By: Paul Duckworth, M.L.S.

pexels-photo-264635Every library’s collection needs to be weeded. Here at Brodart, our collection development experts have decades of combined direct experience working at public and school libraries. We weeded—and weeded again. We survived. The collections thrived. Don’t object, don’t complain, weeding books need not be a pain!

We’ve got a few tips to help you dive into those book stacks!

  • Make it a habit. Build weeding into your workweek in the same way you schedule meetings, projects, and lunch hours. Try it: 30 minutes, two times a week. Or, how about 15 minutes a day?
  • Get practical. Your shelves may be close to 90% full—or more. Shoot for no more than 75% capacity. Ignore all the objections you hear going through your mind. As Shia LaBeouf would say, “Just do it!”
  • Remember that you are a professional. You have training, experience, and good judgment. So arm yourself with courage and conviction. If there’s a good reason for every book, then there’s also a valid reason for culling some titles from your collection.
  • There’s only so much space. It’s time to accept it: It’s a real world with limits.

It is good practice to maintain written policies and procedures. Educate all staff and board members so they understand the reasons for weeding. To avoid misunderstandings and minimize objections, be sure to communicate with your public openly, clearly, and positively. Be prepared for negative feedback and bad PR–step in right away with cool heads and factual information to support your claims.

59256631 - classmate classroom sharing international friend conceptKnow your community and their needs. You are going to make mistakes—no one is perfect. Just remember that different feelings and perspectives exist among users and other staff. It’s important to listen, respect, and communicate. Consider sharing your intentions with patrons by posting signs that announce your weeding efforts and encourage input. “We’re making room for the new books that people want, Thanks for caring enough about the library to speak with me. Books are vital to our community. We focus on keeping them up-to-date, useful, and appealing. We sincerely welcome your suggestions for materials to add to our collection.”

Expecting proprietary collection analysis software to take care of the weeding process is magical thinking. Electronic data will save time and help you, but doesn’t take into account your decisions about usage thresholds, age cutoffs, and other parameters.

Keep your collection fresh, up-to-date, appealing to the eye, and rich in variety. Don’t allow new books to be hidden on shelves that are crammed tight with old, worn out, unappealing titles.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, and many resources are available to help you:

  1. The CREW Manual, tried and true since the late 1970’s, has been revised more than once since 2000. It is available online at Click here for article
  1. The recent book by Rebecca Vnuk, The Weeding Handbook (2015), has been well-received. ISBN: 9780838913277
  1. Making a Collection Count (2013), by Holly Hibner and Mary Kelly is an intelligent resource for collection management, including weeding. ISBN:  9781843347606

2 books


Paul Duckworth


Nothing brings a smile to Paul Duckworth’s face quite like a good book, a long walk, and the unmatched beauty of country life. Click here for more.

Hipster Trends 2

Mary Jane: What’s a Library To Do?

By Fern Hallman, M.Ln.

44186145_m.jpgAn extremely popular topic right now, both in the news and in publishing, is marijuana. At least 26 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form, and several other states may soon follow.

How does your library handle a tricky subject like this?

Publishers are taking advantage of this movement. There are lots of titles coming out about growing cannabis, cooking with it, healing with it, and legalizing it. There are also several books about starting your own marijuana-related business.


Click here for article on State Marijuana Laws in 2017

Some librarians take the approach that if their patrons are requesting titles on a particular topic, it’s their job to make them available. As a matter of fact, some library systems base their selections directly on patron demand. Others feel that it’s a waste of money and that books like these will “walk away” after one or two circulations. If your patrons are interested and your budget allows, here are some examples of the most recent books on marijuana.

book 1 mockupCannabis Pharmacy: The Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana
By: Michael Backes
ISBN: 9780316464185   NYP 12/05/2017

Cannabis for Chronic Pain: A Proven Prescription for Using Marijuana to Relieve Your Pain and Heal Your Life
By:  Ray Ivker
ISBN: 9781501155888   NYP 09/12/2017

book 2 mockupThe Cannabis Grow Bible: The Definitive Guide to Growing Marijuana for Recreational and Medicinal Use
By:  Greg Green
ISBN: 9781937866365   NYP 08/29/2017

