Playlist with a Personal Touch
Librarian, Integrated Library Services
Jacksonville Public Library, FL
MLIS, Florida State University, Tallahassee, 2008
In his previous job as a young adult librarian, organized the annual Battle of the Bands
Reference Librarian, Popular Media Department
Jacksonville Public Library, FL
Specialist Degree, Library Studies, SIS, Florida State University, Tallahassee, 2002
Enjoys collecting weird toys and shopping at thrift stores
Photos by Max Michaels
Tell music-loving librarians Andrew Coulon (right, top) and Matthew Moyer what you enjoy listening to, and they will create a personalized playlist of albums from Jacksonville Public Library’s extensive collection.
“It’s a very rewarding process, too,” Coulon says. “Sometimes you find older albums that have been out for decades, and sometimes you find an album out there that just resonates with you.”
The library’s three in-house musical experts, Moyer, Coulon, and Alissa Leonard apply readers’ advisory techniques to albums. Unlike web-based automated music recommendation services that rely on algorithms, they bring a personal touch and the desire to find unusual selections and combinations, Moyer says.
Patrons complete an online form stating likes and dislikes. After a few days, the patron receives an email with links to the album in the library catalog. The lists are posted online as well. From last March to December, librarians created 85 personalized playlists recommending 645 albums.
“A lot of it’s based on personal expertise and a lot is just good old research,” Moyer says. “I really like turning people on to things that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to.”
They encourage patrons to be daring with their musical selection because they borrow, not buy, the CDs.
In August, Moyer and Coulon premiered Lost in the Stacks, a free-form radio program featuring the library’s music on the local NPR affiliate, WJCT-FM 89.9. During its first five months, the show featured at least 279 albums from the library.
Moyer got the idea of creating playlists for patrons while working at the Main Branch’s popular media desk. He saw it as a way to serve patrons even when a musical expert was not working. He partnered with Coulon, whose technical expertise turns inspiration into reality, and sought supervisor approval. Coulon now tracks what lists generate the most holds.
Beyond music, the duo also established their library’s zine collection, one of the first such circulating collections in the Southeast. Gretchen Mitchell, assistant director, support services, says she found them tenacious both in bringing forward the idea and in developing it.
“They were able to bring in people who had not come into the libraries for a really long time,” Mitchell says.
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