When I worked in a public library as a reference manager, my staff and I were always trying to find easy and efficient ways to stay on top of trends in the publishing world. We needed to be well-prepared when patrons asked us for book suggestions. It was a simple prospect for the genres we read for fun in our personal lives. But we felt a bit more out of our depth when it came to genres and age levels we weren’t quite as familiar with.
Luckily, we landed on some tried-and-true methods that worked well for us and that I think could be very helpful for others as well. I am happy to share them with you now, as well as a few others that I’ve discovered since working at NoveList.
1. Sign up for and skim all the NextReads newsletters
NextReads newsletters are a convenient and informative way for your library to keep your patrons informed about new titles and hidden gems of older titles in their favorite genres. All of that is true for library staff too! If, like me, you don’t read much science fiction or fantasy, a NextReads newsletter will give you a regular list of new and backlist books selected by NoveList librarians, perfect for recommending to a reader on the fly. Or if you’re crunched for time, check out the most recent addition to the NextReads newsletter line-up: Must-Reads. This monthly newsletter will give you a list of titles that our experts are sure you’ll want to know about across all genres and age levels.
As an added bonus, the annotations in the newsletters give you the snippets you need to talk up that book, whether or not you’ve read it.
2. Create a search alert in NoveList Plus
You already know that the NoveList databases are a wealth of book information — everything from award winners to reviews to genres to themes. You may not know that you can create a search and set up an alert to be notified every time NoveList adds a title related to that search. Does your service population love cozy mysteries? Set up a search alert to be notified when a cozy mystery novel with a starred review gets added to NoveList.
Looking to better recommend titles about neurodivergent characters for kids 9-12? Set up a search to be notified about when new titles are added for that age range.
The options for search alerts are infinite, and the best part about them is that you can tailor the alerts you get to the needs of your community. We just added all new Character Identity terms that can help you find even more just-right books for your patrons. And you can show your readers how to set up their own alerts so they get regular recommendations of books specific to their tastes.
3. Create a search alert in Core Collections
Outside of the occasional memoir or humorous essay collection, I almost exclusively read fiction. But, when I worked for the library, it was part of my responsibilities to order selections for our adult nonfiction as well as fiction sections. With Core Collections, I could set up search alerts to find out when a new cookbook or scientific work had been marked “Essential” for my library and would immediately go add it to my cart.
4. Rely on BookChat
Let’s face it, no matter how many resources you pay attention to, there might still be times where you simply don’t know the answer (or how to find the answer) to readers’ questions. We can all use some extra guidance or direction. NoveList’s newest service, BookChat, provides that helping hand. BookChat Specialists are on hand for real-time, in-the-moment answers and support when you have a reader question that takes you out of your comfort zone. I devoted my library career to adult services and would have loved this service when we were short-staffed on a Saturday afternoon, and I was covering the children’s desk for a few hours and didn’t know a Fancy Nancy from Dogman.