Idiot’s Guides: Starting & Running a Marijuana Business
By: Debby Goldsberry
ISBN: 9781465462060

book 3 mockup


Marijuana Edibles: 40 Easy & Delicious Cannabis-Infused Desserts
By: Laurie Wolf
ISBN: 9781465449641

Big Book of Buds Greatest Hits: Marijuana Varieties from the World’s Best Breeders
By: Ed Rosenthal
ISBN: 9781936807321


More conservative libraries may want to stick with titles like these, which cover the basics in a fairly straightforward, uncontroversial way:

book 4 mockupLegalizing Marijuana: Promises and Pitfalls
By: Margaret Goldstein
ISBN: 9781467792431

Is Marijuana Harmful?
By: Bradley Steffans
ISBN: 9781682820971


Marijuana: A Reference Handbookbook 5 mockup
By:  David Newton
ISBN: 9781440850516

Brave New Weed: Adventures into the Uncharted World of Cannabis
By: Joe Dolce
ISBN: 9780062499912


Whether you choose to provide these books for your patrons or not, it’s certainly a question for you to consider. Some patrons may regard your library as being more current and relevant when your collection reflects emerging trends and changes in public opinion.




Fern has worked for Brodart as a Collection Development Librarian since 1990. She also did a stint as a reference librarian in the CNN newsroom and is married to a newspaper librarian. Click here for more.


Turning Over a New Leaf

By Stephanie Campbell, MLIS

66735564 - staff turnover word cloudWhether you are in a library with a smaller, mostly public-service staff, or a larger system with a dedicated collection development department, the problems are the same. Just when you think you’ve assembled your dream team and everything is running like a well-oiled machine, opportunity knocks and staff leave for greener pastures – other libraries or other departments. Or you may have a hiring freeze and find yourself having to do more with less. For whatever reason, turnover can be a problem, both for the ones leaving and the ones left behind.

Those entering new libraries or departments can feel their excitement turn to horror when they discover it’s been years since anyone updated policies and procedures, or that collections haven’t been weeded or kept pace with circulation trends.

Managers and co-workers facing vacancies may realize that over-reliance on dedicated staff has left them totally in the dark when the “institutional memory” leaves or retires. And few of us have the luxury of a succession plan.

Over the course of my career, I’ve been in all of these situations and asked myself:

  • Who should order what, when, why, and in what quantities?
  • When was the last time continuations and standing order profiles were updated?
  • Is collection spending and shelf space in keeping with collection usage?
  • In essence, why do we do what we do in the way we are doing it?

48356021_sWhen faced with questions like these that may seem daunting, it’s important to remember although trite, it’s often true—challenges can be opportunities.

Whether you are teaching yourself or training replacement staff, now may be a good time to examine and rework how your collection is built and maintained. Sometimes a vacancy can necessitate a reevaluation of all staff and their contribution to the organization. Similarly, this may be the time to make a sea change in a new workplace.

Not everyone comes to the table with the same skills and interests, and some may gravitate more toward public services, technical services, or particular collection areas. The best employees do what they love and love what they do. If possible, play to people’s strengths: make the job fit the person.

If not enough staff (or your new hire) have the right collection development skills or passion, can you shuffle staff responsibilities or look toward automating processes?

Putting more authors and series on standing orders and continuations can help shift the focus on important debuts and sleeper hits and allow more time for public programming, policy-making, and administrative tasks.


Chances are, your holds list does not always reflect titles from print reviews. Your clientele hear about new materials on radio programs, network television, podcasts, and blogs.  Library staff need to listen, watch, and read broadly to keep up on trends. Creating targeted selection tools out of the journals and bestseller lists that are important to your library will free up time to follow newsfeeds and social media. Lack of staff time or interest can also lead to ordering prepublication titles too late, or not anticipating sufficient copies. What types of notification lists could make you proactive rather than reactive regarding patron demand? What lists could streamline your selection or provide help in problematic collections and genres?

Are you running out of space or faced with an obsolete collection? Armed with usage reports from your ILS, you can analyze your holdings and determine which areas to grow and shrink. Could a collection builder list help you strengthen underserved areas?

61242607 - young plant in the morning light on nature background

Think of turnover as turning over a new leaf. It can lead to a new, exciting era with efficient staff workflow, smart selection, and useful collections.

