Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Article Note: On Readers' Advisory and Going Past the Bestsellers

Citation for the article:

Kuzyk, Raya. "A Reader at Every Shelf." Library Journal 15 February 2006: 32-35.

I read the article via Academic Search Premier.

This is a small piece on Readers' Advisory, specifically on getting readers past the bestsellers using a little technology and some marketing ideas. Since I am all for getting more people to read, I decided to read this.

The article begins with a discussion of e-readers' advosory; in other words, using online tools to provide RA services. Kuzyk describes an advantage of this approach: "making the plunge to web-based RA can mean less work, faster distribution, saved paper costs--not to mention that the audience and potential new users, would be receptive" (32). The article describes how the Williamsburg Regional Library (VA) runs an RA program using online forms for patrons to complete. As I understand it, this seems like a type of reader profile. The patron completes the form, and an RA librarian replies. As I read about this, I wondered why couldn't we do something similar here. While RA is not a primary mission here for us, on a smaller scale, something like that could work for us to move more books. We order a diverse range of fiction and nonfiction that, in my humble opinion, deserves to circulate more. Some recommendations could be recreational, but why not book recommendations for academic topics as well? I am not quite sure where I am headed with this, but there's an idea in there someplace.

Kuzyk goes on to discuss some of the RA features found on various library websites including reviews, lists, and forums. While I was thinking, this caught my eye: "Imagine what an article like the one in the [Ossining Public Library (NY)] newsletter's latest issue, 'Five of My Favorite Books of Feminist Speculative Fiction,' could do for the Elisabeth Vonarburgs or even the Charlotte Perkins Gillmans in your stacks" (32). I am just thinking in terms of five favorite books in {insert your topic/theme here}. It could make an interesting newsletter article. Or if nothing else, it could work as a prompt for one of my blogs.

I also liked the idea of a "based on a book" list of books, novels, short fiction, and plays made into movies. I even had a request for something like this at one point. Maybe it's time I got a move on that.

The article also gives a brief summary of how libraries are using blogs for RA. Needless to say in our case, we should be using the official library blogs here for book reviews and reading features some more.

Some other quotes I want to note:
  • "How much work does it take to maintain a blog? The one at Marin County Free Library, San Rafael, CA, relies on five staff members to contribute content, one person for every week day. E-services librarian Sarah Houghton says the blog 'has helped us communicate to our patrons, in yet another medium, about what's new at the library.' She estimates that each post requires 5-15 minutes, 'depending on the length, hyperlinks, or images involved" (34).
I think the idea above works if you have a "well-oiled machine" for a staff. For a staff that may be discovering blogs or still learning, I would expect more time investment. I do wonder how much time her staff spends finding and prepping the content outside of the 5-15 minute estimate.
  • "Each underappreciated book that comes out of the stacks is advertisement for further exploration" (35).
  • [RA Services librarian Andrew] Smith highlights another integral strategy: continual staff development on the RA front" (35).


ricklibrarian said...


There is more about the Williamsburg model for readers' advisory in the Spring 2006 issue of Reference and Adult Services Quarterly. I blogged about it twice.


Angel, librarian and educator said...

Rick: Looks like I will have to search your blog as well as find the issue. Thanks for the tips. Best, and keep on blogging.