Thursday, December 31, 2015

End of the Year Tasks

Photo by Dafne Cholet

Yesterday was my last day of work in 2015 and for the past couple of weeks, with schools out (no booktalks) and our winter programming break on, I've been concentrating on some end-of-year tasks that will have me in good shape when I return to work in 2016.

  • I updated my yearly meeting and program planning doc for 2016. I changed the dates, penciled in meeting agenda items, added dates for submitting program publicity to marketing and special tasks like booking summer performers and ordering prize books for Summer Reading Club. This way, as our department meeting approaches each month, I have a starting point to put together our agenda and I can make sure we have plenty of time to brainstorm program ideas, etc. 
  • I looked through our brainstormed list of book display ideas and penciled in twice-monthly display themes and started making the display signs. I think this is a task I may delegate to our new part-time person, so I only made the signs through March. While I love putting up book displays and I've found that we get the best results when we change them every two weeks instead of once a month, it was difficult for me to come up with display ideas on the spot. Planning them out and penciling in ideas helps, and of course we can always change it up if we have great ideas later in the year. 
  • We decided our monthly Reading Wildly topics at our last meeting and, together with one of my teen librarians, I have been finding and saving articles for us to read and discuss. 
  • As I completed annual evaluations with each of my employees, I made sure to print out a list of their goals so we can touch base throughout the year. 
  • I started working on compiling our 2015 statistics for the annual report we submit to the State. Of course, we were still doing programs yesterday so I don't have all the numbers yet, but I hope it'll now be easy work for next week since the bulk of the adding-up is done. (This year, I'm going to compile the stats monthly to share with stakeholders and to make it easier as we're putting together the annual reports next year!)
Unrelated, but still exciting: I finished our 2015 weeding this week, having discovered the magic of teen volunteers pulling weeding candidates. We're all working so many more desk hours now that we have two desks to cover that weeding has been a particular challenge for me. I'm hoping to spend more time in the stacks since we're getting additional part-time help this year. 

What end-of-year tasks do you find helpful? 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Reading Resolutions

I LOVE to make Reading Resolutions.

I am not the type of person who needs or wants to make a huge list of New Year Resolutions - I just feel guilty if I don't stick to them and it's hard for me to keep track.

But I love making Reading Resolutions. I love taking a little bit of time to look at what books I have read this year and how I feel about it. I think it's a great professional thing to do to decide where I need to expand my horizons and make some reading goals for the year.

In 2015, coming off my Newbery year, I did not make any Reading Resolutions. I didn't know how I would feel or what I would even be capable of reading after such an intense reading year. I ended up reading quite a bit more than I thought I would, although it definitely still sometimes felt like work.

As 2016 nears, I have been thinking about what kind of reading goals I might want to set for myself this year. In the past I have resolved to read more nonfiction (a habit that definitely stuck with me, as I now love reading nonfiction!), to read more books that I picked up through browsing rather that recommendations or reviews, and it seems like almost every year I resolve to read more adult books.

Our monthly Reading Wildly program helps kick me out of my comfort zone every now and then, so that will definitely continue. Here are the genres we're tackling in 2016.

I have a little bit of a sinking feeling about setting Reading Resolutions for myself this year. Life and work have been so busy lately that I feel like I've been neglecting this blog. I'm guessing and hoping that I'm in one of those fallow field periods that Donalyn Miller so eloquently wrote about. Lately I like the idea of reading and writing, but when it comes down to it I don't always pick up a book or log in to Blogger even when I have the time.

So we'll see what happens, but here are the reading resolutions I'm setting for 2016:

1. I'd like to read more Teen books. Now that our department is Youth Services, I'm working more directly with teens than I ever have and I got out of the habit of reading YA stuff with Newbery and all the elementary school booktalks we've been doing. In 2015 I read 38 books that I would consider teen and that didn't feel like enough, so in 2016 I'd like to read at least 50 teen books.

2. I sometimes have trouble picking up adult books since those are almost always purely for pleasure or my own interests and don't directly help me in my work. But since I'm trying to think of reading as entertainment, I'd like to read at least 25 adult books this year.

And I think that's going to be it for me this year. We'll keep it pretty loose and try to concentrate on having fun reading.

What are your reading resolutions??

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

15 Favorites for 2015

I couldn't post my favorites last year, so  this year I am definitely excited to share my favorites from this year. This is simply my from-the-gut favorites of the year with no attempt to balance and with the caveat that of course I have not read nearly everything that was published this year. You can see everything I read this year on my GoodReads page.

Anna Banana and the Friendship Split by Anica Rissi (Simon & Schuster, 2015). This transitional chapter book tells a friendship story, as so many do, but I was really impressed by how much the author showed about her characters in so few words.

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Philip Hoose (Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux, 2015). This is an exciting true adventure story that I just couldn't put down.

