Tool helps libraries fulfill commitment to help readers

Larissa Wood had another life before librarianship. She was a paralegal and then a lawyer before attending the San José State University's School of Library and Information Science. While in library school, she moved across the country to the town where Larissa’s wife grew up. That’s when Larissa got a job as a library assistant at Ridgewood Public Library.

"I realized that I loved working with the public, helping people solve their problems, working with outside organizations and companies and people, and figuring out what our community would be interested in learning more about,” said Larissa. “This work is deeply satisfying.”

750 miles to the west, in Columbus, Indiana, Tyler Munn works as Collection and Discovery Services Coordinator for the Bartholomew County Public Library. He’s worked at BCPL since high school.

“I have lived my entire life in this county, so I have childhood memories of this library,” said Tyler. “I remember checking out books, joining the Summer Reading Club, and watching VHS tapes and listening to records, even though that makes me seem old!”

Though they live in different parts of the country and serve different kinds of communities, Larissa and Tyler have one thing in common: a deep desire to help their readers find the books they love. Both library staffers use NoveList Plus and BookChat in their daily work.

“I use NoveList ALL THE TIME,” confessed Larissa. “I get book amnesia whenever anyone asks me to recommend something, so I rely on NoveList to be my brain.”

NoveList Plus is a database of book recommendations. Subscribers can add BookChat to NoveList Plus. BookChat provides live, on-demand book suggestions from real humans for your community and your staff in real time.

The best part part about BookChat is you're chatting with a real human!”

"We are looking for new ways to reach patrons interested in finding their next read,” explained Tyler. “We felt this product helps serve patrons that aren’t comfortable in face-to-face or voice-to-voice interactions, and patrons who can’t reach our library buildings. We also saw its value for our staff that are stuck while trying to assist a patron with readers’ advisory. BookChat can function like an extra staff member sitting at the desk.”

“I see BookChat as a broadly appealing tool,” said Larissa. “It’s helpful for people who don't come to the library, who don't feel comfortable asking in person, and who are used to texting or chatting with customer service. The best part about BookChat is you're chatting with a real human!”

Both libraries make sure their patrons can easily find and use BookChat. Ridgewood Public Library placed the BookChat widget on their website home page, with a convenient button that takes visitors to the login for NoveList Plus and BookChat.

“I also talked up NoveList Plus and BookChat with staff and asked our IT administrator to make sure there was an easy button or link to access NoveList Plus from the service desks,” explained Larissa. “When someone is standing in front of you waiting for reading recommendations, you don't want to be searching for a password. And we promote BookChat and NoveList Plus in our weekly email newsletters.”

“We have made posts on social media, we have BookChat currently featured prominently on our homepage and NoveList featured prominently on the reader’s advisory site of our homepage," said Tyler.

And sometimes, Tyler and Larissa use the service to fill their own reading recommendation needs.

“I have used BookChat to find some read-alikes to some silly children’s books like Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” recalled Tyler. “The live BookChat advisors do a good job at asking questions about why you liked the book, so they can really personalize your results.”

“I was looking for books like Birnam Wood, which I had just devoured and loved,” said Larissa. “The person I interacted with was open and positive. I felt like the person embodied the qualities I try to bring to my job. They were happy to help and seemed just as happy with my reaction. This is the kind of interaction that makes me love being a librarian.”


Angela Hursh is Manager of Engagement and Marketing for NoveList. She is reading The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz and listening to Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. Larissa Wood is reading How to Say Babylon by Safiya Sinclair. Tyler Munn is reading That is not a good idea by Mo Willems.

Find out more about BookChat