MOOCS and how to MOOC them

I love me some librarianship. I also love me some writing. I can’t seem to make up my mind which topic this blog will cover. It’s like choosing between two of my hypothetical kids. However, luckily for my profoundly torn heart, this is a topic that will appeal to librarians, writers, and pretty much anyone else, I think: free education. Or something like it.

The MOOC as we know it was invented around 2008, when George Siemens of Athabasca University ran a course called Connectivism and Connective Knowledge. When exploded by anarchist pro-education lobbyists in Italian suits, the acronym stands for Massive Open Online Course. It is soundly a digital phenomenon, but it has its roots in radio and correspondence courses of yore. Plenty of colleges offer electronic distance courses nowadays, and superficially these can be a lot like MOOCs, but there’s a sticker difference. MOOCs are supposed to be free, although – ahem – we’ll get to that in a minute.

There are two types of MOOCs: cMOOCs and xMOOCs. cMOOCs, (AKA collectivist MOOCs,) rely primarily on social interaction as a learning tool. There might be a facilitator who organizes the class, and that person may even gently guide the discussion, but they don’t do the teaching. Instead, the students collaborate, discuss, and share resources, essentially educating themselves and eventually merging into a massive, Borg-like swarm intelligence. xMOOCs rely on presentations. They x-plain and x-hibit, x-cetera. Structured more like traditional classes, xMOOCs take advantage of the Internet’s squishy social media goodness and ability to link to other online resources, but don’t chuck the structure of a traditional classroom. Usually, they’ll be centered on a professor and have a syllabus. Both cMOOCs and xMOOCs have a completion rate of about 10%, which makes sense to me. Because they don’t have to pay, students literally aren’t invested in the class. It’s a weakness that I propose may be overcome with rousing speeches, allowing librarians the rare opportunity to don our suits of golden armor and brandish our shining swords.

Beta-stage development issues aside, MOOCs have a ton of potential and I’m prepared to be very excited about them.

For the purposes of this post, I’m defining MOOCs in two ways:

  1. There’s at least an option to take it for free;
  2. The platform at least attempts to involve the students in a dynamic, educational social discussion.

Item 1 eliminates several MOOCy providers, including The University of the People and Udacity. Item 2 eliminates (sadly) many institutions of higher learning and of great repute and merit, including UC Berkeley and its many excellent but interaction-less lectures, Khan Academy and its incredible freaking incredibleness, and Codecademy, which everyone should check out anyway but which, unfortunately, is neither a cMOOC nor an xMOOC. (It might be an embryonic vMOOC, the “v” standing for “vocational,” but those aren’t really developed enough to exist in the parlance yet, and anyway, there’s too little social connectivity involved in Codecademy right now to qualify it for MOOC status.) Don’t get me wrong: all of the above MOOC-type online educational structures are awesome. The taped college courses are particularly useful for students and prospective students of the professors featured in the recordings. In fact, they’re probably invaluable for enrolled students who want to see whether they like a certain professor’s style. I know I would have done things differently if I’d known that my ultimate creative writing professor back at Binghamton University was going to be a mightily self-intoxicated asshole who’d pass all three people in his class just to retain his tenure. But frankly, when we talk about MOOC-takers, we’re talking about a different demographic than the one of which most lecture-attending college students are a member. Most people who go after MOOCs have at least one college degree already.

Obviously, that’s disappointing on a few levels. The potential of MOOCs is that they might be able to democratize education, at least, for anyone with access to the Internet. Unfortunately, the population with home wifi is not likely to be the population that needs cheap, high-quality education the most right now. If MOOCs don’t become more available to low-income students and people without home Internet access, I think we risk seeing MOOCs turn into brain toys for bored Internet denizens rather than the subversive education bombs they really could be.

And, because I said the words “subversive information bombs”, it’s time to throw open those library doors!

