April 2015 | Volume XXXIII, Issue 2 »

Readfresh, Readuce, Readuse, Readcycle: Reader’s Advisory Spring Cleaning

April 1, 2015
Kara Kohn, Plainfield Public Library District

Spring cleaning typically refers to reorganizing our physical spaces after the long winter, but consider an annual cleanup of your reader services and programming. Before the chaos of summer reading and programming begins, now is a good time to evaluate and refresh those stagnant, staid ideas with something new. This doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel. Recycle those ideas you’ve heard at conference and haven’t had time to implement, or test out an idea you have considered but haven’t tried. Here’s a start to get those wheels turning…


Community Book Review — St. Paul Public Library (MN)
Encourage your colleagues to jot down their thoughts on a book and then display those reviews to help other library staff find new reads.

National Readathon Day — Stickney-Forest View Public Library District
Sponsored by the National Book Foundation and Penguin Random House, the first-ever National Readathon Day took place in January and encouraged making #timetoread. Readers across America committed to reading for four straight hours in their own home or at the library. It’s not too early to think about putting this on your calendar for next year, and to start thinking about ways to make it warm and cozy… comfy seating in a quiet nook, a portable fireplace to keep off the winter chill, warm beverages, seasonal reading suggestions. It can be as low key or elaborate as you make it. Make sure to participate in next year’s National Readathon Day on January 16, 2016.


Blind Date with a Book — Mt. Zion District Library
This library wraps fiction, large print, and nonfiction books in brown paper salvaged from book orders. A label that contains the barcode, genre, and a brief synopsis is adhered to each wrapped book. A review sheet is enclosed for the recipient to “rate their date.” If the rating is completed and returned to the library, the reader is entered into a drawing to win a prize. This promotion not only boosted circulation but has also helped readers discover new authors.

Popular Reading for Students — Eastern Illinois University Booth Library
Recreational reading displays are not something you would always see in an academic setting, but Booth Library has had great success with books flying off their displays. Popular themes include baking, novels set in the 1960s, and war stories. To accompany the display, a card with QR code or URL directs readers to the online reading list.

Poetry Made from Book Spines — Aurora University
Taking a cue from the magnetic poetry idea, this takes things to a new level: create poems by utilizing book spines in which titles are arranged in such a way to create a poem. Even better, pull books from your stacks, let your patrons or students have at it by creating their own poetry, and then share photos of the poetry displays online. Check out which books were used to create this poem in the example below:

“Let’s Talk Terror”
by Sara Gerend (Assistant Professor of English) Nightmare
Snakes that Squeeze and Snatch
Shadows on the Grass
Square Dancing
Vampire Bats
A Light in the Attic


Book Genie — Downers Grove Public Library
Take an interactive approach that gives instant reading suggestions to patrons of all ages with Book Genie. Patrons select book covers representing genres or subjects that they would like to read. At the end, their wish is granted with four to five suggestions. www.downersgrovelibrary.org/genie

You “Mustache” Us What to Read Next — Homewood Public Library
Capitalizing on the popularity of all things mustache, this library has created a catchy title to publicize their personalized reading suggestions form where patrons can share details about their reading interests and then receive a response with personalized reading recommendations.


Discussion Party — Elmhurst Public Library
Host an annual party for all local book discussion groups, including both those held at the library and others held out in the community. The discussion party is held at a local reception venue where they offer finger foods, coffee, and wine (for purchase). They also give away prizes, provide literary trivia questionnaires, and set up displays of good book discussion selections.

Facebook Virtual Book Discussion — Aurora University Phillips Library
Unlike a traditional book club that requires folks to read and discuss a specific book, this one posts questions about reading habits and interests to spark conversation. For a month, they posed questions such as which literary character would you love to meet, what time of day do you prefer to read, and what novel would you like to see made (or remade) into a movie. More than five hundred comments were posted to their Facebook page in response to these dialogue starters!

Keep Calm and Read On — Plainfield Public Library District
Welcome a publisher representative to buzz about forthcoming books and give your readers the inside scoop on upcoming titles. The library hosted a publisher representative who presented their upcoming lineup for that season and gave every attendee a free advance reading copy, book catalog, and a tote bag.
This program draws a huge crowd with little staff involvement or cost.

Read Down Your Library Fines — St. Paul Public Library (MN)
Invite patrons to check in with the reference or readers advisory staff and then encourage them to read in the library. For every fifteen minutes read, the library will take one dollar off their fines.

Speed Dating with Books — St. Paul Public Library (MN)
Library staff meet with patrons one-on-one to booktalk a book for one minute. When the time is up, staff rotate to the next patron and booktalk the same book again to someone new. At the end, patrons select a book to take home based on the one they felt most “compatible” with from the booktalks.


Storytime for Grownups — Elmhurst Public Library
Being read to is a rare pleasure. It not only stimulates the mind, it invigorates the imagination. Invite your adult patrons to bring a bag lunch, sit back, and enjoy a short intriguing story read by a staff person for thirty minutes. You may be surprised to learn that adults enjoy this just as much as kids.

Do you have a new, reinvented, or innovative idea you are offering your readers? Or even initiatives that you have dreamed up but haven't tried yet? We want to hear it all. Share your ideas and continue the conversation at #RASpringClean.

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