Why We Need Diverse Books

screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-5-07-57-pmIn your wanderings around the internet, you may have seen references to “diverse books”, maybe even noticed the hashtag #weneeddiversebooks. What, exactly, is this all about, and how did it become a “thing”? In a Twitter exchange in 2014, YA authors Ellen Oh and Malinda Lo discussed their frustration with the lack of diversity in children’s and YA literature. Several other authors, bloggers, and others in the book industry joined the conversation, and a movement was born.
 This is not a new subject. In Nobel Prize- and Pulitzer Prize-winning American jacket-aspxnovelist Toni Morrisson’s debut novel, The Bluest Eye (published in 1970), the character of Pecola Breedlove prays every day that she will wake up with white skin, blue eyes, and blonde hair, despite the fact that she is an African-American girl. She reads “Dick and Jane” books, plays with white-skinned dolls, etc., and gets the subliminal message that white is normal, better, best. Percola didn’t see herself reflected in the books she read, which lead to her assumption that she was less-than.
Why has diversity in literature (in particular, children’s lit) become such a cause? It has long been established that the world of fiction is a lot whiter than the real 20141021193246-wndb_infographic_squareworld. Today, so many kids and teens learn about the world through the media they consume: books, movies, magazines, etc.  As our country gets more and more diverse, shouldn’t our reading material follow suit? And it’s not only children of color,  physical challenges, or atypical family situations that benefit from diverse books. It’s a well know fact that fiction reading increases empathy in the reader, and reading about primarily white characters and culture can contribute to “otherness” and preconceived notions that turn into prejudice. How much better to foster empathy and understanding early in all children with diverse books.
Where to begin? Here are some books recommended by WNDB to get you started. Let’s make 2017 a diverse reading year!
Young  Adult Books:
screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-4-46-46-pmX : a Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon
The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore
Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac
Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
Middle Grade Books:
screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-4-55-56-pmBlackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly
The Red Pencil  by Andrea Davis Pinkney
The Way Home Looks Now by Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Picture Books:
screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-4-56-52-pmBeautiful Moon by Tonya Bolden
The Twins’ Blanket by Hyewon Yum
Tutus Aren’t My Style by by Linda Skeers
Red: a Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

Library Extension for Google Chrome makes finding library books even easier!

We’ve just discovered something new – an extension for the Google Chrome browser that allows you to find books, music, and more at your local library as you browse the internet. That’s right, you don’t even have to be on our library website to see if we have a book you want! It’s called Library Extension, and it currently works only with the Google Chrome browser, but will soon be available for Firefox, as well.

four-browser-iconsIf you’re thinking “what’s a browser?”, it’s the program you use to enter (and browse) the internet.  Windows computers usually come with Internet Explorer as their default browser, and Macs come with Safari as their default browser. Firefox and Google Chrome are two other browsers that can be installed on your computer, as well. “Extensions” are  small software programs that can modify and enhance the functionality of the browser.

The “Library Extension” extension is kind of cool. Say you are looking up a book on Amazon:img_9326

Library Extension appears on the right side of the screen and tells you if your local library owns the book. You can even place a hold on the library book right from Amazon!

Similarly, the extension works with GoodReads:img_9327

In this case, the library holdings show up below the book description. Library Extension currently works on Barnes and Noble and Google Books sites, as well.

Try it out, it could make it easier to save some money on books this year. Borrow before you buy!

The Oscars of Audiobooks – the Audie Awards

I am a big audiobook fan, and I’m not the only one! Audiobooks sales are booming. In fact, audiobooks are the fastest-growing segment in publishing . Much of this surge in popularity can be related to the increasing popularity of the digital download,  though most audiobooks are available in both cd and digital formats. The production quality of audiobooks has also increased dramatically in recent years, with accomplished performers bringing their talents to the audiobook realm. Not surprisingly, publishers are producing more and more audiobooks – look how the publication of audiobooks has grown:

Capture1Recently, the Audio Publishers Association released their finalists for the 2016 Audie Awards. Once a smallish gathering of industry insiders, the Audies have taken on a lot more prestige these days. You might call them the Oscars of the audiobook world! There are a total of 135 audiobooks in 25 categories competing for awards this year, and the winners will be announced at the annual Audies Gala on May 11. We own many of the nominated titles, here are some in the most popular categories:

imageBest Female Narrator:

imageBest Male Narrator:

imageNarration by Author:




You can see the list of finalists in all categories, and even hear short sound clips, here.


