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I’ll Tell You What to Read: Online BookMatch Program Connects Readers to New Books

by on November 5, 2014

It has often been said that New York is the nucleus of the universe. It is the style-maker and idea generator for many and always has the pulse of the latest de rigueur movements in art, culture, and fashion. This fall, they decided to expand that into the world of libraries with the Brooklyn Public Library’s BookMatch program.

“The BookMatch program launched quietly about two weeks ago. [This quote is from August 2014 – Ed.] It’s completely free: just fill out the online form telling the nice librarians what you like to read, and they’ll come back to you in about a week with a list of five or six recommendations. You can even specify what type of format you prefer (book, ebook, audiobook, or large print)” (Merlan, Village Voice 2014). In addition to filling the requests, the lists are also anonymously posted on the library’s website, allowing other patrons to browse at their own convenience. Among the topics that already exist are:

  • Drama/Suspense
  • Historical romance
  • Great Gatsby read-alikes
  • Father and sons
  • All kinds of books/no mushy stuff
  • SciFi-Fantasy with strong females and diversity

Since the beginning of this program, the 35 librarians who maintain the website have been inundated with patron requests. This has been a successful launch of a new program, and it may actually prove to be too much for just the 35 librarians to complete each list in under a week if it keeps growing in popularity. This watershed moment of customer service shall work as a tableau for public libraries at large.

I began to think of how this may grow while researching this topic. Many public libraries have more items than books. I’m thinking about music, movies, and even periodicals. This program could increase its scope and therefore its ability to accommodate more patrons. It’s an amazing idea that truly comes from the basics of librarianship and adapting to the current times. Haven’t all librarians at one time or another given recommendations based on one book or movie? This is just taking that customer service to a new and more convenient level for patrons who may be living a hectic lifestyle and don’t have the time to browse the stacks.

This is definitely a program that can work in public libraries all over the world. Thanks, New York; you managed to inspire us once again with your indefatigable efforts at cultural programming!

Works Cited

Merlan, Anna. “A Brooklyn Librarian Will Now Make You a Personalized Reading List, and You Don’t Even Have to Put on Pants.” Village Voice. August 26, 2014.  (accessed September 20, 2014)

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