October 8, 2019

Serving patrons who are homebound

As we’ve been getting prepped for a webinar with our colleagues in New Zealand and Australia, we’ve been doing a lot of late-night calls with some incredible readers’ advisory librarians and hearing their challenges and successes. Many of their challenges and successes are ones that our colleagues in Canada and the U.S. will recognize. For example, there was this lovely article on services for patrons who are homebound provided by Marlborough District Libraries in New Zealand. Like many of the patrons who are homebound served by my local library, mysteries are popular. 

If your library also provides services to patrons who are homebound, NoveList can help you provide your readers with the best books possible. 


Many readers have their favorite authors, titles, and series. For those mystery fans out there, who have read their way through the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith, NoveList has tons of ways for you (and them!) to find read-alikes. These read-alikes are great because they will help you and your readers uncover books on your shelf that you may have forgotten about. 

Author read-alikes

If your readers love Alexander McCall Smith because of his likable characters and amusing tone, author read-alikes are a great place to start. Search NoveList by author, select author to get to the author detail page, and look the right of the page where you'll see other authors to offer.  

Series read-alikes

Many authors, like Alexander McCall Smith, have a couple of series, and readers may prefer one to the other. If that’s the case, series read-alikes are your friend. Navigate over to the series and on the right are series-to-series read-alikes for your readers to enjoy. 

Title read-alikes

Some readers may have enjoyed a series, but one book in that series particularly resonated with them. Or they don’t read series at all but love stand-alone books. Again, title-to-title read-alikes are your friend here. Same song, different verse — find those title read-alikes on the right of your screen when you’re looking at a title record. 

Make your own read-alike

All the NoveList Story Elements associated with a title, author, or series can be found at the bottom of the page, and you can use them to make read-alikes that fit your patrons' unique reading tastes. Do your readers love cozy mysteries with an amusing tone? You can create a search for that!


If you start on an author record, you’ll get a list of authors. If you start on a series record, you’ll get a list of series, and if you start on a title record, you’ll get a list of titles. Show your patrons how to do this or do it for them. Either way, the read-alikes and story elements give you and your readers an easy way to discuss reading tastes and ensure that the selection of books you bring to their house includes some surefire hits. 

Automate it!

We can’t talk enough about folders and search alerts in NoveList because THEY ARE AMAZING! Kathy Stewart has five ideas for using NoveList folders and a hot tip for turning NoveList search alerts into easy pop-culture based readers’ advisory, but we know it can be hard to keep everything top of mind when you have so much on your plates, so we’re happy to remind you that these tools exist. 

Folders are a way for you to stash all the good stuff you’re finding for your patrons in NoveList so that you don’t forget. As you’re serving homebound patrons and getting a sense of their tastes, you can create folders with their names. Every time you come across a book you think they’d like stash that book in a folder. Folders can be printed or emailed, so they are easily shared with readers. And folders aren’t limited to librarians. Your readers can also create accounts in NoveList and stash the books they are interested in, then email you a list or print it out. 

If you and your readers have come across the perfect book search (maybe you’re a field code pro), you can turn that book search into a search alert and get emails when new books are added to NoveList that fit that search. You can set up how often you want to be alerted and edit the search as needed. 

Want to learn more about how NoveList Plus can help you serve your homebound patrons? If you’ve got NoveList, check out our tutorials on YouTube. If you’re new to NoveList, ask for more information. We’d love to help you serve your readers better!

Jennifer Lohmann is the Director of Sales and Marketing for NoveList. She is currently reading Circe by Madeline Miller and listening to Open by Andre Agassi. 


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