MOOCs might be the best library idea that almost nobody is having. (NYPL is doing it. Of course. So are Wisconsin libraries. Otherwise, nada.) MOOCs can teach skills (Java! Grant-writing!) that translate to real-world job tools on your real-world resume. If you can build an app, who cares if you have a degree? If the darn thing isn’t a hit in iTunes, you can tack it onto your resume or freelancer profile.

To make a long snail short, that’s why I want more libraries to host MOOCs. While I am sure you’re already formulating ideas for hosting MOOCs at your institution, thus exploding the digital divide and destroying the widening education gulf that exists between the lines of who can and can’t afford the Internet, I have decided to take some legwork out of it for you and give you a huge list of MOOC providers and platforms.

My commentary is complimentary.


These platforms host and sometimes provide MOOCs themselves. They can be considered sources of MOOCs, though multiple different instructors/agencies/institutions will contribute to MOOC creation there.


Fees: Free to audit, Verified Certificate min. $50

Credit: Honor Code Certificate is free, Verified Certificate is $50


Thoughts of the Librarian: This one is sleek. The interface supports the entire structure of the MOOC, regardless of the institution where it originates from. That structure includes discussion boards – critical to the MOOC concept – and sometimes progress reports. However, many classes will link to additional materials outside of the platform, from Facebook to subreddits to LinkedIn accounts for the class to readings. It’s really a pretty nice system – “Verified Certificate” and all. In this case, $50 is the minimum “donation” for getting a sheet of paper saying that you took a MOOC. While the courses here do tend to come from verified, high-quality institutions, this strikes me as a little passive-aggressive. (What’s that sheet of paper going to do for you if it’s not really from a college?) However, there’s nothing preventing you from auditing every course for free…or having yourself a merry little mass audit with five hundred of your friends and your one shared projector. The variety of the types of courses is also quite good, including softer fare (The Science of Happiness) and firmer stuff (Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python). Only professors get to make MOOCs on EdX, which kind of sucks, but does guarantee fairly high-quality output.

Name: Canvas

Fees: Usually none, but the option is there for ambitious instructors

Credit: Badge


Thoughts of the Librarian: Canvas is that it’s a true platform. Various institutions will offer MOOCs, but here you’ll get a relatively even experience, though of course that still depends on how much effort the organizing institution puts into it. There are discussion options, video options, linkage options, the works. I like the courses offered, which range from Minecraft for educators to the history of Boston. I like the badge system because I think it’s a viable alternative to the “certificates” that so many places charge money for. A badge is born digital, never meant to be printed, but could be purty on a LinkedIn profile. I forsee an online portfolio system something like the one maintained by this ambitious student. Badges are not a problem-free system, obviously – for one thing, if the badge’s course disappears from Canvas, as they often do, then prospective employers won’t be able to verify any of your coursework, and as far as they know or care, you could have awarded yourself that badge. However, if you really want to impress someone, you could try offering a course yourself and then keeping it active. If I were out of work, out of options, and possessed of any kind of expertise, this is probably something I’d use to fill my time and resume.

Name: Future Learn

Fees: Free to audit, Statement of Participation £24 plus shipping, Statement of Attainment £119 plus shipping

Credit: Statement of Participation, Statement of Attainment


Thoughts of the Librarian: These are MOOCs in the barest sense of the term. There are discussions, but they generally seem to be just comment boards attached to videos. There is, however, an assignment submission function, and one class that I’m auditing, Start Writing Fiction, allows your classmates to review your work, just like a real cMOOC. However, I hate the interface; searching is pretty much impossible (I used the “inurl” function in Google) and it’s sparse to the point where I wonder if it doesn’t like me.

Name: P2PU (Peer 2 Peer University)

Fees: None

Credit: Badges


Thoughts of the Librarian: I like P2PU in principle. It’s highly social, collaborative, and very much like I imagine cMOOCs ought to be. Unfortunately, it has a few issues. For one thing, it surrounds itself with itself – many of the available classes are things like Hacking Open Source Participation and Crowdsourced Art. At first blush, it looks like that’s the bulk of what’s there, mostly because P2PU highlights classes that might appeal to the extant Open movement. However, once you dig there are also a lot of niche tech skills – reprogramming MaKey MaKey and the like – that will appeal to fan groups and people who want to learn OS for educational mobile programs. Potentially useful stuff like that, as well as softer skills like college-level Spanish.

