Category Archives: Booktalking

Water Cooler RA – NWPL Recommends

When in a reading rut I like to pick the brains of my colleagues. They are an eclectic bunch when it comes to reading interests!  Here is a selection of books staff at the New Westminster Public Library have recently enjoyed (and were gracious enough to share!) Let us know if you liked any of these, or had other titles to share, in the comments below!

strangersMy favourite recent read was Strangers Drowning by Larissa MacFarquhar. MacFarquhar is a profile writer for the New Yorker who specializes in sketches of intellectuals, oddballs, or both. In this book she explores the philosopher Susan Wolf’s idea of “moral saints”: people who try to make every act as virtuous as possible. The profiles of various extreme do-gooders are written with a light touch, describing many individuals who come off as both admirable and somehow disturbing (and in some cases actually destructive). Interludes between the profiles provide a history of altruism up to and including the present day Effective Altruism movement, which centers around utilitarians like Peter Singer.

  • Joe H.

Speak EasySpeak Easy by Catherynne M. Valente. It’s the 1920’s in the Artemisia Hotel and the party never stops. A mysterious door arrives in the closet of It Girl, Zelda Fair, and she enters the Underworld/Fairy Kingdom that supplies the fantastic, outrageous, and degenerate fun for the hotel upstairs. Valente’s prose is the real protagonist; the story is told in a voice that is alternately lush, folksy, sparkling, touching, and humorous.

  • Adena B.



redemption roadI just finished reading John Hart’s newest and very suspenseful thriller, Redemption Road. A cop convicted of murder is being released from prison and the young son of the victim meets him at a bar with a gun. Also in the mix is a police officer on suspension for shooting suspects in a kidnapping case. When there is another murder in town with the exact same MO all three get caught up in a dangerous game. Very well written prose.

  • Kris K.


Ten BillionI’m about halfway through “Ten Billion Tomorrows: How Science Fiction Technology Became Reality and Shapes the Future” by Brian Clegg. It’s a really interesting discussion of science fiction, the technology depicted in it, and how that technology has or could be developed in the “real world” (or, in some cases, why it most certainly won’t be).

  • Alicia D.




tearsI was very touched by Tears in the Grass by Lynda Archer. It is about an elderly Cree woman who is determined to find the child that was taken away from her after she was raped during her time at residential school. She kept this a secret her whole life until age 90, knowing she will not live for much longer, and enlists the help of her daughter and granddaughter to find her.

  • Jenny Z.




Shell CollectorThe Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr! this is his book of short stories before he hit it big with All the Light We Cannot See. There’s a great short story in there about how unspectacularly wonderful my hometown, Boise, ID is (Doerr lives there).

  • Molly K.

SLAIS recommends!

This spring, as the university semester came to a close, I asked some of my fellow SLAIS students to recommend what they’ve been reading/listening to over the past school year. Here are the recommendations:

cover of Warren the 13th - a young boy tiptoes across town while a sinister couple gaze after him


Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio and Will Staehle

The red, black and white illustrations, by Will Staehle, hooked me from the first page. I loved the story of the resilient and resourceful Warren fending off numerous challenges to his legacy, his family’s strange hotel.

~ recommended by Jennette C.

cover of Where the Sea Breaks Its Back - a scene of several ships floundering in huge waves


Where the Sea Breaks Its Back: The epic story of early naturalist Georg Steller and the Russian exploration of Alaska by Corey Ford

A non-fiction account of the ultimately disastrous expedition of Danish explorer Vitus Bering, his Russian crew, and naturalist Georg Steller to southern Alaska in the 1740s.

~ recommended by Matthias Olhausen


cover of Sorcerer to the Crown - image of a red dragon with its mouth open


Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

Magic is waning in England and Zacharias, the first black Sorcerer Royal, and Prunella, a young woman with an immense magical ability of her own, set out to figure out why. A fun, witty narrative of romance, intrigue, and adventure that doesn’t shy away from the fact that its characters deal with oppression and institutional racism.

~ recommended by Chloe Riley


Gastropod podcast logo


Gastropod by Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley

Gastropod is a podcast that “looks at food through the lens of science and history.” The topics are always well-researched, often featuring guest experts, and navigating between science, history, and story for a consistently captivating show. [link to the podcast]

~ recommended by Gwen Doran


cover of Rolling in the Deep - a young woman is pulled underwater by a webbed hand

Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant

If you like your horror smart and slick with a slice of too-terrifyingly-close-to-reality science on the side, this slim novella by Mira Grant is for you. Rolling in the Deep recounts the last fatal voyage of the SS Atargatis, which sets sail for the Marianas Trench with a team of scientists, a group of actors, a camera crew, and a collection of interns, to determine whether or not mermaids could possibly exist. None of them are ever seen again.

