Monday, March 28, 2011

Reader's Advisory Abyss

“Do you know any good books?”  Every staff member gets this question eventually.  But how do you actually provide reader’s advisory?  Do you have to know every genre, subgenre, author, plot twist, and character out there?  No.  Just like providing reference services, you just need to know what type of questions to ask and where to go to find the information the customer needs.  In many ways, doing reader’s advisory is very similar to conducting a reference interview.  Customers often don’t know how to articulate what type of book they want.  They just know they want a “good” book.  You may find that you have to ask a few probing questions to find out what they mean by “good.”  Some examples of questions you could ask include:
“What authors do you like to read?”
“What was the last good book you read?”
“What was the last book you read that you did not enjoy?”
“Do you want something light or something serious?”

HCPL has an online
Reader's Advisor service
called Book Hunters. Let your 
customers know about it and
check it out yourself.
As customers start giving you answers, you will begin to get a clearer picture of what type of book they are looking for.  Now, it is time to offer them some suggestions.  There are many resources you can use to provide the customer with a list of suggestions.  Let’s explore them in our hunt.
On to the Hunt...
Record your entries using the form on Harriet.  Be sure to submit when you are done.

You may want to make NoveList one of your first stops on your hunt.  This database has a treasure chest full of resources and options for searching.  On NoveList, you will find links for Author Read-alikes, Recommended reading lists, Grab and Go Booklists, and a Reader's Advisory Toolbox.  If your customer gives you a book title or author they like, you can look up the book in NoveList and find links to books with a similar pace, tone, subject, writing-style and more.  You can also search for books with specific appeal factors under the Advanced Search function.  One benefit of using NoveList to search for reading lists is that it is connected to the HCPL catalog.  So if you find a title you think a customer may be interested in, you can check the HCPL catalog directly from NoveList.  An online tutorial of NoveList can be found here.
  1. Your customer has read every single Janet Evanovich book and is currently on the wait list for her newest title.  List 3 authors that NoveList suggests if you like Janet Evanovich.   
  2. What are the two "pace appeal" terms used in NoveList?  List one book title written for adults for each of these terms.
Book Lists and Blogs
So many books, so little time.  How do you keep track of them all?  Well, there are many great book lists, newsletters and blogs out there to help you help our customers find great books.  On the HCPL website, you can find links to many of these, such as the New York Times Bestseller List, the HCPL Kids and Teens Newsletters, websites such as Overbooked, and Series and Sequels Websites.  HCPL also has lists of New Titles added to the catalog, Most Requested Titles, and Most Circulated Titles.  These lists are updated at the beginning of each month.
  1. What are the 3 most requested Young Adult Fiction Titles this month?
  2. Using one of the Series and Sequels Websites on the HCPL website, look  up the Bride Quartet series by Nora Roberts and list the titles of  the first two books in that series. Note which website you used to find  this information.
Reading Levels and AR Lists
Accelerated Reader Program(AR) is a program which many schools use.  AR tests whether or not students have read a particular title.  Students read a book from the AR list.  Each book has a level and point value associated with it.  The student then takes a test at their school which tests them on details of the book.  The reading levels assigned to books range from 0.0 up to 15.7.  In general, books with a level 1.0-1.9 could be considered 1st grade, 2.0-2.9 considered second grade, and so on.  Parents are often looking for a book for their child to read at a particular level or level ranges.  Many branches will have binders of AR lists for their local schools.  However, even if your branch does not have a printed list of AR books, you can still help parents and students find book in their desired level through the Accelerated Reader BookFinder website.  If you use the Advanced Search option, you can search for a particular book level range.
  1. A customer with a second  grader wants a fiction book with a book level range between 2.0 and 2.5. Using the Advanced Search function, find one and list the title, author, book level, and point value assigned.
Kids and Teens read too! 
Learn More:
Reader's Advisory Training
Don't forget about kids.  Providing great reader's advisory for kids and teens help them realize that libraries are welcoming places that value them.  NoveList has a database titled NoveList K-8.  While very similar to the regular NoveList, NoveList K-8 highlights resources of particular appeal to children, parents and teachers.
  1. Little Bobby is obsessed with Diary of a Wimpy Kid because it is so funny.  He wants a book just like it.  List 3 books that NoveList K-8 suggests.

Congratulations! Searching for the answers to these exercises  and submitting the form has earned you the Reader's Advisory Key to the Treasure Chest!

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