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 24, 2015

RA Service Assessment: Step One-- Assess Your Own Reading Preferences

Working from home perks.
The kids went back to school today [morning only]. So, today marks the official first day of my new life as a RA consultant, full time.

When I left the Berwyn Library on June 4th to help train libraries to serve leisure readers better, this day was marked on the calendar as when I had to start buckling down. Although I have already booked a busy Fall and have even done a full day out-of-town in-service day before this date came, it is exciting and scary that it is here.

But, I have not been very committed to the blog this summer. That changes today.  This week expect me to catch up on many, many reviews. I am also presenting with NoveList and Booklist at RAILS on Thursday, and that video will be sent out via Booklist nationally very soon after.

But the real area upon which I am focusing my in-person and blogging efforts is an area that has been too long neglected when it comes to RA service-- assessment. Those of us on the front lines of training librarians to provide excellent RA service have had to focus on teaching the basics and populating the public library world with RA focused librarians.

Enough progress has been made on that front that, while there are still a lot of people who need basic training, there are also enough trying to provide RA service that I need to start helping people assess what they are offering. That is where I can help where others cannot, and it is why I am embarking on this new professional adventure.

Here is what this all means for you, my loyal readers.  I have started a new series entitled, “RA Service Assessment” which will be filed under the tag “assessment." These posts will go deeper than those that I tag "RA training."  They will be about how you can take actual steps to analyze your efforts with leisure readers and determine the course you should take in the future.

Today I am going to start with the very first step you need to take; in fact, back when I was teaching the RA class, it was very first assignment our students did-- writing your own reader profile. The main idea behind sitting down and really thinking about your own personal appeal preferences and why you like what you like and don’t like what you don’t like is that when you think about your own preferences and the reasons behind them, it is much easier for you to understand the reading preferences of others.  No, you may not share anything in common with that patron you are currently engaging in a RA conversation, but at least you understand the process of being forced to put your reading preferences into words. You are much better able to take what the patron tell you and turn it into a suggested list of books if you have been through the process yourself.  Trust me here, I have seen it work for myself and dozens of students.

This is a complicated, level 2, RA issue, but if you click here you can access past, in depth posts on why assessing your own reading preferences is essential to providing solid RA service to your patrons, including actual downloadable examples of student profiles and responses.

In order to streamline the process for managers and staff members alike, I have created this simple form you can use to get the process started.  You should also feel free to click through and print this form to use with your staff, or use it to make your own.  All I ask is that you let people know that you got it from RA for All.

Once you have had people fill these out, you need to start thinking about step 2-- using the results to start a library wide RA conversation between staff.  Ahh, but that is for the next post.

I am posting these assessment themes for the libraries that want [or need] to go through this process on their own without the cost of me facilitating it. I truly want to help as many libraries as possible, but there are only so many hours in the day and so many plane rides I can take in a row. As a library trustee, I also know that money is tight. That being said though, if you are interested in me facilitating your library's audit of their services to leisure readers, let me know.  I am in the process of completing my first one and will have pricing and time lines available very soon.

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