~ recommended by Meghan Ross



cover of I'll Give You the Sun - colourful lines in a sunburst pattern


I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

“If you are a young gay boy, or if you ever were a young gay boy, then you need to read this amazing YA novel. Even if you’re NOT and never were a young gay boy, read this book anyway. It’s brilliant. It’s poetic. It’ll break your heart and sew it right back up again only to rip it right out of you.” [full review here].

~ recommended by Alan Woo


cover of Captive Prince - image of a faded stone wall with a single thin window


Captive Prince Trilogy by C.S. Pacat

Intrigue and action-packed gay romance set in an alternate history/High Fantasy world. Excellent pick for romance enthusiasts and fans of The Goblin Emperor or Game of Thrones.

~ recommended by Krista Parham


cover of The Thousand names - a man in a billowing cloak walks towards a city holding two swords above his head



The Thousand Names by Django Wexler

~ recommended by Myles Wolfe




Let us know your recently-read/recently-listened/recently-watched recommendations!

Chloe Riley is the SLAIS student representative on the Readers’ Advisory Interest Group. She’s currently a student in the MLIS program at SLAIS, and works at the Vancouver Public Library.


Best Bets 2015

Every year we pick our favourite books that we can’t stop recommending to people. Check them out below!

Download a PDF of this list.


A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

A God in Ruins is the companion novel to Life After Life which features Ursula Todd – as she lives her life over and over again – trying to get things right. A God in Ruins turns its attention to the much-loved Teddy, Ursula’s younger brother. Teddy is recruited as an RAF bomber pilot in the WWII and has accepted the fact he would die during the war. However, when the war is over, and he is still alive, he must adjust to a life he never thought he would live.

-Theresa de Sousa, Richmond Public Library



The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia by Michael Booth

Although I’m half Danish, I don’t know that much about the Nordic/Scandinavian countries, so this book was a light and engaging way to learn a little history, politics, sociology and psychology – along with some entertaining travel stories. The author is a British travel writer who lives with his Danish wife in Denmark. His writing is great: funny, quirky, and enlightening.

-Jenny Fry, Surrey Libraries


03The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey

Melanie loves school, especially when Miss Justineau reads the class Greek myths, but it doesn’t matter that she is smart and inquisitive. Not only is she kept in a cell, restrained in a wheelchair, watched by armed soldiers, she is also going to be dissected soon.

A haunting post-apocalyptic tale with superb world building.

-Virginia McCreedy, Port Moody Library


04Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts, and Hooks Us by Murray Carpenter

This book is a wander through the strange world of caffeine, touching on history, science, commerce, globalization, and politics. It is both an expose and a love story, complex yet still unable to catch the full range of complexities caffeine embodies. This fascinating book is a good, light read for people who like the micro-history format or anyone who is willing to examine their caffeine habit a little bit closer.

-Anna Ferri, West Vancouver Memorial Library


05All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Marie-Laure is 12 and blind when Nazis invade Paris. She and her father flee to the walled waterfront city Saint-Malo with a most valuable and dangerous item in their possession. Young orphan Werner grows up in a German orphanage. Skilled at fixing radios, he finds himself tracking the resistance for the Nazis. The war brings him to Saint-Malo where his life and Marie-Laure’s converge. This story was a beautiful, suspenseful, illuminating perspective on WW2.

-Meghan Savage, Surrey Libraries


06The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine

This dazzling novel centres around twelve sisters in Prohibition-era New York. While their repressive father plots to marry them off, the sisters, led by the eldest, Jo, begin sneaking out to dance in night clubs and speak-easies. An elegant and non-magical retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale, this novel is full of emotionally complex relationships, brought to vivid life with Genevieve Valentine’s deft storytelling and lyrical language.

-Chloe Riley, UBC School of Library Archival and Information Studies



The Woman Who Borrowed Memories by Tove Jansson

Perhaps best known for her Moomins books, this volume introduces English readers to the first major collection of Jansson’s short fiction. One of the major themes running through the stories is characters in physical or emotional isolation. This would be a good, representative collection for fans of short-stories and Scandinavian literature.

