Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Adventures in Readers' Advisory


For the public librarians and library science graduate students out there, this may be a surprise, but: academic librarians don't do a lot of readers' advisory (RA). At least the ones I know, and with whom I've discussed this, don't. I know I definitely don't. The people in our (academic librarians') communities come to us for help with in depth research problems and for a quiet place to study and work and for assistance teaching critical thinking skills, not for advice about which book to read next for pleasure.

So, no, it's not a regular part of any job I've had as a professional librarian, with one exception. Truth is, how this all came about was rather odd, but it was such a successful little thing that I wanted to tell you about it.

It all started one summer when I made an off-handed comment about liking the book that the son of a faculty member* was checking out at my last job. It turned out that this check out was a reread of the book, and the professor in question jumped on my comment to ask me to recommend other books for his son. I asked the few RA questions I've learned from public librarian friends ("What is it about the book you liked? The main character? The [fill in the blank] nature of the story? Something else?") and made an appropriate suggestion. And my suggestion was a huge success. That professor told another professor*, who brought her step-daughter in. And so on. And so on. Pretty soon, I had a little cottage RA industry going on with faculty children.

So why am I telling you this? Because it's another example of me taking a moment to connect with members of my community and finding a way to build good will and further my relationships with some of the most important constituents (if the faculty don't like you, they can get in your way, but if they DO like you, they can aid your cause immensely).

Community building can happen at the least likely moments, so you've got to seize those unexpected opportunities. Any of you have similar stories, either about RA or about community building, to share?

*These instances are actually amalgams of specific interactions.

1 comment:

  1. I work at a community college library, with a developmental English program that really pushes leisure reading, so I get a lot more RA questions than I did at the ref desk of a major university. Since different staff knew about different areas, we gathered some rec's and posted a rec reading lib guide with our academic ones!