Category Archives: RA Events and Training

RA in a Day 2016

A sign stating "Welcome to RA in a Day 2916" behind a silhouette of a microphone

Welcome to RA in a Day 2016!

The BCLA Readers’ Advisory Interest Group is proud and grateful for the success of RA in a Day 2016! Our warmest appreciation and thanks to everyone who attended the event, or who followed along on social media (#RAinaDay16). We would also like to thank our supportive sponsor Library Bound.

This year the event was held on October 18, 2016 in the Vancouver Public Library’s Central Branch. The Readers’ Advisory Interest Group would like to acknowledge that this event took place on the ancestral, traditional and unceded Aboriginal territories of the Coast Salish Peoples. Continue reading

RA in a Day 2016 – Registration is open!

Have you registered for RA in a Day 2016 yet? It’s getting closer and we’re getting excited!

Register now! Registration closes at noon on Friday, October 7.

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016
9:30am -4:00 PM
Vancouver Public Library, Central branch

Presented by the BCLA Readers’ Advisory Interest Group, this event is about building your RA confidence, reminding you about what you already know, learning to better serve your patrons as readers advisors and enjoying this practical professional development event.

This year we are back in downtown Vancouver, and we are excited about our workshop that explores the relationship between library catalogues, readers, and readers’ advisors, with Samuel Richmond, Head of Bibliographic Services at VPL.

We are honoured to have a keynote speech by Dr. Catherine Sheldrick Ross, professor and former Dean in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario. Sheldrick Ross authored The Pleasures of Reading: A Booklover’s Alphabet which drew on over 300 open-ended interviews with avid readers to explore questions about the experience of pleasure-reading.

This year our ever-popular Speed-Dating Through the Genres will feature:
• Adventure!
• Fiction in Translation: French Canadian!
• Non-fiction graphic novels!
• Mindfulness!

Plus we will host a Bookslam demo to which we invite audience participation : )

Event Fee(s)
BCLA Member $ 50.00
Non-Member $ 70.00
Student $ 30.00

Join in the conversation on social media with the hashtag #RADay16.

Register now! We hope to see you there on Tuesday October 18th.

Organizing an RA Workshop at Library School

Last autumn, a number of fellow library school students and I decided to organize a Readers’ Advisory Workshop for SLAIS students. This was in response to feedback from our peers regarding the lack of Readers’ Advisory education in our classrooms, and a desire to develop some knowledge and skills on our own. We decided to focus on some basic topics that we were interested in learning about and sharing, as well as what we thought would appeal to our potential participants.

Ask Your Readers Advisor - Newton Free Library

Image from Newton Public Library, used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

My collaborators included members of various student groups at UBC: ALA Student Chapter, BCLA/CLA Student Chapter, UBC Librarians without Borders, SLA @ SLAIS, and YAACS @ UBC. Our workshop took place in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at UBC, on the traditional, unceded territory of the Musqueam people.

Despite the fact that we held a two-hour workshop at the end of a busy semester, we had a really great turn-out of students who were willing to take a break from their end-of-term workload and talk about Readers’ Advisory and books with us.

Lightning Talks

The organizers contributed lightning talks on different RA topics:

  • Intro to RA Basics, including a brief history of RA, read-alikes & appeal factors
  • Types of RA, such as direct & indirect
  • RA resources, including a Novelist demonstration
  • Adult Literacy Levels
  • Diversity and RA
  • RA for early, late, and intermediate age children
  • RA for adolescents and young adults

(We admit that a few of us attended RAIG’s 2015 RA in a Day, and were inspired by the Adult Literacy Levels discussion and Dr. Brenna Clarke Gray’s keynote on Diverse Reading!)

Genre Roundtable

Each of the organizers prepared a quick introduction to a genre, including why people like to read it, and some important titles to know. We took a tour through Mystery, Fantasy, Feminist Memoirs, and Romance. We encouraged our participants to feel free to discuss a genre they were interested in, too! While acknowledging that it wasn’t a genre, one of our participants shared some of her experiences and recommended resources on providing LGBTQIA+ RA service.

Some of the takeaways from our genre discussions included:

  • The importance of incorporating diversity in our reading and our recommendations. Sometimes we need to make the effort to seek out diverse genre lit, and avoid simply falling back on “classics” of the genre, which are likely not diverse.
  • The surprising number of sub-genres that we didn’t know existed (cozy mysteries!) and the confusion of blurring genres (where does fantasy end and sci-fi begin?).
  • Discussion of what “genre” means, and how broader themes and topics like LGBTQIA+ can become confused with genre.