How do you and your library tackle staff turnover? Share your thoughts and experiences below!


stephaniecampbellBefore joining Brodart in 2016, Stephanie Campbell worked for more than 20 years in public, academic, and special libraries. She is an avid gardener, bicyclist, and kayaker. Click here for more.

Oldies but Goodies

Part 2 — Old Favorites

By: Richard Hallman, M.Ln.

Back to my favorite topic, old favorites for modern libraries.

y is for yesterdayWhen a new volume arrives in a beloved series, demand often rises for earlier entries in the series. Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone “alphabet series” (so named because there is a book for every letter in the alphabet), is nearing its end. NPR’s Maureen Corrigan underscored the popularity of this series when she said, “Makes me wish there were more than 26 letters.” When the final book in a series is published, some readers like to start over again, reading from the beginning. This is a cue for librarians to check their holdings and reorder any missing titles or replace copies that are particularly dog-eared.

Library patrons often take a new interest in titles that appear on “best books” lists. One book that appears on many such lists is How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. Originally published in 1936, this is a book that is still relevant today. It explains how to make people like you, win others over to your way of thinking, and change people without causing offense or arousing resentment. Hmmm…

how to win friends

Here’s what the New York Times said about the book on its 50th anniversary: Reluctant Dale Carnegie’s 50-Year-Old Classic

think and grow rich

Think and Grow Rich is another older title that is constantly coming out in new editions, updated versions and audio versions. Napoleon Hill explains that people can succeed in any line of work, and that they can do and be anything they can imagine. This one is a replica of the original 1937 edition:

by love possessed

One of my favorite assignments in library school was researching what was happening the week we were born. I will confess that I have never read this one, but the New York Times bestselling title for the week when I came into the world was By Love Possessed, by James Gould Cozzens (later made into a movie starring Lana Turner – Click here for details.) It’s still in print, and still listed in the latest version of H.W. Wilson’s Fiction Core Collection. Maybe this will inspire you to check out popular books from when you were born!

For reference:

  • Y is for Yesterday     ISBN: 9780399163852
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People     ISBN: 9781439167342
  • Think and Grow Rich     ISBN: 9780143110163
  • By Love Possessed     ISBN: 9780786705030


Richard Hallman, M.Ln.


Budding collection developer Richard Hallman finally set aside his dreams of becoming a rock star, movie director, and/or famous novelist to embrace librarianship. Click here for more.

What Drives You?

By Stephanie Campbell, MLIS, Collection Development Librarian

I joined Brodart in 2016 after 20 years as a public and academic librarian. Over the course of my career, I have attended numerous library conferences of all types. But until last week, I had never attended the American Library Association (ALA) annual 44256158 - teamwork hugging people  vector imageconference. I thought I would be intimidated by the size and scope but I felt very at home. Despite its numerous celebrity/author signings and the myriad opportunities to rub elbows with the rock stars of our profession, this mecca of all things library struck me as surprisingly low key and collegial.

ALA is a microcosm of the industry: Public, academic, school, and special librarians representing institutions both large and small, from areas that are rural, suburban, and urban, come together to be the best they can be.

I always find conferences energizing. The validation of being surrounded by thousands of like-minded individuals is palpable and undeniable. Taking in the crowd at McCormick Place, I was reminded of Kyle Cassidy’s “This is What a Librarian Looks Like.” Of course, there is no commonality of appearance, but I do believe there are shared values.

Sometimes it’s all too easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of being a librarian: juggling the priorities of boards, administrators, and staff, not to mention the demands of working with the public. Days are filled with managing public service schedules; calculating circulation, reference, and programming numbers; analyzing collections while keeping up with weeding and ordering; getting quotes on furniture, supplies, and building repairs; attending meetings; etc. When managing the day-to-day library operations, losing sight of the big picture is an ever-present potential pitfall. That’s why it’s so vital that we remain aware of what drives us and remember why we became librarians in the first place.

