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Yours in Library Love

Post by Duncan Smith
Posted March 04, 2013 in NoveList Plus, NoveList Select, Readers' Advisory News

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I hope you had a happy Valentine's Day. Mine was great. I spent it with around 600 colleagues who are all passionate about matchmaking between books and readers. The celebration I'm referring to was Library Journal's "Are Books Your Brand?" webcast held on Valentine's Day, 2013.

The webcast was moderated by Laurel Tarulli, well-known advocate for readers' advisory-centric cataloging and featured panelists Robin Nesbitt, Technical Services Director for the Columbus Metropolitan Library (OH) and blogger extraordinaire; Barry Trott, Digital Services, Williamsburg Regional Library (VA), editor of RUSA's journal, RUSQ, and head of the department that invented form-based readers' advisory; and yours truly

The discussions were lively, informative, and entertaining, and while I don't have space to go into all the details, I've gathered some of the key points:

1. Readers' Advisory is more than putting books in people's hands; it is about building relationships with readers.
2. Passive readers' advisory (book displays, booklists, shelf arrangement) is very important but no one likes the term "passive" -- the panel proposed changing this term to "self-directed" RA.
3. For libraries that want to increase circulation, Robin Nesbitt suggested that they set a goal. Putting a number on the desired results focuses efforts.
4. Form-based RA is a way to address the mismatch between a reader who is in love with a genre and a librarian who knows little about it.
5. Building on Barry's remark that "Story is what we have to offer," when working with reluctant readers, ask them to tell you about a movie, TV show, song or video game they enjoy. Then use this information to find books with a similar feel.

If you missed the webinar, don't worry! You can view the archived version at the Library Journal website.

Just to let you know, the title for this piece comes from the email signature of Veronda Pitchford, formerly of the Urban Libraries Council. I have never asked her exactly what she means by Library Love -- but I sure felt it as a participant in this event.


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.