Posted in libraries

Summer Library Tour Recap

As many of you know, I’m a librarian as well as an author. My library system, the Nassau Library System in Nassau County, New York, recently hosted a summer library tour. The tour started on July 1st and ran through August 31st. Prizes were awarded to patrons who visited 5, 15, 30, or 45 of the participating libraries. There was also a scavenger hunt item hidden at each library that visitors could search for, as well as a guest book that could be signed. Some staff members wore a special shirt with the library tour insignia that I loved because it featured two cats.

I thought it would be fun to participate myself, but I only managed to visit 8 libraries including my own. Even so, I met many great fellow librarians and learned of the myriad services different libraries provide. I hope to visit more next summer, although I don’t need a tour to drop by any time during the year.

The first library I visited, of course, was my own, the Hicksville Public Library, where I signed the guest book in the Children’s Department and received my map for recording, via yellow stickers, the libraries I visited.

The first library I visited after mine was the Bethpage Public Library. It featured the lunar module as the scavenger hunt item. I found two copies of the first book of my series, A Stone’s Throw, on their shelf.

The next library I visited was the Oyster Bay Public Library. I went there on my vacation, so I could also spend some time in the pretty, North Shore town that is home to Planting Fields Arboretum, Sagamore Hill, and Theodore Roosevelt Park and Beach. There are also some nice shops and restaurants in the area. They had a cute set up for the library tour near the scavenger hunt item which was a poster of the village. I also located two of my books on their shelves.

I visited the third library, Valley Stream Public Library, also known as the Henry Waldinger Memorial Library, after a book signing at their cozy coffee shop, Sip This. Their scavenger Hunt item was a 3D printed book.

After Valley Stream, I went to the Farmingdale Public Library and met Rachel and Dana, two pleasant librarians who pointed me toward a beautiful aquarium that contained their scavenger hunt item, a shipwreck. I also located the first two books of my Cobble Cove mystery series on their shelves.

Next on my list was the Syosset Public Library. I had previously participated in a local author fair there, and the first and third books of my series, A Stone’s Throw, and Written in Stone, were on their shelf with a “local author” sticker. I spoke with a nice man, Ed, the Head of Reference, and located their scavenger hunt item, a cut-out cyclops in honor of their upcoming Sy-Con event on September 13 and 14.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was pleasantly surprised at my visit to the Seaford Public Library when I was able to say hello to Director Frank McKenna, the husband of Donna McKenna, who had worked previously with me at Hicksville. I also met librarians Eric and Kristen who were friendly and welcoming. I loved the sign outside their door that said “Seaford Public Library: Your Doorway to the Past, the Present, The Future.” I was also happy to note that they also had the first two books of my series. Their scavenger hunt item was a map of their town.

The last but not least library I toured was Wantagh Public Library. I hate to admit that I missed the scavenger hunt item which was listed on the website as a “Wantagh Yesteday” painting. I will just have to go back to view it which won’t be a hardship because I met two nice librarians there, Jack and Ian, who were even kind enough to re-shelve my books that were split into two different areas. In addition to the first two books of my series, they also owned my standalone mystery/thriller, Reason to Die.

Although I didn’t complete my tour of all the Nassau Libraries, I was happy to have met fellow librarians and seen what other libraries offer in the way of services, collection displays, and library design. I was also able to view these places through the eyes of a patron.

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Posted in Conference, Monday blogs

A Librarian and Author’s Day at BookExpo America

It started on a clear Friday morning, the 2nd day of June, as I boarded an early train to Penn Station along with my friend and fellow Long Island author, Lisa Diaz Meyer, and her son and husband who were also on their way to BookExpo in New York City. Lisa was exhibiting her three wonderful dark-fiction collections while I was representing my library. Although, as a librarian and author I’d been to other local library and book-related conferences, this was my first time at BEA.

Lisa Diaz Meyer, my friend and fellow Long Island author, at her booth at BookExpo

Walking through the glass doors of the Javitz Center, I noticed the huge signs of publishers and booksellers such as Simon & Schuster, Ingram, Publisher’s Weekly, etc. People in business attire were walking around with coffee cups and conference schedules, their registration badges hanging around their necks identifying them as librarians, authors, editors, and others involved in the book world. Spanning four floors and including conference rooms, stages, and exhibitor booths, most of the action took place on the main level. That’s where Lisa set up her table with the other Indie authors. She had been exhibiting since Wednesday and planned to remain for BookCon which took over on the weekend.

Meeting Michael Connelly, a fellow member of International Thriller Writers, was the highlight of my day.

When I received my badge for the day, I was interested to see that it advertised Michael Connelly. As a librarian, I was familiar with the appeal of his books to thriller lovers. One of my patrons who once received books at home when she was homebound was a particular fan of his, and I always had a hard time keeping up with her request for his titles. When I learned he would be appearing at a booth that afternoon to sign copies of The Late Show, his latest release, I thought of Mrs. Nelson and knew she would love to receive her own autographed copy of this book. I made a point to attend the signing and, although the line was long, I managed to get the book, meet Michael in person, and even have a photo taken with him. It was the highlight of my day.