-Caroline Crowe, Vancouver Public Library




Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah is the work of a masterful storyteller: thoughtful, witty and irreverent. It is a novel of ideas: race, aspiration, and nationality. It is also a star-crossed love story that wends its way across three continents and three decades. Original and absorbing.

-Tara Matsuzaki, West Vancouver Memorial Library




Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

A post-apocalyptic literary thriller with beautiful writing, compelling characters, and a stand-out plot. Even if you are sick of dystopian novels, you’ll want to read this.

-Heidi Schiller, North Vancouver City Library




10Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

A quirky, edgy memoir by the creator and star of HBO’s Girls. Dunham examines her life from childhood, dating, and college life to fame and fortune through individual essays that are humourous, dark, and thought provoking.

-Sarah Dearman, Fraser Valley Regional Library




11The Good Luck Right Now by Matthew Quick

This novel tells the story of Bartholomew Neil and his struggle to find meaning after the death of his mother. Written as a series of letters to Richard Gere after Bartholomew finds a “Free Tibet” postcard in his mother’s drawer, this book is quirky, funny and philosophical and makes for a great departure from the ordinary.

-Michelle Whitehead, Greater Victoria Public Library



12The Martian by Andy Weir

Mark Watney may not have been the first human on Mars, but he might be the last. Left behind when the rest of his team was forced to evacuate, Mark must use all of his ingenuity to stay alive until, or if, help will arrive. Funny, gripping, and you’ll never have wanted more for someone to succeed in their attempts to grow potatoes.

-Matthew Murray, UBC School of Library Archival and information Studies


13The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston

A powerful, sweeping novel with unforgettable characters that tells the story of Newfoundland’s first premier. Don’t let the subject fool you – Joey Smallwood and Sheilagh Fielding will stay with you long after you finish the book – which is just as rewarding a read the second time around.

-Shelley Wilson-Roberts, New Westminster Public Library

Beyond the Hunger Games: A booklist for teens and adults


If you saw my reading log, you wouldn’t think I’m well into my thirties. The fact is that I read a lot of children’s and teens’ books. I know books are written – and marketed – for specific target groups, but I believe any book has the potential to reach other audiences than the writers or publishers intended for. That’s especially true between young and older adults. There are many YA books that are also interesting to adults (hey, I LOVED The Hunger Games!) as well as lots of adult books that can spark teens’ attention too. For example, Kidsbooks bookstore in Vancouver label their adult section “teen plus”.

Lise Kreps (Adult services) teamed up with Rachel Yaroshuk (Teen services) to host a readers’ advisory event last month at the Burnaby Public Library’s McGill branch, where they recommended a list of books that could be enjoyed by either teens or adults. “A lot of teen fiction won’t interest adults, for example if it’s strictly about school & boyfriends, and not particularly well written. Likewise, adult books about middle-aged identity crises, no matter how well written, don’t interest most teens,” says Lise. “But there are now a lot of good writers creating really excellent books that just happen to be marketed to teens, and anyone can enjoy them.”

Sixteen people came on a Thursday evening: seven were teens. Lise was impressed by how well read the teens were, “they knew a lot of my books already!” They were also very eager to share their own suggestions. For future book talks, Lise says she would like to focus more on new books or really old ones, that the teens may not know yet.

The audience clearly enjoyed the session, as they reported on the feedback forms, and would like to attend similar events in the future. One person suggested that we also include e-books available among the recommendations.

Here’s a list of some of Lise’s and Rachel’s recommendations:

The Woefield Poultry Collective, by Susan Juby
(adult, contemporary, humour)

woefield-poultry-collectiveWelcome to Woefield Farm, a sprawling thirty acres of rock and scrub somewhere on Vancouver Island, complete with dilapidated buildings and a half-sheared sheep. When Prudence Burns, an energetic twenty-something New Yorker and failed YA author, inherits the farm, she arrives full of optimism and back-to-the-land idealism, but without a scrap of experience or skills. She also seems to have inherited Earl, a cranky old farmhand and banjo-player who’s hiding a family secret. They’re soon joined by Seth, the 20-year-old alcoholic, celebrity-blogging boy-next-door who hasn’t left the house since a scandal with his high school drama teacher; and Sara Spratt, a very focused eleven-year-old looking for a home for her prize-winning chickens, including one particularly randy fellow called Alec Baldwin. When Prudence discovers that the bank is about to foreclose on the property, she has to turn things around, fast – and a few wilting organic radishes won’t cut it. The four of them must pull together to become an unlikely family and find surprising ways to save Woefield. Sequel Republic of Dirt just published this spring.

