Monday, January 25, 2016

Reading Wildly: Reader Profile Swaps

This month, at Reading Wildly, we did something we'd never done before. In November, I distributed copies of Becky Spratford's Reader Profile and asked everyone to fill it out for themselves. At our December meeting, everyone picked an envelope with someone's reader profile and I asked them to practice their reader's advisory by giving their person at least three suggestions. For our January meeting, I asked everyone to read at least one of the books that had been suggested to them and talk about it at our meeting.

We really tried not to make our meeting a show-and-tell of how successful the reader's advisory transaction was (and I think everyone found something they liked, anyway, which is great!). Rather, we talked about what the challenges were with this assignment and what resources we used to make our suggestions.

Some of us felt pressure, even though we were working with people that we know and feel comfortable with. That pressure was elevated when working with very avid readers - what to hand someone when they seem to have read everything? Time was also a factor - we all knew that we had a limited amount of time to get our suggestions in to allow our person enough time to select and read something. Of course, we have even less time when we're on the reference desk!

One thing that everyone felt helped them feel more confident was handing their person multiple suggestions. This is always something I recommend when doing reader's advisory: encourage people to walk away with a couple of choices. Giving their person three choices gave more flexibility for that person to pick up something they were in the mood for.

We talked about filling out the Reader Profile for ourselves and I think everyone agreed that it was different for us to stop and think about why we liked or didn't like a book. One of our teen librarians pointed out that she loves when kids talk about a book they hate because that will often give her more information about what type of book might work for them. It's also sometimes easier for kids (and people?) to express what they didn't like than to think about what elements appealed to them in a book.

I think this was definitely a fun exercise and a little more interesting than just doing a Reader's Choice month, so we will definitely be doing this again. Just from seeing everyone's Reader Profiles come across my desk, I think that it would be fun to mix it up and try again with someone different.

Next month, our genre is Sports and I assigned an unrelated, but still very interesting blog post: The Importance of Making Reading Resolutions from a RA Service Standpoint by Becky Spratford. Since it is still early in the year, I think this is a great post for us to talk about. Plus, Becky will be visiting our library later this year in October and presenting some workshops for our Staff Development Day, so I am really excited for everyone to familiarize themselves with some of her work before we get to meet her! (That is going to be a great day; I am already really excited!!!)

Have you every practiced reader's advisory on other staff members or on family or friends? How did it go?