Rethinking Readers’ Advisory: An Interactive Approach

Do you want to connect with your readers on a deeper level than displays and general book lists? Do you find yourself experiencing the patron-asks-for-reading-suggestion-and-mind-goes-blank phenomenon during a readers’ advisory interview? Form-based readers’ advisory might be the answer. By using a form-based approach to Readers' Advisory, librarians can develop RA services that are more efficient and more responsive to patrons' needs. In this eCourse, you’ll go in-depth and learn all about this exciting RA model, from start (getting administrative and staff buy-in) to finish (building forms and training staff members).

Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes

After participating in this eCourse, students will be able to:

  • Identify challenges of traditional RA
  • Describe benefits of form-based RA
  • Understand how to assess your library’s capacity for this service and garner support from library leadership
  • Describe the key elements of an effective RA form
  • Understand the terms readers use when describing what they enjoy reading
  • Describe the competencies of an effective RA team member
  • List RA resources available to assist in development of guides
  • Identify important aspects of personalized reading guides
  • Consider a variety of special situations and issues that may arise when offering a form-based RA service

eCourse outline
Week 1:  History of Form-Based RA and the Decision to try it at Your Library
An overview of form-based RA—its history, benefits, and implications for staff and readers—as well as a discussion of how to propose this service to library leadership
Projects and Readings:

  • Evaluation of your current RA methods and strategies
  • Read “Improving the Model for Interactive Readers’ Advisory Service” by Neil Hollands in Reference and User Services Quarterly
  • “Building on a Firm Foundation: Readers’ Advisory over the Next Twenty-Five Years” by Barry Trott in Reference and User Services Quarterly

Learning Objective(s): 

  • Identify challenges of traditional RA
  • Describe benefits of form-based RA
  • Understand how to assess your library’s capacity for this service and garner support from library leadership

Week 2: Crafting the Form
Developing a form that will be most effective for your team and your community of readers
Projects and Readings: 

  • Create your own reading profile
  • Read “An RA Big Think” by  Neal Wyatt in Library Journal

Learning Objective(s):

  • Describe the key elements of an effective RA form
  • Understand the terms readers use when describing what they enjoy reading

Week 3:  Selecting and Training the Team
Addresses the “who” of the service—how to select and train a stellar RA team for this work

Projects and Readings:

  • Read “Background for Readers’ Advisors,” Chapter 5 of Joyce Saricks’s Readers’ Advisory Service in the Public Library
  • Review the self-paced Readers’ Advisory course created by Laura Raphael for the Tulsa City-County Library

Learning Objective(s):

  • Describe the competencies of an effective RA team member

Week 4: Creating the Guide
Your final product—determining what it will involve and the elements it should include –as well as an exploration of the various RA resources available for guidance. 

Projects and Readings:

  • Explore two RA resources with which you are unfamiliar
  • Create a guide of your own using a sample survey

Learning Objectives:

  • List RA resources available to assist in development of guides
  • Identify important aspects of personalized reading guides

Week 5:  Organizing and Marketing the Service
Keeping the project running smoothly—how to organize and promote your service for optimal results.

Projects and Readings:

  • Review Susan Brown’s blog, http://658point8.com/, and read the article (available under “Publications”) “RA Content: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!”
  • Read “Promotion,” Chapter 6 of Joyce Saricks’s Readers’ Advisory Service in the Public Library

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify methods of organizing the service, including assigning surveys and communicating with team members and readers.
  • List ways in which libraries may market a form-based RA service

Week 6:  Tricky Issues and Questions
A wrap up of previous weeks’ topics as well as a Q & A dealing with some tricky situations you may encounter

Learning Objectives:

  • Consider a variety of special situations and issues that may arise when offering a form-based RA service

 

Instructor(s)

Rebecca Howard worked as a copywriter for an ad agency and wrote grants for a local HIV/AIDS social service agency before going back to graduate school. In 2003, she began working at the Tulsa City-County Library for the Adult Literacy Service and completed a Master’s in Human Relations followed by a Master’s in Library and Information Studies. While in the Literacy department, she started book discussion and creative writing groups for adult new readers, developed a writing curriculum for adult learners, contributed to statewide training modules for volunteer literacy tutors, and participated in a national “promising practices” project on nonprofit management and accountability. As a Readers’ Librarian, she coordinates “Your Next Great Read,” is a regular contributor to the blog Reading Addict, and develops and supports Readers’ Library programming. An ALA member, she also belongs to the Social Responsibilities Roundtable and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Roundtable.

Laura Raphael is an Associate Librarian with the Tulsa City-County Library (TCCL) with more than 10 years' public library experience. She has written for Library JournalPublic LibrariesMarketing Library Services, and American Libraries. In 2011, she received the Community Leadership Award from the Oklahoma Humanities Council for co-creating and coordinating “Novel Talk: Smart conversations for serious readers”, a series of literature-based programs for TCCL.

 

Date(s) & Time(s)

This six-week eCourse begins on November 4, 2013.

Fee

Registration is $250, and is available at http://www.alastore.ala.org/detail.aspx?ID=10739