My first career choice was journalism. I was motivated by a love of writing and the written word, along with a desire to make information understandable. From there, it was a pretty natural transition to library science. I decided I didn’t necessarily need to be an information creator. I found I preferred pointing people to all that’s available and letting them choose the best source for them. The ideals of librarianship really appealed to me – the importance of trust and fairness in information and bridging the gap between the haves and the have-nots. This is still very much in the back of my mind as I help librarians with collection development.

I once attended one of Library Journal’s Lead the Change workshops, where attendees were asked to rate a list of terms to determine: “What drives you?” I discovered that my personal core values revolve around health, family, freedom, and independence. Professionally, I am driven by curiosity, communication, creativity, and personal growth — not just for myself, but for the greater good. This exercise really stuck with me. It was great to be reminded of why I do what I do. Ultimately, I want to help others. I think that’s a quality I share with most librarians.

I think what I enjoyed most about ALA Annual was the air of curiosity and helpfulness among the conference-goers. In the same way that librarians serve library users, they are eager and happy to help each other. Throughout the programs, roundtables, and exhibits, one could see the unselfish exchange of ideas: showcasing the great things they are doing and teaching others how; talking openly about problems and providing potential solutions. Even though I no longer serve the public directly, I take my role as consultant very seriously as I am supporting fantastic people across the country who have made this their life’s work.

I would love to hear your impressions of ALA, your thoughts on the field of librarianship, and what led you to this profession.

What drives you?




Before joining Brodart in 2016, Stephanie Campbell worked for more than 20 years in public, academic, and special libraries. She is an avid gardener, bicyclist, and kayaker. Click here for more.


Hipster Trends

Spiralizing & Instant Pots

By Fern Hallman, M.Ln., Collection Development Librarian

Focus college students preparing for exams at cafe

Every library has its own system for identifying new titles. Many depend on automated lists from vendors, book review sources, or publisher catalogs. These schemes are necessary and useful, but they don’t always cover every patron demand and interest. As a collection development librarian at Brodart, I am exposed to a huge number of titles from a wide range of publishers every month. This allows me to identify many small but interesting trends in publishing, particularly in adult nonfiction.

I review new titles by publisher, Dewey Decimal number, price, and publication date. I focus on those that I think will be of greatest interest to public libraries. As I’m doing this, a title or two on a new topic by a reliable publisher will catch my eye, and then I notice when other publishers follow suit and jump into the fray. Sometimes I’ll become aware of a hot blog trend on a subject like cooking or craft-related themes and similarly-themed books begin showing up soon after.

I told some librarians about some of these micro-trends at ALA Book--3Midwinter, and they chuckled. One suggested that we call them Hipster Trends. A few recent topics: books about playing the ukulele, making crafts with duct tape, and knitting and crocheting small creatures called amigurumi. There have also been recent spikes in books about such diverse subjects as all things Beauty and the Beast, raising chickens, and meals made in mason jars and coffee mugs.

Maintaining displays of titles about current topics like these can make your library look hip and up-to-date without requiring a big financial investment.

The latest subjects to catch my eye are for the kitchen. In particular, books about spiralizing and instant pots have become very popular. I’ve put together a small list of related titles.


Instant One-Pot Meals: Southern Recipes for the Modern 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker

Indian Cooking with Your Instant Pot and Other Multi Function Cookers: 75 Classic, Naturally Gluten-Free Recipes Made Better in Less Time

How to Instant Pot: Mastering the 7 Functions of the One Pot That Will Change the Way You Cook

Dinner in an Instant: 75 Modern Recipes for Your Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, and Instant Pot

The Art of Great Cooking With Your Instant Pot: 80 Inspiring Recipes Made Easier, Faster, Richer and More Nutritious in a Multi-Function Cooker

The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook: Fresh and Foolproof Recipes for the Electric Pressure Cooker

The Big 10 Paleo Spiralizer Cookbook: 10 Vegetables to Noodle, 100 Healthy Spiralizer Recipes, 300 Variations

Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook: Quick & Easy Recipes for Everyday Eating

The Ultimate Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Cookbook: 200 Easy Foolproof Recipes

The I Love My Instant Pot Recipe Book: From Trail Mix Oatmeal to Mongolian Beef BBQ, 175 Easy and Delicious Recipes

Spiralize Everyday: 80 Recipes to Help Replace Your Carbs

Super Spiralized: Fresh & Delicious Ways to Use Your Spiralizer

Instant Pot® Obsession: The Ultimate Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook for Cooking Everything Fast

Spiralizer Skinny

The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for Your Instant Pot: 80 Easy and Delicious Plant-Based Recipes That You Can Make in Half the Time

Paleo Cooking With Your Instant Pot: 80 Incredible Gluten- and Grain-Free Recipes Made Twice as Delicious in Half the Time

The Spiralizer Cookbook: Delicious, Fresh and Healthy Recipes to Make the Most of Your Spiralizer

Spiralize This!

