Career Development

Truth is Stranger than Fiction...

One of the themes of "Be A Great Boss: One Year to Success" is that leaders can and should learn a lot from one another. That's proving to be the case with this book! I was contacted recently by someone who said he'd purchased copies for friends and colleagues and they'd decided it would be helpful to have somewhere they could go to discuss what they were learning and the experiences they were having. So, a Facebook group was born!

Trevor A. Dawes, from the Princeton University Library, created the "Be A Great Boss" group to provide "a space for those reading and using the book, Be A Great Boss, to share their experience with other readers in an attempt to learn even more through the shared experience. All comments on how the lessons have helped (or not) your daily work lives are welcome. " If you'd like to read more or to join, go to!/home.php?sk=group_111147028962562&ap=1.

Top Ten ALA Editions E-Books

ALA Editions now offers more than 300 titles in at least one e-book format, but can you guess our most popular titles? Here are our top ten bestsellers, in alphabetical order:

Bite-Sized Marketing: Realistic Solutions for the Overworked Librarian
By Nancy Dowd, Mary Evangeliste, and Jonathan Silberman
Written and designed to reflect the way people read today, this book is structured to quickly impart simple and cost-effective ideas on marketing your library.
ALA Store, Amazon Kindle, Google eBooks

Cataloging Correctly for Kids: An Introduction to the Tools, Fifth Edition
Edited by Sheila S. Intner, Joanna F. Fountain, & Jean Weihs
Based on guidelines issued by the Association for Library Cataloging and Technical Services (ALCTS), this handbook is a one-stop resource for librarians who organize information for children.
ALA Store, Google eBooks

Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management, Second Edition
By Peggy Johnson
Expert instructor and librarian Peggy Johnson addresses the art in controlling and updating your library's collection.
ALA Store, Amazon Kindle, Google eBooks

Gadgets and Gizmos: Personal Electronics and the Library (Library Technology Reports, April 2010, 46:3)
By Jason Griffey
Eminent blogger and library technology expert Jason Griffey provides a comprehensive guide to the present and future of modern gadgets, and how they can fit in to any librarian's plan for a high-tech future.
ALA Store, Amazon Kindle, Google eBooks

Introducing RDA: A Guide to the Basics
By Chris Oliver
Resource Description and Access (RDA) is the new cataloguing standard that will replace the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR). This Special Report offers practical advice on how to make the transition.
ALA Store, Amazon Kindle, Google eBooks

No Shelf Required: E-Books in Libraries
Edited by Sue Polanka
In this volume, Sue Polanka brings together a variety of professionals to share their expertise about e-books with librarians and publishers.
ALA Store, Amazon Kindle, Google eBooks

The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, Second Edition
By Joyce G. Saricks
This revised edition provides a way of understanding the vast universe of genre fiction in an easy-to-use format.
ALA Store, Amazon Kindle, Google eBooks

Writing and Publishing: The Librarian's Handbook
Carol Smallwood, Editor
If you are interested in writing or reviewing for the library community, in publishing a book, or need to write and publish for tenure, then Writing and Publishing is for you.
ALA Store, Amazon Kindle, Google eBooks

Writing Reviews for Readers' Advisory
By Brad Hooper
Whether the ultimate goal is writing for a library website, book club, or monthly handout, or freelancing for a newspaper, magazine, or professional journal, readers will find plenty of ideas and insight here.
ALA Store, Amazon Kindle, Google eBooks

Young Adult Literature: From Romance to Realism
By Michael Cart
This survey helps YA librarians who want to freshen up their readers’ advisory skills, teachers who use novels in the classroom, and adult services librarians who increasingly find themselves addressing the queries of teen patrons.
ALA Store, Amazon Kindle, Google eBooks

Staying Afloat in the Academic Library Job Pool

There has never been a more challenging time to find a position as an academic librarian, especially for those who have recently completed their library education. In “How to Stay Afloat in the Academic Library Job Pool,” published byALA Editions, editor Teresa Y. Neely and a crack team of experts present the information needed for smooth sailing. Job hunters jumping into the job pool for the very first time, as well as those back in the water after a dry spell, will benefit from their collective wisdom. Including a foreword by former ALA president Camila A. Alire, this book offers:

  • Practical and specific advice on how the job-search process works, including the how-tos of reading between the lines of a job listing and assembling a compelling application packet;
  • Keys to understanding the mysterious ways of search committees, and what criteria may be used to determine successful candidates;
  • The nuts and bolts of undergoing a successful job interview, plus tips for negotiating when an offer is made.

