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'how to'

Aug 28

Keeping Track of What You Read by Andrea Lorenz

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on August 28, 2020 at 11:55 AM by Genesis Gaule

I read A LOT. I read science fiction and fantasy novels, true crime, historical fiction, graphic novels and picture books. So many picture books. In any given year, I will read between seventy and one hundred and fifty books. Because part of my job is to recommend books to you, it’s important for me to keep track of what I read. There are lots of different ways to do this and today I’m going to highlight my favorites.


I would be lost without Goodreads. It’s primarily how I keep track of what I want to read, what I’m currently reading, and what I’ve already read. When you’ve created your Goodreads account and profile (it is free to create a Goodreads account), you can then start curating the books you’ve read or want to read.

The way you keep track of books on Goodreads is by shelf. You start with some default shelves - read, currently read, and to read – but can add an infinite number of shelves. I have shelves for each year, different genres, even books I own vs books I borrowed from the library. That isn’t all that Goodreads is good for. You can write reviews and give star ratings to books you’ve read, read others’ reviews, join discussion boards, and enter book giveaways. Goodreads has an app and a website and I like that I can access it on the go (especially if I’m in a bookstore or the library and want to look back on what I’ve shelved as “to read”)

screenshot of my account in library catalog
History and Lists in the Library Catalog

To turn the History feature on,
you need to log in to your library account in our catalog using your library card number and password. (Don’t remember your password?Give us a call and we can reset it in a jiffy!)

  • Click on My Account in the upper right hand corner, then click on Account Preferences.

  • In Account Preferences, click on Search and History Preferences.

  • Click on the checkbox next to Keep history of checked out items? and all the items you check out after that will be kept in your account!

Now you can see your list under Items Checked Out and Check Out History tabs.

If you are browsing the library catalog and see a book that you want to read but are already in the middle of five, you can add it to a list. You can create a list from My Lists or directly from the catalog.

  • When you’re logged in, you will get a button next to the title of a book that says Add to my list.

  • From there you can create a new list or add it to one you’ve already created.

I have lists for Possible Storytime Books, Picture Book Biographies, and Nonfiction I Want To Read Eventually.

photograph of handwritten book log book
Pen and Paper

There’s nothing like good, old fashioned pen and paper too. I’ve kept several lists of books I’ve already read and books I want to read throughout the years. My mom even bought me a notebook for this that had space for titles, authors and even a review!Some library patrons will write their initials on the date due sticker at the back of the book, letting them easily flip to the back to see if they’ve read that one or not. (We’re cool with this – we still put the date due stickers in the back of books specifically for this reason).

Whatever way you decide to it, keeping track of the books you read is a great way to supplement your memory. If you want any more insight or help with any of these methods I’ve mentioned, let us know at the library!We’re happy to help fellow book lovers!

Jul 31

Browsing the Stacks by Cody Rasmussen

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on July 31, 2020 at 12:09 PM by Genesis Gaule

Looking down the aisle between mystery and junior book shelves

What’s the first thing one does when they visit a new library? They start walking around looking at the different shelves.

Each library usually has its own system that they use to organize their books. I have seen this done in a variety of ways, whether it was by subject material, by the author, or even just by the title of the books themselves. For me it can be both amusing at times, or just downright confusing. Our library has sometimes confused our patrons as well, but there are some easy steps to figuring out the EGF Campbell Library.

Guide to the Library:
  1. One of the first things you need to know about this library, is that the books are first separated by the subject. We have Mystery, Junior, Adult Fiction, and even Military History sections. The sections are clearly labeled on the sides of the shelves, so I’ve found that they can easily be located.

  2. Authors are spread out around the library, so that is one thing that can mess someone up. It’s happened to myself quite a few times. One author that is spread out would be James Patterson, whose books are located anywhere from Junior to Nonfiction. In those cases where the author has written in a variety of genres, the best option would be to either go to a librarian and ask for assistance; or to simply look at the card catalog that is available to the public.

  3. We also have our Nonfiction and Easy Nonfiction sections. These are done using the Dewey Decimal System, and many of you probably have some experience with it.

  4. The library staff is always willing to help browse around with you as well. We all have different interests so we are able to give recommendations to many that would like to read a particular subject.

The last advice I would have for browsing the library is simple, just walk around and look at the shelves. You have no idea how many times I would just walk around and stumble across a book that seems to call to me. Just glancing at the shelves is enough to start you on your next great series.

Hope you all will enjoy browsing the stacks!

Jul 30

Do I Have to Finish It? by Charlotte Helgeson

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on July 30, 2020 at 2:47 PM by Genesis Gaule

close up of a person in a pink t-shirt reading an open book

I’ve started thousands and thousands of books. I’ve finished the majority of them. What?!?

It’s true. I haven’t finished every book I started. They didn’t all hit the spot and there are so many fantastic books I want to read.

This is where the library offers one more advantage. If I check out 2 books at the library and find that the first one isn’t entertaining me or informing me the way I had hoped then I put it aside and read my other choice. Super great idea, checking out a variety to make sure I picked the just right title.

How to pick a book that will take me where I want to go:

  • Here’s my first secret. Read the first 13 lines. Right, a good author can easily catch a reader’s attention in just a few sentences. Often, the first line grabs me and I’m off into a great read!
  • My second secret, if those lines almost caught me then I open to a random page and read only a few lines. Dialogue is good if it is fiction. The end of a subsection if it is nonfiction. If it sounds real then the book will get more of my attention. Even nonfiction books don’t always sound real.
  • I know patrons who read the end first. I’ve never done that and have no intention of trying that approach. Endings can be magnificent, especially when I’m surprised!
  • If still uncertain, my third go-to is to look for other author’s comments on the book jacket. Do I recognize the author and if so, do I like that author’s work? That can sway me.

These guidelines help me choose books for my own reading. Selection of materials for the library’s collection involves quite a bit more work and isn’t nearly as fun.

So back to where I started. How do I decide if the book is going to get better or even amazing when the beginning is ordinary? Excellent question and one our staff discusses often. Some of us have the obligatory, “I started it; I’ll finish it,” mindset. Others go with the first chapter and hope there is a catch at the end that jumps the reader into Chapter 2. Then there is the 100 page trial--way too long for me. I go back to that jump start. If I’m not caught early on there is no chance I’ll push through to the end. My list of must-reads continues to grow at a rate that will outlast my longevity.

To have a public library to try different genres, authors, or formats is a wonderful advantage. Sampling a new book can be like test driving a car or trying on new clothes. Don’t settle for ordinary when there is extraordinary on another shelf!

I’d love to hear how you choose your books. Of course, our friends are a great source of recommendations for what to read next.

In the words of a 3-year-old patron, “I picked this one because it was pink.”