Last week our library held a Readers’ Advisory training session for those staff members new to RA work, or new to the library and interested in RA work.
For the first time, a cataloguing component was introduced into this training. This is a big step for the catalogue in public libraries. With the shift toward social catalogues, I foresee a bright future for catalogues in the area of Readers’ Advisory services.
RA services are all about suggesting reading ideas to patrons. It isn’t about telling them what is good, or what the library recommends. In a way, it’s similar to the way a new generation of cataloguers view the catalogue: to explore and discover. The catalogue is a discovery tool, not just an inventory of the library’s holdings.
There are two elements of RA services that are currently lacking in our bib records: Pacing and Characterization. We are also weak in the description of storylines. I’m looking into ways of adding these elements, however rudimentary. I think, in view of the direction that our bib records are heading, this added descriptive content will add value to our records and, as a result, our catalogue.
The verbal feedback that I received from the presentation was very positive. Many staff members were surprised by the use of genres and subject headings, and the combination of searches available for finding what a reader wants. The perception of the catalogue is changing, both in the eyes of professionals and non-professionals. I’m excited to be participating in this.