Neely is director of access services, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Previous positions included head of reference at the Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and adjunct professor at the College of Information Studies, University of Maryland, College Park. She is also the author of "Information Literacy Assessment: Standards-Based Tools and Assignments."

Learn how to Liven Up Baby and Toddler Storytimes with Sign Language in new ALA Editions Workshop

Using sign language during library storytimes is both a way to communicate with babies and toddlers and to broaden the appeal of storytimes by making them accessible to deaf children and parents. This interactive workshop will alow participants to learn from American Sign Language interpreter, librarian, and storyteller Kathy MacMillan. MacMillan will use video examples to provide easy-to-learn signs that can be retaught and incorporated into storytime ideas. Librarians will be able to use the skills learned in this workshop to create programs that will help parents communicate with their children at home.

Registration for this workshop is available on the ALA Store. The workshop will last 90 minutes, and takes place at 1pm EST/Noon CST/11amMST/10amPST on Wednesday, March 23rd.

Register Today! Go to

Kathy MacMillan is a freelance writer, American Sign Language interpreter, librarian, and storyteller. She has contributed articles to Public Libraries, American Libraries, School Library Journal, Voice of Youth Advocates, and LibrarySparks, and is the author of Try Your Hand at This!: Easy Ways to Incorporate Sign Language into Your Programs (Scarecrow Press, 2006), A Box Full of Tales: Easy Ways to Share Library Resources through Story Boxes (ALA Editions, 2008), and Storytime Magic (with Christine Kirker, ALA Editions, 2009). She was the Library/Media Specialist at the Maryland School for the Deaf from 2001 to 2005, and prior to that was a children’s librarian at Carroll County Public Library and Howard County Library, where she developed and presented hundreds of programs for all ages. She holds an M.L.S. from the University of Maryland, College Park, and has been reviewing for School Library Journal since 1999. Kathy presents storytelling programs introducing sign language for thousands of children and families each year through Stories By Hand (

How to Balance Your Library's Reading Budget

The modern librarian likely has a never-ending to-read pile, which translates into a readers’ advisory mess and an out-of-control readers' advisory budget. In our upcoming workshop Readers' Advisory: How to Balance Your Library's Reading Budget, Neal Wyatt and Joyce Saricks will offer tips that will help you clean up the mess and the budget. This workshop will offer practical tips to keep up with readers and your seemingly insurmountable to-be-read pile, saving time and money in the process. 

Topics Covered In This Workshop:

  •     How to track titles that are popular in the country and in their libraries
  •     How to gain enough information from reviews and dust jackets to discuss books with readers
  •     How reader comments, librarian comments and a range of social media can be mined to support RA work
  •     How to develop a personal plan to keep up with the weekly influx of new titles

Registration for this ALA Editions Workshop, which takes place on Thursday, Feb. 24 at 2:30 p.m. EST/1:30 p.m. CST/12:30 p.m. MST/11:30am PST, can be purchased at the ALA Store. To learn more, please view the ALA Editions Workshops Frequently Asked Questions.

Neal Wyatt is a collection development and readers’ advisory librarian from Virginia. She edits Library Journal’s “Reader’s Shelf” column and compiles the online “Wyatt’s World.” She is the editor of the Reference and User Services Quarterly’s “Alert Collector” column, contributes to NoveList and reviews for Booklist. A frequent popular speaker at ALA, PLA and regional events, she has designed and taught RUSA’s Web Continuing Education course on Readers’ Advisory Services. Her MSLS is from The Catholic University, where she formerly taught as adjunct professor.

Joyce G. Saricks worked as coordinator of the Literature and Audio Services Department at the Downers Grove (Ill.) Public Library from 1983 to 2004. In addition to authoring "Readers’ Advisory Service in the Public Library" (3rd ed., ALA, 2005), she has written numerous articles on readers’ advisory, presented workshops on that topic for public libraries and library systems and spoken at state, regional, and national library conferences. In 1989 she won the Public Library Association’s Allie Beth Martin Award, and in 2000 she was named Librarian of the Year by the Romance Writers of America. Currently she serves as read-alike coordinator (and author) for EBSCO’s NoveList and columnist and audio reviewer for Booklist. She also teaches readers’ advisory at Dominican University’s School of Library and Information Science (Ill.).

ALA Editions Workshops are designed to give you and your staff the opportunity to participate in a hands‐on learning experience that will help you make the best decisions for your library.

Jessica Moyer on Young Adult Readers' Advisory

On January 17, ALA Editions is launching a four-week, facilitated eCourse, Young Adult Readers’ Advisory, with Jessica E. Moyer, an ALA Editions author and LIS adjunct faculty at University of St. Catherine in Minnesota. ALA Editions interviewed Jessica about the course. To learn more and enroll, see the listing at the ALA Store.

