Image: from the TV series “Land of the Giants” (1968 – 1970)http://www.iann.net/giants/
I’ve been fortunate enough to have a professional career which has allowed me to provide training services to a variety of libraries in Australasia, rampaging around with a programme called ‘Best Sellers’ which specialises in RA development. But many still suffer from a common malaise that haunts the effectiveness of service provision in this area: That is the belief that the haphazard intersection between the library’s reading community and a section of their staff who happen to indulge in a lot of un-prescribed personal reading, and who hopefully also have the confidence to accurately recommend something to somebody, equates to modern RA work It isn’t. This is the ‘Devil’s Playground of RA’. It’s unbefitting a business that claims professional status and it must stop! And given that this book lending side of our business is around 80% of what we do in public libraries, we need to get a whole lot better a whole lot quicker at it.
The profile and potency of ‘Content’, in this case the stories public libraries procure and then share through its lending model are raised significantly when the organisation positions these within a ‘Context’ which raises the appeal and relevancy of the content (in this case books) to known, targeted reading audiences.
http://www.mike-walsh.com/I’ll bring in Mike Walsh here. Futurist & CEO of the trend watching company called ‘Tomorrow’ and a key influence on my thinking about the importance of public libraries doing even more to contextualise their content rich products and RA services.Lesson for libraries: understand how (and if) your customers are benefiting from your products the way their original build-design intended. For libraries, many of the obsolete read-a-like lists have already been superseded, in many cases by participatory digital products.Mike Walsh is a leading authority on the digital future. A dynamic keynote speaker and experienced trends analyst, Mike helps prepare business leaders for what's next. With a combination of high impact visuals, unique consumer case studies and high definition video - Mike's unique approach is to scan the near horizon for what's happening right now and on its way to you. Constantly travelling the world for the best ideas, consumer innovations and disruptive technologies - Mike curates the most relevant insights into bespoke keynotes aimed at helping audiences to not only understand but also influence the future direction of their industries. (Author biography from Amazon.com)http://www.futuretainment.com
Written recommendations by librarians can reach more people more often via a variety of audience networks than one-to-one conversations / printed communications can manufacture. This activity represents significant economy of effort for a public library… an organisation built upon offering thousands of products to thousands of customers.Images from: Futuretainment.Yesterday the World Changed, Now It’s Your Turn by Mike Walsh. (Phaidon press, 2009).
Commentators are unanimous that in the crowded space of book recommendations, a “trusted” voice is needed for readers. While some of the quotes on this slide (and the next) champion specialised websites or book retailers to take up the challenge, this is exactly the business of public libraries. So are we players or spectators? Do we leave others to become the regular, popular, trusted voices – to which the reading public will gravitate in the absence of any noise from public libraries – and become happy with our relegation to pick ‘n’ mix stores where our community come in and select the stuff recommended to them by others?http://www.libraryjournal.comhttp://www.lovereading.co.uk
http://www.jbhifi.co.nz/An isolated example on a micro level about context building of content. A simple catalogue from JB Hi-Fi which adds value-added informational features to raise the profile and appeal of its product range; not a simple vertical listing in 2D of thumbnail covers and a quick annotation which seems to be what a lot of libraries consider good RA.
Okay, so there you are: ‘Public Library Inc.’ enjoying that monopoly in the public book lending business And you’ve got this reader engagement thing covered. Just look at the professional suite of readers’ advisory service you offer.But what if we changed that perspective slightly and looked at the library from the outside-in, and saw our position in the wider environment from the point of view of those who matter most – our reading public?
Your library is still in the mix but now it’s competing for its own community’s attention and patronage with a national and international global array of players offering readers interactive options, including, Book clubs; Social networking sites for booklovers; Major book promotions and competitions, and activities, events and programmes where participation is favoured and marketing of ‘know-how’ and expertise is rife.Your efforts seem a little: Flat? Token gestures? Unmemorable? Avoidable?
