Reflections on RAUNCON

For those of the geeky persuasion, no, it's not a gaming con you've never heard of.  Rather it's an annual event hosted by the Darien Library for the past few years called "Reader's Advisory Un-Conference," and I finally had an opportunity to attend.

The format is a number of short sessions where we trade ideas and concepts regarding topics within RA.  I made it to Outreach & Embedded RA, Social Media & RA, and RA on Library Websites.  I look forward to the notes from the sessions I couldn't attend, particularly How to Recommend Books You Haven't Read (among other things, I read very little from the mystery genre) and Displays & Merchandising.  I think the latter one had a wacky idea involving a "book fortune teller" using an Arduino, a simple program, a spread sheet, and a receipt printer.

A few things that really stood out to me were some awesome suggestions to make more of social media platforms beyond "come to our program!" and "see our new releases!"  Some of them do take more effort than others, but we also want our posts to be more than something a viewer scrolls past.  There are widgets and features on websites I really want to integrate into ours at work (the current or the eventual new one), and thankfully librarians are the type to put their custom code on GitHub.  And I really miss my book display space.  I've been promised that I'll get something back, but I'm guessing that's waiting on a few other things to go forward, so nothing's gone up since my Blind Date with a Book display in Feb.

Helen Ellis is hysterical, and everyone should read her book American Housewife (and her twitter).  I was delighted to come away with one of her books (thanks to sitting next to the empty chair with a ticket taped to it), and I gleefully agree with her statement that one's "SPF is reading."  Our mutual "oh god, my eyes" paleness led her to autograph her book "From one porcelain goddess to another."

One of the funny parts of the conference was the ironic biting of the tongue every time someone mentioned a book... because I almost always wanted to come back with a reading suggestion for them.  Since we were there to talk about how to better provide RA, not court it among ourselves.  My efforts were not completely successful, but I restrained myself to only a handful of suggestions (that folks who like American Housewife may also like Jenny Lawson, and that the author of a booklist on Scientology may want to read A Queer and Pleasant Danger).

I also got to meet some really need people (note: thank god for friendly people more extroverted than I).  Attendees came from quite a wide radius, all throughout MA, CT, NY, and NJ.  Possibly some from RI, but if so that didn't come up in the sessions I took part in.

I spent a fantastic lunch break geekily chatting about books with a wonderful woman from Library Journal (per usual, I try to avoid mentioning names without explicit permission).  Topics went all over the place includingthe amazingness that is Shadowshaper and Daniel Jose Older (both of us cannot wait for the continuation of that series), concepts and treatment of death from cultures besides 'white American' in novels, issues with reclaiming (and how to handle it when it's very unsuccessful and insulting...), and more.  Short version: two women who are passionate about books got to geek out.  It made for an awesome lunch break during a great event.

Meanwhile, I'm off to a brief return to regular life (work) before gallivanting off again, this time to attend an opening art show party at the Worcester Art Museum called Meow.

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