Friday, February 4, 2011

Ask a librarian. Seriously, ask!

Reader’s advisory is one of my favorite parts of being a librarian. I consider it a privilege and sheer joy to have the chance to connect the right book with the right reader, to really find out what that reader wants. I love to send them home with a stack of books, hoping at least one will be a hit, if not all.

I want the reader to know, though, that they don’t have to like my recommendations. And if they don’t, I really want them to let me know. Honestly! It's all so subjective. Life is too short to read books you don’t like, and I’d rather find the reader something they do like. So while I'm giddily weighing them down with a pile of books, I tell my own, personal reader’s advisory story.

When I was a kid, I absolutely devoured Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles. It’s still one of my favorite series of all time, in fact! Anyway, my mom urged me to ask the librarian what else I might enjoy, based on my love of Prydain. The librarian recommended Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea books, and bless her heart, that was a very good recommendation... but it just didn’t work for me. At all. The outcome? Cue the sad music: I NEVER SPOKE TO A LIBRARIAN AGAIN.

Er, until I started working in a library as an adult, I mean.

But that's still pretty sad, right? Just because I was afraid and too embarrassed to tell the librarian that her recommendation didn't quite work for me, I ended up thinking I had to be completely independent at the library. Which is so not true!

So, I always tell kids and teens-- please don't be like me. Talk to us! Librarians want to help. We want to find you a book you'll love, and we won’t take it personally if our first recommendation didn’t work out. Promise!

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