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Monday, January 9, 2017

RA for All Call to Action: Yes Make A Reading Plan, But First Assess How You Did Last Year

RA for All is back from a 10 day vacation to start the New Year.  I took a full and complete break from all work while spending the New Year in London with my family. [We had a wonderful time by the way, and I will incorporate some of my trip into next week’s Call to Action.] As a result I am refreshed and ready to get cracking on 2017, albeit 9 days late.

Let’s start with a very important Call to Action for the New Year.

I have always been a big proponent of creating a reading plan for each new year. It goes back to 2000, and my first job where I was required to adopt a reading plan based on reading a book from every major genre, five nonfiction books from three separate Dewey areas, and at least two books from a special reading interest area- or what today we would call “Diverse Books.”

Back then, trying to plan what you were going to read that year was a novel idea, but now, there are many outlets where you can get help and read along with others.  The most popular is the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge.  And don’t forget, you can do their 2017 one, but there is nothing wrong with 2015 or 16’s if you didn’t do those. I also like Lawrence Public Library's Squad Goals Reading Challenge. Both have options to follow along with others which is a great motivator.

However, as much as I want you all to make a reading plan for 2017, I also want to advocate for an important step that is being left out as everyone is talking about their 2017 reading goals, and that is taking a moment to assess your reading from 2016 before you move on to 2017.

Today, I am calling on everyone to take a few moments and look at what you read last year.  Look at the titles and authors, yes of course, but also look at what you recorded about each book you read. Also, look at trends in your own reading and look at the negative space....what you didn’t read.  In other words, assess your own year in reading. Be honest, be critical, but also, be kind to yourself though. 

Then, with that honest assessment of your 2016 reading and before blindly adopting a reading plan that others have created for 2017, jot down some personal reading goals. Things you want to read more [or less] of in 2017. Then by all means, use a pre-published reading plan but also add your own more hyper local, personal reading plans to it. Plans that serve you in your goals to help patrons better. Your plan might not even be specific titles or genres to read. It might be a resolution to write more about each book you read or to speed read more, for example.

I do not want anyone to think I am trashing the proliferation of group reading challenges.  I am not at all. Quite the contrary, I love how popular these are becoming. I love not being the only one planning out my reading goals for the year. But I do want to point out they are one size fits all, and if there is one thing I have learned in my 16.5 years of public library service, serving the public is the exact opposite of a one size fits all mentality. It is about serving our patrons and their local needs above all else. So use a pre-published reading plan to get yourself started, but tack on something that addresses your specific situation too.

I have done this for the last couple of years. I make reading resolutions in January of one year and then take an honest and critical look at how I did the next January before I begin stating my resolutions for the coming year. It is an extremely personal, self reflective, and brutally honest process, but one that helps me improve as a reader and RA service provider. I don’t mind sharing this process with you because I know it is not an easy process. I hope that by leading by example I can help you to be better at helping all of your leisure readers.

So, tomorrow, I will be back answering this Call to Action. I will assess my reading from last year and state reading resolutions for this year. I will do the Call to Action, both to help myself and to inspire you.

I am also planning a full training recap of 2016 and will be making some training observations about 2017 later in the week.

Plus, if you are a book discussion fan, Thursday is the first ARRT Book Club Study of 2017. And I hope to also have my review of Underground Railroad up on Friday.

I told you I was rested and raring to go. We have a whole new year of RA for All starting now.....

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