it’s the stuff around the stuff that’s important

Promote the new book in the collection = easy.

Promote connections for readers between the new book and several others in the collection as well as authors’ sites and community connections = that’s getting towards great readers’ advisory.

So that I can develop my RA abilities I’ve been developing a couple of programs where I learn as I go, and equally as importantly – I’m collaborating with others on these programs just as I’m collaborating on this project with Jo.

The first – booktalks by librarians (with some notes from Ontario PLA fyi)

  • the opportunity to handsell a lot of related books at the same time to our community (related by various appeal factors and themes),
  • create a reading map to complement the booktalk so the readers take something away from the event – in print and online, and
  • the opportunity to collaborate with Sally Pewhairangi from Waimakariri District Libraries (we wanted to work together on something. we met up in Brisbane after NLS6 and brainstormed this. we’re skyping, working on a wiki, emailing. it’s such a great opportunity to work with Sally).

We’ve both read a stack of books (finding them through personal knowledge, our catalogues, GoodReads, blogs, articles..) and we’re sorting them into themes.
I’ll present the booktalks. Sally’s been creating the most amazing reading map.
The reading map, to me, is as important as the booktalk because it is the resource people can refer to when they want another book to read. Rather than be limited to the five read-alike books that I could immediately summon, they will be treated to a smorgasbord of dozens, all in appeal factors and themes and available in different formats. We’re working on tweetable quotes and links and downloads on authors’ sites.  We’re investigating online presentation methods which enable readers to link back to library catalogues.

Before going to Auckland I knew nothing whatever about reading maps. I presumed they were lists that answered the question ‘what will I read next?’ in the simplest possible way in print. But from talking with Sally, and learning from Paul Brown I have discovered that they ‘are a multifaceted tool which offers fuller and more rewarding encounters between the reader and literature than our industry standard book recommendation and/or Top 5 List.’ (Paul Brown on Finding Heroes)
I learned that ‘It’s the stuff around the stuff that’s important.’ ‘Contextual readers’ advisory, intelligent bundling and the remix reader’ is the big thing in RA, which Paul revealed to Information Online 2013 delegates in Brisbane. Read more there or herePaul_Brown_Contextual_RA.

Sally and Paul are collaborating on a reading map for 1Q84 that I know is going to be awesome. I’m learning so much from working with Sally on ours. I’ve read more widely and discovered more connections between books. It’s like Six-Degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon (haha).  I feel more confident in my ability to recommend books to people.

Will you consider booktalking and reading maps in your library programming? Do you offer these already? What benefits do you see? Do you make connections with community groups for them? I would love to hear all about it!

Grand plans

Take Five

Take Five

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.