Recently, I attended a workshop on using the NovelistPlus database to provide Readers Advisory services. The workshop was presented by Duncan Smith, NoveList Product Manager. The presenter was extremely knowledgeable and entertaining.
Some of the key points the presenter stressed regarding readers advisory:
1) Research tells us fiction readers are browsers. They are looking for something good without REALLY knowing what they're looking for.
2) A question to ask patrons is: "Tell me about a book you've read and enjoyed." Readers generally like to be asked this question. The reader will then talk about one or more of the following:
What element(s) the reader mentions gives clues about what's important to him/her.
Then paraphrase back what the reader said in order to clarify what a "good" book means to the reader.
3) Readers essentially rewrite the books they read. They tend to remember the parts that speak to them and throw out the rest.
4) Involve the user in the readers advisory process. Maintain contact and talk about what we are doing.
Some key points about Novelist Plus:
*Covers over 250,000 titles with about 170,000 of those being fiction. The adult nonfiction titles do not include how-to books or the more informationally oriented ones. Instead, it includes topics such as memoirs, narratives, armchair travel, or true crime. The juvenile nonfiction books, however, do include curriculum oriented materials.
*About 30,000 titles are added to the NovelistPlus database each year
*About 540 Book Discussion Guides are available for use in book clubs
*Each item has a popularity ranking on a scale of 1-4, with 4 being the most popular through the course of time.
*Lexile scores are provided for approximately 30,000 titles
*Book talk outlines are available for over 900 titles. These can be printed out and used.
*There are approximately 1200 preconstructed book lists with brief annotatations. These can be helpful for generating ideas for displays.
*Grab and Go lists provide a listing of curriculum related materials
*Author read-alikes are provided for many authors. The read-alike list provides a rationale as to why certain authors are similar.
*Subject headings are provided for books and can also be useful in finding similar books.
*Can limit search by age group: Teens (13-18), Older kids (9-12), Younger kids (birth-8)
*Can limit search results to fiction or nonfiction
*Can search book reviews. Oftentimes the book reviews will suggest similar authors.
*Since NovelistPlus does not monitor editions or formats, it is not possible to search using these parameters.