Improving the Reader’s Experience, One Step at a Time

“Mrs. Bullington, what’s a good book to read?”

More often than not these days, my answer to this question is one of several book series that have been popular in our library:  the Mortal Instruments series, the Hunger Games series, the Immortals series, the Wake trilogy…the list goes on and on.

Helping Students Help Themselves

Once students have read the first book in the series, they often want to check out the second title.  If I am not working with a teacher, student, or class, I love to help inquiring readers locate the right book.  But what about those times when I’m not available?  How can I still assist readers?

Last year, I created a Recommended Reads notebook that is displayed on one of the counters at the Circulation Desk.  It has been one of the best reader’s advisory tools in our library.

This year, I decided to tackle the series in our collection and “Operation: Save Our Series” was launched.  Each title in a series is identified with a label located under the call number.  The label simply states “Series” and the number of the title in the series.  We began pulling books and applying the labels three weeks ago.

To ensure accuracy in labeling, I checked those titles with which I was unfamiliar using the Mid Continent Public Library’s Juvenile Series and Sequels site. After an intensive first week, my service learners had identified and pulled myriads of series from the shelves.

They Just Keep Coming!

Who knew we had so many series?  It seems each time I walk through the fiction area, I notice another series that has escaped our labeling efforts.  Slowly, but surely, we are creating order out of series chaos.

The next step in the process is checking the catalog records for each series.  Unfortunately, many records do not indicate that a title is part of a series, so in spare pockets of time (we all know how rare those are!) I am updating catalog records to reflect this.

Efforts are Rewarded

At our book club meeting this week, I shared the new series labels with the students.  While many members are daily library users and had seen “Operation:  Save the Series” in action, others were pleasantly surprised by the news. All twenty-four students burst into applause at the announcement, though, making our efforts all worthwhile!


4 Responses to “Improving the Reader’s Experience, One Step at a Time”

  1. Heather Loy Says:

    Awesome idea, Fran!

    Want to come and do the same for my library?


  2. Cathy Nelson Says:

    Great idea very much worth stealing. I cant tell you how many times Ive had to look up series to be able to tell students what the next one was in the series. Time saver for sure, so I’ll be doing this.

  3. Tamara Cox Says:

    Came back to reread this post to psych myself up for starting this project at my school. Desperately needed and I think the students will love it. It might also save me the trouble of constantly looking up those series that aren’t kind enough to put the book number on the cover.

    • Fran Bullington Says:

      We seem to have a pretty good handle on series books now – and I feel that the labeling process, though long and tedious – was the key.

      The only problem I have noticed is authors who have multiple series such as Anthony Horowitz and Scott Westerfeld. If a service learner who isn’t very familiar with the series goes to shelve them, he might shelve book 2 of the Alex Rider series in with the Gatekeeper series. Doesn’t happen often, though.

      Good luck with your project! I’m sure both you and your students will be glad you tackled it.

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