Bookslam Demo and Recommendation Hour

We had hoped to conclude with an informal bookslam demonstration and a reading recommendation exchange, in order to practice booktalking and recommendation skills. We’d even encouraged participants to bring a recently read book or a favourite book with them. Unfortunately, we ran out of time!

Reflections and Opportunities

  • Organizing and facilitating a two-hour workshop was only possible with the help and collaboration of all of the organizers. Thanks, everyone!!
  • We provided snacks and drinks, which were vital sources of sustenance during our  two-hour discussion.
  • We tried to build interactive sections into the workshop, and unfortunately we ran out of time before we were able to get to the recommendations part (the bookslam and booktalking). I would definitely try to build that more cohesively into the workshop next time, as we were dissappointed to miss out on that interactive element.
  • Our participants brought really great ideas, experiences, and questions with them, which spoke to the interest and enthusiasm for learning and practicing RA. I hope to see more events in the future, and I encourage students in MLIS and Lib Tech programs to develop their own RA events.

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.

Book Movement and organizing your book club

logoI was perusing the Adult Reading Round Table website, “a group dedicated to developing readers’ advisory skills and promoting reading for pleasure through public libraries in the Chicago area,” which I learned about in a webinar a few months ago. While reading about their leadership recommendations for book club leaders, I discovered a link to the website Book Movement. This website is a resource for book club groups–covering 35,000 book clubs across the United States and what books they recommend and why. In addition to learning about book club options and receiving weekly book club picks, you can track your club’s RSVPs and send out automatic reminders and reading guides via automatic emails. Although I have not joined this resource yet (more emails!?), I am following them on Facebook and would be curious to hear from anyone who participates in their services. Have you used

–Meghan S, Surrey Libraries

Learn about Loan Stars in March 9 Webinar

loanstars2For those of you interested in the Loan Stars program, they are offering a free webinar this Wed, March 9 from 10-10:30am (Vancouver time) to give you the low down on how to participate in Loan Stars:

Join BookNet Canada to learn everything you need to know to participate in Loan Stars, the new readers’ advisory service fueled by voting library staff across the country. Plus, get a guided tour of CataList, the online catalogue tool where Loan Stars voting takes place, to discover how to get the most out of your account, including accessing digital galleys, ordering books, exporting MARC records, and more.

This is a good opportunity to learn more if you’ve signed up for Loan Stars with enthusiasm, but stalled in the actual process of reading and selecting your upcoming favourite titles.

-Meghan S, Surrey Libraries


Surrey Libraries Launched Diverse Books Challenge for Staff

piles of books.jpgThe January 2016 What Are You Reading blog post about Reading Challenges inspired us at Surrey Libraries to launch a staff challenge. We had been discussing ways in which we can encourage more diversity in our own reading habits and help our Surrey Libraries Book Blog be more reflective of the Surrey community. Therefore, we launched the Surrey Libraries Diverse Books Challenge for Staff!

This is a fun, optional reading challenge adapted from this tumblr post, which was inspired by the We Need Diverse Books movement. We are encouraging Surrey Libraries staff to read and submit reviews to the Surrey Libraries Books Blog for a chance to win prizes.

Here’s how it works:

1)      Participation is 100% voluntary

2)      Read books fitting one, two, or several of the criteria below. Read one book, read two books, read green books, read blue books. Feel emboldened to read books that fit more than one of the below criteria – intersectionality is encouraged!

3)      Write a short review for the Surrey Libraries Book Blog and email it to Meghan S. Mention that your book was read by participating in the “Surrey Libraries: We Read Diverse Books Challenge” and your name will be entered in a prize draw for a gift card.

4)      A draw slip will be entered for every review.

5)      The challenge is launching March 7th and ends May 8th

6)      Happy spring reading!


Challenge Criteria

  1. Surrey author
  2. Book translated from one of the top 5 unofficial languages of Surrey (i.e. Punjabi, Mandarin, Tagalog, Hindi, or Korean)
  3. BC author
  4. Canadian author
  5. Author of colour
  6. Female author
  7. First Nations author
  8. Graphic novel by a female author or author of colour
  9. Immigrant perspective
  10. LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer) – protagonist or author
  11. Mixed race author
  12. Over age of 70 – protagonist or author
  13. Physical disability or chronic illness – protagonist or author
  14. Positive portrayal of main character living with mental illness
  15. Exploration of a refugee experience
  16. Under 20 but written for the adult market – protagonist or author

We’re excited to hear about people’s diverse reading experiences!

-Meghan S, Naomi E, & Jenny F at Surrey Libraries