I start teaching the students this week which got me thinking about the key issues I need to impart to the students from day one. I realized that the hardest thing to teach new Readers' Advisors is that you need to suggest books to patrons based on their tastes, not yours. When you start doing RA it is easy to begin by suggesting your personal favorites since these are the titles you are most comfortable discussing.
Instead, RA is all about using the tastes of the reader in front of you as your guide to help match their reading needs to a book on your shelf, whether you have read it yourself already or not.
This by far is the hardest RA skill to obtain, but with time and practice, I promise it comes.
But (and you knew a but was coming) despite the best intentions of even the most seasoned Readers' Advisors out there, we all have books that we personally love and want everyone to read. It is so against everything I teach, but I do it too.
For me, my favorite horror book is The Ruins by Scott Smith and I hand it out to everyone and anyone who will take it from me. Seriously, it is barely ever on the shelf at the BPL. For a more general audience, I try to pass on The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti to every person I help. There are 43 copies in our system and only 2 have it checked out right now, one is our copy and another is one of our patron's reading an ILL copy I put on hold for them.
My point is, no matter how professional and removed from the RA process we try to stay, it is hard not to foist your favorite books on your patrons. We love books and reading or else we wouldn't be doing thsi job. Giving out our favorite books may be taboo, but it is also one of the biggest perks of the job.
To help alleviate this problem, we have The Browsers' Corner here at the BPL where the staff can push our favorite books on people in a more traditional staff pick's format. But still, you get that patron in front of you who sounds like they may like one of your favorite books, and it is very hard to resist the urge to put the book in his or her hand.
So for today's Monday Discussion, share with me the book(s) you personally love, and hope to make everyone else love too. Come on, you know there are one or two.
For the Monday Discussion archive, click here.
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