RA Made Easier with Bibliocommons

Does your library system use BiblioCommons? If so, there are a number of helpful tools you can use in your reader’s advisory.

I was recently helping a new immigrant who was interested in reading Canadian award-winning books. A simple click on the Explore link on the BiblioCommons home page and then selecting Awards brought me to a page on which awards are organized by country, with Canada at the top! You can also choose the Movies & TV or the Music tabs to search award-winners in these formats.

Is your patron interested in grabbing a bestseller for a trip to the beach? Click on the Explore tab and then choose Bestsellers. Choose the patron’s favourite list (e.g. Globe and Mail or New York Times) and you’re well on your way to a successful reader’s advisory transaction.

If you’re familiar with using BiblioCommons, you may already be using these features in your reader’s advisory on a regular basis. But does your library make use the of Staff Picks lists option? At the New Westminster Public Library we have a staff BiblioCommons account that we all have access to. We can then create lists of books or other materials that we love and recommend.

For example, I created the Heather’s Hot Topics list that features books and documentaries on snowden coverpopular topics, such as the existence of Heaven and the 2008 financial crisis. BiblioCommons provides images of the covers, which is a great way for patrons to get a quick feel for the items, and you can write brief annotations so that patrons can learn more about each item without leaving the web page. (Tip: Limit your annotations to 140 characters and you’ve got a ready-made tweet for your library’s Twitter page!)

All moses coverof our staff lists are gathered together on the Staff Picks page. We each have our own reading, viewing, and listening tastes, so there’s an assortment of personalized lists on various topics, genres, and formats. Is a student writing a paper about inequality. Good thing my colleague created the Joe’s Good Reads About Inequality list. Is a patron interested in reading a good fiction book featuring Jewish characters. I may not be well read on the topic, but fortunately we have access to Faith’s Great Canadian Jewish Fiction.

Another plus to having the lists in BiblioCommons is you can easily print them or send the web links to a patron’s email address. Don’t forget to rate and tag your items, and with the Add Details tool you can add similar titles. By using these tools, you’re encouraging your patrons to do the same, which makes using BiblioCommons a much more fruitful experience for everyone.

And you can go a step further. At NWPL we have Staff Picks stickers that we can sign and place on the covers of our recommended items as well as stickers for the spines so that the picks can be found when scanning the shelves. This is useful when we’re helping patrons in the stacks or replenishing our ongoing Staff Picks display.

Take advantage of the unique collection knowledge of your colleagues through the use of Staff Picks lists in BiblioCommons. It’s a fantastic way for staff to build connections with patrons, and soon you may find patrons saying, “Hey, there’s the Sci Fi guy. Let’s go ask him!”

Share your favourite tips and tricks for using BiblioCommons in the comments below!

Heather Hortness is an auxiliary librarian with the New Westminster Public Library.

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