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Friday, December 4, 2015

#AskaLibrarian: New Interactive RA Tool for Staff and Patrons

There are a lot of Twitter chats that are relevant to library workers who help leisure readers, but there is a fairly new one that I think stands out as one of the best already. #AskaLibrarian.


Details:

Librarians are always interested in sharing book recommendations, and now they have a new tool. Each Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. EST, they can turn to #AskaLibrarian, a twitter initiative launched by Penguin Random House and Read It Forward, a reader community program sponsored by Crown Publishing Group’s Community Development department.
Below is the full text of the article describing what this Twitter chat is trying to do. [Here is the link to the original.]

Please try to participate either with questions or answers.  Thursdays are often a meeting day for me, so I can’t be a part of it every week, but I have already participated once and loved the experience.  This past Thursday, I was booked all day, but still went back to use the hashtag, many hours later, to see what I missed.

When I did participate I loved two things about the chat:

  1. The content itself was very useful. People were asking questions and throwing out titles like crazy.  And because of the format and range of people following, the results were amazingly varied and usable right away.  I loved the mix of old and new titles. Often there is a lot of useless information to filter out in any of these social media chats, but not so much here.
  2. This chat is moderated very well. The moderators are clearly stepping in and keeping control. From making sure people don’t just reply to the “asker,” to resending requests that may have been lost in the shuffle, to keeping the conversation focused on its main mission, the moderators are working hard to make sure the chat itself is as positive and fruitful an experience as possible.
It has mostly been library and publishing people so far. The next push is to get patrons and consumers involved.  I will be interested to see how that goes, but I for one am happy with #AskaLibrarian already. It is worth your time to at least take a look.
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#AskaLibrarian Gives Librarians and Readers a New Tool

Librarians are always interested in sharing book recommendations, and now they have a new tool. Each Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. EST, they can turn to #AskaLibrarian, a twitter initiative launched by Penguin Random House and Read It Forward, a reader community program sponsored by Crown Publishing Group’s Community Development department.


The initiative brings together librarians, library patrons, other consumers, library marketing representatives, and publishers in a huge tweet swap on good books and readalikes. The hashtag facilitates searches by anyone who can’t jump in at the appointed hour.
Launched on November 11, #AskaLibrarian attracted over 200 contributors and over 600 tweets on its maiden voyage, reaching 1.1 million people on Twitter. The following week’s chat had similar numbers, and a retweet by @twitterbooks (which has over four million followers) promises to bring in more consumers—especially important with the holidays coming, when #AskaLibrarian’s promoters hope to make a big push. It adds up to a lot of book talk for readers everywhere, but librarians definitely run this show.
Why #AskaLibrarian?
Tasked with developing reader relations, folks at Crown’s newly established Community Development department turned to Read It Forward, which has been around since 2008. “We surveyed our audience to see how they get book recommendations, and 25 percent cited libraries,” says senior manager Alana Buckbee. “So we saw this as an avenue to explore.”
Buckbee already knew that librarians frequently tweeted about Crown titles—“I’m on twitter all day long,” she observes—and also knew that there was no truly active book chat on Twitter. Putting it all together, she came up with the idea of a twitter chat orchestrated by librarians, “not just your local library, but something scaled up, instantaneous, and online,” she says.
With librarians swooping online to offer personalized book recommendations (and asking for recommendations, too), Buckbee sees the chat as mutually beneficial for librarians and readers—and great for publishers, too. “Librarians have deep backlist knowledge,” she explains, “and our backlist is filled with gems that our readers have yet to discover.” Certainly, #AskaLibrarian promises to put bring many backlist titles to the fore.
While #AskaLibrarian is an initiative of PRH (of which Crown is a division), other publishers are welcome to join the conversation—and already have. Many librarians are on board, as are the LJ book review editors, who are helping to spearhead the conversation.
Next up: bringing in more consumers, and not just for holiday list making. Buckbee encourages librarians to spread the word, letting their patrons know about the initiative “in any ways they already communicate with readers.” After all, what’s the best way to learn about a great new book? Ask a librarian.

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