This chapter makes me want to switch up my career plans and become a readers advisory department head at a large public library, but I will settle for becoming an excellent advisor for the adolescents in my school library instead. Mary Chelton (2008) here begins to answer my earlier question from chapter 9 about which reviews to trust and the need to go beyond Booklist and School Library Journal. Chelton writes with scorn about “youth services librarians enamored of literary award winners,” calling this an “inappropriate professional attitude” (p. 160). So where can librarians find more good lists of books, either topical, thematic, of readalike? She suggests the overall lists NoveList, Next Reads, and Bookletters, genre-based listservs such as DorothyL for mysteries, and Graphic Novels in Libraries .
What I really appreciate about this chapter is that Chelton is firm that readers advisory services are equally as important as reference services, and that librarians should never get away with “just [excusing] their own ignorance as if the fact that they don’t read a certain author or genre naturally means they cannot help anyone who does” (p. 161). This is a “patently false” myth, she writes, especially considering the many tools she lists for consultation.
I want to learn more about the theoretical foundations of RA services which posit that readers seek self-exploration first and literary aesthetics second (p. 160). Over the past few years, I have delved into a new-to-me genre of crime fiction, and I have been surprised to learn how diverse the reading experiences of these books can be. I have done a bunch of research to find out which authors appeal the most to me in terms of these “appeal characteristics”—plot pacing, depth of characterization, storyline layout, setting and mood (p. 161). I would like to become just as knowledgeable about other genres and subgenres, such as romance and science fiction, even if I am not personally attracted to them. I feel that if I do not commit to doing this, I will be doing a disservice to my students.
Chelton, M. K. (2008). Reader’s 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. 87-97). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.