Close reading VIII: The reader-friendly library service

Open book

Image shared on Pixabay with a Creative Commons public domain licence

Chapter eight: Readers online

I’ve been slow to get a library website up and running – and after reading this chapter I’m kind of glad! I think I would have fallen into all the online traps that are mentioned here, and probably wouldn’t have put the user-experience at the centre of the website design.

I definitely do want to create an online space for my library users (because I know that a lot of them leave their schoolwork to the last minute – when the library is often closed) but I want it to be a useful space. Not something to impress the senior management team or Board of Trustees, but something that the students will actually use.

Things I will need to think about before creating the library’s online space:

  • organise information so that students can find what they want by a direct route (minimise the number of clicks!)
  • don’t simply reproduce what the library offers offline – what is suitable for a web audience
  • the web thrives on users sharing information they discover – allow space for students to do this
  • think about who needs what online and why – don’t rush into writing web content that nobody will ever visit
  • interactivity is one of the biggest advantages of online spaces – use it

There is a lot of thought that needs to go into online services and these also need to be maintained once they are up and running. Limited staffing and resources are what have slowed me down at this point. Maybe it is time now to start putting aside time to do this and prioritising it the same way that offline services are?

 

Actions arising from this chapter:

  • start designing a library website
  • make a plan to get LMS opened up anytime / anywhere
  • make a plan for catalogued websites to be accessed through the LMS – it’s 2016, people!

Reference:

Riel, R. V., Fowler, O., & Downes, A. (2008). The reader-friendly library service. Newcastle upon Tyne: Society of Chief Librarians.

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Interesting reading this week:

Kardos_Interesting_Reading_1891

Interesting Reading by Gyula Kardos, shared on Wikimedia Commons as a public domain work of art

The WHY of libraries and librarians. I haven’t watched the video yet – but I will come back to it and also the exercise at the end. Because I am all about the WHY. Why do we do stuff? Why should we continue to be employed? We need to have a clear idea and it should be written down in our strategic plan and / or library policies. If we can’t say why we do what we do why should we expect anyone else to know? (Shared by Lis Marrow on Twitter.)

How technology disrupted the truth. I despair of the mainstream media at times – and this did not make me feel any better! Provides some good examples of the filter bubble and a reminder about not sharing links you haven’t investigated. It is also a good reminder about why we should be teaching our students how to be critical thinkers. I hope society gets over its anti-expert thing soon. And I long for politicians to become post-post-truth! (Shared by John  Campbell on Twitter.)

 

The best starter graphic novels for YA readers. This could be a good place to start for those who aren’t sure. I’ve got some of these titles already, others are probably not of huge interest for my demographic (teenage boys), but I’ll definitely be looking out for The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil! There’s some good suggestions in the comments too. (Shared by Libraries & Learning on Twitter.)

Book-loving stars on Instagram: They’re the new Oprah. I love that celebrities are sharing what they’re reading on social media and giving authors and their books greater exposure. But can we please try and keep this organic? Let the celebs pick and choose what they’re going to read and share. Pretty please. And if these women could persuade some of their male co-stars to do something similar that would be excellent. Some fierce male reading role models would be awesome right now. (Shared by Kathryn Schravemade on Twitter.)

Close reading VII: The reader-friendly library service

Open book

Image shared on Pixabay with a Creative Commons public domain licence

Chapter seven: Reading groups

For reasons too inexplicable and frustrating to share here, I am unable to run a reading group in our school library. However, that doesn’t stop me from dreaming about one, or reading enviously about groups that other school librarians are running. It also probably explains why I decided to start my own out-of-school-hours group with other children’s and young people librarians in our local area.

I’m a fan of the type of reading group that is encouraged in this chapter. A group where members read what they want to read and share their thoughts and feelings with others. Nothing prescriptive, snobby or on a theme; and all about the reading experience – no need for deep analysis!

The benefits of reading groups to a library service are outlined in this chapter, and there are many.

  • Reading group members are library advocates.
  • They provide a ready-made audience for consultation.
  • They are an excellent resource for reader-to-reader recommendations and promotions.
  • They can take charge of a ‘reading group choice’ display area.
  • They can take on the role of event hosts.
  • They can help make stock decisions in areas of weakness.

I particularly liked this message from page 220:

Understanding a little about group dynamics, appreciating that people read primarily for pleasure, and are coming because they want to share that pleasure with others, and simply putting the kettle on are more important skills for the reading group facilitator than a degree in literature or, indeed, librarianship!

Another interesting point to note is that some libraries have found that teen groups are more successful if they are “for a limited time”; open-ended groups did not generate the same interest as groups that were run for a set number of weeks. I can see how this would probably be the same in school settings.

Most importantly, remember that a reader-centred approach to reading groups will ensure (page 212)

that everyone in the group will have something to say, confident in the fact that they are the expert in their own reading experience.

Actions arising from this chapter:

  • I can still get most of the benefits of reading groups without actually having one
  • consult my known readers more
  • ensure my student librarians are readers – get those suckers to work for me!

Reference:

Riel, R. V., Fowler, O., & Downes, A. (2008). The reader-friendly library service. Newcastle upon Tyne: Society of Chief Librarians.

Interesting reading this week:

Kardos_Interesting_Reading_1891

Interesting Reading by Gyula Kardos, shared on Wikimedia Commons as a public domain work of art

What I learned about library marketing from an amusement park. While not all of this blog is relevant to my school library, it is certainly a reminder about putting user experience at the centre of things and about how we can learn from other unrelated organisations. (Shared by Jane Cowell on Twitter.)

How great school libraries can inspire. A blog post about a boys’ school library’s refurbishment. I so wanted more photos. (Shared by Stefanie Gaspari on Twitter.)

Pokemon Go brings augmented reality to the mainstream. Lots of #ThinkyThoughts after reading this about ways to make the Year 9 library orientation more interesting. Maybe I could offer to help one of the social sciences teachers make their “Our School” unit more interactive too… (Shared by Kay Oddone on Twitter.)

8 digital skills we must teach our children. A useful overview of the skills we should be teaching people to be good digital citizens. Definitely something to be referred to when creating any school policies or programmes. (Shared by Digital Citizenship in Schools on Facebook.)