Book Talking and Reading Maps: Readers Advisory Success

Beyond Chocolat Booktalk at de Studi Cooking School, with Reading MapI can highly recommend adding book talking to your professional readers’ advisory skillset. I learned so much from working on the project with Sally Pewhairangi, and attendees at our two events enjoyed themselves!

The project had two main outputs:

  • one morning and one evening booktalking event at de Studi Cooking School hosted by a librarian (me) and Chef Polly Ross.
  • a reading map in print and online created in collaboration with Sally Pewhairangi from Waimakariri District Libraries. Sally designed it – check it out…  http://issuu.com/readingmap/docs/beyondchocolat
    Save it to your mobile screen so you can pretend its an app 🙂

What worked about this project:

  • Collaboration – We both read the books, discussed them and decided where they fitted best. I think you’ll agree the reading map booklet is sumptuous. We considered online presentation formats including Pinterest before deciding on Issuu because it allowed us to include links to both of our library’s catalogues.
    You’re welcome to use the booklet as a resource for your community.
    Consider what can be done with more collaborative input…
  • Collection knowledge – We read most of the books and read up on others. We researched online, and developed a professional knowledge of around 40 books (some are also movies) with diverse appeal characteristics (some light, some informational, some contemporary, some historical, some mystical, some more grounded in reality, some with female protagonists, some with male…).
    I talked directly about 15 titles in the booktalk and had others available for people to borrow.
  • Contextual Readers Advisory – ‘Where can one book take you?’ was our starting point. Joanne Harris’ Chocolat is rich and satisfying, and if you want to keep reading we have some great recommendations for you.
    We drew out various themes from Chocolat including new beginnings, French cooking, sweet treats, the seduction angle, the heartache…
    Then in the booktalk event more cross-theme links were raised – for example, The 4 Hour Chef, School of Essential Ingredients and Cooking for Claudine all included the importance of showing respect for our food in cooking.
  • It’s more than a list – Both the booktalk and the reading map are opportunities to talk up the books with people. We used sumptuous quotes in the reading map booklet that would intrigue readers into wanting to read more. And the mouthwatering images! At the event I talked about the books, read delicious excerpts and drew out people’s stories. Some people suggested books to add.
  • More collaboration – As a follow-up you can encourage people to add their reviews to the catalogue or post them to Facebook; keep that recommendation chain going.
  • Our community – For me, people sharing their stories at both events was the most valuable part of this whole project. They saw themselves reflected in different books and shared their stories to the enrichment of all. People appreciated the professional guidance in finding more good books to read and they loved the partnership of library and cooking school. I enjoyed working in the cooking school space and people loved that Polly created sweet treats for us during the discussion. Win Win. What other community partnerships and spaces could you see working for booktalks?

I’ve had rather a lot of positive feedback about the project which has reinforced to me the value of collaboration, community engagement, use of online tools and professional development in the readers advisory field (all things Jo and I advocate). And then I found this on the Swiss Army Librarian’s blog and had another idea – add QR codes to the books to point people to the reading map so they discover it that way…

I have some people to thank for the success of this project.

  • Sally – for the rewarding collaboration and your project management, your sumptuous design, and your trans-Tasman support
  • Polly (and de Studi staff) – for the venue, the hospitality and the delectable sweet treats
  • Jo – for the initial idea, your support, and for live-tweeting the first event (yes, Jo was here!) and making people everywhere hungry for baked goods

Jo live-tweeting first Beyond Chocolat booktalk

My advice? These books are best shared with a friend, and this project is best shared with your community 🙂

Enjoy these links:
Edible Books: A Book Club with Bite http://ediblebookclub.com/
Joanne Harris on twitter: https://twitter.com/Joannechocolat

Which book or genre would you pick as a feature for a booktalk?

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!