Should You Create an Online RA Presence?

Many of you may be asking the question should you extend your Readers’ Advisory Services to your web site? That’s a pretty loaded question! Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you currently offer RA service in your library?
  • Will your web site be an extension of what you are already doing for your members?
  • If it doesn’t enhance or complement what you are already doing, why do you want to do it?
  • What do you hope to accomplish by developing an RA web presence?
  • Who are you hoping to target?
  • What are your goals and objectives?

You need to know the answers to these questions because it will take staff or volunteer time to create and maintain your online RA service. The one plus to beefing up your web site with an RA presence is that it can be accessed 24/7. Think about those users who do their “browsing” online. This may be one way to grab that audience.

What Vehicle Can Drive Your Web Site?

There are many ways to enhance your web site. Web development software can be difficult to learn and might require the assistance of an IT person. Not all of our libraries are fortunate to have their own IT person so you might want to rely on a less technical approach using wikis and blogs because they usually require less technical knowledge than traditional web development software. We will explore wikis and blogs in future enewsletters. For this article let’s focus on the easiest way to put some passive RA on your web site.

The Wonderful World of Lists

Do you already keep lists in your library for your members to turn to when looking for something to read? If you do then adding your lists to your web site is probably the easiest way to create a web presence. Have you ever looked at the lists on Fiction-L which is produced by the Morton Grove Public Library (Illinois)? MGPL is the leader when it comes to creating lists because they cover it all: appeal factors, genre lists, and read-alikes. Check it out. Building lists is something the whole staff can get involved in. NoveList has many resources that can help you as you start to develop your lists. Is there someone on your staff that reads mostly fantasy, romance, mystery, etc.let them develop the list for the genre that appeals most to them. Patrons don’t always like to ask for suggestions, so creating these online lists can be so empowering for them.

Maine Examples

Here are some examples of Maine libraries that are committed to providing an RA online presence for their members. Some go way beyond lists to creating their own wikis and blogs. Large or small, all can do this as long as you are committed to making it happen and keeping it updated. If you don’t want to create your own lists you can make a Readers’ Corner with links to the many great lists that can be found on the web.