Week 5: Trends Reflection: The Changing Nature of Readers Advisory

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    • #1527
      Caitlin .
      Participant

      Initially I had no knowledge of the notion of Readers Advisory (RA) other than the literal interpretation of the words “advising readers”. A librarian helping readers to find that next ‘good book’.

      The Readers Advisory group  establishes the concept to mean far more than this and explains that reading is far more than the average ‘book worm’. Reading is about giving context to our everyday environment both real and imagined, about navigating the world of emails, bills, music downloads, newspapers, comics, and the latest best seller. It is about having the skills to navigate our world and gaining the most out of every day transactions within it. It’s about connecting to the world at large and each other.

      Traditionally RA reflected the traditional library transaction of the provision of a book by a librarian to a user. RA reflects the trends occurring in the Public Library sector as a whole and is now more about reading, literacy and community, expanding to include Whole Collection RA; where books, are complimented by an interactive unit utilising other medium such as apps, videos, articles related to a given topic or stimulus to engage readers and explore an idea or genre in all its forms. Whole Collection RA can include an interactive component that connects users to each other and facilitates discussions around the material being explored.

      RA is about reaching the users wherever they are and has become a valuable tool in promoting reading and information literacy within the community. RA connects users to reading materials available through interactive online catalogues that allow choices through mood, engaging multimedia displays both in house and online, and the use of social media. This can include tweets around interesting books or resources, pinterest stimulus boards, blogs and youtube.

      The majority of Public Libraries see RA as an important aspect of their services however the sheer volume of printed and digital books and other media mean keeping on top of the reviews, materials and other resources available to maintain a professional service is becoming increasingly difficult. The Queensland public Libraries association has identified it as a key area requiring constant training and engagement, although the need for professional development in this area can be overcome by commitment and enthusiasm by many libraries demonstrated through innovation in this area. RA is identified as a service in the ALIA Standards and Guidelines for Public Libraries and has been touted as an important way to meet the community and promote services the library has to offer. An English program launched to encourage reading to ward off dementia, is an example of a resource that could be promoted through RA.

      In the future RA can be further utilized to encourage interaction with patrons through promoting the ideas of reader reviewed books and peer suggestions, it can also be utilized in innovative ways to reach groups within the community who are underutilising library services or have been identified as in need. In many British and US cities, Public Libraries are being reinvented as participatory civic centers a place which could more than benefit from an innovative RA service. One can’t help but envision a space both real and virtual where a librarian could reach out to the community in an interactive advisory service which explored new materials or genres every month, not in the sense of static online reading lists but 3d interactive cloud displays where multimedia resources on a topic or story could be told and accessed in a nonlinear fashion and readers could add their own experiences to the stories told.

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    • #1560
      Georgia Pardey
      Participant

      Hi Caitlin,

      Your final comments on the future of RA reminded me of a reading in the IFN615 course from a book by Patricia Franks. She refers to records management as she says we have adapted ‘systems of record’ into ‘systems of engagement’. I think we can apply that same thinking to the evolution of Readers’ Advisory, as you point out, from static readings lists to an interactive cloud display (just two examples).

      There is something very appealing about the accessibility and collaborative nature of websites like Good Reads and Shelfari. Other social media sites that are not exclusive to readers have some good sections too, like this mini RA chart I found on Pinterest in my first search.

      A lot of these ideas tie in with our week six topic of Web 2.0, or Library 2.0. You can easily relate Tim O’Reilly’s seven principles to modern RA and social reading sites. For example, we can use the web as a platform, user contribution means we can harness collective intelligence, and the result is a rich user experience.

      I enjoyed reading your thoughts. Thanks!

    • #2330
      Chris Sonneveld
      Participant

      Hi Caitlin

      Thanks for a great article. I also think promoting reading is an important goal for libraries and not just because its important to promote their own content. Not everyone is a confident reader, myself included, and libraries have the opportunity to give confidence to those readers who may just struggle to find a book that they can relate to. There must be some value to reading the book, most of the time for enjoyment, but also, as previous posts have mentioned, allow the reader to better themselves as a person. This could just be that they are introduced to a different point-of-view or a single idea they would never have been introduced to if they had not read that one particular book. RAs have an important and exciting role of initiating these experiences through interacting with their patrons and as well as selecting books for the library’s collection.

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