Title Awareness in the 21st Century
by Lisa Iannucci, Senior Editor
As a public librarian working part-time hours, I am constantly up against time constraints. Because one of my many responsibilities is collection development, it’s essential for me not only to remain current as far as what’s happening in the book industry but to stay abreast of the daily headlines. It’s not enough to be familiar with titles; collection development requires an awareness of current events, issues and trends not just within the book industry but in the world at large. This is where developing and staying on top of a fine-tuned list of blogs, tumblrs, listservs, email subscriptions, and good old-fashioned magazines, newspapers and even word of mouth is critical.
- Blogs – The email client we use at work offers RSS subscription as part of its array of services. I’ve subscribed not just to the blogs on librarianship (Librarian in Black) and book reviews (Stacked) but on archival collections (the Smithsonian Collections Blog is my favorite) and weirdness found in the stacks (Awful Library Books is always entertaining, and the user comments are priceless).
- Listservs – Since I’m also doing some archives and local history work, I am subscribed to a couple of local history and archives listservs for my home state of New Jersey. For smaller, community-based events like lectures and exhibits, it’s really the only way to find out what’s going on.
- Email Subscriptions – I have email subscriptions to the New York Times Book Review, Library Journal (they have several excellent book preview subscriptions to choose from), among others, and always enjoy reading reviews and book previews for my favorite authors.
- Print journals and trade magazines – Live, physical versions of magazines are still important. I go through periodicals like BookPage, Library Journal and Baker & Taylor’s various trade publications on a monthly basis. You can get a sense of what vendors are promoting, what they expect to be “hot,” publisher trends, and there are also author interviews and still more book reviews.
- Daily newspapers – Call me old-fashioned, but I believe the best way to get a fix on daily headlines is to scan the front page of the (print) paper. It’s not self-selected news like what you get in your email, and it’s interesting to take note of what different papers put in the headlines. My library receives two local and two national papers, so I feel like I have it covered. People like to read about what’s in the news, and for me, there is really no substitute.
- Tumblr – When you have 15 minutes until lunch and don’t want to work on that monumental project another minute, library- and book industry-related tumblrs are perfect. bookriot, nprbooks, vikingpenguinbooks, powells and harpercollins pass the time while also developing title awareness, and I stay on top of my archives stuff with todaysdocument. For great visuals there are always theliterarycat and bookporn, and there are also librarianwardrobe, iworkatapubliclibrary and allthingslibrary, for general library stuff, but the tumblrs I really look forward to (and usually find myself saving for last) are the truly hilarious gif-based ones like librarymoments and librarianproblems).
- Patrons – Talk to your patrons and find out what they’re reading, what they’re doing, and what’s going on around town. You can’t be everywhere at once, so they are truly your eyes and ears in the local community.
In our fast-paced media landscape, it’s essential to harness the power of technology in order to be conversant with what’s going on not just in the world of books, but in the world at large. But don’t be afraid to go low tech too!