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Personal Reading Consultants

2011 May 24
by Thea Blair

Back in April, I mentioned a program highlighted at a TLA session: Harris County Public Library’s Book Hunters service.  Book Hunters is a Personal Reading Consultant service: patrons fill out an online form, and librarians create personalized reading lists based on reading preferences. 

Book Hunters is by far not the only service of its kind.  Last week, during Amigos’ Online Conference, I viewed a session by Linda Stevens and Grace Lillevig of the Harris County Public Library called Personal Reading Consultants: Blending Technology and Touch.  They discussed a few other services of the kind that I wanted to highlight.  The forms and processes of the programs differ slightly, but they all offer the same great service: providing quality readers advisory in a virtual format.

Carmel Clay Public Library: Personalized Reading Lists

One thing that I truly appreciated about Carmel Clay’s request form was this question: “Please list 3-5 books or authors you have enjoyed (if you have trouble coming up with favorite books, you may list movies or tv shows that you enjoy instead).”  This question specifically opens up the service to patrons who may not be active readers, thereby reaching out beyond the library’s already captive audience.

Edmonton Public Library: Personalized Book List

The Edmonton Public Library actually offers three forms: Get a Personalized Fiction List, Get a Personalized Non-Fiction List, and Get a Personalized Kid’s Book List.  This system most likely both helps the patron, who knows where to go for their request, and the librarian, who then knows who to direct the request to.

Williamsburg Regional Library: Looking for a Good Book

This list offers a great deal of specifity, offering twenty-four genres and formats to choose from.  This surely makes the resulting reading list more accurate and helpful to the patron.

These services are great ways to reach out to patrons; they truly highlight that librarians and libraries can offer a personal touch in the digital age.

Have you heard of similar services, either in a library or in another venue?  Let us know!

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  1. May 26, 2011

    The Talking Book Program serves patrons all over Texas who have qualifying disabilities such as a visual impairment, physical disability that prevents holding a book or turning pages or some learning disabilities. The Texas State Library’s Talking Book Program has a Reader’s Advisory Librarian on staff. The Reader’s Advisory Librarian compiles on-demand bibliographies for patrons on topics ranging from the Amish, to Pulitzer Prize-winning novels to titles by a particular favorite author that are in our collection (all per patron request – title, author and book number from our catalog). The Reader’s Advisory Librarian is also happy to discuss readalikes for favorite authors, and suggest books to patrons based on their reading interest. Patron requests come via email, telephone or written note.

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