Monday, March 20, 2006

Article Note: On Readers' Advisory for Small Public Libraries

Citation for the article:

Stover, Kaite Mediatore. "Working Without a Net: Readers' Advisory in the Small Public Library." Reference and User Services Quarterly 45.2 (Winter 2005): 122-125.

I read the article in print.

This column provides a lot of low-tech ideas for readers' advisory. While it is geared to small public libraries, I found one or two ideas worth exploring for my setting. I am just going to make some notes:
  • "One possible solution to the lack of time for face-to-face readers' advisory interactions is to expand the library's passive readers' advisory services" (123). Now, we don't do a huge amount of RA in my library, but there are a couple of classes that need some degree of RA. These could benefit from some passive techniques such as lists, some promotional additions in our publications (the newsletter, the library blogs), and some additional displays.
  • "Make talking about books a part of staff meetings. One way to end meetings on a high note is to ask attendees what each has been reading and talk a little about the book. Ask one person at each meeting to keep a list of titles mentioned, then photocopy the list for all staff or post it in the shared staff common area" (123). A great idea overall. I think in an academic setting the temptation may be to talking about "shop" reading. I think avoiding that is preferable. While I think it is necessary at some point to share our professional reading, the end of a long staff meeting makes talk of light or recreational reading preferable. Just a thought.
  • "Leave multicolored index cards at the public service desk for patrons, and invite comments and suggestions about current reading. Staff members should be encouraged to contribute recent titles in the news, book club selections, or recent favorite authors. If time allows, have a staff member add the library's call number to the list. After a handful of cards have been collected, put them on a ring, and leave it at the public service desk for patrons to flip through" (123-124).
  • "Feature a 'Book of the Day' at the checkout point" (124). According to the author, one can then add a homemade bookmark with title, author, and a brief note about the book. Repeat the process as a book is taken. Simple and cool.
  • "Creat a Good-Book full of reading lists, award winners, local newspaper reviews of books, booklists from other libraries, Library Journal's Reader's Shelf columns, Booklist's Readalike features, bestseller lists, or anything suitable. Keep this homemade readers' advisory tool at the public service desk for reading suggestions or put out for patrons to browse" (124). This was my favorite suggestion. It is simple, very practical, and can be made accessible. I already collect various lists and reading suggestions, so those could be a start. For those with more of an L2 bent, I can see a wiki being used for this, but then it would be a staff tool, although making it open yields other possibilities. In this moment, the notebook idea seems excellent and easy to implement.
  • Of course, assuming you have access, don't forget the Internet, which is full of many free RA resources.

No comments: