April 17, 2017

Readers’ advisory with a personal touch

Building relationships with your readers can seem like a daunting task -- with all the work happening in a library day-to-day, it’s easy for it to fall down a few notches of the priority list. But with a game-on! attitude and a little help from NoveList, the task of building lasting connections with your readers gets just a little bit easier.

Inbox it

Why not incorporate relationship-building into work you’re already doing? Two for the price of one! E-newsletters give you a lot of bang for your buck -- not only are they a way to promote your whole collection and increase your circulation, they’re also a great opportunity for making personal connections with patrons.

Take this graphic novels and comics newsletter from Durham County Library created by librarian Patrick Holt. Patrick introduces himself to his readers and uses both his words and self-portrait to foster an immediate connection. Subscribers know exactly who the email is from -- a fellow graphic novel super fan, just like them! The header images and content make it clear that Patrick knows his audience and shares their interest. More importantly, the newsletter points readers towards graphic novel and comic happenings at the library and beyond. Win!

You *could* spend a lot of time crafting each issue of your newsletter, but newsletters don’t have to be time-consuming. If your library subscribes to NextReads, we do the legwork for you -- each issue arrives complete and ready to go out to patrons. You don’t have to do a thing (that is, unless you want to!) With 20+ topics to choose from, readers only opt-in to what interests them.

Fold up some reading suggestions in folders

How about your regulars -- those patrons who are in and out of the library frequently, know exactly what they like to read, and have exhausted your supply of book suggestions. Folders in NoveList are an easy way to stash the “good stuff” you know a particular reader might enjoy, without spending a lot of time making a book list or an email. Folders and their contents can also serve as a makeshift newsletter to regularly reach out to the “I’ve read everything!” crowd without worrying too much about design or content like in a more formal newsletter. Check out the below tutorial on using folders to create custom reading lists in NoveList.

Snag some info and inspiration for using folders with two companion blog posts from NoveList Consultant Jennifer Lohmann. She gives some practical advice for using folders in your daily work as well as taking it to the next level by creating custom bibliographies from folders in LibraryAware. You’ll be surprised by the possibilities!

A personal touch goes a long way

This probably goes without saying, but be ready to talk! You know the kinds of questions readers throw at you, so while you can’t be an expert in every genre or on top of the latest pop culture phenomenon, you can make sure you’ve got accessible resources on hand no matter what topic comes up. The Secret Language of Books: A Guide to Appeal and A Guide to Genres and Book Discovery are handy little booklets that help you answer whatever offbeat question you get and help you match readers to their next favorite book. Keep copies at the desk and use them with readers, or just to refer to on your own for a (fun!) brush-up session.

Try taking a look at our RAx Self-Assessment Guide as well. The resources and exercises in this booklet will help you assess your library’s current state of services for readers -- and figure out how to get to the next level. It would be a great activity for staff training sessions. 

When you do have some down time, staff picks are a simple way to personalize the library and connect with readers. Take a look at what Downers Grove Public Library did with their staff pages and absolutely awesome book widgets. Not only does it showcase staff expertise and reading tastes, but it offers that valuable point of connection for readers with similar tastes -- maybe they’ll even ask for you next time they pop into the library to get some more recommendations!

Use those great staff picks in other places around the library too. Print off some shelf-talkers (super easy with templates in LibraryAware) and tuck them into the high-traffic areas of the stacks, or even as bookmarks in the holds shelf. Those friendly, non-intrusive touches can make all the difference for your readers and let them take something besides a stack of books home with them -- the knowledge that there’s a librarian out there who cares about helping them find their next favorite book.

Cassi Hall is the Communications Specialist at NoveList. 



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