April 22, 2016

Seven fabulous RA ideas (that anyone can do)

I had a blast listening in and live tweeting at our recent webcast: Yes you can! Readers’ advisory for everyone, and if you attended, I hope you did too. (If you missed it, check out the recording!) One of the highlights for me was the interactive idea exchange happening in the chat. Attendees were swapping ideas left and right, and I couldn’t resist compiling some of these ideas to share.

  1. Create timely, seasonal displays. I’m sure you’re thinking “Well…duh!” Anyone that walks into a library during February expects a Valentine’s Day display – that’s just a given. But the attendees were a creative bunch, and shared ideas for seasonal displays that were more unexpected, like this one from Penny S.:

We did a display of fiction based on pets (mostly dogs) for Valentine’s Day called ‘I love my pet.’ We made buttons for patrons saying ‘I love my dog’ ‘Ask me about my cat’ etc. Our display also had pics of all the staff pets.”

  1. Share what staff are reading. This was a frequently offered idea, and it makes sense right? Librarians sharing the books they’re reading -- kind of a no-brainer. Readers can connect with staff and put a book to a name! Try a “staff member of the month” display highlighting one staffer’s picks, buttons for staff that say “ask me what I’m reading,” or this idea from Melanie L.:

“I love having bookmarks with staff recommendations – we’ve just started and it is fun for staff and useful for patrons who get to know their librarian’s reading tastes. Great for when there is no space for displays, too.”

  1. Sticky note RA. I loved this low-tech, low-key, low-cost RA idea. Alexi S. describes it:

“We create sticky note RA to place in the cover of new books – ‘enjoy this book? Try these similar titles!’ It’s low impact, can be done very fast, and helps patrons…We fill out the sticky notes as books are shelved in the New Books display and use the read-alikes from NoveList. We also save the information on a spreadsheet for staff to be able to look up the RA we have without the physical book being in the library.”

  1. What your neighbor is reading display. This idea had few different iterations throughout the webcast chat, like “Recently returned” and “Someone else just read this” but the core idea remains the same. Readers come in and see what everyone else is loving, and it’s a display you don’t have to do a lot of thinking about.
  2. The Island of Forgotten Books. This was another display idea with a few different iterations and a fantastic way to get those low circulation titles out and about again. Other attendees mentioned similar displays they’ve done, like Books from the Bottom Shelf, Hidden Gems, and this swoon-worthy idea from Frances S.:

“I created a display called the Island of Forgotten Books that looks like a grass hut, complete with a palm tree. We have seen a 50 to 75% checkout rate each month and have saved tons of books from weeding projects.”

  1. Stalk the readers. Ok, don’t *actually* stalk them…but if you’re shelving and notice a patron browsing a certain genre or author nearby and happen to know a little bit about it, talk to them about it! Susan S. tells how she does it:

“I spend a lot of time shelving the new books, aka stalking the browsers there…great opportunity for hand-selling!”

  1. Participate in social media conversations. Maybe I’m a little biased with this one, but social media is such a great platform for RA and connects you to readers all across your community. Attendees threw out some great hashtags to follow for libraries using Twitter, like #AskALibrarian (catch us participating every Thursday at noon!) and my new personal favorite, courtesy of Tara B.:

“We have a social media campaign that is #TheresADeweyForThat with library staff out the world reading a book from that call number in a clever setting -- wine book in a vineyard, Treehouse book in a treehouse, yoga book in a yoga class. Nonfiction RA is fun to do too!”

Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention that we have some great readers' advisory tools available to help you - check out NoveList for help with finding books on a theme and LibraryAware for making great bookmarks and social posts.

Have any more ideas you’d like to share? Drop them in the comments or tweet us @NoveListRA -- we’d love to hear from you!

Cassi Hall is the Communications Specialist at NoveList.


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