You’re making a list, you’re checking it twice… ok we’ll spare you the rest of the jingle, but if you’re anything like me, you’re deep in a panic over what to get that pesky relative or friend with exacting and specific taste in books. Instead of second guessing while lining up at your local book megastore, or kicking yourself over your misfired selections at the online checkout, take advantage of your library’s forms-based readers’ advisory service to make the picks.
The blog highlighted the growth in forms-based RA in our post of September 2013 and since then, more public library systems have added personalized book recommendations services to their websites. With this explosion of professional expertise online why rely on store displays that push overstock or superficial online read-a-like prompts (Herman Melville to Clive Cussler!?!?).
Some public library systems have tailored their forms service to specifically address a desire for recommendations to third parties. At Vancouver Public Library we offer a Great Gifts service as well as our standard Books Just for You forms-based RA. The former offers a shortened layout with language altered to accommodate the third-person gift-buyer. When responding, we are sure to limit our recommendations to titles that are easily available from Canadian booksellers and simple to source for the shopper.
If your Library offers a forms-based RA service, explore the possibility of adapting the questionnaire to be suitable for gift shoppers. If that’s not a possibility, try advertising your existing service’s ability to function as gift recommendation maestro. Don’t worry, Santa will thank you.
Submitted by Tim McMillan, Librarian at Vancouver Public Library