Readers’ Advisory Twitter Chat Reflection

The IFN614  Twitter Chat was on Readers Advisory this week. It was interesting and lively chat in which I greatly enjoyed and benefitted from participating in. There were 2 guest participants, @jobeaz and @alisonwrote who are both experienced librarians and readers’ advisors, plus a few other librarians dropped in to chat.

During the chat I was able to discuss the readings that I had done to prepare for it, along with learning things from the librarians and my peers, which I had not read about. I will break down this post into the four questions that were the foundation for the discussion, although it did stray from them at times.

The first question asked why is readers’ advisory so important. Most of the participants myself included, felt that they helped expand the reader’s reading choices, by pointing them in the direction of books they may otherwise not of chosen based on their previous reading. This agrees with the definition provided by the Standards and Guidelines for Australian Public Libraries as “promoting the value of reading”. One of the participants,  @lisa_biblifile mentioned that they also provide a service for people who can’t get into the library by selecting and delivering books to them. This was something I didn’t realise, which I feel is an invaluable service.

Next we discussed the skills and attributes of a readers’ advisor. Again there were many attributes discussed which included good communicators, non-judgmental, good knowledge of the library collection and well read. We then debated whether a good readers’ advisor needed to be a reader. The majority of us felt that it was necessary, or at the least beneficial. @jobeaz said that it was vital to have a good knowledge of the collection and that being a reader is beneficial. When we were discussing whether a librarian needed to be a reader @L_Reithmuller stated that she felt that ‘being a librarian was less about reading and more about valuing information and knowledge’, which I felt was an excellent point.

The characteristics of a good readers’ advisory service were discussed next. Miles and Beazley  argue that it needs to be embedded in librarians’ position descriptions and they need to be supported and trained in it. During the chat characteristics identified included subject knowledge, well-read, knowing where to look for information and being a good communicator. Similar to the skills needed to be good reader’s advisor, all of which could be gained with training and support.

Finally we discussed the tools necessary for supporting readers’ advisory, which included displays, book lists, online tools and bookmarks. This was in agreement with the suggestions made by Staley in Readers’ Advisory Handbook (2010, p.73)  that displays and book lists are initiatives, which I have personally used in public libraries and feel are beneficial.

The Twitter Chat was a valuable and interesting learning experience in which I learnt a great deal from my peers and the experts about readers’ advisory in an informal and enjoyable setting. It consolidated the knowledge which I had gained form the readings but I felt I learnt more from the chat as it was more participative. This has changed my opinion as I initially doubted the value of Twitter as a learning tool.

Reference

Staley, L. (2010). Passive readers. advisory: Bookmarks, booklists and displays. In Moyer, J. E., & Stover, K. M. (eds.) (2010). Readers’ Advisory Handbook. (pp. 73-80). Chicago, IL, USA: ALA Editions. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com

(Created for student blog: Semester 2, 2015)

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