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					Removing the Fear From Readers’ Advisory

Developing an Effective RA Curriculum for
                  Staff



     Mary Kelly & Ronda Rossbach
    OLC Unconventional Convention
           October 22, 2009
   Public Service Department Trivia
Q: What is the question that PSD staff fear above
all others?


 A: Can you recommend a good book?
Here’s what’s ahead:
Why were we doing this?

2008 Tactical Plan Objective 5.4.3 – What it was & what it was not.

Barriers, challenges and training gaps – developing the plan

CML’s multi-part curriculum plan

How did it go? What did we learn?

Next steps ……….

Questions & discussion
  Why did CML feel the need to address RA?

• What was keeping us from delivering proactive
  readers’ advisory?
• What were the challenges for staff on the floor in our
  locations?
• What kept us from offering title & author suggestions
  on a regular basis?
• Why did so many of us freeze when we heard that
  dreaded question… “Can you recommend something
  good to read?”
 2008 Tactical Plan Objective 5.4.3

Develop and implement a coordinated
strategy for Reader's Advisory training
     in all areas (fiction, nonfiction,
    juvenile/teen, etc.) to help staff
 connect readers with great material.
     2008 T.P. Objective 5.4.3 - What it was…….
• The Product:
   – A readers’ advisory curriculum & training program for public
     service staff.
• The Scope:
   – Fiction, non-fiction, juvenile, teen, adult, print & audiobook.
   – Adaptable to individual learning styles, background &
     experience.
   – Online learning component.
   – Designed to develop essential RA Competencies.
   – Incorporation into training tracks – development of RA skills
     a basic performance expectation.
                     …..and what it was not.



•   Listeners’ & viewers’ advisory – for music & film
•   Genre or subject oriented workshops
•   Public programming and event development
•   Creation of readers’ advisory sources outside of training aids
•   Training in merchandising techniques
Which brought us to:

T.P. Obj. 5.4.3 Goals:
• Staff will demonstrate ease and comfort talking to customers
   about books.
• Staff will regularly incorporate proactive title & author
   suggestions into regular public service transactions.
• Staff will be looked to as the Central Ohio experts for great
   reads.
• CML will be recognized as an organization of readers.
Readers’ Advisory Competency Areas

Background in fiction & non-fiction.
Understanding people as readers &
readers as people.
Understanding a book’s appeal.
The readers’ advisory transaction.

Duncan Smith, “Talking with readers: a competency based
approach to readers’ advisory service,” RUSQ 40 (Winter
2000):135-142.
Measures & Training Gaps

• RA transaction count to measure frequency.
• Identification of training gaps to design a curriculum
• PSD Staff Survey
   – 244 respondents – all levels of staff.
• Areas of Note Questioned in the Survey:
   – Comfort & confidence level
   – Knowledge of titles, authors & readers
   – Support & time to become proficient
   – Commitment & willingness to learn
Development Areas Identified by the Survey:
   – Understanding the RA transaction and process
   – Interview techniques
   – Uncomfortable suggesting titles staff have not
     read
   – Missing RA opportunities – not proactive
   – Difficulty using NoveList
   – Knowledge of best online RA tools
   – Lack of comfort & knowledge of RA tools
   – Lack of time to learn about new titles
   – Lack of time to discuss books & suggest titles
   – Unsure about CML support of RA
Strengths we could build on:

   – Strong desire/commitment to learn & improve in
     RA.
   – Frequent discussions in locations with other staff
     about books.
   – Staff frequently use other staff for suggestions for
     customers – many location experts.
   – CML is an organization of readers – we just need
     to learn how to spread that good news.
  CML’s Readers’ Advisory Development Plan

• Development of RA skills is a basic performance
  expectation - core curriculum becomes a required
  component on training track for all information staff.
• Three-part core curriculum – designed to fill identified
  training gaps and build on existing strengths.
   – “Readers’ Advisory: Express It !” Workshop
   – RA Source Training Class
   – Online Genre Training Modules via staff learning portal.
• Staff RA Training Wiki
Administration Support & Role of Managers

 •To encourage, model proactive RA – set
 expectations & hold staff accountable.
 • To follow through with training – schedule &
 assignments.
 • Love of books and promotion of reading part of
 organizational culture.
 • Recognizing and communicating the
 importance of Readers’ Advisory service.
Here’s how it went…..
Kickoff Event with Nancy Pearl

               “Opening Books,
                Opening Doors:
               Providing Effective
               Readers’ Advisory
                    Service.”

