Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Secret Shopper

Today, I did some spy work, and secret shopped the readers' advisory desk at a local library. I wasn't sure what to expect especially after hearing some of the horror stories in class. However, I was fairly pleased with the experience.

I walked up to the desk and the lady smiled at me and asked if she could help me. I said, "I was hoping you could recommend a good book for me to read." She laughed a little (not meanly) and asked what I like to read. I told her I'm currently reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett and love it. I said I also loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, so I guess more historical fiction. I told her that I also enjoy fantasy though too.

She thought for a minute then grabbed a book that was on display behind her, Garden Spells. She said that since I liked the other two books, I'd probably like this one, and since I'm okay with fantasy the magical elements of the book would probably be appealing to me. She did say that it is set more in modern times.

However, she didn't stop there. She had another book in mind too and took me to the stacks to find it. However, it had been checked out. She wrote the title on a piece of paper for me though. She said that this book was about a leper colony in Hawaii. She said she thought it was a pretty interesting book.

She then showed me a display they have for read-a-likes for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. (The library I went to was in Hamilton County, where this is the county-wide book for the months of March and April.) She suggested a book to me from this display. She suggested City of Thieves by David Benioff. She told me that it was about WWII, but that Benioff's writing is fast-paced and funny. I told her that that sounded good to me, because I enjoyed how The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was fairly light-hearted despite it's serious topic.

I ended up leaving with three books and a title she wrote down for me for later. I'm pretty excited to read all of the titles she had suggested. I was a little surprised that she did not use any RA tools. I mean she did use the book display, which I guess is a tool. I made it easy on her by mentioning I enjoyed a book they have a display for, I suppose. But I guess I was still expecting her to use more tools. Despite that, however, I felt pretty happy with the experience. She was very nice and willing to help me. She would have kept looking for more books for me if I didn't say the three she had already chosen sounded good. I'm not sure if she was a MLS or not, I didn't ask. I wouldn't be surprised if she was. She provided wonderful suggestions and great customer service.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Five Readers' Advisory Interviews

I decided to document my RA interviews with tables. This was the easiest way for me to organize my thoughts and the results of my interviews. I asked pretty much the same questions for each person -- What was the last book you read? Did you like it? What is your favorite book? What did you like about it? What is your favorite genre? I then asked more detailed questions if need be.

You can click on an image to enlarge it -

Overall, this was good practice for me. I found it more challenging than I had thought it would be in some regards and easier in some ways too. It's a daunting task to help someone find a book they may like out of all the possible books out there! All the people I interviewed I know, which I think helped in some ways because I knew more about them than just what they revealed in the interviews. I think this may be harder in a real-world setting where strangers come up asking for book recommendations. But the challenge of it is kind of fun. It's such a joy to help someone find a good book for them. And if it takes a while and if it's challenging, then I think the end result of finding that right book is even more rewarding.