I’ve been writing a readers’ engagement plan at work to support our venture into becoming the go-to people for all things to do about reading. I am interested to hear if other library services have developed strategic plans in this area. Let us know in the survey! Early days yet with the survey and our research, but to some extent it looks like readers advisory is just another thing library staff are asked to do. It’s not necessarily built into strategic plans or job descriptions or professional development. Staff need these foundations to become great at connecting people with books (stories and information).
Ellen Forsyth asked on twitter today ‘Is it reasonable if I suggest that library workers should spend 10 – 15 minutes a day on their own professional development?’ She is currently working in Timor Leste and the question was for that region, but this is a concept that has been tossed around in this country. In this information profession we help people search for information, but in many cases spending time searching on one’s own at work is viewed as timewasting. I believe we need to be in the spaces our community is in. They watch The First Tuesday Bookclub, read the reviews in The Age, and listen to stories on radio. If our staff do not take time to find out about these resources, then we are not providing the point of difference over Amazon or the local chain bookstore.
Training and literary knowledge is required to gather together similarly themed books for Auckland’s popular Take Five program. This is a great program for fast issues for borrowers when you have RFID, and good training for staff to gather the right books together.
You don’t gather five books of the same format, but of similarly themed content – for example with 1984 you could have The Hunger Games, a George Orwell biography or Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 , a political book on totalitarianism and the 1984 DVD. Readers have the chance to extend their reading, to discover new reading experiences. You could extend those recommendations with bitly or QR code links to your eResources, and links to download the audiobook, and music suggestions like The Dead Kennedys and Rage Against the Machine who have referenced 1984.
For expert advice I recommend you head off to Information Online in February and check out Paul Brown’s session on contextual readers advisory. It’s amazing stuff, and something that really requires strong foundations in our staff to develop and deliver this service.