Zoodles Spiralizer Cookbook: A Vegetable Noodle and Pasta Cookbook

Spiralize and Thrive: 100 Vibrant Vegetable-Based Recipes for Starters, Salads, Soups, Suppers, and More

Titles are available to Brodart customers for ordering on Bibz, under Featured Titles – Hot Topics.

Stay tuned for more “hipster trends” in the coming weeks. In the meantime, let me know your thoughts and what emerging subjects your patrons are asking about.




Fern has worked for Brodart as a Collection Development Librarian since 1990. She also did a stint as a reference librarian in the CNN newsroom and is married to a newspaper librarian. Click here for more.

LGBT: More Than a Book Category

By Mollie Pharo, MLS

Diversity. Inclusion. Tolerance. 66416967 - illustration of a long shadow lgbt gay pride flag with a bookAs librarians, we have reached the consensus that these are worthwhile and important ideals. We have also agreed to ensure that libraries uphold them, so that collections support and reflect the broad spectrum of patrons who use them. But it’s valuable to remember what the availability of LGBT(QAI+) titles can mean to individual patrons on a deeply personal level.

I am one of those patrons. I’ve seen both sides of this issue: as a library selector and as a patron who has read many such titles and found them to be moving, inspiring, and important to me in my life.

As I began to plan this article, I reflected on the ways my family and I have turned to LGBT titles over the years. My wife Nancy and I are a lesbian couple who have been together nearly 30 years and raised two children. We’ve benefited from both fiction and nonfiction books for children, young adults, and adults.

We grew up and raised our children during a historical period when we benefited greatly from changes happening in the writing and publishing of books for an LGBT audience. Literature of the 18th and 19th centuries, and much of the 20th century, included few titles with overt gay themes or characters. Often books that touched on such themes or characters did so in coded, sub-textual ways. It wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s that sodomy laws and book content started to change. From the 1970s to the present, we’ve seen an increase in mainstream acceptance of LGBT people and, most recently, the legalization of gay marriage. This has coincided with waves of feminism, as well as a rise in acceptance and promotion of multiculturalism and diversity.

Nancy and I first got together in 1986, and at that time we found very few titles with LGBT characters or themes at our public library. Bookstores were our go-to places, especially independent women’s and LGBT bookstores. Jane Rule, Katherine Forrest, and Armistead Maupin were some of our favorite authors.

Our parenting journey led us to appreciate the practical Nolo Press legal guides we found at the library, current versions of which are Making It Legal and A Legal Guide for Gay and Lesbian Couples. We also read books about options for becoming parents, looked up studies and journal articles about children raised by gay and lesbian parents, and, of course, consulted general guides on having a baby and rearing children.

One of the ways our family benefited from raising our children when we did was by having access to more books with representations of LGBTQAI+ families and diverse characters than had been available even a few years earlier. Children who are gay/lesbian or who come from families with gay or lesbian parents benefit greatly from seeing their situations represented in fiction and nonfiction. In short, it validates them. That’s what inclusion is all about —not reaching quotas, but helping people to feel like they belong. We had our children in 1991 and 1995. Heather has Two Mommies was published in 1989, and Daddy’s Roommate in 1991. The 1990s also marked the emergence of more YA novels exploring LGBTQAI+ issues and characters. More recently, both children’s books and picture books contain more LGBTQAI+ characters and themes, although these are still rarer than they are in YA or adult titles.

Nancy and I have been pleased to see the recent upsurge in books by and about transgender and queer people and issues as well. According to a 2015 NPR story, hundreds of children’s books featuring transgender characters have been published since 2000. What’s more, most fiction genres — along with comics and graphic novels — now include titles that feature LGBTQAI+ characters and themes. And, as always, there are still pulp fiction and erotica titles, though not so much in public libraries and mainstream bookstores.