                February 2009
RA Express It! Workshops
• Completed 10 four hour sessions. 125 participants. March-May.
• Developed original content – based on a variety of sources.
• Incorporated Nancy Pearl’s presentation & filmed RA
  transaction videos.
• Interactive – strong emphasis on discussion, practice &
  exercises.
• Understanding readers….approaching readers.. and conducting
  the conversation.
• Using appeal elements … and doorways.. as a way to connect
  readers to books.
• Suggesting titles & authors… describing them in terms of
  appeal.
• Building a background & knowledge of books – reading a book
  in 5 minutes.
• Assignments – pre and post workshop activities.
RA Source Training
•   Revised CML’s existing RA Basic Source class.
•   Emphasis on using NoveList Plus
•   Publisher, Bookstore, Library & RA Websites
•   Revised again … to become RA Express-It Part 2.


Online Genre Training
•   Self-directed modules via staff learning portal – Learner Web
•   Staff completion automatically logged in their history.
•   Adult fiction & non-fiction modules – Juvenile & YA to follow.
•   NoveList Plus Readers’ Advisory content.
     Staff Training Wiki – RA Express
• Primary purpose is training - activities & online
  instruction on becoming a great readers’ advisor.
• Collection of favorite RA, book & publisher sites.
• Handouts from RA training & Collection Development
  Best Books presentations.
• Video & podcasts of book discussions & book talks.
• Accessible to all staff.
• Goal – to become a dynamic & reliable CML RA
  resource.
What did we learn….?
              Measures & Follow Up
– Workshop Session Evaluations
   • Revisions to workshops - more hands on activities, less
     lecture, more juvenile & teen suggestions, changes to source
     training.
– July 2009 Participant Survey:
   • Reported small increases in # of RA transactions.
   • Confidence & comfort level increase.
   • More likely to suggest titles & authors – and to initiate RA
     conversations.
   • No change in familiarity with new authors & titles…..
– 2009 PSD Survey sent out October 13th.
– 2009 RA transaction count next week. (October 26-31)
5.4.3 Project words of advice…..

• Identify the training gaps
• Be clear about learning objectives.
• Avoid “scope” creep.. focus.
• Evaluate and revise… participant feedback is essential.
• Don’t reinvent the wheel … use what is out there.
• Accommodate individual learning styles.
• Shorter lecture time – more discussion – keep it
  interactive.
• Coordinate curriculum pieces – flow.
• Class size and makeup makes a difference.
• Room set up is important.
              Next steps…

–   Revised workshop sessions – Parts 1 & 2.
–   Add juvenile & teen content for online genre study.
–   Enhance the staff training wiki .
–   RA as part of spring SRC preparation.
–   Adapt curriculum for non-information staff.
–   Maintain the commitment - keep the necessity
    of readers’ advisory training out in front.
“Reader’s Advisory is not about
increasing circulation, but
establishing a relationship
with the reader so that they
will come back
again and again.”
– Neal Wyatt
Books & reading are our brand.
Our future…doing more with less.
Who We Were

• The 5.4.3 Project Team crossed departments.
• Public Service staff – Main Library, Branch, Adult &
  Youth Services.
• Collection Development, Organizational
  Development, IT & Digital Services.
Any Questions?
Contact information:

Mary Kelly
mkelly@columbuslibrary.org
614.479.3273

Ronda Rossbach
rrossbach@columbuslibrary.org
614.479.3142
"What is the use of a book", thought
Alice, "without ... conversations" - Lewis
Carroll

				
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