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Bloggers and Librarians: An Update

Thank you all for the comments on my post about the relationship between bloggers and librarians. I thought I'd share some of the comments and my thoughts-I'm really enjoying this discussion!

I am sad to see that many people have mentioned that while they love the library, the library staff isn't friendly or they don't know about YA. I wish I had a magic library wand to make everyone love YA and make everyone love their job, but that's going to happen no matter how hard I try. I have to stand up for YA lit all the time and I work with book lovers! So to you bloggers-keep pushing YA! Stand up for teens (even if you're not a teen anymore) and seek out that person who will listen to you. Talk to librarians-ask for suggestions, give your own suggestions. Start a dialog with them. Even if your librarians seem mean and not friendly-I have to hope that you can find one person to connect with.

The biggest suggestion I have to people looking at blogs is to find a blog that you enjoy reading-don't just read it because it's a blog. Find a blog that reviews the types of books you're interested in. If they recommend a book, read it and see if you agree with their review. If you like what they recommend and like the voice and style of the blog, then keep with it. Don't feel bad about not reading a blog because you don't like the types of books or the reviews that they post. Everyone is different and every blog is different and not every blog will fit everyone's personal tastes.

Now on to your comments:

Steph Su Asked:

My college town library is quite small, but a nearby town has a FANTASTIC YA selection: I swear that whenever I request a book, it almost always comes from that library. That being said, I do want to help my local library with their book selections, but am afraid of sounding too petulant that I know what they should be spending their VERY limited budget on. If you were a librarian working in a small library with a limited budget and YA section, how would you deal with someone like me? How should I go about letting them know that I'd like to help expand their YA selection?
-Find out who does the ordering and let them know you run a blog. At my library system (and I am at a mid-sized system) we have centralized ordering, meaning there is one department that orders everything. (This may be different at your library) But the person who is in charge of ordering YA also does adult items too, so there's no way she can catch every book that comes out. I will give her my suggestions and she always appreciates hearing feedback-one person alone can not know about every book, no matter how hard they may try. We also listen to our patron suggestions and allow patrons to suggest items to order-and a lot of the times we do order the items! It's great to have additional feedback. I would stop in your library, ask you does the ordering for YA and try to talk to them in person and let them know your love for YA. Let them know you blog and write reviews and that you love the collection that they have, but you'd love to help them find out about new books. Start off small-don't give them a laundry list of books to order-but suggest one or two titles you think would be a great addition or that they should be aware of. If something is getting a lot of buzz, we need to know about to make sure we have copies on our shelves before the demand starts.

Susie Sharp Librarian also responded to Steph Su's questions:
I am a librarian in a small town library, my predecessor started the YA section and I have continued to add to it so much so that my YA circulation is only about 100 books less than my adult fiction.I rely on the blogs because I sure can't afford Library Journal. Steph Su I would welcome your input I'll take anyones recommendation at my library. I am a new blogger also on my blog are reviews from my Teen Advisory Board.

Ms. I says: As a YA librarian and a blogger I love both words :) I've learned about books that I have missed in VOYA or other mags. I also find it interesting to read teen blogs to see what they like.

-This is what I love about blogs! I find so many more books to add to my reading lists and booklists for work. Plus, it's great to get ideas from teens that are outside of your library-my library council is only a small selection of the teens that actually use my collection.

Katie has some great suggestions for both librarians and bloggers:

Librarians should...
1. Ask their teens how they find out about books. Blogs are valuable to teens, to our patrons. (Which means we need to understand and support our teens reading blogs!)
2. Read up on blogging. Poke around the blog community. Lurk! And then, if you don't like it, leave it be. If you do like it, join on in. But at least know about blogging.
3. Be more open-minded. Bloggers aren't trying to replace librarians. They are just book lovers, trying to get more people to read and love books.

Bloggers should...
1. Know your local librarian. This will help you if you want to suggest titles. (I take suggestions from patrons I know use the library more seriously than patrons just passing through.) It can also help in getting a heads-up about new books coming to the library, or ways for collaboration. 2. Learn a little bit about how librarians operate. Join YALSA. Someone mentioned above that it's for everyone interested in YA books and teens. Look around YALSA's website if you can't handle paying the dues.
3. Be more open-minded. Not all librarians dislike you -- I was thrilled to see bloggers at ALA. We're also just book lovers, trying to get teens hooked on books.

