Category Archives: Community

The Challenge of Reading Challenges

Our library celebrates its 150th birthday this year, and as a gift to the community we created a book of 150 reading challenges, which replaced the Adult Summer Reading club we have done in previous years. Our intention was to create a marketing piece for the library that would showcase our collections and share our enthusiasm with everyone who uses the library.  Erin Watkins, our Manager of Programs and Community Development, was instrumental in getting this off the ground.  Thanks, Erin!

This is what we discovered while putting the booklet together:

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Many hands make light work. We had staff from multiple areas of the library contribute ideas for the challenges, but we had one person compile them. This allowed for diverse interests, collection areas and material types, which we hoped would appeal to a broader range of our community. The challenges were meant to encompass all aspects of our library’s collection in as many formats as possible to inspire people to move beyond their tried and true reading, viewing, and listening habits. Literacy is not just about books, and having the challenges touch on multiple formats will give people a chance to explore areas of the library that they may have previously ignored or been uninterested in. Having staff from all over the library contribute really helped set the groundwork for the challenges. Having one staff member compile the results was a way to ensure we kept to task and made it to our goal of 150 challenges – one for each year the library has been in existence.

Enthusiasm helps! Staff enthusiasm for a project like this helps us all see how diverse our colleagues and their interests are, which makes the workplace a fun place to be. It also means that we are better able to use that knowledge in a readers’ advisory situation because if we don’t share the reading interests of the patron in front of us, we can certainly find someone who does.

More heads are better than one. Collaborative work meant that wrangling 150 challenges into a semblance of order so they could be put into a booklet was much more effective. It also established a way for us to riff off each other’s ideas and build on each other’s work. One of the most exciting aspects of this format meant we could move beyond the familiar territory of the Adult Summer Reading club booklist and offer book bingo, a crossword puzzle, and a drawing challenge as well.

We have built in social media components in terms of a section of the challenge being called “Share” where we encourage community members to share their challenges with us on social media, and we have already had some really fun contributions for community members.

NWPL Instagram

If you are thinking of doing something similar at your library, don’t hesitate! Not only will it reinvigorate your passion for connecting with library users, but it will empower you to learn even more about the collection in your own library and inspire your own reading/viewing/listening habits. We can’t wait for the conversations we’re going to have with our library users: in the stacks, at the desk, on social media – all about what we love to watch, read, and listen to. It’s going to be a great summer!

What are your plans for adult summer reading inspiration at your library? Comment below so we can all be inspired!

Shelley Wilson-Roberts is the Public Services Librarian II at the New Westminster Public Library.

Surrey Libraries’ Book Advisors

We recently launched a Readers’ Advisory service at Surrey Libraries very loosely based on Multnomah County Library’s My Librarian. On our Recommended Reads page, patrons can now learn about the Surrey Libraries Book Advisors and their reading interests and send us an email for book recommendations. For example, see Book Advisor Naomi’s bio below

BookAdvisorNaomi

Book Advisor Naomi:

Pop culture, historical true crime, politics, fiction with vivid characters, graphic novels, thrillers, horror, science fiction, fantasy, teen fiction, classics, ESL Readers

I have a confession to make… I am a pop culture devotee. I love nothing better than to brew a cup of tea, cuddle down on a couch, and binge-watch a season of Empire with gossip blog breaks. My reading interests follow suit – give me the page-turners with the larger-than-life characters. Wherever the top is, this book better be over it. I want vivid characters to love or love to hate and plotlines steeped in melodrama. I also enjoy listening to podcasts covering pop culture, current events or comedy. I’d be happy to recommend a couple!

We are excited to interact with our readers in another capacity and to see where this program takes us! Unlike Multnomah, this project is not specially funded, so we will be hosting it on a smaller scale and adapting the program and evaluating it as we go along. Any questions? Please email bookadvisor@surrey.ca

Read Local BC

ReadLocalBCSponsored by The Association of Book Publishers of BC (ABPBC), Read Local BC is a campaign to encourage the public to support the local book industry by visiting libraries, and reading and purchasing BC books.

From April 8-22, Read Local BC will feature a media relations campaign, promotional materials (postcards, bookmarks, posters, bag stuffers and advertisements), and more than 20 author events throughout the province.

The ABPBC is inviting libraries and librarians to join in the fun. You can participate in Read Local BC in a number of ways:

  • Post a Read Local BC poster in your library;
  • Share Read Local BC buttons, bookmarks or postcards;
  • Host events with Read Local BC authors;
  • Create a display with Read Local BC materials and books;
  • Promote Read Local BC on your social media feeds.

The ABPBC is preparing a list of BC books that we will share with you in the weeks to come.

If your library would like to host an event for Read Local BC, or if you want more information about the campaign, email Natalie Hawryshkewich: natalie@books.bc.ca. Natalie will send you promotional material make sure that information about your events is passed on to the ABPBC’s communications company, ZG Communications, who will be coordinating media.

Check out the Campaign’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/ReadLocalBC

-Heidi Schiller, North Vancouver City Library

Topics in RA for Immigrant Readers

This year the interactive section of RA in a Half Day was led by our guest speaker, Keren Dali who provided us an opportunity to share insights, develop conversations, and exchange ideas about serving immigrant and ESL readers.

Discussion Topic #1

In discussing the use of fiction or films set locally, such as in Vancouver, the thought was that this would generate good integrated programming for newcomers, “old-timers” (immigrants already settled into the community), and native residents. Struggles included how to attract the mixed audience, how to evaluate it, and, in smaller communities, finding specific local materials.

