Friday, December 2, 2016

How GoodReads Makes Me a Better Librarian

I am not shy about talking up the things I love. Library pets, NoveList, zombie makeup - you all know me pretty well by now. You know what else I love? GoodReadsWe all know it, many of us use it for our own personal reading. But it's only recently that I really sat down and thought about how it makes me a better librarian.

How Can it Work for Me? 

You can use GoodReads for so many things!

Reviews/Book Talks 

The #1 thing I use GoodReads for is to write reviews of books that I've read. When I've finished a book, I take a few minutes to write up a booktalk for that title. That way, when a year has gone by and somebody asks me about it, I can pull up my review and - BAM! Booktalk!

The big debate here is actually whether to give negative reviews or not. If it's a library account, I would say not to - someone is going to want this book, regardless of whether I personally enjoyed it - but if it's my personal account, I just go ahead and do it. As librarians, we can't read every book, and we rely on the reviews of others to help us out in collection development and recommendations. If people aren't upfront about it - at least with the number of stars they'd give - we don't know how good a book actually is. So, go ahead. Be honest.


When you go to a book's GoodReads page, you'll see other book covers over to the right side, with the label, "Readers Also Enjoyed." (Click on that to get a whole list.) You may know the recommended books, or you may not, but even looking at them will likely jog your memory. 

When you have read enough, GoodReads will recommend books based on your personal reading history. Since I log in with a personal page, this is nice for me personally, but not as much professionally. It does help in seeing books I hadn't known about that I can consider to add to my collection (or TBR pile), but unless you have a smaller group with similar views (say, a GoodReads account for your book club), it might not be as useful. 


There is a list for everything on here, from the very broad ("Best Books of the Year") to the very specific ("Lesbian Science Fiction"). Anyone can make a list, so you may or may not agree with the items that are chosen, but even looking at them can remind you of others. You can also vote on some lists, so they're a compilation of many viewpoints. (You can also discuss your choices in the comments.) I have heard complaints that nonfiction books are under-represented, but I find that it's a good resource for fiction books.

What Comes Next?

There are lots of places where you can find out what book comes next in a given series, but I've found that GoodReads is the easiest to use (though NoveList is also awesome). Find your book, click the name of the series, and it'll give you all the books in that series, in order, and their date of publication. (In fact, GoodReads is so on top of this that I have found out the name of the next book in a series there, when it doesn't seem to be listed anywhere else.)

Get Connected with Groups

If your book club is online, you can create a group for them. Make a bookshelf of books your club has already read, so you don't duplicate. Have online group discussions about books - the current selection, or not - and make the group seem more like a group of friends, and less like a bunch of people who get together for an hour once a month.

I am also a member of a group that does a Mock Newbery Award every year. I'm sorry to say that I'm not very active in the group, but I do go take a look at what others are thinking might be the best books of the year, so I can consider adding them to my collection (and my TBR pile). 

The GoodReads Blog

The GoodReads blog is great for keeping on top of new releases, and ideas for books to recommend to people. At the time of this writing, the blog is featuring some great holiday gift guides (yeah, what DO I get for coworkers?), but also has articles such as, "7 Great Titles Hitting the Shelves Today" and opinion pieces such as "10 Book Families You Wish You Could Invite to Thanksgiving Dinner." If you need ideas for displays or seasonal recommendations (in addition to Allie's great lists), you're covered.

News & Interviews

Check out the News and Interviews page (from the Browse menu at the top, click "News and Interviews") and see what's new on the site. Read author interviews, and check out a list of the titles people have been reading and rating as the best books of the month, and don't get surprised when you have seven people ask you for a book that you've never heard of.

GoodReads Choice Awards

How cool is this? Anyone and everyone can vote for the best books of the year, separated into various categories. These awards are actually voted on by readers like us, and our patrons. If the best book of the year is voted on by actual people who enjoy that genre, it's a fair bet that it's a pretty good one to consider adding to your collection - or, at least, to be aware of.

And also...

There's more. There's a lot more: Q&As with actual authors, ARC giveaways (you can set your preferences to alert you when an author you like, or books in a genre you like, have new giveaways - great for prizes!), discussion groups. There are even fan-made trivia games! If you have the Chrome Library Extension set up, it will tell you whether the book you're looking at is available in your library/consortium right there on the page. If you follow GoodReads on Twitter or Facebook, they also post some great content that you can share on your own social media.

I'm sure there are ways to use GoodReads professionally that I haven't even thought about. What do you use it for? Tell us here in the comments, on Twitter, or on Facebook

1 comment:

  1. I am obsessed with Goodreads and use it for all of the same things you list! Great post.