You do get a certain number of empty courses, failed book groups, and other detritus of a peer-operated, distributed crowd education effort. Because the students are the professors here, there tends to be a bit of bias in ideology-heavy topics, and of course you’re getting information from the unfiltered Internet, which is – ahem – not always a great idea. However, if you want to teach something and haven’t done it before, this is probably a good place to experiment.

Name: iversity

Fees: Free to audit, 99€ for certificate

Credit: Certificate of Accomplishment

Content: Videos, text-based course materials, graded project (certificate only)


Thoughts of the Librarian: This one is very middle-of-the-road. There are a lot of videos, some assessments, some discussion. And some videos. Did I mention videos? Compared to other platforms, there’s not a ton of interesting, interactive, MOOCy stuff here – it’s basically educational videos in a stylized interface that becomes a bit of a drag. Nevertheless, it’s not bad as middle-of-the-road MOOC platforms go. Apparently, only professors make courses here. Meh.

Name: Open Learning

Fees: None

Credit: None


Thoughts of the Librarian: Weirdly, I’ve found a few ads here. Yes, advertisements. One, claiming that it would teach me about graphic design, actually hit me with a video about Canva, which is apparently some kind of no-brainer image editing tool. The course hasn’t started yet, but I’m not holding my breath. Then again, at least this indicates that anyone – and anyone means anyone, including a for-profit company – could start a MOOC on Open Learning. It’s very heavy on peer interaction – so much so that discussion can sometimes drown out coursework. I’m all for cMOOC structure, but I found this…confusing. Hard to use. For the right person, it might be a good platform. Judging by the active content (and lack of courses named “test”,) I think they might have some kind of active weeding process, too, but whatever their standards are, they don’t exclude advertisers.

Name: Coursera

Fees: Free to audit, $50 for a certificate

Credit: Verified certificate, specializations


Thoughts of the Librarian:  The price isn’t as outrageous as certain other platforms, the content ranges, and for the most part, it’s all high in quality. While some classes are basically recorded lectures, others feature final exams, Google hangouts, and quizzes, which is great. Assessment is 9/10ths of the potential viability of MOOCs, as we all hopefully know, and there’s not enough of that in MOOC World. Here, as before, we see highlighted the fact that a MOOC is only as good as the person organizing it. I’ve seen some fantastic MOOCs on crappy platforms and vice versa, but the thing that makes Coursera stick out is the fact that it’s versatile. If you really want to, you can make a pretty excellent course with this platform. If you’re connected to a university, that is. Only member institutions make classes here.

Name: Udemy

Fees: Minority are free, the rest range from $10 to $500 and up

Credit:Certificate of Completion


Thoughts of the Librarian: I include this because it barely qualifies for my definition of a MOOC. However, the majority of these classes not only aren’t free, but aren’t as interactive as many that are available on other platforms. However, Udemy does also allow you, the user, to become a professor. The courses appear to be reviewed before publication, but indubitably, anyone can teach one. You, the user and instructor, can also charge money for your course. You, the user…wait a minute. Why am I not doing this? What am I good enough at that I could teach an entire course on the subject? Forget everything I said before and keep an eye out for my History of Comics class on Udemy, just $100 per student!


These guys just tell you where to get MOOCs, sometimes allowing you to search over several different platforms.

Name: Open Courseware Consortium

Fees: None

Credit: None


Thoughts of the Librarian: Not so much a platform as an aggregate, this one is a humungously mixed bag. You might run into a freaking gold standard-level course hosted on MIT Open Courseware and it will change your life in ways that I can’t even begin to imagine for you. Or, you could get this. Or this, since it appears that some of the constorial members are no longer alive. Granted, all the active members of the consortium are theoretically viable, academically accredited institutions, though many do not present courses in English. It’s a finding aid worth knowing about, though I usually bypass it in favor of other aggregators.