I’ve seen and lived this issue from both sides. If you have thoughts to share, from any perspective, please include them in the Comments section. I’d love to hear from you!



October is LGBT History Month, and Brodart’s Bibz Featured Lists – Hot Topics – LGBT History Month, is a great place to start. Bibz Featured Lists – Hot Topics also sometimes includes other lists of interest. Another place to check in Bibz is in the Awards lists – ALA section. Included here are the Over the Rainbow Project Book List 2017, Rainbow Project Book List 2017, Stonewall – Barbara Gettings Lit Award Winner/Honors 2017, Stonewall – Israel Fishman NF Award Winner/Honors 2017, and Stonewall – Morgan/Romans Youth Award Winners/Honors 2017.

Wikipedia has helpful articles on “Gay Literature,” “Lesbian Literature,” and a “List of LGBT Writers.”

I also recommend checking out the Lambda Literary website. The Lambda Literary Awards (the ‘Lammys’) “identify and celebrate the best lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender books of the year and affirm that LGBTQ stories are part of the literature of the world.”



Mollie unofficially retired at the end of November 2012, which has given her time to enjoy reading more books — mostly mysteries. She has worked as a part-time remote selector for Brodart since 2013. Click here for more.

The Last Chance Matinee by Mariah Stewart

Book Review by Becky Roupp

Aren’t we always longing to capture a piece of the past? How many of us want to see a vintage item come back to life? The theme is so popular, it’s everywhere, from the books we read, to the latest trend in weddings, to antique cars. last-chance-matinee.png

I was surprised to discover that the first book in Mariah Stewart’s new series is set in the Pocono area, which is very familiar to me and not far from where I live. Hidden Falls, based on a town in which Stewart’s uncle and his family lived, is a town left behind. Stewart is clearly well acquainted with the roads that twist and turn—the ones that seem to be heading nowhere until a town suddenly pops up.

In The Last Chance Matinee, Stewart introduces three very different sisters as the book’s main characters. And here’s the great twist: two of the sisters, Allie and Des, have no idea that their third sister, Cara, even exists. Only when the girls’ father passes away suddenly do the two separate families find out about each other.

The sisters’ inheritance rides on them fulfilling their father’s dying wish: to rebuild the theater in the small Pennsylvania town where he grew up. It’s in awful shape, and these women want to know why their father hid two families from each other. Living and working together allows the sisters to slowly uncover the beauty of the theater, much like the beauty in their increasingly tender relationships.

Will the theatre project be a success? Will the sisters be able to form some sort of bond? And how will they deal with their own demons and the murky past their father has left for them?

Just like Hidden Falls, the small Pennsylvania town where I live has a vintage renovated theatre. The restoration and renovation process that I have witnessed firsthand is painstaking, but the end result is amazing. Every time you walk into the theater and smell the delicious popcorn pouring from the old popcorn maker, buy a dollar soda, and watch the latest blockbuster, you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. My connection with the plot made the story very special for me, but anyone can appreciate the universal themes of family bonds and restoring neglected historic gems.

I love being introduced to a series, finding my interest in and affection for new characters grow as I learn more about them. Stewart slowly peels the layers of characters away, leaving you rooting for the sisters because of their strengths and weaknesses. Stewart does a masterful job of setting the scene. Curling up with The Last Chance Matinee is both satisfying and rewarding. For me, it was like uncovering a jewel as precious as the theatre the Hudson sisters are renovating.

This is the perfect choice for readers of women’s fiction. Fans of Robyn Carr, Debbie Macomber, Viola Shipman will love this book.



Since joining Brodart in 2006, Becky has worked with a great variety of libraries, large and small; public, school, and academic. She loves adult fiction and is always eager to find new authors and series to read. Click here for more.

Just a Librarian

By Lauren K. Lee, M.Ln.

18867960_lSometimes I get to be “just a librarian,” not a librarian/bookseller/trainer/salesperson. Attending Library Journal’s Day of Dialog last week was one of those times. I’m pretty sure that I attended the first one in the late 1990s. I spoke on a panel about opening day collections in 2005. I don’t believe I attended in the last eight years or so. It felt good to be back. I saw the familiar faces of Barbara Hoffert, and Francine Fialkoff, and Nancy Pearl, and Marci Purcell.