I had a chance to talk with Jessica about her background, and what students can expect from this course.

Patrick Hogan: What’s your approach to teaching readers’ advisory in an online environment?

Jessica E. Moyer: One of the reasons I enjoy online teaching is the opportunity for all students to be fully involved in the course, regardless of where they are.  I create weekly discussion topics and expect all students to contribute regularly - the more contributions we have, the better the discussion.  Every time I teach I find that I learn new materials from my students and their interests and experiences.  

PH: What are a few of the factors that distinguish readers’ advisory services with teens from adult service?

JEM: I find that adult readers often know more about they like to read where as teen readers can struggle to say exactly what kind of reading experience they are looking for.  This means librarians suggesting books to teens may need to ask more questions, work with dislikes instead of likes and provide lots of interesting suggestions.  

PH: It seems like establishing rapport would be the critical. If a YA librarian has a knack for that, what readers’ advisory skill would deliver a  big boost in service?

JEM: Knowing how to talk about books in ways that teen will not only understand but will entice them into reading.  Knowing which books are mostly likely to appeal to certain readers.  

PH: A popular perception is that teens have neither the time nor the desire for leisure reading. What is your research telling you on that?

JEM: Teens do want to read, but they are limited by time.  I’ve found, however  that they are more limited by access.  If they can get access to materials they like and want to read, at a time they have a chance to read, they will read.  But often there are too many barriers - not sure what to read, no easy way to get it.  This is one reason I am excited about ebooks and digital library services - anything that will make it easier to get reading materials to teens when they have time to read.  

PH: You’ve probably learned from questions and discussion boards from your previous teaching experience. What about readers’ advisory with teens do librarians find most challenging?

JEM: Knowing when and what adult books to suggest.  Lots of teen readers like reading adult books, but aren’t sure what to read that they will enjoy.  Most teen librarians are familiar with the YA collections but may not know much about adult books so they can be challenged when working with these types of teens.

So You Want to Write a Book...

If you want to publish your book, you need access to an editor—not just any editor, but an acquisitions editor. (Publishing has all kinds of editors--copy, developmental, photo--you name one, we have it.) For authors trying to break into publishing, the hardest thing to do is find an acquiring editor who will listen and read. This is especially true if you want to write fiction or a trade book. With tens of thousands of people convinced they are destined to be the next John Grisham, you can imagine the chaos if all their ideas, proposals, and final manuscripts were allowed to flow into publishing houses. Who would sort through it all?

There was a time when a neatly typed manuscript, with a stamped, self-addressed return envelope, was sufficient to send off to a publishing house. You might have received an acknowledgement—even a letter.  There was actually some human contact. Up until ten or fifteen years ago, some junior editor might actually sift through the week’s mail looking for something promising. Now you need an agent; you need access; you need a reputation. It’s like getting your first job out of college: you couldn’t get one because you had no experience, and you couldn’t get experience because you had no job!

As difficult as it is to get an editor’s attention, getting an agent to read, listen and think about your book proposal or idea is never easy.  Agents earn their cut of the royalties (say 10%) because they can and do help develop projects, and they know what acquiring editors and publishing houses are looking for. Just as important, they have contacts. They can pick up the phone or send an e-mail and get answers. In some cases, they find multiple interested publishers and can set up the exciting and potentially lucrative Dutch auction.

Why has the publishing game become so difficult, so complicated? Part of the reason stems from the consolidation of publishers over the last 25 years. There are simply fewer independent houses that are willing to risk taking on new names. Further, the entire industry has been under great financial pressure—and not just recently. With consolidation has come expectations of ever high earnings, and most editors are judged (and paid) according to their ability to produce high-income books. Marketing, too, has a much stronger influence. The traditional model in which editors ran things is disappearing; marketing has taken over with a bottom-line perspective.

So what is a humble and struggling author to do? For one, find an agent; second find out what is selling and what kinds of books publishers sell. (The worst mistake is not doing research and trying to sell your great American novel to a house that does not publish fiction.) But there are other, interesting alternatives. Lulu and Amazon, among others, have made it possible to self-publish a book—an alternative that even established writers are increasingly considering. (And, of course, there are books on how to do it.) But let’s be honest: It is not easy to make a name or get your-self-published book in the retail stores, thus the luring attraction of an established publisher.

