RA In a Day 2012

Online Book Club

Toronto Public Library's Online Book Club
-launched in March 2006
-a 2005 survey found that book club members were predominately females and retired individuals
-TPL opted to begin a digital book club to break the mould of the typical book club participant
-Web Crossing is the onine book club platform they use. Requires simple book club registration, however is a discontinued product. They will likely migrate to a social networking platform eventually, but for now are continuing with Web Crossing.
-the TPL moderator puts up question about the month's book and continues to probe participants once they provide answers
-there is a "read ahead" area which lists upcoming book club titles for those interested in getting a head start.
-there is an area featuring the book for the month, which contains read-alikes and book reviews
-there is an "Ask a Bookhead" link where participants can email a librarian who provides RA services.
-author events are offered online in the form of guest blogging, posted interviews, and live chats (using the Cover It Live platform)
-contests and book draws are done regularly
-TPL did a survey of book club members agreeing to particpate and found that of the over 1200 members, 16% were male, 64% were female, 64% were under 50 and 10% lived outside the GTA (you do not need to be a TPL member to participate in the book club).

Marketing
-in-branch posters, flyers, etc.
-emailing list
-blog posts
-websites of partner agencies in Toronto

Challenges
-text-based communication results in a lack of visual and auditory clues which can cause misunderstanding amongst participants.
-RA services are difficult to offer because conversations are not taking place in real time. Lag times between responses leads to untimely service.

Benefits
-conversations not being in real-time allows staff to consult others and resources to answer RA questions
-the ability to send links to participants and for participants to share links amongst themselves
-anonymity, which is valued by many members, is possible. Conversations amongst readers can take place without personal judgements
-offering the book club digitally provides access to those who experience barriers in the real world (eg. physical or mental disabilities, ESL).
-the moderator helps to keep conversations gonig and to help shape what could become an unweildy discussion

Evaluation
-1% of users post 90% of content
-the number of posts don't tell the whole story. It is important to also measure page views, membership growth, etc.

Globe and Mail Digital Book Club
-launched in January 2012
-Uses Scribblelive.com as the platform. It incorporates social media.
-Marketing the program was done in the Globe newspaper, which was done in hopes to also get people to subscribe to the Globe's online format.
-Prior to the book club starting, a poll was taken by those who registered for the upcoming book club to choose the first book. In total 1400 people voted, and the first book was Half-Blood Blues.
-Once book is announced, a daily discussion question posted each week for three weeks, which always consists of an open ended question. Discussion amongst members is encouraged.
-Live discussions were offered with experts related to aspects of the book. Participants can see the discussions afterwards and comment on them.
-Author discussion at the end of the month.

Getting Your Community Reading
-there was a roundtable discussion where RA attendees were asked to share ways in which they encourage members of their community to read. Each table then voted on an idea they thought was especially novel and shared it with the entire group. The following are the ideas that were shared with the whole group:

Lennox-Addington
-Puppy Tales: children's program whereby children read to dogs. Encourages those who are too shy about reading to another person.
-Loaning out pre-loaded e-readers.

Toronto PL
-Book giveaways: patrons answer a question or vote on a poll (all online) for a prize.
-Book challenge: patrons are challenged to read a certain kind of book (re-read a children's book, read a book that has been translated into English, etc.) and participants are put in a draw for prizes.

Oxford County/Tillsonberg
-lend pre-loaded e-readers

St. Thomas
-Staff picks: an innovative way of making displays a little more personable. Staff picks are put on a specific display shelf in the library, and each book has a bookmark in it with a staff member's avatar on it. This connects readers with the librarians that select the picks and readers can follow the picks of a certain staff member.

Burlington
-Human Library: patrons were invited to drop-in to speak with "human books" who told their story. The first year was successful, but it takes a lot of community education to understand the concept of a human book.
-Beer and Books: a 19+ book club where edgier books are read and meetings take place in a local pub.

London PL
-Local restaurants make book-based confections: Marketed as a gala event where prizes are included.

I can't remember the libraries but here are other ideas shared…
-Online survey form where people answer questions and a librarian evaluates them and emails a suggested reading list.
-Reading circle for the aging: participants are invited to bring in books to discuss, and topics of grief, empty nesting, etc. are talked about. Specialists in aging issues are sometimes brought in to talk to the group.
-High profile people in the community pick books,which are then marketed at the library.

The Roleof Fiction and Literature in Community Building
-Studies have shown that those who read fiction (including children) are better able to empathize. What one reads matters: romance and suspense/thriller books give the greatest results in empathy, but there isn't conclusive evidence as to why.
-When people are reading about actions, emotions, etc., parts of the brain become active as if the person is experiencing them in real life.
-Empathy is necessary in community building, therefore encouraging fiction reading becomes an important factor.
-Reading can affect our attributes and beliefs. According to studies, reading lead to more egalitarian views and reduced gender stereotypes (these studies were conclusive for reading fiction only). This relates to studies on children who read books with both black and white characters, who tended to have attitudes of integration.

Good Reads
-has 12 million members, of which Canada is the third largest market. There are over 2000 groups that are affiliated with libraries.
-a survey done by Good Reads revealed that 54% of respondants said they hear about new books at the library. This tied with Amazon.
-Good Reads' recommendation engine offers, "readers who liked this, also liked this" feature.
-Many people get book selection advice from friends, family, co-workers, etc. By the time a person arrives at the library, they have already got a title or author in mind. To become a part of the patron's inner circle, libraries can create a library account on Good Reads. This is a good way to meet patrons where they already are, and the library can customize their group home page so that it is branded. Through this page, the library can offer polls, reading challenges, and start discussion threads. There is also the option to feature videos.

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