Read Between the Lines – Form-Based Readers’ Advisory

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Form-based Readers’ Advisory has been gaining steam in public libraries. I heard buzz about Seattle Public Library’s Your Next 5 Books so when I got the chance to learn about it straight from the source at The Beyond Hope Conference in Prince George this June, I was excited.

Seattle public librarian David Wright gave a fascinating presentation on SPL’s straightforward and very successful forms-based RA. They researched the Williamsburg Regional Library’s form-based RA and decided the form was a bit lengthy for their users so they shortened it to a one page form. From June 1, 2011 to June 1, 2013, Your Next 5 Books generated over 3000 personalized reading lists carefully selected by 10 librarians.

In addition to the form, they offer Facebook RA Days intermittently in which they ask the public for RA questions over a period of a few hours and follow up with personalized recommendations.

David Wright will be joining us as a Keynote at our RA in a Half Day event at Vancouver Public Library on Oct 30 so please register today!

I had the chance to learn more about form-based RA by enrolling in an ALA webinar on Aug 7 entitled Rethinking Readers’ Advisory: An Interactive Approach by Rebecca Howard and Laura Raphael. This webinar has since been expanded into a six-week eCourse starting Nov 4, 2013.

The brief webinar gave me lots of food for thought and I’m sure the six-week online course will help you answer the following questions:

  • What are the benefits of Form-based RA? How can you make a case for it at your library
  • What length of form should you use?
  • What questions should you ask?
  • Who should be on your RA team?
  • What are the key components of a final form?
  • How do you manage workflow?

According to Howard and Raphael, the 3 parts of every good form should:

  • Ask about favourite books or authors
  • Ask about the main focus or appeal
  • Ask about their preferred genre

The next 3 parts should:

  • Determine their current reading mood
  • Determine what topics are verboten to them
  • Determine what books and authors they do not like

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The Tulsa City-County Library has its own form-based RA service entitled Your Next Great Read. The library has also created an RA course specially for their staff. You can take a look at it too. 

If you have questions about form-based RA or ANY aspect of RA, bring your questions to RA in a Half Day on October 30.

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