October 15, 2019

Readers’ advisory outside of the library

Loving books and reading isn’t something we leave at the NoveList office at the end of the day. For example, I run with a couple of different groups locally, and on this one particular Sunday I was running with some people I didn’t know all that well — or rather, I know plenty about their upcoming races, their injuries, and their preferred recovery techniques and footwear and post-run grub at our meeting spot, but I know nothing about their jobs. And they know nothing about mine. Once our run was over and we’d grabbed some food and a table and were comfortably chatting about this and that, one of them asked me what I do and then, ultimately, how NoveList-the-database worked. Before I knew it, I was talking about romance themes and other story elements to someone who had never considered the appeals of different books in so many words. And while I didn’t ultimately suggest a book to him, he’s now far more inclined to use his public library and the resources they offer (including, but not limited to, NoveList) to find his next read. Which may or may not feature a marriage of convenience. 

This conversation got me wondering how many of my colleagues find themselves in similar situations. Reading recommendations are basically the air we breathe, so it’s not surprising that readers’ advisory finds its way into so many aspects of our lives outside of work:

From Suzanne Temple, Metadata Librarian and knitter of an amazing stuffed Dalek that  lives in our staff library, apparently went on a busman’s holiday of sorts:
“When my daughter and I were in Paris over the summer as part of a school trip, one of the moms was saying that her son used to read a lot but had kind of fallen out of it. So, me being me, I grilled him about what he liked and learned he loved anime but was not big on manga. Standing in line to go into the Eiffel Tower, I texted her a list of light novels. The mom was very excited, and the boy seemed excited, too.”

From Halle Eisenman, who leads the team responsible for NoveList’s editorial content (and is a judge for RUSA’s Reading List):
“At my eye doctor appointment last week, I bonded with the woman who checked me in over funny celebrity memoirs — she said she was going to check out NoveList via her library's website, but I also recommended Samantha Irby's books to her because she likes Jenny Lawson.”

Jessica Lin, our Product Engagement Specialist, was a teacher in a former life, and unsurprisingly supported impromptu readers’ advisory in her classroom:
“When I taught high school English, parents would ask for book recs for their kids before holidays and at report card nights too. And doing book passes during class would get kids recommending books to each other from the classroom library too!”  

Jennifer Lohmann, our Director of Sales and Marketing, mixes business and pleasure by offering readers’ advisory on vacation:
“I save talking to people on a ski lift for my extroverted husband, until the subject of books comes up (which it does, occasionally). Then I’m all, ‘Have you read…?’ and ‘I think you’d like…’”

And Rebecca Honeycutt, Readers’ Advisory Librarian, can’t go anywhere without talking about books:
“I've already written about my primary form of non-library RA (i.e., fanfic recs), but I, like Suzanne, typically get asked to rec books for people's kids. I've recced books for the kids of: my doctor, my allergist, my ophthalmologist, my former professors, my sister's friends, my sister's patients (fear not, HIPAA guidelines were followed), people at my wife's MSW reunion, a million people at my church, and at least one person at any social gathering involving people I haven't previously met.”

Clearly, we find ourselves having the readers’ advisory interview constantly. Where’s the weirdest place YOU found yourself talking books? Let us know!

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Shauna Griffin is a Content Strategy Manager at NoveList. She is currently reading Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia. 


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