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The Appeal Genome

Post by Duncan Smith
Posted March 28, 2013 in NoveList Plus, NoveList Select, Readers' Advisory News

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A genome is the complete sum of an organism's parts: its entire inherited DNA, every single gene needed to "build" exactly that thing. Jim Hornthal (A Haystack Full of Needles, 2012) explores how just about everything works like genome. Sites like Pandora analyze the specific parts you like about artists and songs to deliver music that matches. Apps and dating sites (Perfect-man.com, The Yenta Project, and so many more) try to match compatible "genes" (appealing qualities to deliver your next hot date.) And appeal is a dynamic, living resource that informs library pros about books and readers. 

Hornthal makes a good case for our particular professional expertise in the digital environment. In the early days of social media, librarians schooled in traditional classification schemes (á la Melville Dewey) took it on the chin from those championing "the wisdom of the crowd." Haystack Full of Needles shows that classifications systems are essential to render that wisdom usable. 

As the professionals who curate those systems and their data, we are more essential than ever. The appeal framework Joyce Saricks pioneered in 1986 (which continues to be expanded and enhanced by folks like Nancy Pearl and Neal Wyatt) is a perfect example of one such invaluable system and its diverse curators. NoveList (with Goodreads and other book-oriented social networks) continues its long-term commitment to developing appeal frameworks. 

We not only include appeal in our database, but have also expanded it to factors that will give your patrons successful audio book listening experiences and rewarding visual experiences with picture books and graphic novels. For more on NoveList's history with appeal, see RUSQ 52:4, Summer 2013, featuring an article by our own Victoria Caplinger.

This issue of RA News highlights appeal as a vibrant and thriving organism, and recognizes that librarians are naturals when it comes to the "care and feeding" of both appeal and readers. After all, it's in our DNA. 


Duncan Smith is the Vice President and founder of NoveList. He is passionate about the importance of reading, and the power of libraries to change lives.