The suggestion when talking about inclusive and integrated book clubs was that you could encourage integration by building immigrant reader opportunities into an existing book club. Concerns included worries about choosing materials translated into enough different languages, who would select the titles, could the library have them available in all necessary languages, and how to promote it. Dali encouraged us to accept the idea that libraries will not always be the place where readers get their copy of the book. Discuss this issue with the book club members, because if you buy the book in many languages, many of those books will never again circulate after the book club is finished with them.

Group Discussion

In discussing the solicitation of feedback from immigrant groups including operating multilingual advisory groups, it was easy to list numerous advantages. A multilingual advisory group could crowd source local expertise in literature from various languages, helps the library develop a clearer picture of the need of these readers, mitigates the lack of formal research available on the subject of immigrant and ESL reader communities, and increases awareness of the collections and services libraries offer while building comfort and agency in that section of the community. There were definite concerns over having some local language communities or certain individuals dominate the conversation, a concern that Dali actually stressed on several occasions in her talk. In addition there were concerns about the level of understanding and expertise that the community had in using library tools like BiblioCommons or even in how to analyse the qualities of and recommend reading material.

In thinking about specific ESL communities that our libraries serve, the issue of having staff who speak the language of the immigrant communities was a major theme. Some libraries were struggling to serve smaller foreign language communities when they have a huge dominant foreign language community they have already identified and designed significant services for. A big part of the discussion revolved around how to break into these smaller language groups. Additional concerns revolved around how to assess the literacy level of various local language communities in their own native tongues so that our multilingual collections are representative of their reading level needs.

More Group Discussion

A discussion on multilingual collections including selection, management, and marketing them included some useful suggestions including building community partnership programs, employing pop-up surveys on the website and in house, contacting local adult education programs, and advertising to immigrant families via story time. Concerns included finding a good source for materials purchases, managing the scope including both your staffing and monetary resources, figuring out how to make the contacts, and dealing with a significant lack of knowledge in our communities generally (but yes in immigrant communities especially) about what is offered at libraries. They really encourage perseverance in connecting with these communities and educating them on library collections and services, a point that Dali re-enforced as being critical. Keep talking about your libraries programs and collections and keep working to build trust in with community.

A big thanks to the wonderful RA in a Half Day participants who shared some great conversations and ideas!

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 match.com 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.

Edmonton Public Library’s “Great Stuff Crew”

i heart eplEdmonton Public Library (EPL) won Gale/Library Journal’s Library of the Year award in 2014 for a number of reasons, one of which is their great job marketing resources through their “Great Stuff Crew.”

I had the opportunity to hear Tina Thomas, the Director of Marketing, Communications and Fund Development Division at EPL speak in two different sessions at the American Library Association Conference in Las Vegas last month.

In “Turning Books Into A Cool New Tool: RA Marketing in the Age of Maker Spaces,” she used the umbrella term “Discovery Services” to refer to EPL’s efforts to match people with the content and resources that they seek. EPL has marked their Staff Picks with the tag lines: “We read. We listen. We watch. We game. We share.”

The Great Stuff Crew consists of 9 staff members who are dedicated to sharing recommendations in certain genres and themes through social media, TV appearances on Breakfast Television every week, Bibliocommons lists, events, and in-library displays. They focus on the fun and the quirky, with one of the librarians creating pop-culture-relevant lists such as The Charlie Sheen Reading List, which garnered over 500 hits in one day during the Charlie Sheen debacle.

They are also using forms-based readers’ advisory by creating Personalized Book Lists for readers.

What EPL learned from creating the Great Stuff Crew:

  • personality is important but content is key
  • it’s valuable to have staff with specific genre specialties, but it’s equally important that all staff members embrace readers’ advisory
  • generalists with specific interests work best
  • it’s important to set expectations accurately and early when creating the team
  • incubate, create, test, MEASURE, and repeat

Tina Thomas also lent her voice to “Smart Marketing: Using Big (or Little) Data”, contributing to the idea that we must collect and measure data to integrate change and improve our libraries effectively. At EPL, every single program is evaluated. They also use the software Simply Measured to analyze data from their social media channels (including unlikes).

Does your library have a team of RA “specialists?”

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The Book to Art Club from The Library as Incubator Project

logoI had the opportunity to attend the American Library Association Conference in sunny Las Vegas last week and was able to attend a number of sessions related to Readers’ Advsiory, programming, and marketing.

I attended a session called “Out-of-the-Box Book Clubs to Banish the Boring” and was intrigued to learn about The Library as Incubator Project, a project spearheaded by former UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies students Erinn Batykefer, Laura Damon-Moore, and Christina Jones. “The mission of the Library as Incubator Project is to promote and facilitate creative collaboration between libraries and artists of all types, and to advocate for libraries as incubators of the arts.” They even have a book out: The Artist’s Library: A Field Guide.

One of the programs under the Library as Incubator Project that they discussed is The Book to Art Club in which people meet to discuss a book and work on an art project inspired by the book. The idea to to find hands-on, creative ways to engage with literature in which the process of making the art is more important than the final product.

At Madison Public Library in Wisconsin,  Laura Damon-Moore leads her Book to Art Club on a Sunday afternoon for 2 hours. She asks participants to read the book ahead of time and to bring the art supplies they need to work on the art as they discuss the book. She also provides a few art supplies.

One of the books discussed was The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. Art projects for this dicussion included watercolour painting, embroidery, pressed flowers, paper flowers, and flower dictionaries.

Follow Book to Art:

Have you tried something similar at your library?