We all remember the beautifully and delicately illustrated Beatrix Potter stories from our youth. On Tuesday, August 26 at 1pm Eastern, our online programming series continues with Marta McDowell, author of Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life (Timber Press), which looks at Potter’s gardens and her inspirations.

We will be using GoToMeeting for this program — to attend, all you need to do is visit https://www2.gotomeeting.com/join/758257770 on the day of the program, and you’ll be able to see Marta’s beautiful photos, as well as participate in a Q & A at the end of the program.

Due to copyright with some of the images, only a portion of the program will be recorded — so be sure to schedule some time in your day to attend!

This program is part of our ongoing series of online programming, intended to help staff at our libraries experiment with different kinds of programming tools and see the possibilities for serving online reading communities. In addition, these types of online programs make for excellent user generated content in your BiblioCommons catalog.

Spike the Board Cat is very excited to announce the “beta” test of our new catalog, Bibliocommons! 

Check it out here: lawrence.bibliocommons.com.

You can now create an account with a user name (no more having to remember your barcode!) and make reading (or watching or listening!) lists, write reviews, and see what people in Lawrence — and other cities — are reading. Don’t worry, you can keep everything private if you want to. The search function is much easier, and you can apply filters to narrow down your results. It’s a lot of fun! Explore the site and see what you think. If you have questions, just ask

Be Heard with Edelweiss and LibraryReads. Presentations by: Joe Foster, Stephanie Chase and Stephanie Anderson

Join industry experts for a fun and informative training webinar about Edelweiss and LibraryReads. Edelweiss’s Joe Foster will present alongside Stephanie Anderson of Darien Library and Stephanie Chase of BiblioCommons.

Be Heard with Edelweiss and LibraryReads!
March 5th from 4-5:30pm Eastern time.


- How to find ARCs
- How to write a blurb
- How to nominate titles for LibraryReads
- How to track titles in Edelweiss (tags, collections, shelves, etc.)
- How to connect with other librarian users in the Edelweiss Community
- Ordering through Edelweiss

Register here.

** There is room for a 1000 librarians, so reserve your spot now.

Don’t miss the opportunity to take part in our training sessions this September with Nancy Pearl. We’re offering six half-hour sessions, spread over two days — join us for one, or all six! 

The first 15 minutes of each session will be recorded, so our libraries can use them to support further staff development, as mini-trainings, in staff meetings, and so forth. In these live sessions, the last 15 minutes will be saved for participants to ask Nancy questions and have an open discussion about the topic at hand.

Please see our August newsletter for more information, and for a link to register.

Over the course of the Summer and early Fall, BiblioCommons will be holding webinars on our services and other topics of interest to public libraries. 

Have you reviewed our fall webinars? In addition to our webinars to help staff take full advantage of the tool (everything from our popular Twelve Tips session to a week-long celebration of online RA with Nancy Pearl and the Tulsa, Seattle, Edmonton, and Multnomah libraries), we have a look at the continuous integration process on 8/29, ideas for using summer sites year-round on 9/9, and an introduction to search on 9/17.

Click on the link to read more about each webinar, and to register.

Experimenting with Online Programming

As part of our work this summer with digital badging, we’re looking at how badges can draw together online communities — in particular, around favorite authors. This is the drive behind our author fan badges project.

In support of that project, we are also experimenting with providing programming to online communities. For libraries, in particular, the technological hurdles to providing an online program can seem significant, and we hope to help libraries realize it can be simple and easy to provide an online component to an in-person program, or to offer online-only programs.

We’ve worked with publishers to provide a wide variety of different kinds of programs. We hope you will be excited about the authors we have, but also take advantage of trying out the different kinds of programs.

Facebook chats are probably the least time consuming online program. The nature of the program makes it asynchronous, so it is easy for both the organizer and participant to dip in and out of the discussion. Decide what time you would like to have your author available to participate, and then start the discussion with a post on your Facebook page at that time. Ask for the discussion to occur in the comments. You can have the organizer, the author, and all of the participants be located anywhere, and only the organizer needs to have admin privileges for the Facebook page you are using. If the author does not have a Facebook presence they can or want to reply through, the organizer can post the author’s replies.

We hosted a Facebook Chat with Edward Jay Epstein, author of The Annals of Unsolved Crimes, on June 11, in partnership with melvillehouse. You can see the discussion on their Facebook page and a summary on their blog.


Next in the list might be Twitter chats, which operate under the same theory but require more organizational oversight, as you follow the chat by hashtag, and the comments may not necessarily be in order. As with Facebook chats, the organizer, author, and participants can be anywhere!

Why not move your book discussions online? You could use Facebook or Twitter to do so, or something more formal, with a moderator. We suggested Macmillan’s the Chief Inspector Gamache Re-Read as a great example.


Google Hangouts are an easy way to connect an author and multiple audiences — though, be forewarned, you may need to spend a significant amount of time making sure your organization has a Google+ page that is connected to your YouTube channel, and that you have the appropriate people as managers of the page, able to set up the Hangout.

We recommend using Hangouts on Air. Like a regular hangout, up to 10 people can join — but unlike a regular Hangout, you can schedule the event and share the link, and you have people watching (but not participating) in the program. That means you, the library, can have the ability to talk to the author (so, two people in your Hangout), and an unlimited number of people watching — or, you could have the library, the author, and 8 people from your bookclub or 8 winners from your Summer Reading Program or whatnot in the Hangout and an unlimited number of people watching. The 10 participants can be in 10 different places. For more information, see the Hangouts on Air FAQ.

We have several Hangouts scheduled, with the first being John Searles on July 17 at 7pm, followed by Marilyn Johnson on July 21 and Ann Hood in August.

