RA research survey results and other news

Survey winners

If your January was anything like Jo’s and mine, you’ll understand why this post has taken me so long to get to. But enough of that! We appreciate everyone who took the time to complete the RA survey and who passed it on to colleagues to complete.

As promised we have two winners – one from Australia and one from New Zealand. Congratulations Tracey from Victoria and Rachel from New Zealand – your $50 iTunes giftcards (for your respective countries) are on their way to you. Both ladies said that they never win stuff – well their luck has changed! 

After Jo’s very busy time on the organising committee for NLS6, we got together in the same room to work on our research project. We interviewed Catherine Johnson and Ellen Forsyth in the Exhibition Hall at ALIAOnline, we skyped with Vassiliki Veros, got into our survey data analysis, contacted some survey respondents for further information, and discussed contextual readers’ advisory again with Paul Brown and Sally Pewhairangi. We also met with Laidley Library Coordinator Nic Kilah at Gatton Library. As a librarian in a small rural library, Nic asked some good questions of us that helped focus our thinking. Thanks Nic!

Some conference delegates would have seen me in a short film in Lyndelle Gunton’s NLS6 presentation – Practitioner research: Applying research skills in the information profession. As I said thereI highly recommend submitting an application for the next QPLA research scholarship. Research is a reflective practice in which you can learn at least as much as you hope to convey to others.

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do different – bookclubs and reading groups

Today’s post title inspired by NLS6 which I’ve been following today (while Jo’s there working)…

Have you read 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami? Contribute to Paul Brown and Sally Pewhairangi’s 1Q84 Files: An RA investigation. The original His and Hers Reading Map Project which will ultimately reveal more about contextual readers advisory. Lucky you if you’re catching Paul’s discussion at Information Online on Thursday.

National Reading Group Day celebrates reading groups!

THIS inspired me – National Reading Group Day celebrates reading groups in Great Britain. What a way for libraries to shout about the value of reading in their communities.

Think bookclubs are a bunch of people sitting around a table discussing a book they’re all supposed to have read?
Do different! Start with the basics. A bookclub is people who enjoy reading coming together to talk about what they’ve read. Or to meet people.

Now, do this – The Walking Bookgroup (via @pollyalida and @jobeaz today). Another is the The Walking Bookclub in Illinois who are considering Playaway devices. Search online for ‘walking bookgroups’: this is big.

Or this – Read Watch Play online reading group from NSW Readers Advisory Group. I wrote an article for the January-February InCite featuring this group and our Book of the Month program (will link to it when it’s online). Join in on Tuesday 26 February from 8pm AEDT at @readwatchplay #rwpchat #heartread.

Or this – The Modern Bookclub meets in a bar (by @leahlibrarian via @sallyheroes) There was a pub near Auckland’s Botany Library that would be perfect for this, The Cock and Bull Pub and Brewery.. perfect for a men’s group?

Like this – Forget Fight Club, Join Book club and Why We Started an All Men’s Bookclub .

Or this – a radio bookclub  (we participated in NYR12, partnering with the marvellous Paula Tapiolas at our local ABC North Queensland).

Or this – Vision Impaired Persons’ Bookclub

The Walking Bookclub got me thinking about other places. The train, the train! Imagine if you lived on the Darling Downs, a good 3-4 hours by train from Brisbane. Imagine a librarian took a group of interested people to the Brisbane Writers Festival by train, hanging out in the dining car and holding a bookclub. You could do the same on the Townsville to Cairns Sunlander (because it takes all day!) perhaps if you were going up for the Tropical Writers Festival.
Or, you know, you’re a librarian – do what this commuter did – A Community on the Train.

Most bookclubs or reading groups I’ve heard of (except #rwpchat) have members read the same book in the month. Do these groups include contextual readers engagement elements to extend people’s reading into the collection, or do they just move on to the next book?
There’s a thought too. With budgets the way they are, what if your library can’t afford to buy another ten-book set of a title?
Well, there is the State Library of Queensland bookclub service so you probably won’t run out of titles for a while.

Or, you could have a bookclub where people talk about the book they’re currently reading, which is different to that of the person next to them (next to them physically, or online perhaps at GoodReads.. in the Australian Women Writers Challenge). In this sort of group, the reader is recommending the book to the group. Someone else in the group might read it next if they like what they hear. I’ve seen more published about running a traditional bookclub than about multi-title bookclubs – is there anything out there?
There’s value in both types. In the former you get to hear what someone from a different background and gender thinks of the book which can give you a new perspective (I enjoyed being on the ABC panel with author Dr Glen Chilton who is from Canada).
But I also like the thought of people recommending books to me. We did a staff readers engagement exercise last year where we did that for each other and I was given a fabulous book – Saturday by Ian McEwan. I’ve read several of his other titles since and gave this title to another friend (same title, different copy, I’m not ‘regifting’!).  Check it out on McEwan’s site, which also features Henry Perowne’s fish stew recipe – a lovely tactile cooking scene to match those in Chocolat and The School of Essential Ingredients.

And with Skype we can still keep people connected with reading even if they’re in remote areas.

So why do different on bookclubs? Because they represent an important part of what libraries are about – connections between people. Because as delegates and twitter followers heard today at NLS6 librarians need to embed themselves in the community in new ways, with less of  a focus on the physical building. Because if you’re only reaching a certain demographic, a change in approach could mean you reach other people in your community – and you can show them the value of reading too. And the value of making connections.

As with all great reader services, I advocate training for staff who lead bookclubs and reading groups. There’s a lot of information available online and in print. With such an important service we need to be well trained.