Rebecca Vnuk | Movers & Shakers 2010 - Advocates

Library Journal March 15, 2010: Rebecca Vnuk, Mover & Shaker

Backlist to Front

“I know I live a charmed life!” says Rebecca Vnuk, writer, consultant, former head of adult services, and cofounder of ShelfRenewal, a readers' advisory resource that helps librarians renew interest in backlist titles (slogan: “nobody puts backlist in a corner”). A longtime reviewer (for VOYA and LJ) and specialist in chick lit, with two books of her own on women's fiction recently out from Greenwood Press, Vnuk had one of those flashes of inspiration last summer. While listening to an American Library Association presentation about the “überfabulous” blog EarlyWord, Vnuk and Karen Kleckner (an LJ 2009 Mover & Shaker) determined to do a fabulous blog of their own. They brainstormed all afternoon and came up with the ShelfRenewal concept. The blog was up a few months later, and then LJ asked if it could be part of its online lineup. “I was floored!” says Vnuk.

How does she turn dusty classics into hot stuff? Well, a recent ShelfRenewal post recommended Stephen King's 1000-plus-page tome Under the Dome in the same breath as Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. Not surprisingly, Vnuk hopes that the future of libraries includes, well, books. “DVDs, video games, and programs are nice, but the fundamental fact is that libraries are based on books, and sometimes I think we should concentrate on what we can do better than anyone else,” Vnuk says, “books and reading.”

This idea connects Vnuk to patrons. “She is about the book,” writes Kleckner in her nomination. “She advocates passionately for best practices of 21st-century tools…. But at the core, every article she writes, every presentation she gives, comes back to selecting a story that will speak to the reader…. No one can meet her or read her and doubt for a minute the relevance of libraries in our lives.”


Rebecca Vnuk, Forest Park, IL

CURRENT POSITION Freelance author and consultant

DEGREE MLIS, Dominican University, 1998; BA, theater, music minor, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, 1994

GOOD USE OF BA Has relied on acting skills to “get me through many a tough patron situation”

BLOG Cocreator/writer of ShelfRenewal (

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