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Chapter 14: At last: books!

In my house, there are two adults who teach English (I’m a high school teacher married to an American Lit  professor), so our children have throughout their lives had book suggestions thrust upon them by their eager, book-loving parents. In reading this chapter, I was interested in comparing our methods of locating books for our children–and for our students–with those recommended by Chelton.

When my professor husband suggests books, he often does so based on his knowledge of the reader’s tastes and interests, his own reading experiences, his personal expertise–and amazon book reviews. He likes to push a reader to challenge his or her boundaries a bit. Thus, when our daughter had finished reading the Twilight series (twice), he bought her Bram Stoker’s Dracula. My methods are a little different, aligned with suggestions made in this chapter, perhaps because I tend to work with younger people and often attend conferences which market books for young readers. When I go to conferences, I get sample texts and talk with the book sellers, but more often I access lists published on or linked to the National Council for Teachers of English website, which helps me find appropriate books for reading levels, interests, and so on. The ALA has lots of great lists, many of which are conveniently annotated. At such sites, I can find recommended titles for all kinds of areas, from vampire novels to books about characters dealing with eating disorders, a death in the family, or gay/lesbian issues. I subscribe to listserves for English teachers and read about books in professional journals. I was also interested in this section titled “The Face-to-Face Advisory Encounter,” which challenged the assumption “that the reader is in the mood for an identical reading experience…” (p. 161). Except in the case of series titles, I find this true personally, and in my interactions with students.

Something I’m conscious of and look forward to as a future librarian is methods of displaying books to increase accessibility and appeal. I know the librarian at my school says students very frequently select books based on casual browsing, which I suppose mimics their experience in book stores, as well as their experiences in libraries when they were children. Having read the “Front End” (p. 164) and “Ends of Stacks” (p.165) sections of the chapter, I realize the significance of the design of the physical space within the library.  My school has a rotating display in a mounted glass case just outside the library, another case with a rotating display inside the library, and books on rotating and permanent display in strategic places within it. For example, there’s a permament and ever-expanding display of graphic novels in a high traffic area (on top of a chest-high set of bookshelves near the student study area), which has attracted many readers who might not have previously considered them. Reading this chapter made me realize how conscious our librarian is of merchandising issues and the positive ways to exploit high traffic areas.

Chelton, M. K. . (2008). Readers Advisory Services: How to help users find a “good book. ” In Haycock, K.  & Sheldon, B. E. (Eds.), The portable MLIS : Insights from the experts (pp. 159-167). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.


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