June 13, 2017

Recommit to readers’ advisory

As some of you are heading into a new fiscal year and planning for new objectives and goals, it’s a good time to re-examine where readers’ advisory fits into the daily life of the library. Whether you’re focused on expanding your collection, training all your staff in their RA skills, planning an exciting list of new programs, or more likely, some combination of all that (and more), keep reading to find inspiration in the resources we’ve gathered to help you wrap readers’ advisory into all that you do.

Strategic plan for success

Looking for a place to start? Take a look at your strategic plan and evaluate the spaces it reserves for readers’ advisory and reader services. Patrons believe that promoting reading should remain the core focus of the library, so make sure that is reflected in the language you’re using.

We’ve gathered some great examples of strategic plans that make books and reading a laser focus in their libraries to help inspire you. Take Cuyahoga County Public Library, for example. They outline their goal as:

                “We serve as the community's first and best resource to reconnect with reading.”

What makes this so good? They clearly listened to their patrons who expressed strong feelings that “promoting reading should remain the core focus of the library.” With just 3 strategic goals of reading, lifelong learning, and civic engagement, CCPL makes their priorities clear to their patrons -- and that reading is number 1. The passionate language Cuyahoga uses, including being the “first and best resource” and “branches [that are] places of reading discovery,” conveys their value proposition candidly to everyone in the community.

You may also want to take a look at our RaX: Readers’ Advisory Prescriptions self-assessment guide. If you’re looking to make RA part of your strategic mission, or just recommit to it, 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 take it to the next level. Once you assess where your library is, you can think about tools to help you get to the next level. We've gathered our best resources for you on our 'Learn' page, ranging from appeal language information to search strategies to tips for NoveList newbies! You'll also find ideas from your cohorts -- take a peek at these inspiration stories about strategies other libraries have used to amp up their readers' advisory game. 

Balance it all

So you’re thinking about the place readers’ advisory holds in your library and the areas you can invest in -- where do you allocate your resources? Expanding your collection? Hiring and training more staff? Opening a maker space or media lab? Determining how to use your (often limited) resources to get the greatest return is one of the hardest challenges libraries face. How do you balance the need to serve new users in new ways when you don’t have the funds to take care of traditional users in the traditional ways they expect, like buying more books?

It’s a complicated conundrum, and one we think best solved by learning from other libraries who have made creative strides in this area. In a recent webcast, Where Does RA Fit in Your 21st Century Library?, we explored this dilemma with three public library directors from three different libraries. Watch the recording and you’ll see how three libraries balance the demands of the new while delivering services to everyday readers.

If you contribute to holding training sessions at your library, this webcast might make a good topic or at least a place to grab some ideas from. Whether you’re planning a staff development day or responsible for training others in using NoveList, we have some other resources curated just for you on our Especially for Trainers page.

Did your library do something that worked exceptionally well, or have a story about recommitting to bringing reading back? We’d love to hear about it!

Cassi Hall is the Communications Specialist at NoveList. 

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