Here are some of the less than flattering treats we put up as exemplars of our prowess in this product promotion and recommendation business. Yet they represent potentially significant “touch point” between these libraries and their customers. Compare this with what else is on offer for readers in our communities. Should this be considered an honourable professional accomplishment? Is this the best showcase of our talent? Is this all the effort we think our communities are worth? Kevin Roberts of Saatchi & Saatchi fame talked about ‘table stakes’; that is, they get you into the game but they don’t keep you in it; you must continually keep raising your performance.
Finding a book in your library can be akin to a ‘Where’s Wally? kind of challenge. [’And don’t say “Found him! He’s up there on stage talking to us right now!] Look at this way: You want your products found, used and valued. And you want to increase the odds of that happening. But there’s a lot of competition out there and some of its really quite good. So don’t compete. Create. And increase the find-ability of your stuff by engineering environments around it. So, we progress from this scenario…
… to this. Lots and lots of Wallys!!! Making it impossible not to get noticed.
Quotes from http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2011/08/01/networked-knowledge-combinatorial-creativity/So, having set the scene a bit, all I am aiming to do here is quickly present a few ideas about the creativity that has gone into building the context books can live in. It’s about the relationship between different bits of information, us identifying and connecting those dots, and remixing for others how they can benefit from those efforts. Our profession needs to keep refreshing its creative ideas shopping list because that is the currency for our future success.
http://www.yournextread.com/us/From this website: “We believe that people are the best analysers of the intangible connections which link great books together.” What this site does, is employ a basic, democratic model of linking books Members can access recommendations on all the books listed on the site, and vote’ For’ or ‘Against’ any recommendation that has been made for any book. Clicking on the ‘Recommend’ icon allows members to connect any two books in a map.
Members can create their own MyMap and import books into it from their GoodReads account. Connections between books are based on the recommendations made by the YNR community.These activities strengthen, or lessen, the links that are established between books
So what is happening here is that individual titles are being put into some kind of context by linking them with a community of other books. And it does it in a striking visual manner. And we all know the impact that high-powered visual communication possesses over screens of text nicely ordered in columns on printed hand-outs. Note: you will need Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox to use this site.
http://www.overbooked.org/neal_wyatt_reading_maps/terror/index.htmlReading Maps: they’re visual journeys through books charting multiple associations and themes with a single title, and they can be simple or intricate. But they go beyond the read-a-like construct to provide a fuller experience of the world the book inhabits. This treats your readers with some kind of respect… that what they seek to know and enjoy from their reading is not just another similar author or a bundle of appeal characteristics. Here’s a simple Top 5 list of reasons for producing reading maps instead of the same-old lists of read-a-like recommendations we are prone to over commit to are: 1. They offer an “information buffet” for readers, that is, richer pickings of our resources, expertise and imagination2. They utilise resources across the entire library collection and move outside the limits of our taxonomic architecture3. They enable staff to contextualize the entire collection4. They improve the RA skills of staff5. They are visually far more interesting and potentially effective This reading map by Neal Wyatt of the Dan Simmons book, The terror, provides bibliographic lists, links to websites and podcasts that are potential resources of interest to someone who is interested in the subject matter of this particular book.See also: http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6383011.html
http://raforall.blogspot.com/http://browserscorner.wordpress.com/reading-maps/https://sites.google.com/site/devilinthewhitecityrm/A Reading Map from Berwyn Public Library, Illinois. The devil in the white city reading map includes:1. List of other books on serial killers2. Links to websites which provide tours of, and further information about, Chicago’s heritage3. Links to magazine and newspaper articles about serial killer Dr H. H. Holmes, a central figure in the book4. Videos about Holmes5. Multi-media about the 1893 Chicago World fair6. Read-a-like recommendations (inevitably!)7. Biographical information, including a video interview, of the author Erik Larson Is this a lot of work? You bet it is! But not a prohibiting factor for the RA team at Berwyn Public Library have a programme for producing 2 of these reading maps per month for the next year. That means the production on average of 1 map per month. Think your library can’t do it; think again. Oh, and go hug someone from your IT department to help make it possible.See also: http://www.overbooked.org/neal_wyatt_reading_maps/strange/index.html
http://wordsworthyreadingpaths.pbworks.com/w/page/14145080/FrontPageA variation on the same theme: Reading Paths. Note the suggestion of employing the question “What sparked your curiosity in that book?” and what some commentators said in an earlier slide about the value of that commodity “curiosity”. A brilliant approach which I use in the RA work I conduct for libraries.
