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.

Thoughts from the other side

Happy new year!
Just a little post today to celebrate the Auckland libraries that we know and love, and to share some thoughts from library users.

Wendy visited all 55 Auckland libraries in 2011 and blogged about it, and she provided a link to a paper about the development of Tupu Youth Library .
Wendy’s blog provides an insight into how users view what we do in readers advisory

In one section, I came across a pamphlet  with recommendations for biographies, autobiographies and memoirs. In another, there was a pamphlet for romance novels. These kinds of reviews and suggestions are a great tool for library users. And if you find the book you want is already out, ask a librarian and they’ll be able to help you request the book – with the resources of 55 libraries at the click of a button, I’m sure it doesn’t take long for the book to reach your local branch.

This led me to another blogger, Claire, touring Auckland libraries – need to see about starting an official tour program perhaps 🙂
And here’s the image that I never managed to get while I was over there – Claire’s photo of Robert Sullivan’s poem Kawe Reo used to great effect at Central.

In our survey we looked at evaluation of readers advisory programs. Do we capture what our community thinks and how they are served? It would be good business sense to get this right. How do you engage with your community to ensure your RA programs are making a positive impact?  How do you measure impact?

One thing would be to capture the online posts about your library from twitter, blogs, FB, and use them in reports. There are people in your community discussing the library online – that’s a good thing.

A Queensland blogger is touring libraries – if she has visited yours have you included her posts in your library’s reports? That’s something I can start doing (our library gets some good comments on FB and twitter).

wish we were there (again)

We took a lot of photos in Auckland, mostly inside libraries and certainly of many librarians. Check out the many readers advisory techniques used in Auckland’s libraries on our flickr collection.

And if you’re visiting Auckland, please drop in to the libraries and say hello from us. We miss those guys!

As well as meeting great librarians from the public libraries we also met the very inspirational Fiona Mackie, President of SLANZA (great article about her and Word Up in Collected #9, pages 16-17) and Catherine Frew from the Corporate Library. We caught up with the marvellous Tosca Waera (Social Media Coordinator, the personality behind @Auckland_Libs), Sally Pewhairangi from Finding Heroes (who inspires us with her big ideas) and Paul Brown – our amazing tour guide and readers advisory expert.

Here’s a link to a LIANZA 2012 paper by Richard Misilei, the awesome manager of  Tupu Youth Library – South Auckland Libraries: Connecting with Southside Youth. A library service to be proud of. If you’ve been there, shout about it!

Auckland City Libraries

We visited Central City, Botany, Tupu, Onehunga, Massey, Titirangi, Henderson, Takapuna and East Coast Bays libraries.

We all read here

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Day 4 of our study visit and today we visited some of the libraries to the west of Auckland. First up was Titirangi Library, surrounded by lush rolling countryside and the harbour. I am sure if I worked there I would have my nose to a window gazing at the views! We talked to Rachel and staff at Titirangi, and asked what type of things do you do for readers advisory in this library? Rachel responded straight away with, ‘we all read here and love talking to our customers about books’! Best answer ever!!

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Next up was Massey Community Library, co-located with a YMCA and a daycare centre. The spaces are built around Eco principles with water features outside helping cool the inside of the building. Of interest was the amount of staff on the floor talking and helping customers.

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Lastly we visited Waitakere Central Library, co-located with the Unitech across the road. This library had a fabulous local studies collection, and had much more of a research focus, reflecting the community it serves.

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Alison and I have been amazed at the variety of libraries and the communities they serve within Auckland City Libraries. We have been introduced as the librarians from Australia (haha!!) and have been blown away by the generosity shown to us by all the staff we have spoken to. Thank you so much for sharing your libraries, collections and ideas.

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Everybody trundling

I find it very funny that both Australians and New Zealanders speak English, and yet there are words that I have no idea what they are talking about!! For example ‘trundlers’, the NZ equivalent to a shopping trolley!! Such a classic word 🙂

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Today we visited three different libraries within the Auckland City Library service. First was Tupu youth library at Otara where we met Richie and his staff of children and teen librarians. Tupu is a purpose built library created to meet the needs of the youth in the community, and to provide safe spaces for young people. I really loved this space and idea, and was impressed with the staff and their vision for their service built on community and respect.

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Next up was Botany Library where we met Karen and her staff. Botany library is located in a shopping centre and was built with retail principles in mind. Extended opening hours, purpose built equipment that promotes and displays collections and staff recruited to reflect retail principles of customer service and deliver a high end retail experience.

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Last up was Onehunga Library, where we met Rachel and her team, and were reminded of why we do our job. Onehunga is located in what was traditionally an industrial, lower socio-economic area that is changing into a boutique community. Rachel believes attitudes make a big difference to the service you provide, and has staff greeting community members and spending time with them on the floor. We loved how she encouraged readers advisory using the young people in her library!

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We also witnessed Phillipe – one of the children who use the library everyday – thank Rachel and her staff with flowers and a song for the time spent helping him this year. Alison and I were very moved, and it was a lovely reminder of the importance of libraries in local communities.

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Last up, I saw this recruitment sign, and was very taken by it! What message does it send? Who is their intended audience? What type of people do you think would apply? What skills would they need? Made me wonder about recruiting librarians and what we would put on a poster such as this….

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