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Friday, October 7, 2011

Using Award Lists As A RA Tool

As the book award season heats up with the Nobel Prize in Literature being announced yesterday (disappointing from an RA perspective again) and the National Book Award coming early next month, the National Book Foundation got in the spirit by releasing their "5 under 35" list of authors to keep an eye on.

From the RA standpoint, this list of young authors can serve you in multiple spheres of your work:

  1. Collection Development: these are authors you need to be purchasing for your collections.  Go check your catalogs, and order copies where necessary. Also, keep an eye out for their new titles in the future.
  2. Readalikes: these authors make a great readalike suggestion for your readers who are interested in the newest literary fiction.  So while the waiting list for The Night Circus, The Art of Fielding, and State of Wonder may be long right now, these 5 authors under 35 are a great while you wait readalike suggestion.
  3. Displays: going back and checking past 5 under 35 designees  (scroll a bit; all of the lists are in the right gutter) and the also popular New Yorker 20 Under 40 annual list, makes for a unique and fun display idea.  These lists contain a nice mix of authors who made it big and those who never quite broke through, but all are quality options which your library probably already owns. Highlight that backlist by drawing a connection to the release of this new list.
  4. Resources: just being aware of designations such as this one provides you with a new resource for helping readers.  Don't forget about any and all award lists as a potential tool to help you as you match readers with their next good read.  If an author your reader likes has been singled out for an award in the past, there is a good chance he or she might enjoy the work of another author who also received this recognition.  I speak from personal experience here as I have noticed my own personal predilection for Booker nominees.
I hope this gets you to look at all award announcements in a different light.  Yes, it is good to know who the current award winners are, but do not forget to use this information as another tool in your work as the matchmaker creating connections between your readers and the stacks of books at your library.

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