What I Saw and How I Lied, by Judy Blundell
(teen, historic)

what i saw and how i liedNoir-ish mystery set in 1947, filled with plot twists. Fifteen-year-old Evie’s step-father Joe is back from World War II with a surprising amount of money, and starts a business. But he’s acting strange and drinking too much. Out of the blue he suddenly takes her and her mother for an extended visit to Florida. There, he is none too pleased to bump into his old army buddy, the charming and handsome Peter. Evie finds herself falling in love for the first time with Peter, whom she feels treats her like an adult. But very slowly she realizes she is being drawn into a complicated web of lies between the adults. After a boating accident results in a suspicious death, Evie has to testify at the inquest. She must rethink not only her romance with Peter but her relationships with her parents, as everything she thought she knew about all three of them is turned upside down. What I Saw and How I Lied won National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.

Traitor’s Blade, by Sebastien DeCastell
(adult, fantasy)

traitorsbladeThe King is dead and the Greatcoats are disbanded, leaving Falcio Val Mond and his two companions reduced to working as bodyguards for a nobleman who refuses to pay them. Things could be worse, of course. Their employer could be lying dead on the floor while they are forced to watch the killer use magic to plant evidence framing them for the murder. Oh wait, that’s exactly what’s happening. With swashbuckling action and rapier wit reminiscent of a combination of the Three Musketeers, Game of Thrones, and Terry Pratchett, Traitor’s Blade is the first book in Sebastien de Castell’s dynamic new fantasy series, continuing in Knight’s Shadow coming out this summer.

Here Lies Arthur, by Philip Reeve
(teen, historic)

hereliesarthurA riveting reimagining of the Arthurian legend, told through the eyes of Merlin’s apprentice Gwyna, a scrawny orphan servant girl he finds hiding in a river to escape invading Saxons who destroyed her village. She seeks protection from the bard Myrddin, who uses Gwyna in his plan to spin tales transforming young Arthur from a local thug into the heroic King Arthur. Here Lies Arthur won the UK’s Carnegie award, and deserves to be known better.

Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
(adult, memoir)

Persepolis-book-coverSatrapi’s autobiography is a timely and timeless story of a young girl’s life under the Islamic Revolution. Descended from the last Emperor of Iran, Satrapi is nine when fundamentalist rebels overthrow the Shah. While Satrapi’s radical parents and their community initially welcome the ouster, they soon learn a new brand of totalitarianism is taking over. Outspoken and intelligent, Marjane chafes at Iran’s increasingly conservative interpretation of Islamic law, especially as she grows into a bright and independent young woman.

Laughing at My Nightmare, by Shane Burcaw
(teen, memoir)

laughingnightmareWith acerbic wit and a hilarious voice, Shane Burcaw describes the challenges he faces as a twenty-one-year-old with spinal muscular atrophy. From awkward handshakes to having a girlfriend and everything in between, Shane handles his situation with humor and a “you-only-live-once” perspective on life. While he does talk about everyday issues that are relatable to teens, he also offers an eye-opening perspective on what it is like to have a life threatening disease.

The King Must Die, by Mary Renault
(adult, historic)

kingmustdieTheseus is the grandson of the King of Troizen, but his paternity is shrouded in mystery – can he really be the son of the god Poseidon? When he discovers his father’s sword beneath a rock, his mother must reveal his true identity: Theseus is the son of Aegeus, King of Athens, and is his only heir. So begins Theseus’s perilous journey to his father’s palace to claim his birthright, escaping bandits and ritual king sacrifice in Eleusis, to slaying the Minotaur in Crete. When Crete makes Athens send seven boys and seven girls as tributes to compete to the death in the Bull Ring, Theseus volunteers to go. (Sound familiar? This story inspired Suzanne Collins to write The Hunger Games.) Renault reimagines the Theseus myth, creating an original, exciting story from Theseus’s own perspective as an ambitious, brave, and lusty young adventurer.