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate (Feiwel & Friends, 2015). This book made me feel all the feels. Katherine Applegate uses a deft hand to slowly reveal more and more about the situation and the characters' past.

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy (Balzer + Bray, 2015). The voice, the voice, the voice! I loved Dumplin's voice. This is the authentic fat-girl story I wish I had had as a teen (and as a 20-something).

Enchanted Air by Margarita Engle (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2015). The poems in this memoir are so carefully and beautifully crafted that I would not be at all surprised to see this collecting accolades at the YMAs.

The Great Monkey Rescue: Saving the Golden Lion Tamarins by Sandra Markle (Milbrook Press, 2015). This true story of scientists' quest to save the golden lion tamarins from extinction is a great book for animal lovers. I love the big, bold photos of these beautiful monkeys.

Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick (Random House, 2015). This graphic novel had me laughing out loud. It ends on a cliffhanger and you can bet I will be picking up the next installment.

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz (Candlewick, 2015). I know this book has come under some controversy (read the comments here), but the story seems almost tailor made for me and it's a perfect readalike for some of my all-time favorite books.

The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste (Algonquin, 2015). Not only is the creepy take reminiscent of another favorite of mine (Doll Bones by Holly Black), but it has been SO MUCH FUN to booktalk and the kids at my library have been clamoring for it since I began taking it to schools.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamison (Dial Books, 2015). This full-color graphic novel is full of girl power and a young protagonist who works hard to get what she wants. I love the storyline and the unstoppable main character.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes (Dial Books, 2015). I could not stop reading this book. It's a gripping story and once I finished I couldn't help but push it into the hands of my friends.

Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson (Candlewick, 2015). Quite simply, I think this book is a masterpiece. It's at once a fascinating biography, a testament to the power of music, and a riveting WWII story.

Terrible Typhoid Mary by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015). This riveting biography reads like fiction. I love icky medical stuff and this book fit the bill nicely.

Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Christine Hepperman (National Geographic Kids, 2015). Here's another fascinating biography with tons of color photographs and sidebars that provide me interesting information. I'm sold.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (Dial Books, 2015). I read this one waaaay back in January and it's stayed on my mind ever since. The way that Bradley shows us the characters is super impressive to me. This is my top Newbery contender.

We've all seen tons of "Best Of" lists for the year, but what were YOUR favorites this year??

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Reading Wildly in 2016

Yes, we will continue to Read Wildly in 2016! (More info on Reading Wildly, my staff reader's advisory training, here!)

Last week, my staff and I sat down to choose genres for our 2016 Reading Wildly meetings. I was really proud of the thought they put into it and I think we hit on a great mix of repeats (those genres many of us don't gravitate to naturally) and new-for-RW genres. Here's what we decided to explore this year:

January: Reader profile swaps (basically reader's choice, but you can read about what we're doing in this post)

February: Sports

March: Survival

April: Sad/Tearjerkers

May: Funny

June: Reader's choice, but Teen staff read something from Children's and Children's read something from Teen (and if you read equally, then you pick!)

July: Graphic Novels (always accepted, but my staff don't always choose them)

August: Transitional chapter books (2nd/3rd grade)

September: Nonfiction

October: Thriller

November: Gentle ("Clean" reads, although I hate saying "clean")

December: Fantasy

Watch my Reading Wildly page for updates on how these meetings go and what we read each month!

And what about you? What are the genres that are a stretch for you to pick up and read?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Reading Wildly: Fairy Tale Novels

Hello, blog. It's been awhile. Things have been a little crazy around here. But we are still reading! This month for Reading Wildly, my staff and I read fairy tale novels. Frozen, The Descendants... fairy tales are all around us and there are lots of opportunities to find readalikes for the books and media kids are loving.

Here's what we read: 

Confession: I missed most of our book discussion this month because I was at a meeting that ran way late. However, my staff were on the ball and shared their booktalks until I could join them. 

The second half of this month's meeting was spent discussing what genres and topics we want to tackle for next year and explaining the activity we're going to do for January's meeting. 

For January's meeting, I had asked everyone to fill out Becky Spratford's reader profile, as discussed on her awesome blog RA for All. I collected these before the meeting and at our meeting, we each picked one. I'm asking folks to work with their partners to come up with a list of at least 3 book suggestions by the end of next week. Then I'm asking everyone to read at least one of their suggested books for next month's meeting. I am hoping this will be a fun exercise and result in everyone having something enjoyable to read over the holidays and the beginning of the new year. 

I'm really excited to talk to everyone about their process in completing this activity and what they learned about themselves by filling out their own reader profiles. I typically leave January's Reading Wildly meeting as reader's choice since I know everything is so busy during the holidays and I think this is a great way to do that while still incorporating some RA practice and thought. 

We also discussed what genres we'd like to explore next year and I was really proud of my staff members for putting a lot of thought into this and making some great suggestions. Everyone was a little quiet at first when I asked what they'd like to feature next year, but once people started making suggestions, more and more came flying!