Name: Open Education Database

Fees: None

Credit: Varies


Thoughts of the Librarian: The OEDB aggregates a number of different MOOC providers. As with previous aggregators, the quality and format of each course can vary wildly. It links to MIT Open Courseware, but also to iTunes, where the full extent of the available course is a downloadable video series. I consider this lame. Yet, the range of courses findable here is great. Of all the aggregators of MOOCs I’ve seen, this one is probably most worth a look, just because the quantity is so large.

Name: NovoED

Fees: Most free, some between $29 and $1000

Credit: Free certificate of accomplishment, individual courses offer records of completion for a fee


Thoughts of the Librarian: This isn’t a provider of MOOCs so much as another aggregator – many of the MOOCs are sourced from Stanford Online, which often uses Coursera as a platform, but a lot of the content isn’t as broad-based as what you’ll find if you just go to that site. NovoED seems to have cherry-picked topics that might be of interest to businesspeople, possibly because that’s who it’s supposed to cater to. This actually explains a LOT about their modus operandi. These guys have an unusually high course completion rate, (35%, according to them,) and they claim to have 600,000 users worldwide. My guess is that they’re the middlemen between companies desirous of training and MOOC providers. I think this is potentially a smart move for MOOC providers: let the corporations bear the burden for everyone else, for a change.

Unfortunately, the subject matter here is overwhelmingly focused on boring stuff like retirement and venture capital. Because their actual source are a handful of external hosting institutions, NovoED seems to be unaware that some of the MOOCs featured here have already ended and therefore are not available any longer. Yuo find this out when you pursue them to sign up, only to hit a 404 wall. This is frustrating and implies (to me) that the interface may actually function more as an ad or demo than as a MOOC finder. Though the idea of a corporate MOOC model is intriguing, there are probably better options out there then NovoED if you’re just an average human being.

Why is Mindy Kaling more popular than me?

I seriously do wonder about that, but not as much as you’d think. I used to watch a lot of The Office because I worked in an office-type setting where I was probably more of a Dwight than a Jim. This was where I cultivated my momentarily-fantastic taste in music, for there was often little to do at this job except jam ecstatically in my giant solo office with my very own door closed. It was like having my own little kingdom that I ruled by way of my badass air guitar skillz.

That’s not true. I swear that’s not true. Oh my God Shannon if you read this I swear I did my work. The previous paragraph was just a gag. Really.


Anywho, I’m always impressed when I see someone like Kaling, who effectively ignored the rules that I scrupulously followed into a day job, massive student loan debt, and responsible adult stuff like that, succeed. I wonder how they knew. I also wonder if I would have done anything differently if I’d known. Probably not. I have a pretty sweet life: ubiquitously wonderful fiancee, great home city, two simultaneous careers that I like equally well, plenty of friends, no substance dependencies. Plus, I live in The Future, so I get to overshare at will on this blog.

And yet…

I do think of alternatives fairly often. After all, it’s not too late to do a Crazy Ivan if I start feeling constrained by the high-pressure librarian existence. Here are just a few ideas:

1. Kerouac it up
This plan involves persuading my fiancee to join me in an epic lifelong trek across the globe, making our living as traveling gambolers of the Medieval variety. We would modify an RV into a tiny house on wheels that runs off of kitchen scraps. Quaint, no? The only potential negative is the presence of our three cats. I do not want to imagine how we would handle the litter situation in a tiny house on wheels.

2. Artiste Mode
Imagine me, wearing a beret and headphones, hunched over my Macbook in some hip cafe. A sonic wall of music gently numbs the mind as percussive spits of industrial alt rock leak from my headphones and into your brain. You look over my shoulder to check my contract. Five dollars an hour for erotica? How painfully hip! You may choose to offer me a cigarette, giving me the opportunity to whip out my inhaler and give you a superior stare as I suck down a double dose of asthma medication. “I want you to know,” I would say, clearly suffering, “that I paid for this out of pocket.” What an artist.

