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As readers' advisory services continue to develop in the twenty-first century, there are a number of important and interesting directions that are being explored. None of these is more critical to the future success of readers' advisory than the connection between RA service and the library catalog. With an expanding array of virtual services from ebooks to self-check to remote access to databases and other library resources, there are many library users who rarely set foot in the physical space of their libraries. The library catalog is the one place though where almost all library users interact with the library at some point. As Laurel Tarulli points out in her article, collaboration between public service staff and technical services staff offers an opportunity for libraries to expand and enhance their offering to readers. At the same time, expanding readers' advisory resources into the library catalog puts those resources in front of readers in a new way, becoming another tool in providing asynchronous readers' advisory service. Laurel Tarulli is the 2009 recipient of ALAs Esther J. Piercy Award and in 2010, received the Distinguished Alumni Award from her alma mater. A consultant for NoveList and active member of her institution's readers' services team, she holds the position of Collection Access Librarian at Halifax Public Libraries in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Widely published, Ms. Tarulli is also the author of the Cataloguing Librarian Blog and a frequent speaker at conferences on the topic of readers' services and the library catalog.--Editor
In his recent essay "RA as a Transformative Act," Duncan Smith begins with the lines "Sometimes there is a magical quality to readers' advisory. Like when you are talking with a reader and their reading interests and yours overlap." (1) Readers' advisory services attempt to make connections with readers and books everyday in our libraries. We listen to our readers, finding key phrases, experiences and emotions that help us find another "good read" for our reader. And, as a bonus, we often feel our own excitement build all over again for a love of reading when we meet a reader with similar interests to our own. It's natural. Maybe, as professionals, we shouldn't get so excited talking about our work, but we're readers. And like all readers, we listen to others' conversations about the "best book ever!" when we're sitting on the bus, on the beach or even at the hair salon. People talk about books. And, when you can find another reader with similar interests to your own, you get excited and yes, it's magical.
When most of us read Duncan's words, we think about the in-house RA conversations we have with readers. But, what about readers who don't like to visit the physical library or who don't feel comfortable talking to librarians? What about those readers who feel disenfranchised or feel a disconnect with our readers' advisors because of differences in age, gender, education or reading preferences. Simply put, what about all of those readers we never talk to or see? What if we can take our in-house expertise and provide our RA services remotely? Can we connect with other readers in their homes and …