Sunday, February 21, 2010

524-Is Reader Advisory better in a book store vs. a library?

Two of the books I wanted to read for this class were not at my local library.  Instead of taking time to find it at another library or do ILL, I cheated and went to Borders.  Yes, I know, as a librarian this surely puts me on the black list, however, I would rather spend money instead of time I don't have!  I felt better about buying the books knowing my best friend, my mom, and my sisters would probably read them as well. 

Since the first book I was looking for is a Romance, I went to the section of the store with the little sign "Romance" hanging above the books.  It wasn't I asked a female employee who happened to be walking by if she could help me find it.  We looked in the computer and didn't see it, but did find out I was spelling the authors first name wrong.  So I asked her if she knew of anything that would be similar.  She mentioned a few authors and asked if I had read them and told me a little bit about each.  She mentioned a few times about books that her reading group was reading so it was apparent she herself is an avid reader.  She asked what about that book that specifically caught my eye.  I told her it was mentioned in our text and that it had some "hot" scenes in it.  We eventually settled down to two choices, one by the same author and one by another.  I chose the one by the same author. 

While we were walking back toward the front of the store a book caught my attention and we started talking about it.  This led to her advising me on other books that are "popular" and since they were buy one get one 50%, I ended up with two books to read for fun.

As I was talking to her and she was asking me questions, I thought about the various blogs or conversations in class about the secret shopper assignment.  For the most part, people are having disappointing experiences at libraries.  I had a positive experience at the bookstore.  I wonder if we did the same assignment at bookstores if our experiences would be different.  Since retail is big on customer service, are we going to get better service at a store?  Libraries should be concentrating on customer service, especially, reader advisory since it is there job! 

I asked the woman who I was speaking with if she had an MLS.  She said no, but she had thought about going to school and had been working at Borders for 12 years.  She sure does have the experience and knowledge and I encouraged her to go to school. 

Maybe I got lucky and found a bookstore worker who actually knew what she was talking about.  Maybe that is the norm?  I wonder....

Anybody had any similar experiences?  Thoughts?  Opinions? 

Or is it just me? :) haha


  1. You did get pretty lucky, I think -- I've dealt with a lot of workers who barely knew the difference between a printed book and an audiobook -- but you brought up an interesting point. In retail, the motivation is there to make every transaction work. During the short periods I worked in retail, our boss would listen in on random transactions and rate us based on what happened. What would happen if librarians were made responsible for how successful patrons felt? I admit librarians have to do a lot more than find books, but there doesn't seem to be a pressing reason to show how important we are by acting unapproachable.

  2. Wow! "Borders shames IN PLs" - now there's a headline you won't see in Library Journal.

    The librarians who are readers make the best readers advisors. Bookstore associates who read make the best book handlers. It's just how the world works.

    However, there are tools that exist to ensure that librarians who do not read widely can still serve every type of reader who graces their desk.

    Great post!