Our Year in eBooks

We had a lot of eBook readers at Cheshire Library in 2015! Over 1000 unique users  checked out close to 8000 eBooks from our main digital catalog, OverDrive.

Here’s a breakdown our year in eBooks:

eBook Infographic-2015

Kindle was the preferred download format by a wide margin, and Go Set a Watchman was far and away the most downloaded eBook in our OverDrive collection in 2015.

Although OverDrive has our largest collection of eBooks, don’t forget that we also have ebooks available for download (with your Cheshire Library card) from our OneClick Digital and hoopla catalogs. Our “eLibraries” are open 24/7, you can check out books, movies, music, and magazines right from home whenever the mood strikes,  and the items return themselves, so there’s never a late fee! Head to the “Download It!” link on our website to learn more about our digital collections.


Behind the Scenes at CPL – Circulation

In previous behind-the-scenes posts, we’ve talked about collection development (acquiring materials), and cataloging (preparing acquired materials for the shelf). You might think that the librarian’s job ends once an item is safely on the shelf. Nope, once we own an item, our next task is to get it into your hands! This is the main objective of the Circulation Department, but really everyone on staff, no matter what department, takes part in promoting and maintaining our collection.  Let’s take a look at some of the ways we do this:

Shelving.  Having a library full of great materials won’t do us any good if people can’t fintumblr_inline_nruastxzs41sbaj14_500d them. To that end, shelving is critical. Getting items back to the shelf as quickly as possible after they are returned is the main job responsibility of our Pages. They know our shelves inside and out, and keep them in good order. When they are not shelving, you will often find them shelf-reading, going through the shelves to make sure that books are where they should be and in the proper order. With over 100,000 items in our collection, this is no small task!

Highlighting Materials. With so many items on our shelves, browsing through them can be a bit overwhelming! We often highlight smaller sectPhoto Sep 16ions, whether it be small displays at the ends of the shelves, or larger separations by genre. For example, you probably know that we keep our newer materials separate from the rest of the collection, but did you also know that we separate Mystery and Science Fiction from the rest of Fiction? Or that Romance Paperbacks have their own section? Classics and Comedies are highlighted within the Feature Films DVD section. And don’t forget to check our Staff Picks section for book recommendations from our staff!

Holds and Reserves. Holds and reserves take up a lot of staff time. We get reports twice daily that list items that patrons request – and that list is long! Any requested item that is on the shelf must be searched for, pulled, and trapped for the patron who requested it. If the patron is from Cheshire Library, we then notify them and place their hold(s) on the Hold Shelf in our Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 12.28.17 PMLobby. After 5 days, if the item has not been picked up, it gets returned to the shelf, or passed on to the next person on the waiting list. (You might be shocked to know how many people never pick up their holds – we are!)

Holds for Cheshire patrons are only half the story, though. We also receive requests for inter-library loans from other libraries in our consortium. A lot of them! We get and receive dozens of inter-library loan items every day through the state library’s C-Car delivery system.  We pull, wrap and pack boxes full of C-Car items every single day!

UNOPTIMIZEDMending. When an item gets checked out over and over again, it can get a little worn. Pages get torn or loose, discs get scratched, cases get broken. Whenever possible, we try to fix these problems and get the items back to the shelves. Several of our staff have received training on book mending, and our A/V catalogers use a disc repair machine for troublesome CDs and DVDs.

photoweedingWeeding. Nothing lasts forever. To keep adding new materials to our shelves, we must remove other materials, called “weeding”. We begin by checking the condition of older items, if they are too worn or need more repair than is practical, we weed them out. If we have multiple copies of a former bestseller, we keep the one in the best condition and weed the rest out. We run circulation reports, telling us which items have not been checked out in a long period of time (years), and weed them out. We’d love to keep every book forever, but shelf space must determine the amount of items we can offer. Many weeded items get added to our semi-annual book sale to benefit the Friends of the Cheshire Public Library, and many items get donated to charity.

Of course, we’re also here to help you to search for items in our catalog, find out the next book in your favorite series, check items out and back in again, and much more. Circulation means keeping our items moving, and it’s part of everyone’s job at Cheshire Library!

(Animated gif images from gosetawatchman.tumblr.com and the University of Mary Washington Book Repair Dept.)