3. Superhero
I’d really just run around after my fiancee saving her from stuff. A dog? I’ll save you, dearest! A homeless guy? Quickly, run to safety – I’ll distract him with this dollar! My drive: to keep her safe. My reward: her limitless amusement.

4. Houseywife
Believe it or not, housewifery holds a certain appeal for this otherwise rock-solid butch dyke. My father stayed home and raised the kids while my mom supported the family, so I feel like I have a pretty good template. All I have to do is build a house while simultaneously baking a chicken and cleaning the toilet and doing a kid count every three minutes. No sweat. I’ll start right now. Child roll call: 0. Damn. Now I’m depressed. Maybe if we just keep trying?

5. Consultant
I don’t know what it means. I don’t know what I’d do. But if it keeps a pestilent, syphillis-ridden clown like Joe Murphy in bacon, I imagine I’ll be a millionaire before the year is out.

Return of the Library Burn

Yesterday, the press person for Randall Munroe (the xkcd guy) took five precious minutes out of his assuredly packed schedule to deliver a personal response after I let him know that Munroe’s new book, “What If?”, had been featured on my library’s increasingly popular blog. Here is what he said: “Wow, libraries have gotten a lot more modern since I used them!”

I would like to call attention to the fact that I did not respond while still in the throes of rage, thanks to my awesome self-control.

Now that I am calm, I will rebut.

The Internet is a heck of an echo chamber. Through a browser window, it’s hard to remember that the Internet is still a limited commodity that not everyone has access to. If you find that you don’t remember using a library, don’t assume that it’s because they’re not “modern”. Instead, thank your lucky stars that you can afford technology and an education that tells you how to make it work for you. For anyone who can’t, there’s the library: free provider of Internet access, computers, scanners, printers, and A/V technology. If all of this sounds like an easy trip to the magic LED screen for you, then congratulations, buddy: you’re one of the lucky ones.
For everyone who’s not lucky right now – which WILL include everyone at some point in their lives – there’s free wifi and open-access computers available at your public library. Check your email, search Indeed, find a college, look up your medication in a database, whatever you want. It’s your tax dollars at work bridging the gulf between have-computers and do-not-have-computers – the divide that you do NOT want to be on the wrong side of. Libraries are the last killer app for economic equality and they fight like hell to stay that way. That might be worth something these days.

Programming in the Wild Outdoors

Why, you may ask, would one ever, ever, ever want to program outside of the library? In library school, were we not told, in no uncertain terms, to place programming within and only within the library building itself??

We were.

Then why, why, why why would we ever take programming out of the library?

It is a question I never asked myself before last year. Then, suddenly, a revelation:


Or Bittorrent. We don’t exclude criminals in the library.

What I discovered when my beautiful girlfriend re-activated her streaming video subscription was that people already have little enough reason to leave their houses. Within twenty years, I predict that most of humanity will spend their lives indoors and mostly immobile.

The likelihood of anyone with home Internet access venturing out to the library, of all places, to acquire entertainment and information, of all things, is low. Add to their already pared-down outside-of-the-house routine when all they want to do is spend less time out of the house? No way. (Note: I feel this applies differently in areas where the Digital Divide is a serious concern, but I’d like to point out that a working poor single mom with two jobs may not have a ton of time to get to the library. So why not bring the library to her? I’m envisioning a computer station housed in a modified van and parked at a playground after school. But I digress.)

So before we get the Internet-using Internet-saturated Internet generation coming into the library for programs and other life-enriching activities, we’re going to have to ambush them during their brief vulnerable outings, like lions leaping upon gazelles as they drink at the water hole, unaware of the strategies being planned around the capture of their attention and stuff.

The question we need to ask is simple: what do people with Netflix still need to go outside for?

Below, I have formulated a chart. Feel free to contribute your own observations in the comments. We need all the ideas we can come up with. Time is running short and civilization as we know it depends upon our creativity.

