Thursday, June 5, 2014

Judging a Book by it's Cover, or, Reader's Advisory!

Reader's Advisory is my Number One Favorite Library Job.  I love, Love, LOVE getting paid to tell people what to read.  Now, to be a good reader's advisor, you do not have to read all the things.  On the contrary, I read very few things if it is not smut that I am "checking for compatibility with selection criteria."  But, everyone always skips the other librarians and comes to me when they need help finding urban fiction because "I am the only one who knows where to find them."  Now, this is not true.  Both of my minions are very capable librarians completely able to show patrons how to search for "urban fiction" on the OPAC and see what's available for hold and what's on the shelf.  But I think they kind of view me as magic when I can walk them around the shelves and pull off 10 different books that "If you like Triple Crown, you might like this one too."

Finding urban fiction on the shelf is actually very easy, and I mean this with the utmost professionalism and not-racism, but to find urban fiction books, look for the ones with African American people on the cover.  This was the first genre I learned in prison, because it is the most-often requested, and that was literally how I found the books for the first few months I worked there.

Now I have gotten more savvy, and I also use it as an opportunity to introduce people to the literary classics of the Harlem Renaissance, as well as more modern works like The Help.  I also like to steer them towards non-fiction like Maya Angelou and the Autobiography of Malcolm X, as well as the slave narratives.  Prison Librarian: subversively opening minds since 2009.  Muahahahahahahahahahahaha!

I think I like reader's advisory so much too because there's no pressure.  We are not at one of the giant book stores where people most likely are not going to buy all 10 books you recommend.  I love to go around and hand people 6-7 choices and say "Now, whichever ones you don't want please put on that cart and we will put away for you, and no hard feelings."  My favorite is when they reply "Aw man!  But they ALL LOOK SO GOOD!"  I know they do.  It's because reading is awesome.

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