During BookExpo, I also attended the library programs that previewed upcoming summer and fall titles. At many of these, I was able to receive advanced reader copies of these popular forthcoming books. Since I order the fiction and mystery titles for my public library, I found these sessions very informative and knew they would help me select the most anticipated novels for my community. In addition, since we are starting an adult summer reading program this year, some of the ARC’s and exhibitor giveaways can be used as door prizes for our closing event.

Besides the signing with Michael Connelly, there were two other pleasantly unexpected events that happened to me at BookExpo. The first was discovering the Librarian’s Lounge, an oasis hidden away in the far corner of the main floor. Sponsored by Publishers Weekly and open only to librarians, this wonderful area featured food and refreshments throughout the day along with authors and book signings. In the morning, there were bagels and spreads with coffee; and, later in the day, a sweet treat of ice cream and cookies for tired librarians in need of a pick-me-up from the long day of walking around the conference center. During this afternoon break, several authors were also present to sign copies of their books.

The second nice surprise was the number of cat items for sale. At a conference for book people, I actually should’ve expected this. I picked up a black cat tote and a shirt as souvenirs and nabbed a free copy of a Grumpy Cat book.

At the close of the conference day, toting twice as many bags as I’d entered with, my friends and I headed to Penn Station for the train back to Long Island. Unfortunately, it was rush hour, no taxis were available, and the conference shuttle was nowhere in sight. We ended up walking, and I was glad I’d taken the advice of my co-workers and director and brought along a rolling suitcase and comfortable shoes. The day was still pleasant, one of the best of the season so far, so the trek to the station was an enjoyable end to a great day.

 

 

Posted in Books, Monday blogs

Why Most Indie Books Don’t Get Shelf Space in Libraries

A fellow author suggested I write this post to let other Indie authors and those who publish with small presses understand how books are selected for purchase by libraries. The reason I’m qualified to write this is that I’m a librarian at a public library and am in charge of ordering the fiction titles for our collection.

As part of my job, I select books from reviews written in publishing journals. Our library uses Booklist. Other popular professional journals include Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews. The books reviewed in these journals tend to be from the traditional Big 5 publishers. However, Booklist and Library Journal have both started adding sections devoted to self-published books. Kirkus offers an Indie Review service for a fee. Library Journal offers a database for local authors, Self-e by Biblioboard, that includes free downloads of self-published eBooks. Our library had previewed this database but did not feel it would be useful to our community at this time because we already use Overdrive, a popular library database for free eBooks.

How are print books selected for libraries? At our library, we divide ordering among the reference librarians. Books are primarily chosen through library journals as mentioned above and by patron request. We also order high-demand titles from the New York Times Bestseller List. Orders are placed through Baker & Taylor’s online ordering system. We receive a library discount for the books ordered. Unfortunately, most Indie books are not listed on B & T. For those we can’t obtain through them, we use Amazon.com. Some libraries use Ingram. Ordering budgets are set up for different types of books and materials – fiction, non-fiction, Audio, Video, Periodicals, etc. Depending on a library’s size, these budgets can be small or large. Our library serves a community of 40,000 people. However, not all our residents are library card holders, and we also welcome residents from neighboring libraries.

Even if a library stays within its budget, another factor needed to consider when ordering books is how much room is available on their shelves. Librarians are constantly weeding out damaged, old, or low circulating books to make room for new and bestselling titles. For this reason, they have to be selective. That doesn’t mean libraries don’t order any self-published or small press books. I often have local authors send me or bring in literature about their books. Some offer to donate the book if we place it on our shelves. The problem is that these books, if added to the collection, are rarely borrowed unless they are put on display or reviewed in our staff picks newsletter that is distributed in the library and also posted online. The reason is obvious. Without a name like Patterson, Grisham, Clark, Roberts, etc., a new author doesn’t yet have a following. These authors started out in the discard pile when they began and now some of their books are being reprinted to a larger audience.

So what should an Indie author or one who publishes with an Indie Press do to get their book in libraries? This is a question that I, as a librarian and author, have asked myself. While I’ve managed to have my books purchased by my library (of course, I’m the one in charge of ordering fiction), I haven’t had as much luck with other libraries. A few of the libraries in my county have purchased my books after I’ve made calls to fellow librarians, advertised in my library association’s newsletter, participated in an interview by my local paper, and done some author talks for nearby libraries. Since I haven’t had much success, I can imagine how difficult it would be for those authors who aren’t librarians.

But is having a library buy your book an important goal? Although some of the patrons at my library and also staff members who have heard me talk have purchased autographed copies of my books, most of them just borrow my books. That doesn’t do anything for my sales rating or my royalty checks. If I could get libraries across the country to buy my book, that would be another matter. There are 9,041 public libraries in the United States according to statistics from the American Library Association. This figure was last updated in 2014, so there may be more or less at this time. I wouldn’t mind 9,000 sales. But since many libraries are part of larger systems as my library is, there would be no need for each library to buy a copy when they could interloan or share it among their system libraries. That’s if there’s even a demand for it beyond the library that purchased it.