http://www.slcreaderschoice.blogspot.co.nz/Salt Lake County Library (SLCL), Utah, ‘Readers Choice’ blog. This is one of my favourite examples of not just context building but also ‘Participatory RA’. Twice a year the library staff display their current book favourites for customers in the library system’s branches, who can then rate the books they borrow and read from the display. Customers submit a ballot at their branch in order to enter a drawing for a $25 gift card. The ‘Readers Choice’ blog displays all those books customers have voted for as their favourites, going back to 1991. And they add such bonus features as links up there on screen for each title that appears on the blog Not just another annotated list of entries with a thumbnail and a catalogue link.Twice a year staff display their current book favourites for library customers who can rate the book they read from the display by submitting a ballot at their branch to enter into a prize draw.
http://www.whakatane.govt.nz/PageFiles/515/Anne%20Frank%20Pathfinder.pdfEureka! Look what I found right here in Whakatane. What this Pathfinder does is build around the original book (Anne Frank’s diary), a list of supporting online resources and printed materials which the reader or student can pursue. So it’s world building albeit on a small scale but it is aiming to put the book in context with other products and not be left in isolation. Could I make a comment that perhaps the provision of some key articles or resources held on those databases, and maybe even some hints about preferred search terms could make the use of the links even more attractive to the customer. We have a saying in my village: “Don’t leave serendipity to chance.” Every effort we make– no matter how small - towards reducing the distance between our resources and the customer is a small victory for user-centred library design.
http://www.melbournebythebook.com/http://www.hiddensecretstours.com/Festival_tours.phpBefitting UNESCO’s 2nd City of Literature, here’s an example of contextualising books and doing it outside the walls of the library. Walks with authors that illuminate the literary heritage of parts of Melbourne. This excerpt from the MELBOURNE BY THE BOOK walk: “Discover a new layer of the city with Fiona Sweetman as she tours significant sites in the city's publishing, bookselling and literary history, yet gives an inspirational insight into the contemporary life this industry breathes today! Taking in some of Melbourne's best-loved bookstores, inspiration and characters from famous local novels and publishers young and old, Fiona guides through the city in a way even locals will love....Finish the walk with a coffee and a list of resources to inspire you to further explore Melbourne's unique literary pedigree.”
http://www.denniston.co.nz/history.aspxThe book walk experience is now showing in NZ too.
I’m sure with the research skills at their disposal most NZ public libraries could find titles in their collection that have a local focus, and promoted in this way could generate new interest in local surroundings and literature. Ah, but first, you need that all important product knowledge. (There’s always a catch, huh?!)
http://www.hclib.org/Context comes in many forms and in some cases represents a radical envisioning about what it means to be user centric in the design of library functionality. Hennepin County’s Brookdale branch striped its collection by 50% focusing it solely upon the high-interest areas its community wanted (bold). And then this collection it converted into ’information neighbourhoods’, basically specialized subject areas.
http://www.hclib.org/pub/info/publicart/action.cfm?library=Brookdale%20LibraryI don’t have the images to show you here, so instead I have these wonderful photos of some of the art pieces in the children’s section of the library to entertain you while I drone on, oops, I mean inform and entertain! Each information neighbourhood contained the entire library’s materials in that subject area: lending & reference, periodicals & databases. The homepage on the computers in each neighbourhood defaulted to the high-interest area, e.g. in the automotive area, the computers default to an automotive homepage. Simple, eh? These neighbourhoods along with the carpet were each given a distinct pattern and colour, so that the carpet could be used as a guide. As Mike McConnell, Hennepin’s coordinating librarian for public services put it: “Signs pull you, and carpets lead you.” By pulling resources together that were otherwise dispersed due to the tyranny of conventional library taxonomies, Brookdale Library contextualised its collections – value and find-ability were maximised in a physical environment.
