‘Tis the Season for Lists, Awards, and Nominations

by Emily Hamstra

I always look forward to this time of year for many reasons–spending time with family and friends over the holidays, the end of a busy semester is approaching, and of course, lists and awards galore. I was delighted by this year’s National Book Award winners. Yesterday, The New York Times released the 100 Notable Books of 2012.

As you scour your favorite lists and anticipate your favorite award winners this year, I want to remind you to add RUSA’s lists and awards to your list of lists and award to watch. The RUSA awards are given out yearly to honor outstanding librarians, stellar books, and forward thinking publishers and editors. The RUSA awards are something that I look forward to. I always find the winners inspiring and encouraging, and I learn about exciting resources through the awardees.

The nominations for the RUSA awards are due December 15th. There certainly isn’t better way to honor your colleagues, someone who inspires you, or your favorite resource than by putting forward an award nomination! Do you know of a library or librarian who has developed a resource or guide to literature to meet the unique needs of patrons? If so, consider recommending them for the Gale Cengage Learning Award for Excellence in Reference and Adult Library Services Award. The winner of this award will receive $3,000. Where do you go to find a good book review? Do you have a favorite book reviewer or book blog you follow? If so, consider nominating an outstanding book reviewer, book review medium, or an organization for the Louis Shores Award. The winner will be recognized at the RUSA Awards Ceremony at the ALA Midwinter Conference. There are too many awards to mention them all, so read about all the awards on the RUSA Awards website.  

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Something in Common

The new school year is well underway in my library district and the library has been humming with research papers and book reports since late August. New this year to our school districts, though, is the adaptation of the Common Core State Standards.

What is Common Core? It is an effort to create educational standards across the many states to ensure that all children are meeting the same set of educational requirements. According to Common Core’s website:

“The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce. “

Common Core is reshaping curriculums in schools across the country, and as the schools begin to adapt to this change, both school libraries and public libraries are, too.

In order to have a better understanding of Common Core and what materials and resources a library can provide to support the new standards, a vast variety of online resources have been created online.  here is a beginner’s list to some of the web’s most helpful sites, created with the help of my library’s excellent School Services Coordinator:

Is your library adapting to Common Core? If so, what resources do you recommend?

Still Just a Bill: US Congressional documents and why you might use them

by Sarah Elichko

today i am still just a bill

In the spirit of the election, I’d like to talk about a topic some librarians fear: government documents.

Between the labyrinthine structure of agencies and committees to the prospect of navigating a different call number system (Superintendent of Documents or SuDoc), this huge category of resources can be intimidating to approach. Yet if you’re ever looking for statistics, maps, arguments for or against a policy (e.g. welfare reform), high-quality research, or information about a proposed law, government documents are a great place to start. And don’t forget: most US, EU, UN, and other government documents are available for free.

Now, I’m a bit of a government documents geek and I don’t expect everyone to share my enthusiasm for the EPA’s environmental justice mapping tools and compiling legislative histories. But I think that almost any librarian will find some basic knowledge of government information useful in their daily work. Previously on Chasing Reference, Amy highlighted the amazing resource of the recently released 1940 US Census. Today, I’m going to focus on US Congressional Hearings, which which can give you and your patrons a window into the workings of Congress and the process by which laws are made.

We’ll look at three questions: what do Congressional hearings tell you? How can you find them? What about finding older and unpublished hearings?

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What We’re Reading: November 2012

On the first Friday of each month, we share what we’re reading, which may include everything from magazines and blogs to novels and books for work or pleasure.

After spending much of October reading 2013 releases (keep your eyes out for Tracy Chevalier’s new novel about the Underground Railroad and Quakers, The Last Runaway in February 2013), I’m devoting November to reading some backlist titles I’ve been meaning to read for years. First up: The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCrackenl. McCracken herself is a librarian, as is the novel’s main character. I’m only about fifty pages in, but so far I’m thoroughly enjoying the writing and characters as much as I am the library and librarian references. –Carrie

This month, I was delighted by David Levithan’s Every Day. Each day, A wakes up in a new body, lives a new life just for that day. A lives from moment to moment, day to day, always living in the present, and never dreams of the future. For A, there is no future, just an endless string of single days in new lifes. Yet, remarkably, in one day, in one life, A falls in love. Suddenly, A sees a need to look towards the future and live beyond just the present. Levithan’s writing style is warm and embracing, his characters gentle and realistic, his world insightful and thought provoking world. Every Day was an enchanting and wonderful read. –Heather

Around 8pm last night, I opened Amanda Choplin’s The Orchardist, reading one page and then the next, and so forth until it was long past midnight. That I am almost finished with the book should be no surprise to those of you that read Emily’s review of Choplin’s tense novel on September 7. Earlier in the month, I enjoyed Jane Smiley’s biography, Charles Dickens (2002). Although I wouldn’t describe it as an up-all-night page turner, Smiley writes a highly readable, streamlined narrative of a very famous man with a kinetic work ethic. It’s part of the fantastic Penguin Lives series. –Amy

I just started reading In America by Susan Sontag. I’m only 100 pages into the novel, but I’m thoroughly enjoying it. So far the book is as much about the creating of stories as it is about the story Sontag is telling, something Sontag pulls off beautifully. Maryna, the main character, is a famous Polish actress in the late 1800’s. Plagued with restlessness and fame, Maryna is desperate for change. I’m looking forward to seeing what unfolds for Maryna. –Emily