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New BookAdvisor lets our librarians tailor recommendations for members

Sunday June 7th, 2020

Joanne Cassaro

As Joanne Cassaro looked for her next read, she found herself struggling through a wide range of choices. Then she turned to The Library’s BookAdvisor service.

BookAdvisor introduced the Fairview Township resident to audiobooks that parallel her reading tastes – thrillers by Lisa Jewell because she likes Michael Connelly. A Carrie Fisher memoir, “which was hysterical,” because she had listened to the autobiography of Monty Python alumni Eric Idle. Historical epics by Edward Rutherfurd, akin to Ken Follett’s century-spanning novels.

“When you’re overwhelmed with so many choices of books, it’s nice to have someone say, ‘Here’s what you like,’” says Cassaro, an artist and longtime senior graphic designer for WITF who listens to audiobooks while she sculpts, cooks, or knits. “BookAdvisor provided a wealth of recommendations that were available right away.”

Every day, Dauphin County Library System librarians love helping members find their next great read, and even the Covid-19 shutdown couldn’t derail that cherished service. By launching BookAdvisor, a new online, customized reading-recommendation service, The Library continues to foster the lifetime love of books.

Members access BookAdvisor by visiting www.dcls.org/BookAdvisor and letting The Library staff know the age range you’re exploring, whether children, teen, or adult. Indicate your preference for eBook, eAudiobook, print book or audiobooks, now available using curbside pickup. Add a few details about your favorite books, genres, and authors, and hit send.

From there, your email goes to a librarian who is well-versed in your favorite genre. Based on the information submitted and perhaps a few more details requested by the responding librarian, you’ll receive a list of titles tailored to your interests.

“We love books,” says Public Services Director Lori Milach. “We do a lot of things at The Library, but books are what drew us to work here. So, just naturally, reading is a hobby, and we’re constantly looking to see what’s coming up.”

Library member Diane Williamson found just the right titles through BookAdvisor. The Lykens Township resident feeds her reading habit with a mix of eBooks and print books browsed from her home library in Elizabethville. Reading offers “a sort of pain relief” from a chronic pain condition, so she usually reads a variety of fiction and nonfiction history at once.

She learned about BookAdvisor just after finishing Deborah Harkness’ “All Souls Trilogy” and wanted more of that blend of history and suspense.

“The suggestions I received were spot on and included some authors that were new to me – Paula Brackston, Anne Fortier, and Melodie Winawer – along with those I’ve previously enjoyed like Mary Stewart and Susana Kearsley,” Williamson says. “All were available as eBooks from The Library, which was really nice since the shutdown had just started.”

In most cases, librarians will suggest a title that is instantly downloadable or available at a member’s local library. Anyone can ask for a recommendation, but you need a library card to borrow titles. All Dauphin County residents can apply for a free membership  online at www.dcls.org/get_library_card.

During normal times when the physical libraries are open, librarians get to know the members and their varied preferences. BookAdvisor extends that same personalization to readers looking for books from the comfort of their homes.  

“This adds an extra layer of making connections with people online,” Milach says. “We’re hoping they continue to use it, so we build those relationships.”

Putting the right book in your hands

BookAdvisor isn’t the Dauphin County Library System’s only convenient reading-recommendation service. Library members can also try:

·      NoveList Plus: What are you in the mood for? Adult mysteries? Teen fantasy? Tween humor? Kids’ easy readers? With the online NoveList Plus database, you drive the search to zero in on your next read.

Open for Discovery totes: It’s hard to imagine anything better than a bag full of books, especially when it’s a grab-and-go timesaver. At each branch, librarians load tote bags with up to 10 curated books, CDs, and nonfiction DVDs organized by age – babies and toddlers, preschoolers, and primary and intermediate graders. Members who don’t have time to browse can grab a tote, check out, and move on. New adult totes offer three to five books by genre.


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The above piece represents the views of the author and is meant to inspire dialogue and increase understanding and a sense of community. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of The Library. Members are welcome to comment below or contact us privately by using our online contact form >