http://www.arrtreads.org/genrestudies.htmlSee also: http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6606486.htmlOf course, a contributing factor to the incapacity of libraries to think and function in a contextual RA framework is because their PD isn’t designed to enable staff to think it that way. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce to you to this resource. One of the tools you should consider when your library is ready to for the hard yards and considering Genre Reading Plans as a coordinated team or branch-wide planned PD strategy for staff to get to grips with the recreational reading habits that are dominant and important to your community. And so begin the journey of contextualising your RA products and services. Caution: only use when you’re really, really serious about backing up those protestations your library makes about being everything it can be for the benefit of the people it shares its communities with.Libraries have permission to use these lists at their own libraries as long as ARRT is credited.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91Dt_0bPOTISo, Contextual RA: where Information Architecture meets Library Expertise meets User Centred Design meets Entertainment.Please do something with your RA service which in 6 months times will make what you do now look redundant.THE GOOD TIMES MUST END FOR THE BAD PRACTICES!
Dont fight it marsha its contextual ra and it's bigger than both of us ppt may 2012
Oh the places you’llgo! Best Sellersappearing…… in AustraliaTownsville (2012)Mackay (2012)Gold Coast (2011)QPLA Conference (2011)[Keynote speaker]Queensland Univ. of Technology(2011) [Webinar]Logan City (2010)South Australia (2012)Adelaide (2010)Mount Gambier (2009 & 2012)Melbourne (2008) [Conferencespeaker]… in New ZealandManukau Libraries (2008-10)North Shore Libraries (2008)Palmerston Nth (2010) [LIANZAWeekend School]Masterton (2011)Wellington (2011 & 2012)Whakatane (2012) [LIANZAWeekend School]
context /’kontekst/noun 1 theparts surrounding a written orspoken word or passage thatcan throw light on itsmeaning. 2 the interrelatedconditions in which somethingexists or occurs.
“More valuable than content is the stuff that surrounds it.Reviews, recommendations and ratings are not only a by-productof consumption, they also make media more visible and in doing so, increase its underlying market demand.”
many-to-many communication From this To this one-to-many communication
“The role of the trusted curator and guide – the bookseller is needed more than ever. It must be a trusted expert, selling not just books but the overall experience of books and reading” Roger Parry, media entrepreneur“This is how you get to engage readers: by letting them converse about books with people they trust, like and respect.” Matteo Berlucchi, CEO aNobii“And if we find ourselves in an unregulated YouTube of a book market,good stories will need you even more than they do now. This will mean a lot reading. Blessed are the gatekeepers [you] for they shall inherit the slush.” John Green
“How in this unmoderated sea of crap would anyone ever find anything worth reading?” John Green, author“Social Networks: where “ignorance meets egoism meets bad taste meets mob rule.” Andrew Keen, entrepreneur “All of us look for guidance to form opinions and make decisions and we look for “authenticity” in the source. Readers are no different. This is why reading thousands of book reviews doesn’t help you figure out if you’re going to enjoy a book, but a few trusted opinions might.” Peter Crawshaw, Lovereading.co.uk “One review from someone I trust is worth more than anything else.” Matteo Berlucchi, CEO aNobii
Features include:Stack: a 72 page magazinepromoting JB Hi-Fi products.Approx. 66% of the publication isdevoted to ‘Context Building.’3 pages of current news from the[global] entertainment industry.20 pages of ‘Feature’ articlescomprising interviews andbackground stories on filmdirectors, actors, musicians andcomputer gaming.24 pages of Reviews and Listsincluding ‘Best of’ style listings (formusic, DVD’s and games),andstaff picks.DVD categories include ‘TV’,‘World Cinema’ and ‘Asian’.
