August 16, 2016
When we launched the inaugural Grow Your NoveList Usage Grant Program, we weren’t sure what to expect. We did know that we wanted to help libraries make the most of their NoveList databases and promote their readers’ advisory services, and highlight some of the innovative ideas libraries are using to increase their usage of NoveList that libraries around the world can replicate.
Well, we received a fantastic response and were absolutely thrilled to announce the recipients in February. These seven libraries exemplified the dedication to continuously innovative readers’ advisory services we were hoping to see. The results of their programs are inspirational! So without further ado, let’s look at some of the major themes of what made each library’s program a success.
It may seem obvious at first, but the first common theme we saw across all seven libraries was that they made these new initiatives intentional. Staff were given tasks to perform and goals to reach -- seems simple right? Well, it is and it isn’t. Staff buy-in is essential when implementing a program like this in any library. Appointing NoveList champions or “cheerleaders” -- staff members who act as the point-people for all things NoveList – is a great way to achieve that buy-in and something several of the winning libraries, like Kansas City Public and Fayetteville Free Library, implemented in their programs. Each of the winning libraries identified staff buy-in as the crux of their successes, even if they didn’t specifically name anyone as a champion.
Durango Public Library's NoveList commercial
As St. Charles Parish Library put it, “The key to our success was definitely our staff. We had great staff buy-in for the entire project, and they were open to learning about NoveList and putting what they learned into practice…This promotion got our staff excited about readers’ advisory, which got our patrons excited about reading new books and authors, which makes talking NoveList even easier.”
As for getting that fabulous staff buy-in?
We’ll say it again: training is key. Each and every one of the winning libraries implemented specialized training into their programs, and each and every one identified training as a crucial piece of their success. When staff feel confident in their knowledge of using NoveList as an RA tool, they feel empowered to share that knowledge with patrons. Auburn Library in New South Wales, Australia even explicitly laid out in their goals for the project that they wanted to “Develop the confidence of all library staff to deliver RA services.”
And training isn’t just for staff -- training for patrons can be successful too. The Fayetteville Free Library held informational training sessions for patrons and conducted outreach to their local community partners and book clubs. These sessions turned out to be very successful! The FFL trainers got invited to speak about NoveList at additional book club meetings and 100% of the attendees stated they planned on using NoveList in the future. This part of FFL’s program was so successful, that they now plan to offer this patron training for every new book club and new organization that begins using the library.
(Psst: take a peek at some of the training resources available in the Idea Center!)
A final trend we noticed was that informal events tended to be received better by the community than more structured programming. Drop-in events, like Onondaga County Public Library’s series of Blind Date with a Book programs and St. Charles Parish Library’s creative Book Tasting event were a low-pressure way for patrons to explore new genres and authors, get to know their librarians, find a great new book to read, and maybe even learn a little something about NoveList. While more structured programs can be successful, more informal events seem to have a wider appeal to the readers. From one of Onondaga’s events, “One patron was especially excited to learn about how NoveList could help her with her 6 -year -old’s assigned reading.”
A staff member at SCPL talks with a patron about Fantasy and how to use NoveList.
Check out the full summaries of each of the recipients: Auburn Library, Durango Public Library, Fayetteville Free Library, Kansas City Public Library, Onondaga County Library, St. Charles Parish Library, and Wapiti Regional Library. Register for our upcoming webcast with representatives from Onondaga, Durango, and Kansas City libraries to hear more about what worked for them.
Don't just read about what other libraries have done -- go for it! We are now accepting applications for the 2017 Grant Program -- and we can’t wait to see what creative suggestions you share!
Cassi Hall is the Communications Specialist at NoveList.