassette tapes (those cassettes were created with magnetism just like your VHS, and will be fading soon, too!). More about our digital transfer services can also be found by visiting this page.