Going Boutique: Have You Customized Your RA Services?

boutique featured imageLast week, I had the pleasure of hosting a panel for our RA Conversations series co-sponsored by ARRT and Novelist, “Becoming the Face of RA.” You’ll hear all about it in the September issue of “Corner Shelf,” but something said by Polli Kenn, Book Sherpa at the Lawrence Public Library, has really stuck with me: She talked about framing readers’ advisory service as a “boutique service.”

What does that mean? It means offering customized, specialized services to your patrons, rather than a general, one-size-fits-all approach. And why not? RA is the perfect place to customize—after all, RA training emphasizes getting to know your patrons, your collection, and the best ways to match them up.

Staff is key. To make your readers’ advisory into a boutique service, you have to make your staff the face of your library. Fine examples of this include Lawrence Public Library’s Book Squad, Multnomah County Library’s My Librarian, Downer’s Grove Public Library’s Bookology, and Darien Library’s You Are What You Read. Vendor NoveList has gotten into the act as well with their Book Squad.

I’d like to explore this concept further in upcoming issues of Corner Shelf, and I want to know more about what you think of the notion of framing your library services as boutique services. If you have examples of what you are already doing in this realm, please share! If you have comments or concerns, I’d love to hear those as well. Comment here or shoot me an email at rvnuk@ala.org!




About the Author:

Rebecca Vnuk is the editor for Collection Management and Library Outreach at Booklist. She is also the author of 3 reader’s-advisory nonfiction books: Read On…Women’s Fiction (2009), Women’s Fiction: A Guide to Popular Reading Interests (2014), and Women’s Fiction Authors: A Research Guide (2009). Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_RVnuk.

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