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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Successful Readers' Advisory Techniques in Academic Libraries is Coming to ILA this Fall

At the start of 2016 I made this resolution:
Explore working with the academic library community more: This is a personal goal. I have been very interested in how academic libraries are serving leisure readers and why they should be putting more effort into this service. I submitted a program for IACRL [with a co-presenter who is an academic librarian] but it was not accepted. I am not going to give up on this topic. You may not see a lot here on the blog right away because I need to do a little more research, but I am making this a priority.
Well, recently that same program, with that same academic librarian, Carolyn Ciesla [mention above as being rejected by IACRL ]was accepted for the Illinois Library Association Annual Conference.  Here is what we submitted, so you can get a sense of what to expect:
Title: I Want To Read a Book for Fun!: Successful Readers' Advisory Techniques in Academic Libraries
Abstract: Academic libraries function as the closest library for two sets of patrons-- the students and the employees. As circulation and reference stats decrease, libraries are increasingly looking for ways to bring users into the building. One way to increase library is use is by reminding library patrons that on top of fulfilling the traditional, educational role, the library offers leisure reading options as well. This presentation will highlight ways academic libraries can enhance their popular materials collection and increase patron use and involvement, including marketing and outreach opportunities.
Session attendees will:
  • learn the benefits of creating a leisure collection in their library
  • learn how to build a successful leisure collection, OR reinvigorate an older collection
  • learn best practices for marketing and outreach for their leisure collection
The conference isn’t until October, but I am starting to gather many of the articles and thoughts I had found over the last few months into one place, when I realized that it would be worth it to share them with all of you:

What I am learning from my research and the dozen or so visits I have made to academic libraries [both in IL and other states over the last 2 years] is that many academic libraries are beginning to have popular reading collection but they have NO plans on how to serve leisure readers.  In other words, they have the books but no RA service to go with it.

I think this is recipe for failure in the long run and that is why Carolyn and I plan to step in and help. It is on the patron service side of this equation where our program will focus. An “if you build it, they will come” attitude may work in the movies, but in real life, we need staff that can promote and encourage use of a popular reading collection, as well as be trained in how to help patrons navigate the wide array of choices available for their leisure reading needs and match each reader with his or her best book for that moment in time.

I have also found that as someone who is devoted to helping leisure readers from the public library perspective, I have a lot to learn from my academic peers. They look at the issue of serving leisure readers from a completely different angle than I am used to. I love looking at the things I am comfortable doing in a new light; that is a place from which deeper understand and possible new ideas can come. I hope you look at some of these articles too, especially those of you, the vast majority of my readers, who function in a public library environment. We have a lot to learn from each other.

I am sure I will have more to say on this topic in the coming months. This is just a start. In fact, as I gather my thoughts and ideas I will probably try them out here on the blog first. And of course, our complete program including slides and any handouts will be up on RA for All during the conference.

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