I figure that the reason libraries don’t purchase many Indie books is the same reason they purchase very few textbooks. According to a Bowker report, 700,000 Indie books were published in 2015. With these figures growing annually, it would be impossible for libraries (and bookstores, too) to keep up with the demand and find room on their shelves for these titles. However, if your book is of local interest, if it’s appeared in your local paper, or been reviewed anywhere (Amazon usually doesn’t count), or if you are a regular patron at your home library, you could give it a shot. It never hurts to try, and you never know, your book might be chosen for your library’s book talk group or staff picks newsletter. At the very least, it might end up shelved between some popular authors or in the local author section if your library has one.

 

Posted in Books, Cats

Announcing Sneaky the Library Cat’s Blog

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Sneaky the Siamese from my Cobble Cove mysteries complained that he was overshadowed by the human characters in the first book, A STONE’S THROW, even though he helped Alicia discover an important clue. Then, after he looked through my draft of the sequel, BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE, that is coming out soon, he wasn’t happy with the prime scenes I allotted him. Those who know cats are aware that felines can be very stubborn when they want to be, so I came up with an idea to appease his pride. I helped Sneaky start his own blog called Sneaky the Library Cat’s blog: Scooping the Shelves of Cat “Litter” ature. This blog, transcribed by me, will feature Sneaky’s interviews of other cat characters (and occasionally a special guest dog or other animal). It will also include timely news and articles of interest to cats and their humans.

Sneaky has had a large response from cats seeking to appear on the blog, but he is still on the prowl for more guests. If you’re an author who has a cat in any of your books who would like to be featured on Sneaky’s blog, please send an email to sneakylibrarycat@gmail.com.

To read about Sneaky’s venture in further detail, please visit his blog at:  https://sneakylibrarycat.wordpress.com.

Posted in Monday Blog

Where Do You Go to Pokémon Go?

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The loading screen of Pokémon Go
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List of captured Pokémon
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Pokedex
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Pokémon Store
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Inventory (shaded items can’t be used until available)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of, if not tried, the addictive mobile game, Pokémon GO. You’ve probably downloaded the app for your kids or given GO a go yourself. If you haven’t, you’ve probably been living under a rock because Pokémon GO is the latest craze and all over social media.

Unlike most games, Pokémon GO involves traveling in the real world.  According to my daughter, “That means your daily exercise that consists of pressing buttons and getting up to get Doritos and Mountain Dew from the kitchen, is replaced by getting up and doing something for once. Huge breakthrough.”

The main goal of the game is to capture different Pokémon to earn XP points, fill up your Pokédex, and move to the next level. You do this by flicking a ball at the Pokémon to capture them.  The higher the CP (combat points) of  a Pokémon, the harder it is to capture it.

The higher your level is, the more you can do. You also have an inventory of items, some of which are not enabled until you find or buy them. One inventory item is incense which can be used to attract Pokémon to your avatar. Of course, there’s a store where you can buy various items if you wish to or run out of balls and such.

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My avatar on the Pokémon Go map
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My Pokémon Avatar

I won’t go into the mechanics of the game much, as I’m still learning it. I only started a few days ago with my daughter and am on Level 3 at this point. As a noob, I have yet to be able to enter any Pokémon gyms because you need to be at least on Level 5 to do that. I’ve also just discovered that when you come to places designated as Pokémon stops (such as churches, malls. community centers, libraries, museums and other “interesting” places), you can pick up some items by swiping the image. You need to be close enough to do that. My own library where I work is one of the stops.

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My library is a Pokémon stop
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Churches and other community centers are Pokémon stops

Although some people are already pointing out concerns with the game such as safety because a GPS is used in the program, there are a lot of benefits. Instead of sitting around their rooms playing games on a computer or Xbox, kids can travel their neighborhood and get some exercise, fresh air, and knowledge of the area. Maybe when they stop at a library Pokémon stop, they will also pick up a book as well as some in-game items.

Pokémon GO can also bring families together. When my daughter asked me to accompany her on a Pokémon walk with her the other night because I won’t let her go out alone, I was so happy that she wanted to do something with her mother. As a pre-teen, she spends a lot of time in her room and avoids talking or interacting much with her parents. On our Pokémon walk, we found and  captured some Pokémon and even got to talk a little bit.  For those who don’t want to GO it alone, there are also teams and places offering Pokémon events at their locations.

Pokémon GO includes a tutorial that you can take when you sign up or access afterwards by entering the menu. To do so,  tap the poke ball at the bottom center of the screen. In the top right corner is a button called “tips” with a question mark next to it. When you tap it, it will bring you through the tutorial.

For additional information on the game, tips on playing it, and other hints, see the following sites:

http://www.pokemongo.com/en-us/

http://www.techinsider.io/what-is-pokemon-go-how-to-play-find-and-catch-pokemon-2016-7

http://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-play-pokemon-go/

This article was written with the help of my 7th grade daughter, Holly De Louise, who is my toughest critic.