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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Becky’s RA Training Tips For a Great 2015: Part 2 of 4-- Revisiting Your Favorite Resources

Yesterday, I offered the first tip, Genre-a-Day, here.

Today I have another tip that is one I am knee deep in working on myself right now-- revisiting your favorite resources.

Too often, we get stuck in a rut using the same resources to answer every question.  But, when we use the same resources over and over again, we also forget all of the other great features they have.  We also lose track of the positive changes and additions that may have been added to our old standbys, even more so than resources that are new to us.

The beginning of the year is a great time to pull up those online favorites and look at them without a specific question that needs immediate attention.  For me that means I am pulling up Lit Lovers, Goodreads, NoveList, and Early Word and taking my time to browse their offerings, click on links I have never used before, and scroll to the bottom of each and every page, reading everything that is there.

Try it for yourself.  You will be shocked as to how much more you will see when your goal is not to answer a specific question. You will get a better sense of everything this already beloved resource can do for you, and when you do get a question that involves going back to that resource, you might find an even better answer for your patron.

It is a good idea to re-familiarize yourself with your tried and true favorites in this manner at least once a year. Think about your most visited sites, make a list, and start clicking.

I also want this post to be a reminder that there are some great print resources out there too, and unlike straight reference resources, it doesn't matter if the books are a bit older.  Because as I will discussion tomorrow....BACKLIST. But that is tomorrow, for now let's get back to today.

On top of looking through my favorite online resources, I will also be going through our entire print RA Reference collection in the next few weeks. I will be both weeding and adding to the collection.  I want it to be the perfect size so that it is both efficient and effective.  We need titles to help patrons, and ones they can use to help themselves (another project I am working on-- getting the RA Reference books out in a public space and not stuck behind our service desk). The collection needs to be responsive to their needs and ready to handle a wide range of questions, but all within as small a shelf space as possible.

But before I can decide what titles that collection will be made of, I need to re-familiarize myself with the titles we have and remember why I bought them in the first place. So much like I said above about the online resources, I am spending time with these books without a specific question in mind.  As I go through them, I am thinking about how and when they could be used.

Revisiting your favorite resources, like yesterday's Genre-a-Day, can be something that happens all year long.  You do not need to do it all in the first month of the year. However, you do need to commit yourself to doing it, so I suggest in the next few days you simply make that list of your favorite resources and start in on them one at a time.

Another tip tomorrow.


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