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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Essay on How We Consume Media

Whenever I present a RA training program, I make it clear to my audience that I am using the word “book” as a stand in for all leisure media people consume through the library. I do not treat item types or formats as distinct.

By this point most library workers see things the same way I do. When we talk about “Readers’ Advisory,” we are talking about library workers matching the patron in from of them with the right leisure read, watch, listen, etc... for them at that moment.

However, we are ahead of the curve. The rest of the world still seems to have this PRINT vs DIGITAL mentality. That is all they want to talk about-- patrons, mainstream media, publisher studies.  What is being lost in this simplification are the WHYs and HOWs people consume media today.

As library workers, we need to be aware of trends in media consumption.  For example, think about how hard it would be to do your job if you were not aware of the binge watching phenomenon. This is a huge shift in how many of our patrons use our materials and online streaming services from just a couple of years ago.  When I help people who want a new show or series to read, I need to make sure to ask how long a series they are looking for and if they want one that is already done so they can experience it in its entirety. This is something most people didn’t care about before, but now, more have strong feelings about this than do not.

That question in general was not one I thought to ask back in 2000 when I was a baby librarian, but with changing methods in delivery and consumption, it was one I had to ask all of the time by 2015.

The point I am trying to make today is as part of our jobs as Readers’ Advisors we need to stay aware of how and why the public consumes their media not just what they are reading [be that a specific title or a format].

To get you thinking about this important service issue a little more seriously, I suggest you read this excellent and well researched essay from The Millions-- Beyond Digital vs. Print: On How We Consume Media. There is much there that you can use to better serve a patron right now.

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