book life, digital, librarian

Using Evernote for Reader’s Advisory

I love reader’s advisory. I love learning about new books and backlist titles, and figuring out what someone might like to read next based on their past reading habits or other interests. Sadly it’s not something I’m asked to do a lot in my current community face-to-face (no matter how much I beg), so I channel my energy into making RA bookmarks of various topics that patrons can passively pick up and use. (And some of them have been quite popular, so I must be doing something right!) And since I am the primary selector for adult fiction, I come across A LOT of new titles that sound awesome and I want to make sure don’t get lost in the stacks. My solution? Evernote.

evernote-logo-design

Evernote is a free application (with options to upgrade, but the free version is perfectly acceptable for my needs) for gathering information. I added the plug-in to my browser, and it can clip articles I find interesting so I can access them later. It’s just a nice, clean way to organize. And it dawned on me a number of months ago that it would be a great way to collect book data as well!

As I go through a catalog, or read a book blog, or skim through a publisher’s email push, if a book sounds good to me for any reason, or is part of a trend I’ve noticed recently, is related to a popular movie release that might spark further reading interest, or is applicable to a display I might want to do, I make note of the title and author in an Evernote list. Later on, when I want to make up an RA bookmark on that topic, or am building a display, I have a list ready to go of fresh titles (and some backlist) to suggest to my patrons.

Evernote desktopAt last count I had 48 lists in my “RA Book Lists” notebook, with topics like “Roaring 20s,” “Small Town Stories,” “Georgia Novels,” “Fairy Tale Twists,” “Ripped From the Headlines,” etc. And that number grows with every month! If a new topic piques my interest, I start another list!

Best part? I can add tags and keyword search! So I can see if I put a book in multiple lists, or if I have already created a list for haunted houses, or if my World War II list is big enough to start breaking out into sub-lists. As you know, the larger the collection, the better the cataloging needs to be.

I have the Evernote app on my iPhone and iPad Mini, and the desktop app on my home and work laptops with my account linked on all of them so I have easy access to my lists wherever I am if I find a new title to add to a list, or to suggest a book to a friend.

evernote appThis might not be the optimal method for everyone, but I’m sure getting a lot of success out of it! It’s digital, it’s portable, it’s got the metadata I need, and now I can keep tabs on books that might otherwise get lost in the shuffle.

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book life, books

Reading Lists

Book-Journal-Books-to-Check-OutUp until recently, I have not kept track of my reading. No completed lists, occasionally a list on a lone page of my Moleskine notebook of “To Be Read” (TBR), but nothing formal for sure. Once I became a librarian, I started to think that perhaps it would be a good idea to keep track so I could recall certain titles during reader’s advisory chats – that is, when someone comes up to me and asks what book they should read next.

I’ve had a GoodReads account for a few years, but for awhile didn’t take advantage of it, and it wasn’t exactly fitting my needs. Plus I wasn’t reading a whole heck of a lot at my last job, so it didn’t seem necessary to keep a reading list anyway. (I have since started updating it more regularly. We’ll see if I can keep it up.)

That changed when I assumed my currently position, where one of my primary job duties is ordering the adult fiction titles. Something shifted, and suddenly I was reading voraciously again! I started to keep a running list on Google Docs, the most recently read on top, formatted into four lines:

Title
Author
tags/keywords
a short summary/who I would recommend it to/my reaction

So far this year, I have found this running list super helpful. It’s available online so I can access it at home or at work, and occasionally I’ll print it out so I can have quick access to it at my desk. (As much as I like the Cloud and digitizing, there is something to be said for having a print copy of something.) I also highlight the titles of certain books that I feel have a wider appeal that I could recommend to a variety of patrons.

Book Riot recently posted about how managing editor Amanda Nelson tracks her reading. She uses a Google Docs spreadsheet (available to download though the link) and uses it to also track the diversity of her reading habits. I contemplated switching over to this method, but ultimately decided I’d rather have my little bit of metadata to jog my memory. But I do applaud the effort. For someone in her position, I think it’s very valuable to be aware of the diversity of a reading list.

Related to all this, last year a new program called LibraryReads got started. I love it – librarians from around the country contribute to a monthly list of the top 10 best books being published in that particular month. It’s a great collection development tool, and is great marketing for our patrons. I’m a big fan. The program hinges on librarians reading digital galleys, or digital advance reader copies of books (ARCs) – publishers put these out either in print or digitally so reviewers can read the book ahead of time, and then tell people about it so there’s a certain amount of hype for when the book is actually published. I got my iPad mini at Easter, and so I finally had an eReader device I could use to take advantage of this program and read some ARCs!*

LibraryReads asks that all nominations for the list be made the month before they’re actually published. So if I wanted to nominate a book being published in November, I would have to read and submit my nomination by October 1. Then a few days after October 1 the list of top 10 books for November is compiled, and I can order the books on that list, and put out the marketing materials provided by LibraryReads so my patrons know about those titles. Hopefully I’ve read a book off the list, and can get the conversation rolling with that!

I quickly discovered that I was having trouble keeping due dates for these nominations together. I had been keeping a print planner, but a few months ago decided to switch completely over to Google Calendar (one less thing to carry, and my calendar is accessible on my laptop, iPhone, and iPad). So I started to keep a list of ARCs to Read as a task list on Google Calendar. And then it was only natural that I finally have a formalized (or, at least, collated) list of TBR that I also make a Google Calendar task list. I add in the notes area a quick summary, or reason why I want to read a particular book. My TBR list is quite long, at least 70 titles at the moment, so having a little reminder is especially helpful. (No, I doubt I’ll read all those books, as my TBR will continue to grow. But it’s good to have a deep well to draw from when I’m picking my next read.)

I use the app GoTasks so I have all these task lists at my fingertips. So far I have been ENORMOUSLY pleased with it – all of my reading logs are in one place, I don’t misplace book recommendations, and when I’m thinking about what to read next, I have a handy dandy list I can refer to, all ready to go.

So that’s how I keep track of all my reading! How about you?

*They don’t have to be digital ARCs, but those are the easiest to get ahold of, at least through the LibraryReads set up. I also win ARCs off GoodReads, or other mailing lists I’m on. Those print copies of ARCs are usually reserved for book reviewers and booksellers, and they do pile up fast! I’ll be doing a post at the end of the months of the print ARCs I acquired this month alone – quite a number!