Librarian of the Year – Nancy Pearl

Celebrate the Book Reader’s Advisory Workshop | Topeka, KS | Friday, November 4, 2011 | Keynote: Nancy Pearl

What does the phrase Reader’s Advisory mean and does it accurately represent what we are doing?

No. Nancy doesn’t feel it describes that interaction to find “that next good book.”  Rather, it’s a collaboration between you and the person looking for what they should read next.  You can make connections based on the conversation – you are helping, not advising.  It’s a mutually beneficial conversation!

Helping someone find that next good book is one of the most exciting and helpful things we can do in a library!

Suggestion: Keep lists of books on hand and literally write the last 3 books you read on your hand!

Reference v. RA?  In Reference there is one right answer.  No such luck with RA – there’s an infinite number of right answers.  The right answer depends on the person – are they happy, sad, angry, poor, rich, old, young – there is no One Book Fits All.

OMG – Terry Pratchett kissed Nancy’s hand and her husband doesn’t like Disc World….sad.  (I’m listening to Good Omens right now…laugh, laugh, laugh.)

Customer Service – If a person comes into the library feels t hey were heard and responded too, then they report that as a positive experience (regardless of the answer).  SMILE, dammit.  How hard is that?  Be a librarian if you ENJOY working WITH People…not because you love to read.  Building those relationships is vitally important.  RA is simply a way to build those relationships, too.

Mood impacts your thoughts and feelings about a book.  Books need to synch with the ‘inner you.”

Library as Educational Institution?  Are we there to personally move a person from the worst books to the best books?  NO!!

  • Good book = Any book that you liked 
  • Bad book = Any book that you didn’t enjoy

The Library’s educational function works well with RA – not by moving them towards knowledge (Harlequin to Pride and Prejudice), but realizing that READING helps us become better people.  The Library encourages reading, therefore fulfills our educational mission.  Exposed to new ways of thinkin, being, living, and new places, people, and times.

Nancy believes – Broaden and Deepen a person’s engagement with the World of Literature.  False distinction between Fiction and Non-fiction.  “Many books that we once thought were Non-fiction have magically turned out not to be true.”  James Frye, Memoirists – their version of the truth…

When people walk into a library or bookstore, they immediately go to the section that has brought them the most happiness (Paperback romance section at Lawrence Public).  Once there, they don’t move more than 3-4 steps in either direction!   Our job – Get them to Move Around!  

Insert story: Western reader didn’t have a new book to read, so the staff took him to the 970’s and put a Lewis and Clark book in his hand.  The patron’s response? “Why didn’t anyone show me these books before?”  Don’t Overlook Non-Fiction!

Schindler’s Ark by Keneally – Won the Man Booker prize in the UK for fiction, but in the USA it was published as Non-Fiction.  Original publication was written as a Novel!

Breaking Clean by Judy Blunt – writes about her decision to leave her husband and become a writer.  Scene with her Father-in-Law and an Ax…NEVER happened.  So do we move it to fiction for that one scene?

Usuala LaGuin – “On Despising Genres” article – Book awards don’t go to genre writers, but does that do readers a disservice by ‘ghettoizing’ some authors?  Neal Wyatt

Virtual Displays:

  • People you ought to meet – Biographies
  • Places you ought to go – Have each book click to the Catalog to place hold!
  • Use technology to your advantage

Find books to recommend that are NOT bestsellers or NOT by best-selling authors, so you can actually pull a book off the shelf to hand the patron.

You do not have to LIKE every book you suggest and you should be able to suggest a book without the patron knowing if you have even read the book, let alone like it.  Kaite Stover is GREAT at this.  I’m jealous.

Shoulda Been a Great RA Experience:  Want a Regency book without sex.  Gave her Georgette Heyer – The Grand Sophie – patron brought it back – why did you say there is no sex in this book? Are you kidding, there is sex on every page?  Really?  Example:  “She had easy intercourse with Military gentlemen.”  Nancy told her that the use of language has changed since this woman was writing.  “ejaculate means ‘said’.”

Conversations leads to Relationships, not just between you and the patron but between the patron and the Library!


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