"I'm just browsing"

Browsing in a library has some similarities to browsing in a shop. Sometimes our customers want help or advice and sometimes they don't. The trick is knowing when to approach the customer and then figuring out what you can offer to help them.

For the upper elementary students I encourage them to use a variety of strategies. The library catalogue is the usual first 'go to' and students know how to search by genre, theme, character or author as well as use filters to adjust the results to their interest or fountas and pinnell reading level. For students that already have 'something' in mind, this is most effective.

Now for my customers that won't let that favourite series go and are lost as to what to do next I direct them to my library websites 'What to Read' tab. Under the tab I have the links listed below.

Book Wizard  I really like the 'Find Similar Books' on Scholastics book wizard, it works for mainly American titles. The kids really like seeing what comes up and we have good conversations about the connections between the titles. Sometimes it is a little frustrating in just recommending more books in the same series or it recommends something that is too challenging.

The Stacks - Students enjoy browsing through many parts of this Scholastic sponsored site, although I generally encourage them to view the videos about authors or the book trailers. They have some great links and the website is really engaging for the kids and interactive. My biggest problem is when they post new books and videos and I don't yet have the title in the library. Still it is a great way for our students to learn to browse by reading, listening and viewing.

Read-a-Likes - This is a  wiki set up by a colleague, Linda Marti at International School of Prague and she has wonderful page that is similar to the Book Wizard's 'Find a Similar Book' but I think some of her connections are better and definitely more diverse.

For my younger customers who aren't quite ready to navigate the computer catalogue, I encourage them to use library signage. I have little pictures of favourite characters stuck to the shelves so they can find what they like with some independence. To familiarize them with the pictures we explore through a scavenger hunt, and this is a lesson that is revisited a couple of times a year.


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