Livestreaming may be the most complex kind of online programming, because many libraries do not have the technology to offer high quality streaming video. That being said, many publishers are offering streaming programs for their authors, which libraries could simply add in to their programming schedules, and either display in their meeting rooms, ask patrons to participate in from their computers, or both. Some of our larger libraries, notably nypl, livestream programs.

We shared the livestream of the keynote and Q&A from randomhouse's Outlander Fan Retreat with Diana Gabaldon on June 7.


Providing deeper interactions for patrons: in addition to hosting the online programs, think about ways to reach out to patrons and offer something special. Maybe patrons patrons who meet certain criteria (they have a fan badge!) can email questions ahead of time, or be part of the small number who can interact with the author in the Google Hangout. Offer patrons who attend the ability to obtain a digital badge, through a badge code, for being part of the program.

What about author visits via Skype? Skype allows one-to-one video conferencing, so the author can call in to your library, and your library can set up a computer, projector, speakers, and a microphone. Skype chats can feel really warm and intimate, as often you might be talking with the author in their own home. It can be difficult to use Skype for a purely online program because of the limitations of how many people can call in — hence the use of Google Hangouts. A Hangout can give the same experience, but with the ability to have more participants.

Join us on September 4 at 7pm Eastern for a chat with Amy Stewart, author of THE DRUNKEN BOTANIST, WICKED PLANTS, and WICKED BUGS.  We’ll have a Google Hangout with Amy and BiblioCommons’ Stephanie; in keeping with the theme of Amy’s most recent book, we’ll be mixing a cocktail on air, so bring your questions and have your liquor cabinet at the ready.

We’ll be inviting ten folks to join us in the hangout — try your mixology skills on air and have the chance to chat with Amy. To participate, tweet or post on the Google+ Event page a photo of you with one of Amy’s books and tag or mention your library, and we’ll draw from the participants.

Our Summer of Programming Continues

This summer, we have been experimenting with a variety of online programs to help staff at our libraries see the possibilities in reaching out to their online reading communities — and also to show how to incorporate more video from programming into your catalog following the program.

We have three more programs scheduled for the summer:


Friday, August 22 at 2pm Eastern: Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle and An Italian Wife (W.W. Norton)
we’re using Hangouts on Air — join us at the event page, where you can watch and submit questions.


Tuesday, August 26 at 1pm Eastern: Marta McDowell, author of Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life (Timber Press)

we’re using GoToMeeting; log in on the day of the program using https://www2.gotomeeting.com/join/758257770 to attend.


Thursday, September 4 at 7pm Eastern: Amy Stewart, author of The Drunken Botanist (Algonquin)
we’re using Hangouts on Air — and a select group of participants will be able to be part of the program, mixing up cocktails with Amy! We will also be streaming the program via the event page

Our past programs:

Betsy Bird (NYPL, Fuse8) interviewed Mara Rockliff and Eliza Wheeler, author and illustrator of The Grudge Keeper; watch the video off the catalog page for The Grudge Keeper in your BiblioCommons catalog (for example, at NYPL).

Marilyn Johnson, author of This Book is Overdue! and Lives in Ruins; watch on the catalog pages for Marilyn’s books in your BiblioCommons catalog (for example, on the page for This Book is Overdue in NYPL’s catalog).

John Searles, author of Help for the Haunted; watch on the catalog page for Help for the Haunted in your BiblioCommons catalog (for example, at NYPL).

You can also read more about why we are doing this and the other past programs in the series, featuring a livestreamed event, a Facebook chat, and an online book club.


Join BiblioCommons and nypl and schoollibraryjournal's Betsy Bird (@FuseEight on Twitter) on Monday, August 11 at 8pm EDT for the next in our series of online programs, as Betsy leads a discussion with author Mara Rockliff (left) and illustrator Eliza Wheeler (right) on their picture book The Grudge Keeper (Peachtree).

Intended for adults, this program will highlight the collaborative process between the author and the illustrator through their own stories, notes, and sketches, as well as sharing how we adults can truly appreciate the picture book medium.

This program is part of our ongoing series to highlight how libraries can take advantage of common tools, including BiblioCommons, to serve their online reading community. For this program, we’ll be using a product many of us are quite familiar with: GoToMeeting! With its easy ability to share screens, highlight visual content, have multiple speakers, and mute the audience until Q&A time, GoToMeeting is a great resource for this kind of program.

All you need to attend is the following information:

1.  Please join my meeting, Aug 11, 2014 at 8:00 PM PDT.


2.  Use your microphone and speakers (VoIP) - a headset is recommended. Or, call in using your telephone.

Canada: +1 (647) 497-9373

United States: +1 (646) 749-3117

Access Code: 182-359-194

Audio PIN: Shown after joining the meeting

Meeting ID: 182-359-194

Join us on July 21 at 4pm Eastern for a chat with Marilyn Johnson, every librarian’s favorite chronicler of librarianship (see THIS BOOK IS OVERDUE!)  We’ll have a Google Hangout with Marilyn and BiblioCommons’ Stephanie; bring your questions for Marilyn, and, well, hang out. Marilyn may be best known to librarians for THIS BOOK IS OVERDUE!, but she spent time previously working as an obituary writer (see samples on her website), and published a book on obituary writing and writers, THE DEAD BEAT. Her new book, LIVES IN RUINS: ARCHAEOLOGISTS AND THE SEDUCTIVE LURE OF HUMAN RUBBLE (HarperCollins), is due out in November.

Find out about what Marilyn’s next book is about — even if it can’t possibly be as interesting as one about librarians ;)