I almost put a question mark after the title. This morning I received one of those ALA Editions emails advertising three recent reader’s advisory titles. The whole concept seems very foreign to me. Certainly I get the idea – helping people find books they want to read, probably based on what they’ve liked in the past – but it doesn’t seem to be anything we do in academic libraries as a matter of course.
Once a few years ago I did get a question that was almost reader’s advisory like. It’s the only time I’ve ever gotten it, so I even remember. Someone was looking for books with musician characters because they were assigning a research essay and wanted to suggest books to students. For a minute or so I wondered how I was going to help the person, but then realized some public reference librarian had probably already done my job for me. Sure enough, within a couple of Google searches I found several reader’s advisory lists of novels with musician characters. At the time I thought to myself, how do they do that?
On the other hand, I guess some of us do reader’s advisory of a sort. In a research consultation, we’re definitely dispensing some advice on what to read. "Peer-reviewed, scholarly books and articles are just the thing you need!" In the technical sense of the phrase, this is reader’s advisory, right? We’re advising readers.
I have a feeling that the public librarians get more satisfied patrons, though, or at least patrons with a different sort of satisfaction. I would imagine (and I could be wrong) that the people who come away from a good reader’s advisory consultation are looking at all the copacetic books on their list bursting with anticipation, whereas often after a successful consultation with me a student goes away with a list of great looking sources but not necessarily with a gleeful look in their eyes as they contemplate reading the stuff. I want the gleeful look; I’m just not sure how to get it.