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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Good RA Advice-- Know A Lot About A Little

Today I was multitasking on the RA education front. I was watching Rebecca Vnuk’s Booklist webinar entitled Book Review Basics: Using Reviews and Annotations for Readers Advisory while writing contracts for a few libraries who are interested in having me train their staff.

In the last few days, I have been receiving a noticeable uptick in the number of libraries and library systems [from all over the country] who are making RA service a priority this year.

I am so happy that so many administrators are realizing that improving their staff’s service to leisure readers is one of the most cost effective ways to serve their patrons better.

However, I also understand that I physically cannot get to every library-- well not this year at least. Between the in person trainings and webinars I have and will be doing, I have reached thousands of you, but there are many more who want, and quite frankly need, quick and easy advice to get started as soon as possible.

Which leads me back to this post’s open... Rebecca’s webinar.  During that webinar (which will be available here, for free, very soon), Rebecca mentioned a 2011 article she wrote for Public Libraries Online, one I had read back then but had since forgotten about.

Entitled "Jack of All Trades Readers’ Advisory: How To Learn a Little About a Lot,” Rebecca [with a little help from some friends] sets out some basic RA tips and info for many genres. It is the bare minimum you need to know to help someone find a good read.

For example, here is her Mystery entry (Courtesy of Barry Trott, author of Read On . . . Crime Fiction):
  • Five must-know classic mystery authors: Dorothy Sayers, Robert B. Parker, P. D. James, Walter Mosley, Anne Perry.
  • Five up-and-coming mystery authors: Ariana Franklin, Louise Penny, Michael Genelin, Charles Todd, Colin Cotterill.
  • Five must-know mystery books: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie, The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, Indemnity Only by Sarah Paretsky, A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters, Cover Her Face by P. D. James.
  • Five trends/subgenres in mystery: paranormal crime fiction, historical mysteries, contemporary cozies, hobby mysteries, police procedural
Check out the entire article.  While it is from a few years ago, I went through it all today and yes, some of the trends have passed, and new ones are now in place, but overall, it is still an article you can use both to educate yourself and help your patrons find their next good read.

And then keep Rebecca’s title in mind because when it comes to RA service, knowing a little about a lot is a mantra that will serve you well for years to come.

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