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READER SERVICES ANNUAL REPORT 2012-2013

To: Louise Berry, Director From: Stephanie Anderson, Head of Reader Services Date: October 1, 2013 What a year! Through a flood and a hurricane, from summer reading to fall book discussions, our readers’ advisors have been hard at work making people happy. This year, Welcome Desk staff handled thousands of questions, recommended thousands of books, and created thousands of great experiences on Main Street. And we’ve also been trying new things, both in the Library and out in the community. Many of the changes we made this year on Main Street were to enhance our readers’ advisory services. We’re always looking for ways to connect each reader with their perfect book. Since we’re fortunate to have so much space on Main Street, we’ve been adding more book displays to increase the chances that each patron will find that perfect book. It also makes it easier for us to be readers’ advisors when there’s more to look at! And in order to make sure all of our books get attention, we’ve changed one of the displays on Main Street to be a semi-permanent themed display that focuses on lesser-known parts of the collection, like books about pets, or our classics room. We’ve found that by adding a few new elements to the displays, we’ve been able to really enhance the browsing experience. Our LIBRARIAN FAVORITE bookmarks, seen to the left, have been helping books fly out the door. In addition, Amanda Goodman worked with us on a project to make bookmarks for our recommended “book journeys”—a new take on the traditional recommended reading list. These bookmarks have opened up a whole new way for patrons to learn about our staff recommendations. Our “staff picks” display, always a favorite amongst Darien readers, has been updated with staff picks cards to help personalize the books we select. Of all the changes we’ve made, the clear patron favorite has been extending the borrowing period of the Express Books (seven days with one renewal), to 14-Day Books (fourteen days with no renewal). A few months in, we are still hearing thank you—so many of our patrons are busy people, and never felt they could finish a book and get it back to us in a week! This has opened up a big swath of Main Street to a whole new group of people, and has made it much easier to help patrons find that perfect book. And what sort of readers’ advisor would I be if I didn’t bring up our favorite books of 2012? We finally settled on a top 10, which were: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt, Quiet by Susan Cain, Far From The Tree by Andrew Solomon, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker, The Unlikely

Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, Elsewhere by Richard Russo, The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe, Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, and Burn Down the Ground by Kambri Crews. So far 2013 has contained just as many gems, including staff favorites Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, Transatlantic by Colum McCann, The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, The Boys In the Boat by Daniel Brown, Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, The Telling Room by Michael Paterniti—oh dear—stay tuned to see if we can actually limit ourselves to ten favorites in 2013. We don’t just help people at the Welcome Desk, though— we also try to find our readers where they are when they’re not in the Library. Our staff was heavily involved with the Library’s outreach efforts this year. We helped hold down the fort in the early hours at the Darien train station for a week of September, which is National Library Card Sign-Up Month. We wanted to make sure our commuters are signed up for library cards and know about our ebook programs, since many commuters have made the switch to reading electronically for a lighter bag. As a result of the success of that outreach, we improved our permanent presence at the station—the book rack seen to the right. We upgraded to a bigger display and have been bringing books over every week to maintain a small outpost of popular reading material. Barbara Monin and Marianne Paterniti continue to do outreach to the seniors of Darien, and added Maplewood to their schedule this year, bringing them up to three stops every month. They created nine unique presentations, including “Eight of the Most Influential Women in History,” “The Poetry and Art of Flowers” (in April, National Poetry Month), “The Golden Age of Hollywood,” and “A History of American Patriotic Music” (featuring readers’ advisor Barbara Blake as the songleader). In addition, they keep small lending libraries well-stocked in those locations, for patrons who aren’t able to visit us in person. Our presence was also felt in the meetings of over one hundred book groups in Darien, as Marianne and her book group team hosted two great programs this year to help book groups find great reads and have richer discussions. On October 9th, our short story leader, Carroll Stenson, led a popular workshop on Hosting Better Book Groups. On May 7th, we hosted the second annual Book Group Expo, which featured presentations from library marketing reps about the best new books, as well as a visit from author Michael Hainey (After Visiting Friends). Many readers’ advisors went outside the Library not just to help patrons, but to become better librarians, thanks to several fantastic professional development opportunities. Because we are lucky enough that the book industry ’s annual trade show, Book Expo America, is held in New York City each year, several readers’ advisors were able to visit for a day, learn about the best new releases, and make

valuable contacts with book publishers. In addition, I went to ALA Midwinter and ALA Annual, the two largest library conferences in America, where I not only kept up-to-date on publishing and library trends, but also learned more about how other libraries are innovating with readers’ advisory and public services. At the ALA Annual Conference, I was proud to represent the Library as a member of the Random House Library Advisory Board and as a member of the Steering Committee of LibraryReads, a new national initiative to highlight and enhance the power of library staff recommendations. It’s a real privilege for us to be able to attend these fantastic conferences and we learn so much from them — many of the new ideas we’re trying spring from the panels we attend and the great librarians we meet there. Finally, we’ve been stretching our RA wings online, too— thanks to our fall intern, Chantelle Uzan. Chantelle is a Pinterest fanatic and helped us to develop how we could use the popular social networking site to connect with more readers, by sharing the book recommendations that we make on Main Street with the wider world. In addition to using Pinterest boards to create new way to browse our Book in a Bag collection, we’ve also maintained a “RealTime Book Recommendations” board, where we post book recommendations that we make to patrons in the library. In addition, we improved the reach of Jen’s popular You Are What You Read newsletter by selecting one or two reviews a week to feature on a Main Street panel as well as on our Tumblr and Facebook pages. Though we will never abandon our love of talking about books in person, it’s been fun to experiment with new ways of reaching readers. We look forward to trying even more of them in the next year!