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Monday, September 10, 2018

Call to Action: Try a Completely New Resource

Today’s Call to Action is in honor of the Jewish New Year which I am celebrating today.

I have always enjoyed celebrating the New Year in Fall. I have so many good memories of the new beginnings, contemplative hours in temple being asked to think about the year that was and the year that will be [from a very young age, that time taught me so much about self reflection], and momentum events in my life that were tied to Rosh Hashanah. I even met my non-Jewish husband because of a series of events that began with how I celebrated my first Rosh Hashanah away from home and I made life long connections those first weeks of the first year of college because of the High Holidays.

Honestly, to me, Fall is always the start of the New Year and I have especially loved the excuse to be able to take time during a busy part of the year to step back and appreciate the beauty of life. This year I am especially focusing on the positive for this 1 day.

I am also using the Jewish New Year as an inspiration for all of you to try something NEW. We all get in a rut and use the same resources as we help reader after reader. And honestly, sometimes we can go weeks without switching it up beyond our tried and true personal favorites. We know how they work, we can manipulate them to get the answers we need quickly, we are conformable using them. But...

...there is also something to be said for changing it up a little. You don’t know what is out there and how it could help your patrons if you don’t give new things a try. Specifically using a different resource not only allows you to find new suggestions for your patrons, ones your tried and true resources might not pull up, but some of them will also inspire you to broaden the type of questions you ask your patrons, thus leading to entirely new avenues of conversation.

You can pick ANY resource that is new to you [if you use my tag “resources," it will pull up the ones I have talked about in reverse chronological order], but in true Becky fashion, I cannot give you Call to Action marching orders without at least giving you one example.

I have talked about the wonderful Largehearted Boy site before, mostly for its comprehensive year end lists. But first, from the about statement:
  • largehearted boy is a literature and music website that explores that spot in the venn diagram where the two arts overlap.
Today, I want to advocate for using the Book Notes series specifically to help patrons. Again, from the site:
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book. 
Previous contributors include Jesmyn WardLauren GroffBret Easton EllisCeleste NgT.C. BoyleDana SpiottaAmy BloomAimee BenderHeidi JulavitsHari Kunzru, and many others.
And, the lists go back to 2005! There are links to the archives everywhere on the site-- left gutter, end of each post, and through a keyword search by author or title of a book.

Why I love using these music-book hybrid essays is precisely because they are slightly outside the box. I have found that if there is a book or author a patron has really enjoyed for which Largehearted Boy has one of these Book Notes, it is the perfect RA conversation starter. Each essay is written by the book's author, and they talk about each song they have chosen and why it fits the specific book. Looking at these essays with a patron opens up entirely different avenues of conversation about the book and/or author in question than just talking about the book itself. Even reading an interview with the author isn’t as good because asking an author to pick a playlist for their book is so much more specific than most interviews. They get more personal and bring up interesting tangents relating to the  appeal of the story, ones that the patron might not have considered before, ones that you can then use for new avenues of searching, ones that will lead to an outside the box suggestion. You may even surprise yourself where this resource takes you; I know this because it has happened to me, both as I helped patrons and myself.

Just using this resource to shake us out of asking the same old appeal based questions to a patron about their favorite books, is worth your time, even if you then go to a tried and true resource to finish up the interaction. I also love using these book-music hybrid essays to inspire me. Forcing your brain to think a little differently about the same type of questions is invigorating and often sparks new ideas.

So there is my suggestions, but honestly, any new to you resource will give you the same type of invigoration and inspiration. Also, don’t only do this once a year. I know I am posting this Call to Action because of the holiday, but I do try to go out of my way to answer a routine question with a totally different and/or new resource about once a month, if only to keep me fresh and continuously excited to help the next person.

Happy New Year to those celebrating with me.

For past Call to Action posts, click here.

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