Art of Getting Stared At, by Laura Langston
(teen, contemporary)

art-getting-stared-atSixteen-year-old Sloane Kendrick is determined to produce a video in less than two weeks to get a film school scholarship. Unfortunately, she must work with Isaac Alexander, an irresponsible charmer with whom she shares an uneasy history. On the heels of this opportunity comes a horrifying discovery: a bald spot on her head. Horror gives way to devastation when Sloane is diagnosed with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease has no cause, no cure, and no definitive outcome. Determined to produce her video, hide her condition, and resist Isaac’s easy charm, Sloane finds herself turning into the kind of person she has always mocked: someone obsessed with her looks. And just when she thinks things can’t get any worse, Sloane is forced to make the most difficult decision of her life.

What other books would you add to this list?

Photo by Dan Foy, on Flickr, under Creative Commons license.

Ana Calabresi is an Auxiliary Librarian at Burnaby Public Library.

Librarians’ Choice at Burnaby Public Library

Avid readers are always looking for good reading recommendations. In the age of internet, social media, and sites like Goodreads, you might think that the opinions of librarians wouldn’t be of much interest to library users but, of course, the opposite is true. It’s important for librarians to recognize this and position themselves as a preferred source of inspired reading recommendations.

When I started working at the McGill branch of Burnaby Public Library several years ago, then Library Manager Barbara Jo May had been doing a book recommendation program for a couple of years, similar to her “Ain’t on the Globe and Mail Bestsellers List” sessions at BCLA conferences. Librarians delivered fast-paced reviews of recommended reads. I participated as a newbie to booktalking, and when Barabara Jo left I carried on coordinating the program.

We decided to call the program “Librarians’ Choice”. We use four librarians (including Information Clerks sometimes) and cover about twenty books in an evening. Each book review is about two minutes. Some popular titles are included, but the focus is more on the “under the radar” books that might otherwise be missed.

Two librarians start off and alternate, then we break for refreshments which gives staff a chance to chat with the attendees, then the next two librarians go on. We provide a booklist so the audience can follow along, and we have often observed patrons madly taking notes. We put display books in the room, and encourage people to browse and talk. The program takes ninety minutes, usually 7 pm to 8:30 pm and we pre-register.

I coordinated this program for four years at the McGill branch. The loyal following that Barbara Jo built up early on continued to grow. Our turnouts would range from 30 to 40 plus, with our International Mysteries evening going viral! Some events were themed — for example: Varieties of Love, Historical, Thrills and Adventure, Real Reads (non-fiction). But many events were a generic selection of mostly fiction with some non-fiction as well and promoted with reference to the seasons: Fall into Books; Winter Reads; Spring into Summer.

BPL-touch-of-mysteryWhen I moved to the Bob Prittie Metrotown Branch a year ago, I discovered that the reading tastes are a little less eclectic than at McGill. Metrotown readers *love* mysteries, so we have so far hosted two mystery evenings at Metrotown, the first one also went viral so we had a full house; the second attracted 30 plus avid mystery readers. We are planning another mystery evening in the fall, and will try a general one in November. We are also planning to include DVD recommendations in at least some of our events. Librarians’ Choice also continues by popular demand at McGill with new librarians coordinating.

It is really gratifying to see people return to the library with their Librarians’ Choice lists as they read their way through the recommended titles. There is a real eagerness to get the inside scoop on what library staff are reading, and I think this is part of the appeal of this type of program. Also, avid readers just enjoy being at an event where something they love doing is celebrated.

And here is a little inspiration for library staff: I was on the Information Desk one day and a woman approached me and said “I just wanted to tell you how much I love the book events that you do. Reading is a solitary, introverted activity, and your events create community among readers.” Wow!

Georgina Flynn is the First Floor Information Desk Supervisor at Bob Prittie Metrotown Branch,
Burnaby Public Library

Breakfast of Books

Teens make up some of the most passionate readers I know, but they seldom ask for help in the library, let alone for reading recommendations.


This summer I tried something different. Inspired by a post on the YALSA blog I held a “Breakfast of Books” at the library. I wasn’t expecting a great turnout, but 28 teens got up at the crack of 10:00 am to come to the library and hear about the books they should read over the summer.


From 10:00 am to 11:00 am teens stuffed their faces with unhealthy breakfast foods (donuts, baked goods, etc) and listened to me tell them about a stack of books. During the hour program I blitz booktalked 20 new young adult novels and gave away a bunch of prizes. I had stockpiled all of the new teen books that arrived in the library the month before the program. I read as many as was possible and came up with quick booktalks (no more than two minutes each) for each title. Teens tend to be comfortable with what they know and are reluctant to try something new. They will happily re-read Harry Potter or Divergent over again and over again rather than pick up something unknown. If the book sounds like familiar territory they’ll be more likely to give it a try. When introducing new books, I aim to connect it to another popular book or movie and list as many read-alikes as I can.


