Reader’s Advisory Website

When I started my current position as the Teen Services Librarian for the Tulare County Library in June 2011, I was the first. Ever. So I had to do everything from scratch. And since I started my new job THE DAY summer reading program started for just the children and adults, I had a lot of time on my hands.

I spent that summer getting to know the community and teen volunteers. I also tackled the teen area and it was…not all that great.

So I did the only thing I knew how to do: make it happen and that meant more work for me. I spent those first two months going through the collection, getting rid of second, third, or fourth copies and filling in immediate gaps…like getting some Stephanie Perkins (as an example). Then I started to build carts of books I knew the library needed. Once that first order was sent off, the real work started.

When the order was placed, records were uploaded to our OPACs and I was able to use that to build a website that was full of books: a Reader’s Advisory Website. Since there was only one of me and 15 branches in my system, this was a way for my co-workers to help teens find books when I am not available. I worked on a similar site at my former place of employment, but this would be the first time I build a website from scratch.

Since I had experience with Blogger, that’s what I went with to build this website. I spent about a week playing around with the design. I used the now defunct Picnik (seriously…I still mourn the loss of this website every. single. day.) to make my own pictures, logos, and buttons for the website. I played with colors. Created other blogs to support what I needed on the main blog.

TCL Teens for TSU

Then I started adding the books. Each “blog post” is a book. You click on the title above the picture and it takes you to the post. If you click on the picture or the title next to the picture and you are taken to our catalog to see what library has it, if it’s checked in, or you can place a hold on the title.

TCL Teen for TSU 2

I also “tag” every post with more than one qualifier. Those Tags will take you to a list of similar books. There is also a list of “What to Read Next” on the right hand side shortcuts.

TCL Tens for TSU 3

I *try* to update the website weekly, but library life gets in the way and I am currently behind. It’s usually a task I take with me when I work on the desk and update it whenever I get a free minute or two. I could have an assistant update it for me, but by doing it myself it allows me to refresh my memory on the books I have ordered. I can also see how popular a title is among library users.

The website is linked from our main library page and I make sure I stamp or sticker the back of very bookmark that goes out. I post a link to our Summer Reading Program website from there too. If it’s teen related, the traffic goes through www.tclteens.org. I know the teens use it because I get questions like, “Have you updated yet? I wanna see what I can put on hold.” We get almost a 1000 page views a month. It may seem like a lot of work, but its worth it in the end. I feel it makes me better at reader’s advisory.

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