I also liked what Tasha had to say about library staff not being friendly and also understanding why some libraries might not order what you request:

I'm both a blogger and a library director. As a director, I would want to know if my staff was being unresponsive, my collection was lacking, etc. Of course, if your libraries are being reduced to 4 days a week, they may not have the funding to get the books you think they should have. But attitude is free. There is no reason that they can't be positive and professional about your requests. Just understand that libraries are under intense budget pressures this year and may agree that they want to have the books you are asking for but just don't have the funds to make that happen.


  1. A great follow-up post, Sarah, and I appreciate the answer you and Susie gave me! I will definitely talk to the librarians there and see who's in charge of maintaining the YA sections, see if they wouldn't mind my help every once in a while. Thanks so much!

  2. Great post! What started this anyway? Were Librarians really complaining about book bloggers and a sense of "replacing" ?

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  4. My approach to getting the books I want in the library is to do a heck of a lot of fundraising for the Friends of the Library. If you go to the children's librarian and say, "We have $600 that we would like to spend on YA collection development," it is fairly easy to buy a number of books you want as part of that.

    So I run three book sales and a yard sale every year, make holiday mugs and baskets every December, dig up my lillies of the valley and stick them in floral mugs and sell them for $2 each at mother's day (which made enough for two books), and plant decorative gourds to sell at Halloween (1 book's worth last year, but I planted more this fall). And as long as you make sure that other staff people get some money too for their areas of collection development, and that you make sure you are not buying things the children's/YA librarians actively don't want or have already ordered, you will be able to experience the great pleasure of spending a lot of money that isn't yours on books you (or your loved ones) want to read, that presumably other patrons want as well.

    If your children's librarian doesn't seem warm to the idea of an influx of books she or he hasn't necessarily chosen, you can sweeten your relationship by using FOL money for a subscription to SLJ or Horn Book, or both, offering to send her to ALA (within reason), or making blanket statements, supported by cash, like--"Let us know if there are any supplies, prizes, or more presenters that you need for the summer reading program."

    So, in a nutshell, we are running out of room for any more YA books, and what we need now is more people to come check them out.

    My own children's librarian is a lovely person, by the way, who is a pleasure to work for, and who humors me in my insanity.

  5. From what I have discovered, one librarian tweeted a frustration about bloggers being given preference to librarians on the exhibit floor.

    Give how many of the 24,000 plus librarians do tweet, I see that as no more than an isolated incident; especially as no one I spoke with said anything anti-blogger.

    They did observe that because of the economy, there were not as many ARCS.

  6. Marie-
    Yes, there was one librarian tweet about bloggers on the exhibit floor, but I've also been thinking a lot about how bloggers and librarians can help each other. I've also noticed at conferences that when I sit in on panels that there are still a lot of libraries that are stuck in the past and not moving forward. I've sat in on panels about how libraries should have teen sections, how you should order graphic novels and movies, etc. At ALA I sat in on the blog panel, which was great, but featured all professional book bloggers. I'd like to see a panel on how the non-journal sponsered blogs and libraries can work together.

  7. I find that when a patron requests a title, I don't mind getting it IF I think other people are going to read it. When I order books, because of my small budget comparatively and esp. this year, I need to know that people WILL read this book. Otherwise I suggest to them that they ILL the book. It's not always the answer they want to hear, but I can't buy a book if it doesn't have mass appeal.

  8. This is so interesting to read! The YA librarian at my local library is super sweet gets along well with whoever comes in. I feel very lucky for that after reading about librarians who might not have the right attitude. Thanks for the post!


  9. I think ALA could do a lot to mix it up too-
    I think teen/YA Reader book blogs are such a great resource that are pretty much ignored by libraries...

    I'm not complaining about book bloggers taking all the ARCS but I do think that Librarians should get first dibs at ALA.

  10. Marie-

    I agree about teen/YA reader blogs. There were a couple of comments from librarians from smaller branches who mentioned they love blogs because they don't have the budget to order the professional journals.

    I loved having bloggers at ALA, but I would like to see librarians get first dibs. I'm just not sure how they would track that.

  11. It would be great if ALA worked to include book bloggers (specific blogger events, etc.) and then required a different registration. That would, I think, help out both sides of the issue. Vendors would know who they were talking to regardless!

    Only problem then would be those of us who double-dip.


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