Unavailable-From-Home Activity Location Program Description
A mocha that tastes like anything other than watery milk Starbucks Loan magazines, paperbacks, memory sticks, and printing services, all from a booth
The adoring public Well-trafficked open land anywhere. A park would be ideal, but I think this could be a hit, so to speak, at a street fair. Or in a quiet residential neighborhood. Rent a full drum set, an appropriate backdrop, and a video camera. Set everything up under an awning. Put up a sign. Stand back.
Space to play frisbee A park Get a big, ugly thing from a dollar or thrift store. Furniture, a lawn gnome, the town’s prized hideous half-naked statue, whatever. Set out water-soluble paint, paint-filled balloons, and stuff like that. Encourage havoc by beginning the destruction with some volunteers.
Mad skillz A separate, thematically linked event that makes people wish they were savvier, ideally a fire spinning show Bring in an expert to teach some basic madness of the skillz. Like, with LED lights on strings instead of kerosene and open flame. Jeez, guys. That’s dangerous.
Props from the more-cardio-than-thou set The YMCA Mobile booth concept. OK, so they patrons aren’t likely to have their cards on hand…at first. Who knows how far it’ll go once they figure out that you’re there every Saturday? Pass out exercise reading pathfinders and diagrams of yoga positions for free – all with the library’s logo, obvs.
The freshest of all possible vegetables Farmers’ market Another mobile booth concept. (Do I love the mobile booth? Yes, indeed, I do!) Pass out recipes bearing the library logo. Loan cookbooks. Will they learn to bring their card? They will if you give them salsa!
A human to help with technological concerns Anywhere accessible, comfortable, and well-ventilated Bring your computer and accept the iPhone weary. If you can’t help them, know who can. It’s all about bridging that pesky digital divide.

You’ve got ideas! Throw ’em out here!

The Reference Desk: An Awful Idea

It seemed like such a great concept. The library had a problem: it had no central reference area. Or, rather, that area was me. When a patron wanted tech help, they hunted me down. When a patron had a question, I had to get someone to cover the circulation desk for me. When I was “off-desk,” that is, doing work in the staff area, I was invisible. I might as well not have been there. Lame, right?

When we updated the library, I begged my director to install a reference desk. I’d spend all my time there, I enthused, and that way patrons would have 100% access to tech help. I could bounce down to circulation for instant readers’ advisory recommendations. Best of all, I could keep stats on computer use! Wins all around! I made Google Sketchups of our space with various desks and cost estimates. Finally, my director got me the Ikea Malm pull-out desk. Boy, was I excited! I was going to put out multimedia, display extra handouts, and just generally rock everything. You should have seen my proposal. It was a thing of beauty.

Sad face

There are so, so many reasons that I now regret all of this effort. I’m not even really sure where to start.

First of all, no amount of signage will make the general run of patrons come into the reference room. I have three signs, each progressively more blaring, begging patrons to ask me questions. While patrons will comment on them, they will generally do so while passing by on their way out the door. When they do come over, it feels like I’m on a throne and they’re approaching as supplicants. There’s a runner on the floor that I thought was classy, but looks like a red carpet, and the stairs are right in front of that, just like a dais or an altar to the classic Hollywood spinster librarian. It’s so, so unfortunate.

There are other logistical problems with this thing that I’ve really come to hate. First, because the library is located in a pre-digital building, there’s no way to put a wired computer at this desk. There’s just no jack, and even if there were, there’s no room. Instead, I use my personal laptop and the public wifi. Not only is my laptop tiny, but it is unable to print to any hardware that we have in the library. Even its appearance is a problem, because having a MacBook sets me apart from the rest of the staff. Try explaining to a patron “why that librarian is different.”

Without spending time at the circulation desk, I don’t know what people are reading. It turns out that the circulation staff is more than happy to do RA at a second’s notice. Calling me just takes too much time. My readers’ advisory incidence has gone from a high of ten per day to zip all the time. Even passive RA is tougher now, since my computer can’t print the pamphlets and bookmarks that I used to make on the networked desktops. I’ve been Google Driving everything and then retrieving it on a desktop, which is weird since I no longer really have dedicated computer space.  Thanks to the setup I vied so hard for, I now budge my coworkers off their machines whenever I want to get anything done.

