May 23, 2018

Passive RA, or, reaching patrons who stare at their shoes

It’s true. Many who come to the library are too shy to actually speak to a librarian (I used to be one of them). So now I like the direct approach -- putting up a sign that explains why I sit behind that desk. Try it. Many do not realize we are there to help them. Other answers? Thankfully there are many -- and we have a few passive RA ideas to get you started.

  • Shelf-talkers: a tried and true favorite, and simple to create in LibraryAware.
  • A “What is RA?” session. Take ten minutes to explain the dictionary definition of readers’ advisory, gathering up those wandering the stacks beforehand. You can distribute bookmarks, and book talk some titles from the top genres -- I know this is a little less “passive” but patrons can easily hide in the audience.
  • Book displays with clear signage inviting patrons to check out the books.
    • Try something a little different -- grab bags of new and old titles? Movie tie-ins? Displays based on appeal factors, like tone terms: Bawdy, Whimsical, or Heartwrenching? Picture books for adults? Adult books for teens? We’re big fans of book displays here at NoveList -- take a look at some of our best book display tips.
  • Form-based readers’ advisory.
  • Printouts of tips for using NoveList. Stash them right at the computers to make sure they’re visible. We have lots of resources and tips for learning to use NoveList in our Idea Center.
  • Book blog (you could also feature other media, like movies that came from books).
  • Read-alike flyers to hand out, like this one made in LibraryAware.
  • Handouts with reviews and bright book covers. Any colorful handout is enticing and a review can easily solidify the bond with a character, theme, or other appeal (e.g., a moving tone, culturally diverse characters, or a descriptive writing style). 

Regardless of your approach, be sure to plan a combination of these tools for a system that works. For example, a combination of flyers/printouts, book displays, and a blog will reach more people than simply a variety of handouts. And remember, NoveList has tons of librarian-created lists and articles that can help both you and your patrons, like Valuing and Validating Reluctant Readers by Heather Booth (find it in NoveList by searching UI 444272). Or, go to “Especially For” and then “Readers’ Advisory” and browse to your heart's content -- I especially recommend Five Way Libraries Can Offer Readers’ Advisory on Tumblr by Molly Wetta (search UI 440366)!  

Take a gander -- feedback welcome

Lisa Chandek-Stark is a Metadata Librarian II at NoveList. 


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