Reader's Advisory Tips and Tricks
Earlier this week I had the opportunity to participate in a workshop on Reader's Advisory at the Toronto Reference Library. As Librarians, this is obviously a substantial part of what we do - although there are many people who come to the Information Desk looking for books on a specific subject, if they don't already know the author or title they're looking for altogether, there are just as many library patrons who want our help in deciding what to read next. They aren't looking for our opinions or recommendations so much as our expertise, knowledge and suggestions, and the Reader's Advisory workshop was useful in teaching us how to deliver this kind of advice in a more thoughtful, effective and personalized way.
Now, you might be thinking how this applies to you, other than knowing that the staff you speak to at TPL are trained to help out with these kinds of questions. I know - that's all very well and good, but sometimes it's nice to know how to find this kind of information for yourself, too. As such, please allow me to share with you some of the fantastic databases that are geared specially towards readers hoping to browse books and find ideas for what to read, as well as links that can be accessed through the TPL site's Recommended Websites page. When used alone in combination, these resources can be very useful in helping you find your Next Great Read!
NoveList Plus is one of the more thorough, comprehensive databases available through the TPL website (click the image above!), which allows users to browse through various book titles according to subject, genre, author, etc. It is very easy to use, and can be accessed by logging in with your library card number and PIN. I frequently use this service when I'm trying to discover new books or authors for myself, as well as library customers. Try clicking on the "Subjects/Allures" tab right at the top of the page - you will be taken to an alphabetical list of subjects and subject headings to browse through, if you have a good idea of what you're looking for. If not, you can also browse through the themed lists right from the homepage, or try their book suggestions, if you're not quite sure what you're looking for, or want new ideas. A great feature of NoveList is its "Read Alikes" suggestions, which allows you to check out authors and books similar to others you happen to like, or have read in the past. Additionally, any books you like can be searched directly from the database by clicking on the "TPL Catalogue" links.
Books & Authors is another great service that can be accessed from the TPL website by logging in with your card number/PIN, and is similar to NoveList. I find that their database is a bit more extensive than TPL's, and allows for more effective "pearl growing" (that's the term librarians use to describe using cross-references or similar subject headings to expand your search) by listing the subject headings under which each book title or author appears in the databse. This is a more general search, true, but sometimes searching through a very broad category can be fun if you're in an adventurous mood. The downside of a more extensive database is that you might find books that aren't in the TPL catalogue - but if it's something you're really interested in, you could always pay us a visit and request that the materials be taken into consideration for purchase by the library. Like NoveList, Books & Authors allows you to browse by subject, category and genre, as well as authors/titles and expert-created book suggestion lists.
Other Great Websites for Reader's Advisory
BookSpot.com - Excellent online reviews, book lists, information on where to Buy/Borrow, "Genre Corner"
What's Next - If you're a fan of series, or currently reading one, this is a great website to search for information on which title comes next, as well as browse other series by authors you might like.
Reader's Advice - A fantastic website for those looking to browse by subject/appeal. The lists are very extensive and broken down in a comprehensive way, so that you can see exactly where you're going as well as related subjects that might also appeal to your interests. Also includes links to Amazon so that you can take a closer look at each title.
Library Thing - You can keep a list of books you are reading or record your entire library (similar to iRead on Facebook). Identify similar books from other people's lists, amazon and libraries. There is also a blog and numerous discussion groups.
Morton Grove Public Library Reader's Corner - Features links to numerous web sites, as well as a "match a book" service.
Reader's Robot - The website might not look like much, but there is a huge amount of information and book suggestions to be found here, as well as being easy to browse. Find books by choosing up to 16 appeal factors (e.g. author's style, the focus, characterization, type of ending).
I hope these suggestions are useful to you, and happy browsing! Don't forget that we are always happy to talk books with customers here at Agincourt if you're having a hard time coming up with ideas. We're also offering a class on Online Reader's Advisory at the library on December 8th, from 2-4pm. If you're interested, give us a call at 416-396-8951, or come in to register! Our staff will offer in-depth instruction on how to search for books and book ideas online, as well as how to navigate some of the services listed here.