Finally, but worst of all, I no longer get to talk to patrons. There’s just no opportunity when they don’t come over here and I don’t go over to circulation. They don’t see me as friendly or approachable anymore. This kills the joy of my job dead. Life was a fecund jungle when I was at the circulation desk; now it is a desert. A desert called REFERENCE DESK.

If I had an option, I’d dismantle my desk and send it right back to Sweden. But it’s too late. I’m leaving in less than a month for my new digs, where my job will be very different, but where I will absolutely insist on spending time on circulation. As for my current job, all I can do is hope that the next reference librarian will use the damned reference desk for kindling.

Links of the RA Unconference

To begin with, the Readers’ Advisory Unconference was just great. I wrote up a blog post/summary for the organizers here at their excellent Tumblr. Go check them out! Hashtag on Twitter was #rauncon and there’s a sweet Storify collecting all the tweets. Meanwhile, I’ve compiled all the links tweeted (and as many that were mentioned as I could remember) into this handy dandy list.

Here is your juicy linkage!



ALA report: Blog use tapering off in libraries 

LJ poll of RA activity in libraries



Beth Reads: Binge watching? How about binge reading?

Books, Yarn, Ink, and Other Pursuits by Kristy Chadwick (@booksNYarn)

Entertainment Weekly’s “I Read This So You Don’t Have To”

Massachusetts Library Association RA Genre Study Blog

RA for All: Becky (@RAforAll) posted about RAUncon and the Awesome Box!

This is a sentence: displays galore

Wrapped Up in Books: includes a lovely flowchart about humor in YA



Arlington Library’s LitUp program

Boxford Library’s Patron Video Book Recommendations:

Darien Library’s “You Are What You Read”

Darien Library’s Vimeo account

Jennifer Rummel’s (‏@yabooknerd) YA picks video 9made with Animoto)

Margin Project

Multnomah County Library’s My Librarian program

Nassau Libraries’ Book in a Bag program

NYPL Tweetwall

Syosset Library’s title swap


Resources & Tools

Allreaders: massive and extremely detailed book search engine

Animoto: make your own slideshow-type movies

Anythink materials merchandising guidelines: how to “sell” a book

Bibliocommons: a shared online catalog

EarlyWord: the publisher/librarian connection detailing books soon to be popular

Lauren Gledhill’s (@lubarlibrarian) list of nonfiction that reads like fiction: from RAUncon session

LibraryReads: books recommended by librarians

LibraryThing: online book cataloging

No Flying, No Tights: premier librarian-run comic book review site

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books: reviews of romance novels


Social Media

Adult Reading Round Table: a great RT for RA

Fiction_L listserv: a longrunning RA listserv

Pinterest: Book Displays: best book displays evar

Pinterest: “Shanghai Girls” book club: best book club read themed board evar

ReadAdv discussion of Backlist: Best discussion of RA tools evar (features several conference attendees!)


Webinars & Education

Following patrons on Twitter: slideshare by Emily Lloyd, author of Shelf Check

Handouts from Readers Advisory: the complete spectrum workshop: RA appeal factors

Handouts from Readers Advisory: the complete spectrum workshop: Starter for book talks and reviews

Masslib RA webinars

Social media & RA webinar from conference attendees @helgagrace & @MarianLiberryan

The Awesome Box

Awesome Box

Brookline Library’s Awesome Box


If I missed anything or anyone, please say so and I will duly include it or them. Massive huge thanks to @bookavore (courageous leader of the whole shebang,) @booksNyarn, @lumbrarian, @sophiebiblio, @librarylinknj, @helgagrace, @yabooknerd, @alsnyder02, and @jenmalonewrites for providing all of those (except the ones that I, @evil_librarian, provided.)