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CUSTOMER STORY

Auburn Library

The Auburn Library, part of Cumberland Council in New South Wales, Australia was one of the recipients of the 2016 Grow Your NoveList Usage grant program. Serving a diverse population of many different cultural backgrounds and languages, the library has a circulation of over 230,000 in 2015.

Goals

The Auburn Library had two main goals when they began the program.

  1. Triple their NoveList usage.
  2. Develop the confidence of all library staff to deliver readers' advisory services.

What they did

AL began their program by first placing readers' advisory into practical contexts -- training activities for staff were linked to the planned events the library would hold, such as Library Lovers Day, Seniors Week, real-life RA for patrons, and promoting the new Books & Bites book club.

"What is particularly heartening is that RA is infusing itself into the AL culture and becoming part of day-to-day 'business.'"

The weekly training sessions for staff initially focused on developing knowledge of NoveList's appeal terms; after reading sections of The Secret Language of Books, staff reflected on their own reading preferences relating to a selected appeal factor and used NoveList to find books they might enjoy. Staff also used NoveList to find books from a specific genre, linking to the Books & Bites book club theme of the month.

The library also offered a Book Matchmaker training session during Library Lovers Week for patrons on how to use NoveList to do their own readers' advisory, and find their "perfect book match." The session was promoted with posters, in the library's e-newsletter, and was cross-marketed to the participants of computer training sessons.

AL implemented a form-based RA program during this time, available to patrons both online and in-person at all library branches. Readers provided information on their reading tastes on a questionnaire sheet, and a staff member used NoveList to select five personalized recommendations for that reader, who sent them to the patron along with a personalized letter promoting NoveList as a tool for finding other great books to read.

Once a month, the library hosted a book club for patrons called Books & Bites, with each session focusing on a broad genre or theme. Calico bags with the Books & Bites and NoveList logos were handed out at the meetings to encourage participation. Concurrently to the other events and promotions, AL developed an extensive campaign to promote Library Lovers Day on February 14. The Books & Bites club had a romance-focused meeting, themed displays with titles chosen by staff using NoveList were put up throughout the different branches (including one enticing patrons with free chocolate to fill out a heart-shaped template on what they love about the library), and an Instagram photo challenge where followers were asked to post a picture relating to the love-related word of the day.

Book Club brochure

The outcomes

The program was undoubtedly effective in meeting the first goal of tripling their NoveList usage. Over the period of the program, AL saw an average increase of 450% in sessions and 573% in searches, more than doubling their goal. Wow! Aside from this numerical goal however, the library reported that "The chief success of the program was building staff confidence in their ability to deliver readers' advisory." Responses to the training sessions were overwhelmingly positive, and 100% of respondents to a survey conducted after the training reported they were more likely to use NoveList themselves or demonstrate it to patrons.

Attendance at the Books & Bites book club is growing slowly, encouraging in an area where literary-themed events are not typically well-attended. Planning for future events and programs is already underway. There are more RA conversations occurring at the circulation desk and on the library floor, and staff members are even doing more readers' advisory among themselves -- recommending books to each other and even including what they're currently reading in their email signatures. The program proved to be an empowering step towards promoting a community-wide enthusiasm for books and reading, both in the present and in the future.