To promote the “Breakfast of Books” I printed out invitations and gave them to any teen who would listen. I also scattered the invitations around the teen area for teens that didn’t come to the desk.


The invitation:
Breakfast invite

I made a poster using a picture of Ron Swanson with breakfast food from the television show Parks and Recreation and posted them through the library.

Ron swanson


Every teen program includes lots of dead air. Teens awkwardly come to library programs but then don’t want to seem dorky by participating. This was no exception, after the teens had loaded up their plates, they sat at their tables to eat in awkward silence. I challenged each table to find three things they all had in common. This broke the ice and got the teens more relaxed. Interspersed through the booktalks I gave away prizes through a draw and trivia questions, and we played a game called “Purses, Pockets, Wallets“. I had book prizes, movie passes, gift cards and lots of little prizes to give away. Most teens left with something.


The program was lots of fun, and several teens commented on their end of summer evaluation form that they enjoyed the breakfast. I will definitely offer the program again. Next time I will start the program at 11:00 am (turns out 10:00 am is too early!) and incorporate more games in between the book talks.


Teen books are fun to read and promote! Read some books, put out some food and share both with some teens. It’s actually pretty easy, and tasty. For help finding book titles and other teen programs the YALSA blog and website are great resources.

–Dana Ionson, Librarian and Summer Reading Club Coordinator, Fraser Valley Regional Library

Multnomah County Library’s “My Librarian”

Similar to the Edmonton Public Library, Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon also has a Readers’ Advisory team! I had the opportunity to learn more about this program during their session “My Librarian: Personalization and The Future of Reader Services” at the American Library Association (ALA) Conference.Laural_2

Not suprisingly, their program is called “My Librarian” and currently consists of 13 enthusiastic library staff members who offer personalized and specific recommendations to patrons. These team members offer staff training, deliver outreach, participate in public events, contribute to social media, and respond to individual RA requests in just 4 hours a week (or roughly 10% of their time, ideally).

This program was created to “facilitate more personal connections for online readers.” Staff members conducted a focus group study, coordinated a series of conversations at ALA conferences, and collaborated with Seattle Public Library to develop the program. A grant for $190,000 helped this project get off the ground.

What staff learned from their research:

  • Libraries are often the last point in the book discovery process. People mention word-of-mouth, bookstores, & online resources before they consider libraries as places to attain reading recommendations. Libraries are competing with Scribd, Goodreads, Powell’s Daily Dose emails, National Public Radio’s Book Your Trip series, the New York Times Book Review, Nancy Pearl,  & Kindle Fire with their 10 second customer response rate to name a few.
  • People respect librarians, but don’t want to take up our time
  • People value asynchronous readers’ advisory (RA), but are hesitant to engage
  • Patrons have been very enthusiastic about the personalized librarian recommendations
  • Email is the preferred way to communicate the service

How did they recruit & train their team?

  • Staff members were encouraged to apply by showcasing their hobbies, talents, and passions
  • They solicited applications from anyone in an information services role–25 applied from over 200 staff
  • Team members were trained in RA skills, Drupal, virtual reference skills including chat and Skype, email tracking software, booktalking, and Novelist over a series of four classes
  • One training activity included visiting Powell’s to find read-alikes in the stacks and book-talk them to one another

What does the exMatthew_2_0perience look like?

  • It’s like for books! Each “My Librarian” has a profile with a photograph showing their personality, a biography, monthly recommendations, blog posts, and a contact link
  • The goal is to respond to each question within 48 hours and to offer 3-5 recommended titles

How was the program marketed?

  • The program was first announced through an email to all 39,000 subscribers
  • Library Journal & The Oregonian featured the program, and it was then picked up by people on Twitter
  • They featured a tile ad on their website
  • They included it on their Google + account and in a Google ad
  • They paid $400 for an ad on Facebook, reaching approximately 30,000 people (as opposed to 560 people reached through an organic Facebook post)
  • The mobile app promoted it
  • Print ads are forthcoming

Thanks to Alison Kastner, Jeremy Graybill, Temlyn Chun, and Laurel Winter for the information.