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?

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.

it’s who you know

The point of going to a conference is to learn more about the profession, and to meet up with others in the profession. I’ve sometimes found the most valuable things happen outside of the conference framework, but happen because of it.
We both went to the QPLA off-year conference held at State Library of Queensland, Brisbane. It was a mini-conference but packed full of valuable information and ideas. More on that soon.

We’re grateful to Nadia Patch, Coordinator of Reading at Brisbane Libraries, for spending her lunch break in an interview with us. We were so impressed with the work Nadia does and how she works with the team leaders (branch librarians) to work on a coordinated and very successful approach to reader services. Nadia’s team had developed eye-catching genre bookmarks which feature a space for librarians to write their own recommendation before personally giving the bookmark to a customer.
And the BCC bookclub booklet features 40 reviews written by library staff – awesome production.

We were also excited to meet Sue McKerracher, Director of the Library Agency managing National Year of Reading. After the conference I was fortunate to meet with Jane Cowell and Tammy Morley at State Library (Jane is Director Public and Indigenous Library Services and Tammy is Manager Capacity Development). Jane and Tammy were very supportive when I asked the question – how can we work with State Library to support reader services in Queensland public libraries?
They’ve also suggested we submit an article to the PLC enews, so look out for that.

The conference was all about advocacy, and personally I found Sue Henzcel and DK’s presentations the most valuable in this area (Sue on metrics and DK on social media advocacy). I found a lot I can use to support reader services delivery in the public library service.

I finished my trip with a visit to Robin Lee at Brisbane Square Library (colleagues Suzanne and Esther had visited BSL and Fairfield to check out RFID) – and met some more wonderful Brisbane librarians.

Conferences and library visits are an invaluable opportunity to meet talented people who are doing great things in our industry.

Who have you met who has influenced your professional practice?

 

we work together just not in the same building

Jo and I live and work over 1000 kilometres from each other, but when Jo suggested submitting a joint application for the research scholarship I didn’t hesitate to say yes. The last time I collaborated on a project online was maybe ten years ago at uni and that was torturous. We were studying distance, but I didn’t know the other students and there were varying degrees of commitment to the subject. It was all pre-twitter, pre-interactive online communities. But Jo? We’re old twitter buddies. We both love Elvis. How could this not work?
We email a little. We work on the same documents in googledocs. We share articles on dropbox. We skype regularly. And then we tweet about stuff and chart our journey here on wordpress.
Do you work with someone, just not in the same building? How’s it going for you?