Readers Advisory is my favorite thing. I cannot tell you how much I love talking about books with people. My banker asks me for suggestions for his kids every time I visit the bank. While library staff give out suggestions all the time, I think we are all feeling more apprehension in this political climate. We can’t know the content in every book ever printed. However, there is help for that! Here are some resources to use or give out to people to find the right fit:
Common Sense Media (commonsensemedia.org)
CSM rates entertainment. This includes movies, books, podcasts, games, and shows. They look for things like violence, sex, language, but also role models and positive messages as well as educational value.
Does the Dog Die (doesthedogdie.com)
DTDD is a crowdsourced tool for emotional spoilers in movies, TV, books etc. Yes, it definitely includes animals passing away. But this also can find things like hate speech, violence, death, drugs, swearing, and so much more.
Whatever your feelings about Amazon are, they have a fabulous tool in the “Look Inside” feature for most print books. You can use this feature to search how many times certain words appear inside the book. Though, you do have to type them in yourself which can be pretty awkward at the Reference Desk.
Graphic Novel Ratings
A lot of graphic novels have a rating next to the ISBN number. For instance, Dragonball Z is rated A for all ages, Beastars is rated T+ for older teens, Black Panther: Long Live the King is rated T for teens, and the Sandman series is rated M for mature readers.
This subscription site is one of my favorite readers advisory tools! Not only does it have read-alikes, genre breakdowns, book discussion questions, and…I could go on and on, but it also has some helpful tips for reading levels. In each youth/teen item entry, there is a Min/Max Grade level and a Lexile number. While Novelist doesn’t do a deep dive into the content, there is also a Theme section which can hint at any controversial subjects covered in the book. Novelist is available to all Idaho libraries through Lili.org.
Another issue that can arise with patrons looking for content guidance is lack of specificity. What one person thinks of as “clean” might not match with what the staff person feels is “clean.” It helps for a family or individual to have their own Content Guide. My supervisor has a quick and easy way for patrons to come up with their own guide for reading materials. This includes three categories: specific, individual, and flexible.
Here is a snippet of her tips:
Specific: As a family, discuss what kinds of themes and content are best for your family and why they are right for you. Then come up with specific words to use when asking for help in finding materials.
Non-specific descriptions: a clean book; a book with diverse characters
Specific descriptions: a book with minimal/light swearing, if any, and no descriptions of sexual intercourse; a book where the main character is a person of color.
Individual: Each person in your family is different, so their personal Content Guides should be individualized to meet their specific needs. Discuss with each family member themes, content, and topics that are too sad, too scary, too emotional, or too intense to be read or viewed without causing discomfort to the reader and incorporate those into their personal Content Guide.
Flexible: Personal Content Guides should be flexible both over the years and in the moment. As readers of all ages mature, interests, content, and thematic preferences will evolve. Make a plan to review your family Content Guide and individual Content Guides regularly, perhaps once each year, to see what revisions should be made.
I hope this article has been helpful for you and gives you more tools for helping patrons find reading materials that fit their needs.
By Maggie Dumont
Hello Idaho libraries,
ILA’s current vice president, Jessica Bowman, has accepted a job out of state and is stepping down from her ILA position. We are seeking someone to serve the remainder of her term which runs until October 2023. The job of vice president is a dynamic and important one, and serving on the ILA board is an excellent way to develop leadership skills and become more connected with library workers throughout the state. Previous experience with ILA is not required as Jessica has offered to continue as a co-vice president for a time until the new vice president has settled into the role.
Below is the description of the vice president’s duties. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact Jessica Bowman at firstname.lastname@example.org or Amy Campbell at email@example.com.
A word from the Idaho Library Association,
The Idaho Library Association upholds the values of intellectual freedom and the freedom from censorship as inalienable rights provided by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. We are committed to protecting all Idahoans in their rights to write, read, and publish, and as such, are committed to providing free access to information.
As trained professionals, we recognize that not every viewpoint, book, audiobook, program or video is for everyone and provide a variety of materials accordingly. This is why we also support parents and families in their ability to choose from among our collections what they want to read, so that everyone has a voice or viewpoint to choose from.
ILA condemns censorship in all forms, supporting access to a variety of viewpoints.
The Idaho Library Association is actively working to support librarians’ efforts to provide equal access of information to individuals, families, and all Idahoans.
There will be changes coming to the listserv soon, so please stay tuned for an announcement!
If you would like to speak with someone about Intellectual Freedom, Advocacy, or any other issues please email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
ILA Vice President
HB 666 moved onto the Senate. We are not sure of the timeline, but what we have learned is that everything is moving fast.
Please write letters to all the members of the Idaho Senate.
We do not have the information that was provided in legislator packets, including book titles, so we suggest you mention that we don't know if those books are actually in our library and what section they're in.
If you'd be willing to testify, please let Huda, our Legislative Committee Chair, know. Also, please reach out if you have any questions. firstname.lastname@example.org
2002 Idaho Library Association Legislator of the Year Hal Bunderson and State Librarian Stephanie Bailey-White stand with copies of books that Mr. Bunderson donated to libraries around the state.
