I work in a high school library and I feel like I have the best job in the world for someone who loves books. We have classics, we have young adult books, we have some adult titles for those mature readers and the faculty, and we have children’s picture books for some of our low readers and FMD students. I have the best of all worlds in books. “What new books have you read lately?” is what I often get asked by teachers and students. “How do you know what to order?” I often get asked by library science students who observe or visit for the day. Those are very good questions. I rely on many different avenues when it comes to book selection for our high school library.
First, you have to consider your location and the make up of your student body. What do your patrons like to read? What do you get the most request for? What are your circulation stats? All of these come into play when considering what to order for your library. I also ask my teachers if they would like for me to have copies of certain books in the library for kids to have access to. Some of our English classes order class sets of books, but once in a while, a kid will leave their copy at home or lose a copy and they need a library copy for the day. Also, our social studies department has required reading in AP European History and AP U.S. History that the kids have to purchase themselves. Not all students can afford to purchase their own copies, so I try to have extra copies of those titles available to students.We actually keep an old school “Wish List” on the counter. When students recommend books or request certain series of books often, we put them on the “Wish List.” When we actually order the books they requested and they find the books on the shelves, they get so excited. I think this gives the kids ownership in their library.
If you use Follett Destiny, students can create accounts and rate the books they read, suggest books for the library, and keep a list of books they have read and want to read. On their log in, if they search the card catalog for a title and we do not have it, there is a +make a wish button. They can click on this and recommend a book. They also tell why they wish for you to order this book.
If you have been a librarian in the state of Kentucky very long, you know you also have to have copies of the Bluegrass Award books. Every year in the Spring, a list of the books that will be competing for this award are released by grade level. At the high school level, I can often purchase some of the middle school titles, as well as the high school titles. Students will be asked to vote for their favorites and the votes are always due April 1st. The next year’s list of books to consider is usually released shortly after the votes are turned in. The teachers and librarians that create these book lists usually do an outstanding job of choosing books that interest kids and teens.
Another source I use to help me pick the hottest and newest reads is to join email lists from various book vendors or library/librarian news sources. There are tons out there and they are all very willing to add you to their email list. Here are a few that I really like and recommend.
Booklist Online READ Alert – This newsletter is sponsored by ALA. It usually has a theme and introduces many books on various genres. They recommend Adult books, Youth books, and Audio books. There are many links on the side to various booklists and webinars. Since it is sponsored by ALA, I know books that are recommended are of good quality and for the most part are age appropriate.
Simon & Schuster has a newsletter that you can sign up for that previews different books, gives you the heads up on new releases, gives book club book recommendations, and offers free excerpts of books. You can browse authors A-Z or book titles by new releases or book club recommendations.
Booklist Delivers is also sponsored by ALA. It is more of a quick share on one book. It might be the anniversary of a special edition of a book, a long awaited release of a squeal in a series, or it could be a new author with a new book. All types of books from preschool to young adult to popular adult fiction are feature in the daily Booklist Delivers emails.
Library Love Fest is sponsored by Harper Collins Publishers and they also bring you lots of new book previews. They give great previews of upcoming new books, or books that have gotten rave reviews from book clubs, editors, or fellow librarians. They often feature links to author’s blogs and they have Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest buttons so that you can share items on social networks.
Booklist’s Quick Tips is a School and Libraries newsletter that is sponsored by ALA. They preview books from all age groups, give you the ISBN number, a summary of the book, and recommended grades and ages. There are lots of elementary and preschool books listed, as well as young adult titles. They often list webinars available and a list of their editors you can follow on Twitter. Which leads me to the social media aspect of how I find new and exciting books for the library.
If you haven’t jumped into the world of Twitter yet, you must! Even if you don’t have much to say, you can learn so much just by lurking and following different people, especially authors. What better way to find out when an author is releasing a new book than from the author themselves. I follow some of my favorite authors and love to hear about what inspires their writing, their travels, and what they love to eat 🙂 I use my Twitter account to share new books we get in the library and sometimes I will get a like and a follow from authors, publishers, or even fellow librarians.
Instagram is also a great way to get to know authors and publishers. I started an Instagram account for the library and I follow several authors and book lovers such as Silas House, Maggie Stiefvater, Laurie Halse Anderson, Epic Reads, Sarah Dessen, Scholasticreadingclub, ALA, etc. I do not post a whole lot on the Instagram, but I lurk on it quite a bit. Epic Reads is always posting pictures of stacks of books they love.
And of course the best way to learn about new books is to attend a district KASL meeting, Summer Refresher, or the KLA/KASL Fall Conference. I learn about all kinds of new books coming out from my fellow librarians. I always have an open note on my iPad or phone to add new titles and authors. Follow fellow librarians on Facebook and see what they are reading and recommending. I also use Goodreads.com This site/app allows me to organize the books I have read and want to read. Follow someone on Goodreads and find out the hottest new books coming out. You may also get an invite to chat with authors you have read or a chance to win a free book from a favorite author.
I just figure there can never be too many sources for finding good books.
Feel free to share how you find out about the hottest new reads.