This post is part of the Hack Library School’s Library Student Day in the Life week. For those of you who are here because of that, thanks for visiting! I’m an online University of Maryland MLS student, the social media manager for UMD’s iDiversity organization and a library clerk on a public library’s reference desk. Come back every day this week to learn more about what it’s like to be a MLS student. And be sure to visit the LSDITL page for a list of everyone participating this week. And read all of my HLSDITL posts here.
At work today I made a book display about crafting your holiday gifts. My opinion is that it really is never too early to start, especially if you are making your gifts. Most of my book displays tend to feature nonfiction books, although when I’m tasked with both book displays near the reference desk I will have a nonfiction collection and a fiction collection related to the same theme, each with 8 to 12 books.
I mentioned in my first HLSDITL post that there’s a difference between active reader’s advisory and passive reader’s advisory. This became clear to me as I was applying for a job that mentioned reader’s advisory. At my library, active reader’s advisory doesn’t happen that often, though I have lucked into several patrons looking for such help. That’s because reader’s advisory to most people involves a patron not knowing what they want and the librarian having to tease details out to make an educated recommendation. It’s time intensive and, to be honest, it’s rare that people go to the library without knowing what they want, at least in my experience. However, passive reader’s advisory happens all the time.
Through book displays, I happen to think I recommend books to people all the time. Most people won’t look at the book displays unless the topic speaks to them. If the topic does interest them, they suddenly find themselves armed with a crop of books that they might not have read yet. I thought it might be difficult to come up with a new display every month, but it’s been surprisingly easy, mostly thanks to the handy-dandy Chase’s Calendar of Events book that is actually part of the ready reference collection we keep behind the desk. I merely grab the book, flip to a month and pick the most interesting topic I can find.
My very first month was August, which just so happens to be American Adventures Month, which lead me to find some fun books in our collection, including Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell and A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. I even spread it into South and Central America with books such as Motorcycle Diaries and Turn Right at Machu Picchu. Since then I’ve done displays for Caring for your Dog month (fiction books with canine characters and nonfiction dog care and training books) and horror themed books for Halloween (Scary short fiction stories and nonfiction books on the origins of Halloween and the psychology of superstition).
I enjoy active reader’s advisory, but I also rely far more on passive reader’s advisory since it is what my patrons will most benefit from. I can have a little bit more fun than I can with in-depth interviews.