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RA in a Day 2018: Bringing Readers’ Advisory online

By Kristen Caschera

Every year, the OPLA Readers’ Advisory Committee brings together some of the best readers’ advisory advocates to share their knowledge and expertise on meeting the needs of adult readers. This melding of the minds happens at our annual one-day conference, RA in a Day.

This year’s conference was held April 20 in the Mississauga Civic Centre’s beautiful twelfth floor space. Our theme was social media and our mission was to answer such questions as:

  • How can libraries effectively use social media?
  • What’s the best social media platform to use?
  • How can we keep on top of creating content?
  • What exactly is a Tumblr? (Okay, that last question was just mine!)

Session One: Insider tips on leveraging social media for promotion
In our first session, experts from St Thomas Public Library, Kitchener Public Library and Toronto Public Library shared their social media strategies for increasing follower count, engaging with audiences, and marketing individual libraries and collections effectively.

The audience got great insider tips on how to use Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to their best advantage and also heard some cautionary tales about how NOT to use these platforms. Check out these libraries’ social media and see all of the fun and engaging ways they are using these platforms to promote their collections and services.  

Session Two: Instagram and Twitter as communication tools
After a coffee break and a chance to check out our vendors, we reconvened to learn “How to #Bookstagram like a Pro.” Bibliocommons Manager of Customer Operations Maxine Levine speak about how the company’s software helps to create an engaging experience that’s just as user-friendly as visiting the library.

Expert bookstagrammer Dina Pen shared her strategies for picture perfect Instagram posts that catch our eyeand our imaginations!  Take a look at her feed @anotheropenbook.

Kaitlyn Vincent from Harper Collins was our final panelist. Kaitlyn talked about how HarperCollins uses Twitter to share news and information about their books with over 54,000 followers. Kaitlyn’s Twitter handle is @HarperCollinsCa.

Award-winning author Susanna Kearsley (left) was the RA for a Day lunch time speaker. The Instagram and Twitter panel was popular (centre) as was Dear Farenheit 451 author Annie Spence (right).

“Lunch and learn”
We were thrilled that author Susanna Kearsley was our lunch time speaker.  Susanna spoke passionately about the importance of libraries in both her personal life and her life as a writer. She encouraged the audience to use library collections to seek out lost voices and bring them to our communities. RA in a Day attendees had the opportunity to snag Susanna’s newest book Bellewether a few days before it hit the bookstands (and to get it signed too!).

With over a dozen books to her credit, she has twice won the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award, as well as a RITA award, and the Catherine Cookson Literary Prize. She was also a finalist for the Arthur Ellis award and the U.K.’s Romantic Novel of the Year.

Session Three: Practice social media skills
In the afternoon, attendees had the opportunity to put their newfound skills into practice and create their own social media posts using books and props. You might still be able to see some of their creations by checking out the hashtag #RAinaDay on Twitter.

Endnote: Love letters to librarians
We finished up the day with our wonderful keynote author, Annie Spence. Annie is a librarian and author living in Detroit, Michigan. If you haven’t had a chance to check out her book, Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks, A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes for the Books in her Life, RUN (don’t walk) to your nonfiction shelves and grab a copy. It is funny and touching, and oh-so-relatable for anyone who has spent time working in a public library. Annie read from her book and spent some time talking to us about her experiences as a librarian-turned-writer.

Top RA in a Day social media tips

  • Don’t just link to your catalogue. Create content for your posts.
  • Cross posting is cheating! Different platforms require different voices.
  • Remember the “social” part of social media. Make sure to like, retweet and share your responses.
  • Don’t feed the trolls! Block as needed. Apply your code of conduct to your online spaces.

Envious of all the fun we had this year? Stay tuned for details about RA in a Day 2019! You can also check out the RA Committee’s annual Best Bets list here.


Feature photo credit: Rawpixel on Unsplash
Photo credits: Jennifer Green

Kristen Caschera is a Public Services Librarian at London Public Library. She is the current chair of the OPLA Readers’ Advisory Committee and sits on the steering committee for the Loan Stars readers’ advisory initiative.  An avid reader and book lover, Kristen is passionate about the role libraries play in providing readers’ advisory services. She can be reached at kristen.caschera [at]

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