Before self-publishing became the rage, vanity publishing houses existed (and still do).  These publishers can take your manuscript, edit it, make pages and eventually create cover art and bound books. The only problem is that you have to pay for all of this and these houses typically have little or no marketing assistance. They can store them, for a fee, so that you don’t have to fill the basement with boxes of books. But you have to get make the rounds to bookstores, get on sites, and generate orders.

If your goal isn’t to write a best seller there are many small and specialized houses that are very approachable. Often they are professional organizations who publish for their members, such as ALA Editions. We are very open to submissions, proposals, and inquiries. But this is equally true for smaller houses that specialized in everything from poetry to wellness. The most important action to take is to research the respective publisher’s website and find out how and if they take unsolicited manuscripts and in what form. For example, Skyhorse, a New York-based independent, publishes in a variety of areas. They offer very specific advice when submitting a proposal; they especially encourage you to look through their site to make sure what you are proposing matches their publishing program.

So, join the fun and publish your book…

Welcome to!

I would like to welcome you to and our open-forum blog. It is my privilege to be the Publisher of both TechSource (subscriptions, e-learning, webinars, and workshops) and Editions (professional and reference books, both print and electronic). My team is part of a larger unit at the American Library Association called Publishing.

The dirty little secret is that I am not a librarian, but I know a great deal about what librarians do, what they think about, and what they are concerned about.  But I never know enough; I will never be close enough to the action because I do not work in a library. So my colleagues and I depend on you tell us what is going on and what you need for your professional development. And here is a chance for you to do just that.

Something that we in publishing share with librarians of all kinds is high anxiety about how quickly our work world is changing. I am old enough (the proverbial 39, thank you Mr. Benny) to remember when the art and science of putting a book together meant having a hand-written manuscript typed by two different people (in order to ensure that the material was correct), comparing the documents, creating a master with hand edits, and sending it off to the compositor—who made galleys. (And why did we call them galleys, anyway. A galley is a long metal tray that holds type ready for printing.)

The galleys would be edited, read by the author, edited and corrected again, and sent back to the author. Changes would be made again until we finally had page proofs, which were sent back to the author and then to a proof reader. Cover art had to be hand drawn; even charts, graphs, and other display elements were hand drawn—we had an art department with lighted tables, for goodness sake.  And permission letters were a horrible bore—they took forever to do and get back. Did I forget the index……done manually? Once the art was in place and the index readied the second set of page proofs were sent off to the author. Corrections always came back, no matter how often you explained that an author could not rewrite anything! Finally, everything was sent to the printer, who put the book under the camera to make film, to make plates....and on and on.

Well, the back and forth still goes on, and we still go to the printer (for how long, one wonders). But it is all so wonderfully different now; still a lot of work for both author and publisher, but our output is more than just a physical book. It can be a PDF of the book you can print yourself; but it also can be an e-bundle that allows you to read one of our books on your Kindle or iPad or whatever your favorite device happens to be.

And of course, this is part of our shared high anxiety: Will an actual book disappear? Some may remember a quaint little movie “84 Charing Cross Road” with Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins from 1986—a movie that glorified and revered not only books, but old books. In it are great scenes from the proverbial musty book shop in the basement of a London building. The staff was totally devoted to and knowledgeable about books, great ones and little volumes of seemingly no consequence other than the fact that someone wanted to own them and read them. To have them. Librarians and publishers alike are anxiously asking if patrons will continue to want and to own books. And no one knows for sure.

Now I have to confess my second dirty little secret: I have owned a Kindle for over two years, and I love it. Not only do I love it, I take it everywhere. My non-publishing friends are scandalized. But you are a book publisher. No, I respond, I am a publisher and my world has changed greatly. I want librarians to own our books, courses, and newsletters, but I don’t care if they buy an actual book or something they load on their Sony Reader. Just tell us by your buying decisions that we are publishing correctly for you. What I really want to know is if our content is helping librarians be better librarians, which is what ALA Publishing in general and TechSource and Editions in particular are all about.

So, welcome again to our blog. We want to talk about anything that has to do with books, with publishing, with libraries, with technology…..come join the party.


P.S. Many of you may have heard that Barnes & Noble is for sale. Leonard Riggio, the founder, will probably lead a group of investors and take the chain private (again). It was not long ago that the entire industry was in fear and trepidation about the power and control that the super store chains would have on the book world.  Everyone fretted that one company, with over 700 stores, would so dominate the market. They indeed did change the landscape. There are very few independent stores around. In 2001, B & N’s total market capitalization was $2.2 billion while Amazon’s capitalization was $3.6 billion.

Now the shoe is on the other foot. B & N today is capitalized at $950 million while Amazon is currently at $55 billion. Who’s the monster now…….?

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