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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Reflection on Chelton’s How To’s for Readers' Advisory Services: I Can Do This!

While some classmates have expressed discomfort with the Web assignments and others are anxious about delivering presentations, I may be the only library student in this ardent bibliophile group who is concerned about the readers' advisory portion of our coursework. Yes, I adore selecting books for my kids that help foster a lifelong love of reading. Yes, I am an avid reader. But I struggle with selecting books for myself.

That is why I want to grab scissors, cut Mary K. Chelton’s chapter right out of The Portable MLIS and share it with all of my local librarians. As a business school graduate, the concept of the librarian as a merchandiser translates very well for me. (Chelton, 2008, pp. 164-165). Chelton has helped me unlock why the library of my adulthood invokes stress in contrast to the haven I found in my childhood library. My current library does not appropriately merchandise. Most books are in dimly lit stacks, and it is hard to differentiate them.

If we analyzed my patron habits, we would undoubtedly learn that most books I select for myself are culled from the one adult fiction shelf permanently located in the children’s area that contains 10-20 selected titles for Mom and Dad. This is clearly good merchandising, but it means that in most of my trips I never make it to the adult fiction section. With more intentional merchandising, I would enter the adult section. I would most likely look at more than 20 books. The library would again be a haven, and I might even start engaging as a more vocal library advocate as my usage rose.

This chapter gave me hope. Chelton has provided me with some ideas for fostering advisory services including book club leader support, suggested listservs and websites and, my favorite, staging a "city-wide book club". (Chelton, 2008, pp. 162, 166). These suggestions and an explanation for my own challenges selecting books in my home library provide me with the confidence to become a readers' advisor.

References

Chelton, M. K. (2008). Readers advisory services: How to help users find a “good book”. In K. Haycock & B. E. Sheldon (Eds.), The portable MLIS: Insights from the experts (pp. 159-167). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

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