books

BookMatch

An Essay of the LISNews Summer Series

Ok, I didn’t plan on writing about BookMatch for LISNews. It isn’t very philosophically inspiring or technically amazing. However, it is a patron pleaser and service that any public library can implement in one form or another and enhances participants “Library Experience.” So, the question I kept asking myself when considering what to write was, “should I present an interesting but quickly forgotten bit of library philosophy or should I explain and walk through a well loved service?” The latter is what I would prefer to read.

BookMatch is the Skokie Public Library bringing readers advisory online.

The Mechanics

BookMatch is put together by using SurveyMonkey, Wikispaces, and a Microsoft Word form. This process is in continuous flux as questions are rewritten, deleted, or added.

SurveyMonkey was used because of familiarity with the product and the ease of customization. More importantly SurveyMonkey provides the option of form logic, which is a pain to code… I hear. The BookMatch survey has nine paths depending on a patron’s answer to questions. For example, “Do you read romances?” The answer yes takes the patron to questions about romance and answering no skips that section. “Do you read fiction only or fiction and nonfiction or nonfiction only?” This question offers three different question paths. Form logic avoids patrons having to answer or even look at questions that do not apply to their reading tastes, essential if you do not want strictly nonfiction readers being faced with questions about Sword and Sorcery tastes.

Once the survey is received, it is transferred to a private wiki hosted by Wikispaces. A link to the survey and the date it was received is added to the Surveys Awaiting Response page. It is then reviewed by around twenty-five reader advisors with wildly divergent reading tastes. Suggested items are added to the discussion area of the wiki. Each suggestion entry has the title of the book, author, call number and a review/summary usually from a professional journal such as Booklist or the Library Journal.

Once the twenty to twenty-five titles have been suggested, the manager of that particular BookMatch adds them to a Microsoft Word form. The form is turned in to a PDF using an open source Word to PDF converter and emailed/mailed/left at a desk for the patron. The link on the wiki is then transferred to the completed area.

Training the reader services staff to work with the wiki and the Microsoft form took a little time. Interestingly enough, suggesting books, the most important and arguably most difficult aspect of working on a BookMatch, caused almost no issues. Suggesting titles has been universally agreed to be fun. An added benefit to using a wiki is that the entire RS staff is now more than proficient in using wikis. This will make implementing other projects that call for online collaboration through wikis easier to implement.

Without advertising, programs such BookMatch would wither on the vine. We used the traditional public library advertising methods. It was announced on the front page of the website and described in the quarterly update. We have placed Moo Cards at the reader services desk with a short description and the URL.

Value

Patrons of all ages love this service. It has been surprising to us how many teens and college age patrons have submitted surveys. Here are a few quotes excerpted from emails sent to Ricki Nordmeyer (the brains behind BookMatch).

“I LOVE my BookMatch list. I used to have a hard time finding books, and it is so helpful.”
“I LOVE LOVE LOVE the BookMatch service. I have found new authors that I probably wouldn't have found.”
“I am a huge fan of the service you provide through BookMatch. Finding a good read has been a challenge for me. I enjoy reading, yet couldn't find the right books for me. While the survey was rather thorough, it was simple to complete.”

An added benefit is that it has made the entire RS department better at their jobs. If a patron comes to the desk and tells me they like Jodi Picoult and Stephanie Meyer (two authors I have never read) I can use previous BookMatches to easily suggest other authors.

So BookMatch is beloved by patrons and makes our RS staff stronger at suggesting books, what is not to love about it? -- Read More

If we Really Read Bradbury, Orwell [et.al]...

The following thoughts come in the afternath of reading the article entitled New Look for Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451' from Publisher's Weekly http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6654436.html?industryid=47140/. As a lover of Ray Bradbury's work, as well as that of George Orwell and other futuristic authors, I pose a few questions.

If we really read Bradbury, Orwell [et.al]...

Would we be so quick to put our words into an electronic format which is so easily changeable.

Would we be so quick to weed children's books because of a "lead paint" problem.

Would we forsake our personal reading time for time with social media.

Would we continue to call ourselves information technologists, rather than the noble term of librarian.

I hate to be a bother, but I just had to ask.

Together : A Shared Vision

Book Review: Together: a Novel of Shared Vision by Tom Sullivan with Betty White; published in large print by Center Point Publishing, 2008.

I saw the book Together on a large print book list. I was looking for some "gentle" fiction for some of my older large print users, who have forsaken much of general literature because they view it as being too vile for their enjoyment.

I was pleasantly surprised by the book. It is a story about Brendan McCarthy, who a pre-Med student who likes to live on the edge. With a hot girlfriend, Brendan thinks that he is on top of the world the fateful day he begins his descent from a mountain peak that will change his life forever. In a convergent story, Nelson is the third name given to a highly intelligent black lab that is going through service dog training for the third time.

Tom Sullivan and Betty White take a plot line that could have been completely formulaic and add sufficient plot twists to make you excited about turning the pages.

This book is a wonderful addition to any large print collection because it touches so many areas of interest for large print readers. The book proves to be a fairly gentle read, with only a small amount of bad language. As a dog story, it has a strong appeal to people like this writer who has black labs of my own. Third it offers contemporary gentle fiction that is not religious in nature. This will be welcome to patrons who do not want materials with vulgar language, graphic violence, or sexually explicit descriptions. -- Read More

Syndicate content