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 including RA for All's EDI Statement.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Nominate Yourself or Your Peers for Excellent RA Service And Why This Award Is Important To Everyone No Matter Where You Live

I know I have readers from all over the world on this blog, but if you will all excuse me for a moment, I have a local announcement, but, I promise at the end of this post I will have information for all my readers.

As you all know, I am on the steering committee for the oldest RA Networking group in the country, the Adult Reading Round Table. A few years ago, we started the process to honor excellence in service to leisure readers in Illinois with its own award. We love our Reference Services Forum friends, but RA had been hidden within their award for many years, and as a result, some wonderful services to patrons were going unnoticed.

Well, as I mentioned on the blog back in 2015 here, we were able to co-sponsor a new award with our Reference Forum colleagues. And, last year, Downers Grove Public Library's wonderful Book Genie won first ever ILA Readers' Advisory Service Award conferred by ARRT

The entire process was a huge success.  You can click here to learn more about the winners.

And now, we accepting submissions for the second annual award!

This award recognizes excellence in the planning, development, or delivery of RA services to adults or teens.  Nominees can be individuals, departments, teams, or entire libraries so long as the person (or their library) is an ILA member.

ARRT knows a lot of exciting RA work is being done in Illinois.  This award is a perfect time to recognize all the innovative ideas being explored.  We'd love to have  large application pool, so the more nominations the merrier!  The recipient will be selected by a subcommittee of the ARRT Steering Committee and the ILA Reference Services Forum.

Okay, so that’s my local announcement. By the way, you can nominate yourself. We encourage it because sometimes you are the only ones who know about the great work you are doing. Also, if you don’t live or work in Illinois, but know someone who is doing great RA work in our state, as long as 1 person you are nominating or the library itself is an ILA member, you can nominate them.  You do not need to be a member yourself to nominate anyone.

But now for the rest of you non-Illinoisans who have been patiently waiting to read this.  I hope this post serves as a public service announcement to you for your locations.

At ARRT we were tired of complaining that RA work wasn’t being recognized, so we did something about it. We put our money where our heart was.  We collect membership dollars and sell our training products to NoveList in order to have funds to “develop” and “promote” service to leisure readers in Northern IL. Using our money to fund an award that highlights RA work is the perfect service to our mission.  Last year we had multiple nominations, and while we could only pick one winner, we have now identified some great RA work happening places we did not know about. We are getting a full picture of who is doing great work in our state and how we can help develop and promote RA services for everyone.

But there are even more important results from our work to advocate for and fund a RA award at the state level. The higher ups in the Illinois Library Association leadership were impressed with the number of nominations we were able to get. It made them realize how important RA service is to our state. Here are some tangible results from our work with this award:
  • More RA focused programming was accepted at the conference last year because they knew there would be an award.
  • We got to have the stage to ourselves and present a separate award in front of the entire ILA Community of library workers.
  • The ILA Reporter, the official publication of our statewide organization, noticed how popular RA Service was and dedicated an entire issue to the topic, including an article by me, and interview with me, and an article about last year’s winners of our award. Click here to access that issue.
  • ILA is currently reviewing program requests for the 2016 conference, but anecdotally, I have heard more RA focused programs were submitted than in previous years. I myself submitted 2.
Now think about your area? What are you doing to help promote service to leisure readers among your colleagues.  In many cases that is just as important as the promotion we do to our patrons.  I hope our example of success will inspire you to identify and honor your colleagues who are going above and beyond to serve their leisure readers.

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