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, August 29, 2016

RA for All: Call to Action-- Match Everything to Books and Books to Everything

Today’s Call to Action is something I take for granted but as I visit libraries and talk to library workers from all over the country I find it needs repeating....

When I talk about matching readers with books, by “books” I mean everything that you could possibly check out at your library which someone would consume for fun. This includes but is not limited to:
  • novels
  • nonfiction
  • graphic novels
  • audiobooks
  • movies
  • TV shows
  • eBooks
  • music
  • kids books
  • YA books
  • plays
  • magazine articles
  • videogames
Matching readers with “books” is an easy and quick way to say it, but what we actually do as we work with adult leisure readers is match their likes and their preferences to something that they will enjoy. WHAT that something is, is not, and has ever been, limited to only books.

Books are simply where we started our advisory conversation with readers, hence the name of what we do-- Readers’ Advisory. But today, our work cannot and should not be further limited by forced format matches. 

Yes we most often match books to books as leisure “reading” options. But we also can match books to movies, or movies to TV Shows, or TV Shows to magazine articles, etc... The possibilities are endless.

While on the surface this post and my point may scare you just as you are beginning to get a handle on the whole book to book suggestion thing. “Endless possibilities?!?!?,” some of you are thinking.  

But rest assured, I am not doing this to freak you out. I am simply giving you permission you to think as broadly as possible. This actually makes things easier for you. I am allowing you to think of anything in your library that may appeal to the patron in front of you. You are not limited by the books in front of you. You can showcase all the library has to offer to the patrons. And, ultimately. you will make for more satisfied patrons who use the library more often.

Here is an example, if you think that a reader of a Sarah Vowell book (snarky and fun way to learn American history) would also love reading Mental Floss magazine, you should feel free to suggest a magazine as a readalike to a book reader. This suggestion works on many levels despite their different formats.

NPR is trying to help stimulate this type of thinking too with their new Read, Watch, Binge series.  Back in June I talked about the first list they made here, but now they have two more and are planning to create even more.  Click here for the archive where they match “THINGS” to books and TV shows. 

This post is meant to get you to question the status quo; I don’t expect you to start a full scale multi-format recommendation program tomorrow. Just keep it in mind. Use this way of thinking to help a few patrons. See how it goes and stop being afraid to match leisure items from different formats. The leash is off. Go for it!

For more Call to Action posts, click here.

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