I came away from the author and editor panels with a very long list of books to read and a tote bag full of advance reading copies. More importantly, I came away feeling more like a librarian—even a reader’s advisor (“Oh, Amber would love that book!”). When I hear an author tell a good story about why they wrote a particular book, I am immediately intrigued. The same is true for hearing about a mystery set near my home, or for an editor explaining why a title becomes a “lead read.”

As one who loves selecting adult nonfiction, I am not surprised that the nonfiction panel was my favorite. I find the storylines and the way they unfold to be every bit as captivating as fiction. For instance: A woman tries to solve the mystery of why her cousin became a victim of the juvenile justice system. A director has to learn more about the story behind the play she is directing. A contemporary single woman is fascinated by the Vogue editor who talked about “extra women” and the advantages of the “live-aloners.”

On to fiction. How can you resist the “first sentient sourdough starter” as a main character? Or the story of a drug that addicts the user to work? (Has someone been slipping me that one?) The author of this last one had the best quote of the whole day: “I went into fiction to tell the truth.”

The word of the day at Day of Dialog was “trope.” Guess I had better learn to use it in a sentence soon.

Don’t we work in a wonderful profession? We get people’s thoughts brewing, just like that sourdough starter (or the first batch of kombucha I just made).



Lauren Lee is approaching her 40th year as a librarian, with more than half of that spent at Brodart.  Although she rarely gets to select now, she loves life on the road, visiting as many public libraries as possible. Click here for more.



Oldies but Goodies

Part 1 — Classics

By: Richard Hallman, M.Ln.

1984 covers 4I’m what you might call an old-school librarian. When I was growing up, my dad always encouraged me to read “important” books that would stand the test of time. Through my work as a Collection Development Librarian at Brodart, I often notice older titles that are still in demand at libraries across the country. Some of these titles are the kind of books they made you read in high school; the kind some libraries include in special groupings of “classics.”

What makes a “classic” a classic? There are as many answers to that question as there are readers. The simplest is probably one of the standard definitions of art: “I know it when I see it.” I’d say classics are often characterized by exceptional writing and universal themes. To illustrate, let’s look at two books, named below. Published in 1949, George Orwell’s 1984 has been described as a cautionary tale, a book that had to be written so that the things depicted in it would never come to pass. The book’s one-word title has been used endlessly to protest against many real and perceived wrongdoings. What’s the universal theme? I’m going to state it simply: “People want to be free.” Take another example: over the course of seven books and thousands of pages, what do we learn from Harry Potter? Love is stronger than hate. The message is timeless, straightforward—pretty simple stuff.

1984-HM-2Many classics have particular relevance to current events, like the recent interest in 1984. I’ll let people draw their own conclusions as to how. This is a newly released edition, and the list price is, oddly enough, $19.84–ha!

1984     L H     Orwell, George Hardcover            9781328869333    
Fiction      Houghton Mifflin Harcourt                 04/04/2017



Sometimes an interesting older title will be released in honor of an anniversary. It’s hard to believe, but the 20th anniversary of J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book is right around the corner. You can read about the new editions here:


Click above for article

Here’s one more great title of interest: Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gag. This picture book, written in 1928, is believed to be the oldest American picture book that’s still in print. It was a Newbery Honor Award winner in 1929. A bit of Brodart trivia about this title: It is the oldest title in Bibz with “hot” demand.


Click above for video

“Cats here, cats there, Cats and kittens everywhere. Hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, Millions and billions and trillions of cats…”

Just for fun, you may want to watch this video of the book being read aloud, story time-style:



What are some older favorites at your library? Let us know! I’ll tell you about more of mine soon.

If you are a trendier librarian, or serve patrons who fit that description, keep an eye out for the upcoming post by my better half, Brodart librarian Fern Hallman, about the newest trends in “hipster” publishing. Stay tuned!

Richard Hallman, M.Ln.


Budding collection developer Richard Hallman finally set aside his dreams of becoming a rock star, movie director, and/or famous novelist to embrace librarianship. Click here for more.