“We produce“Okay sure, not all booklists, sometimesstaff read, but some on coloured paper,of those who do write but occasionally withup the occasional bonuses like authorreview which goes on read-a-likes!”our library blog.” “We‟ve got NoveList too, you know, so we can answer customer read-a-like queries, now & “And we have a again.” library display with face-out books… pretty good or what?” “There‟s a Book Club… no wait, we‟ve got two. Membership is, er, „stable‟ and there‟s no set reading programme.”
1 ! The names of these libraries have been removed to protect the… guilty. 1. A very basic subscription newsletter service without even a hint of • A personalised recommendation from the library • A Read-a-like • A rating2 2. A booklist of non- fiction crime without any finesse or selling points. 3. At least they mention titles in the series, but the pamphlet made a 3 confession: all comments came from Fantasticfiction.
“Our number one value isn‟t in any of the skills we have. It‟s that we‟re essentiallycurious.” [Jim Coudal]“Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspirations shove or society‟s kiss onyour forehead. Pay attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes youeager. Stay eager.” [Susan Sontag]Be…”curiosity Sherpas, who lead us to things we didn‟t know we were interested inuntil we, well, until we are. Until we pay attention to them – because someone whosetaste and opinion we trust points us to them, and we integrate them with our existing poolof resources, and they become a part of our networked knowledge and another LEGOpiece in our combinatorial creativity.” [Marla Popova]
1 2Neal Wyatt in Library Journal:“Reading maps are web-based visual journeys through books that chart the 3myriad associations and themes of a title via other books, pictures, music, linksto web sites, and additional material. Reading maps open up the world of thebook for the reader by diagramming the internal life of the book, allowingreaders to inhabit the text and its outward connections, and enabling readers tofollow threads of interest that stem from any particular part of the work.”
Reading PathsWhat is a Reading Path?“The Reading Path is a way for the readers advisor to make more creativeconnections between the reader and books of interest to that reader. If thereader has just finished a book, you could ask "What sparked your curiosityin that book?" The answer would provide other avenues (paths) for theadvisor to pursue in acquiring more reading experiences for that reader.” [Maureen OConnor, WordsWorthy]Location:http://wordsworthyreadingpaths.pbworks.com/w/page/14145080/FrontPageThe Reading Path for this title includes the followingsections with links to various resources listed undereach:.• „About Frances Mayes‟• „Articles‟ (about the author)• „Discussion guide for „Under the Tuscan Sun‟ and „Reviews‟ of the book• „Interview‟s (with the author)• „More by Frances Mayes‟• „Official website‟• Other books about:-Architecture and Home renovation-Food and Wine-Lifestyle change-Tuscany
A half-day (or day)literary trail thatfollows the key eventsof the books by JennyPattrick. Each stop on thetrail map includesexcerpts from thenovels. An app is beingdeveloped which willinclude audio-visualresources highlightingkey locations andevents along the trail.
Providesresources forlibraries to engagein genre studiesfor the P.D. of theirstaff. Genres coveredinclude:• Adventure• Fantasy• Gentle Reads• Historical Fiction• Horror• Literary Fiction• Mystery• Romance• Science Fiction• Suspense/Thrillers• Women‟s Fiction Contextualstudy of genresinclude looking at:AppealAwardsClassic authorsConferencesMagazinesReference materialsSub-genresTrendsWebsites
“And I want you to be happy,1 But I’d rather that you were still with me…2 1. Library translation: “What can we do to make your lives, dreams and achievements better?” …Perhaps we(And that‟s just for starters). can arrange2. Library translation: “We believe in life-time partnerships. Please don’t go.”3. Library translation: “Perhaps what we can arrange for you is a dynamic transformation of something.”3the way you experience your books and the reading environment they appear in?”(We‟d really love to do that for you)