November 20, 2017

AMA with Joyce Saricks

Recently, legendary RA expert Joyce Saricks stopped by NoveList World Headquarters. During her visit, the entire Book Discovery department gathered to talk shop in wide-ranging discussions that covered everything from metadata to the all-important "managing your reading life." For many, however, the highlight was an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session in which NoveList staff submitted questions, both serious and silly.

One the serious side, one librarian submitted a question we’ve all wondered: “How do you know if a readers’ advisory interaction was successful?” A person checks out a selection of books and a librarian may or may not know if they enjoyed any of them.

Joyce’s answer was simple: “Readers’ advisory is about relationships. Did you make a connection?” Making a connection seems like it could be hard, but it boils down to small things, like making eye contact, smiling, and listening to what a reader has to say about the kinds of books they want. And, of course, it’s important to remind readers to come back, even if they don’t like the books they took home.  

On the silly side, one (anonymous) librarian asked, "What is the best way to use cats in reader's advisory?”

The room giggled and more than one cat-owning librarian was thinking of their cat’s determination to be a book weight, rather than anything useful. Joyce is a legend for a reason, and she had a thought-provoking answer.

"When I first saw this question, I rolled my eyes. And then I started laughing. And then I started thinking about it!

As a person who's owned 10 cats since 1978, and with a cat who will be 20 in January, I know cats. I think that their curiosity is something that mirrors what we do.

And tenacity! They're not going to let go of finding that toy even though it got pushed way under the refrigerator. It is there, and you need to get it out for them.

But the real thing is -- you always know they want something, and they can never tell you what it is. And, when you present them with all the best offerings -- you liked this last week! Why don't you like it now? Their disdain prepares us for life in the library."

We closed the AMA by sharing which books we secretly think are overrated (we’ll never tell!) and, thanks to Joyce, had a great day dedicated to books, reading, and readers advisory. If you want to read (or listen, as it were) like Joyce, snag a printable flyer of some of Joyce's audiobook recommendations.

If you follow @NoveListRA on Twitter, check out #JoyceAMA for more words of wisdom. 

Autumn Winters is a Readers' Advisory Librarian at NoveList.

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