Reader’s Advisory Goes Graphic!

No, this is not a post about 50 Shades of Grey or graphic novels.  This is a post about the power of graphic images to replace words and convey information in a fresh, interesting, and relevant way.

This flowchart made the rounds this summer.  And by “made the rounds,” I mean that it was picked up by everyone from School Library Journal and Nancy Pearl to GalleyCat and the Hollywood Reporter.  My colleague in our Teen Zone – the fabulous Molly Wetta - created it and she is still a little amazed at all the attention it has gotten in the past few weeks.  She’s mentioned to me a couple of times that it’s really “pretty simple.” 

I think that’s precisely why it is getting so much attention!  It is brilliantly simple.  It is essentially a flowchart – which is perhaps the most basic form of “infographic” that we hear so much about these days.  But the information it represents is actually quite complex.  An RA conversation that starts out with “I really liked The Hunger Games” could take any number of twists and turns before a book is placed in that reader’s hands.  Molly’s  chart reveals the complexities of a reader’s particular tastes and current mood in a simple, graphic manner that is visually compelling and easily digestible.

As an RA librarian at heart, over the years I have created hundreds of bookmarks, read alike lists, and reading maps.  All of these were curated with an expert eye and filled with hand-crafted annotations.  As a marketing director, I recognize that Reader’s Advisory is one of our most marketable services and provides great material for content marketing.  The marketer in me also recognizes the in a world where attention spans are getting shorter and the field of reading choices is always getting bigger, RA librarians need to make sure that their expertise is presented in a fresh, relevant, and engaging way.  We live in a visual world and our content should respond to this reality.

I’m certainly not arguing that every reading list should be conveyed as an infographic.  Infographics are best used to convey complex information, large data sets, and other big ideas.   However, the success of Molly’s flowchart reveals that infographics need to be considered as a valuable tool in an RA librarian’s toolbox.

Here are a few more book-related infographics to inspire you:

A here are a few articles help you figure out why, when, and how to effectively incorporate infographics:

And to keep things practical, here are some tools to start creating your own infographics:

Have you made an infographic for RA content?  Maybe for another type of data – an annual report or survey results?  If so, please share in the comments!

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