Mr. Bunderson wrote or edited all seven of the donated titles which encompass the unique history and stories of Idaho and the people who shaped our state. The Idaho Commission for Libraries and the Idaho Library Association worked closely with Mr. Bunderson to ensure the books made their ways to library shelves for Idahoans to enjoy for years to come.
Thank you to Mr. Bunderson for his generous donation and continued support of Idaho libraries!
- Amy Campbell, ILA President
Here is a great article from KPVI about Idaho Librarian of the Year, Beth Swenson. https://www.kpvi.com/news/local_news/idaho-falls-librarian-awarded-idahos-librarian-of-the-year-and-its-practically-a-dream-come/article_ab340376-a8a2-11eb-87f6-5f079be4ea0d.html
The Children’s Literature Lecture Award Committee is seeking suggestions for our 2023 honoree. The lecturer may be an author, critic, librarian, historian, or teacher of children’s literature, of any country, who shall prepare a paper considered to be a significant contribution to the field of children’s literature. The lecture will be given in April or May of 2023 at a site to be chosen next year.
ALSC members are welcome to send suggestions to the committee for consideration. Please send your proposed lecturer(s), with supporting rationale for each recommendation.
The nomination form is available online and the deadline for submissions is July 31.
Recent past lecturers include Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, Neil Gaiman, Dr. Debbie Reese, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Jacqueline Woodson. The complete list of past lecturers is on the ALSC website.
The 2023 lecturer will be announced at the 2022 ALA LibLearnX next January in San Antonio. For more details about the lecture, please visit the Children’s Literature Lecture Award site.
Did you know that every public library in Idaho and the families with young children in your communities will directly benefit from the Preschool Development Grant (PDG)? The Idaho Library Association is writing to share our formal support of Senate Bill 1193 and the PDG.
Idaho libraries and the Idaho Commission for Libraries are named partners in this grant. Funding would enhance an existing family-centered approach to ensuring children are ready for kindergarten by engaging parents as partners in educating their young child. The funds give every library in the state the opportunity to get new, quality, classic picture books on their shelves selected to encourage early literacy practices: Read, Write, Sing, Talk, and Play; as well as the ability to offer early learning resources for parents including Ready! for Kindergarten workshops for parents, grandparents, and caregivers with young children.
Ready! for Kindergarten gives parents information and hands-on materials to engage their little ones in powerful at-home early learning. The grant funds will support children, parents, early childhood small business owners, and childcare workers directly as well as all Idahoans through a variety of library materials and services. Public libraries offer lifelong learning and access to information and opportunities that make our communities stronger. Many of the families libraries serve are homeschool families and families not using childcare; these families in particular look to libraries for quality, free, supplemental educational resources and programs. When libraries have the resources to support Idaho’s earliest learners and set the stage for an improved quality of life, we all benefit.
One Library in southwest Idaho conducted a survey in their district to determine what parents felt would be useful to help them prepare their children for kindergarten. The results indicated parents seek just the variety of resources the Preschool Development Grant helps provide. Parents specifically asked for clear information about the Kindergarten Readiness standards, hands on materials to teach and reinforce letter, number and shape recognition, letter sounds, learning games, and a Kindergarten Readiness class as well as support in helping their children with social and emotional skills like problem solving and calming down.
Another Idaho library offers a 10-week kindergarten readiness program aimed at preparing children ages 4-5 for kindergarten by focusing on a combination of early learning competencies and social-emotional skills, developed in concert with local kindergarten teachers. This program is in high demand, with consistent waiting lists. Kids come excited, but they also come lacking kindergarten skills, such as knowing the alphabet or how to hold crayons and scissors. By the time they complete our program, over 95% of children can identify letters and the sounds they make, a critical indicator of reading success.
PDG funds would assist libraries in their work with parents in these and other specific learning areas to help prepare their children for success in kindergarten and in life.
The Idaho Library Association supports Senate Bill 1193 and we ask you to do so as well.
Idaho Library Association President 2020-2022
Friday's CVAC meeting focused on discussion around vulnerable populations, the remainder of Group 2, and further clarifications on Essential Workers in Group 3. Despite ongoing advocacy efforts on our behalf, library workers are not explicitly named as a priority category in Group 2 or 3. We are not alone among groups surprised and disappointed not to be specifically lined out as prioritized. In the end, it was recommended that Idaho follow some sort of age/health flowchart for the next category group as below.
Idaho has created a new COVID-19 vaccine appointment pre-registration solution to assist Idahoans in making an appointment to get the vaccine. Please share this with coworkers and the public:
The new COVID-19 vaccine appointment pre-registration system is available at https://covidvaccine.idaho.gov/ . From the press release: "'The ability for Idahoans to get a vaccine--should they choose to do so--is my top priority," Governor Little said. 'The new pre-registration system is designed to take the frustration out of getting a COVID-19 vaccination appointment. It is user-friendly, easy to understand, and it was built from the ground up with Idahoans in mind.' The pre-registration system allows Idahoans to add their names to one waiting list regardless of when they are eligible to get the vaccine. They will be contacted by an enrolled COVID-19 vaccine provider when it is their turn and when the provider has appointments and vaccine available."
ILA encourages anyone interested in the vaccine to register as above. Additionally, please remember:
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