I can come to your library, book club meeting, or conference to talk about how to help your readers find their next good read. Click here for more information.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

ILA Reports Part 2: Bang For Your Buck

As I mentioned here, one of the programs I attended was explicitly about Readers Advisory From the program guide:
Bang for Your Buck: Reader Services Edition
Libraries don’t have the funding for costly reader databases
or staff anymore, so how can we still reach our readers in
today’s uncertain climate? Learn about a variety of innovative
and virtual programs, tools, resources, and tricks to offer
expert readers’ advisory service without breaking the bank.
Speakers: Mick Jacobsen, Skokie Public Library;
Lynnanne Pearson, Skokie Public Library; Leah White,
Morton Grove Public Library; and Nicole Wilhelms, Downers
Grove Public Library
Leah went first and shared some of her rules about effective and efficient service to readers.  Her advice was:
  1. Make your RA service easy-- She talked about having displays everywhere you could because the patrons love when we have books on display.  She said (only half kidding) if she could she would cover every inch of the library in slat wall to display as much as possible.
  2. Keep calm and carry on-- I loved this one.  It should be every public desk worker's motto. It is the easiest way to get through the day.
  3. Move around. Get up and move around-- For more on how I feel about this click here.
  4. Read best and worst reviews-- Thanks to Leah for saying in her program that she learned this from me.  I teach the students this, to read the 5 star and 1 star reviews of a book on Amazon. This gives you a simulation of real patrons who loved and hated a book. This helps you to help readers better. 
Nicole was next.  She highlighted the Downers Grove RA services available on the web. She also suggested the best free RA resources for keeping up to date. (Thanks for the plug for this blog.) She touted Early Word as the one resource you cannot live without.  I agree.

Mick spent his time highlighting the success of Skokie's Book Match program.  I have attended programs on this wonderful service before and posted about it here.  What I learned this time however, was that with a $200 a year survey monkey account, you can do a lot for your patrons.  They have now suggested 10,000 books to patrons using Book Match.

Finally, Lynnanne, who is the Manager of Readers' Services at Skokie spoke about some of her inexpensive tricks to serve patrons better.
  • Get your RA reference sources out from behind your desk and put them somewhere that patrons can access them.  She showed an example of a display on a genre with reference books for that genre out with the novels.
    • This is something I have thought about doing for a while.  I hope to find a way to try this at the BPL
  • If your nonfiction books are housed away from your fiction, start a nonfiction RA subcommittee.
  • She also urged us to make our web pages more dynamic by changing the front page of the RA section monthly.
    • We do not do this, but should
  • Finally, she ended with excellent advice for all librarians everywhere: Constantly edit, refine, and reevaluate services you are offering. So simple, so effective, yet, how many of us truly do this.  I will now.
That is what I explicitly learned at this program.  Not only did I want to share this with all of you, but I also wanted to use this report as an opportunity to make a plug for RA training in general.

Look, I got a lot our of this program and I am considered knowledgeable in the field.  We all can stand to learn something new.  Never think you know too much, and attend trainings whenever you can.

If you have further questions, I can get you in contact with the presenters.  Click here to email me.

No comments: