But I*ve Never Fixed a Carburetor! Readers* Advisory Training for

But I’ve Never Fixed a Carburetor!
Readers’ Advisory Training for the
General Practitioner
New Hampshire Library Association Conference
May 5, 2011
Presenter: Nanci Milone Hill
[email protected]
Today’s Agenda
What is Readers’ Advisory?
The Quick and Dirty on Appeal Factors
Appeal Groups
The R.A. Interview
Making Recommendations
Common Mistakes
Group Exercise
What Is Readers’ Advisory
• Patron-centered library service.
• Based on the belief that reading for pleasure
has intrinsic value.
• Answers the question “Can you recommend a
good book?”
• Why do it?
The Quick and Dirty on Appeal Factors
• The way to capture the essence of what a reader
enjoys about a book.
• We make connections between what a reader
enjoyed about a particular book and why he/she
might enjoy another.
• Pacing
• Character
• Story Line
• Frame
Appeal Groups
• Joyce Saricks, author of Readers; Advisory
Service in the Public Library (1989), The
Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction
• Adrenaline Group
• Intellect Group
• Emotion Group
• Landscape Group
Adrenaline Group
• Readers talk about the pacing of the story and
the action of the plot.
• Thrillers
• Adventures
• Suspense
• Romantic Suspense
Intellect Group
• What the reader thinks about while reading the
book is more important than what they feel.
• Readers talk about the language, the internal life
of the character. The book answers the question
“what if?”
• Science Fiction
• Literary Fiction
• Mysteries
• Psychological Suspense
Emotion Group
• The focus is on feeling, tone, mood, character
reactions and motivations.
• Romance
• Horror
• Gentle Reads
• Chick Lit
• Women’s Lives and Relationships
Landscape Group
• These novels have a driving sense of place.
Readers are driven by the detail of the world
• They focus on setting.
• Westerns
• Fantasy
• Historical Fiction
The Readers’ Advisory Interview
• A dialogue between two readers, one of which
happens to be the librarian.
• “Tell me about a book you’ve read and
• Listen.
• What are the initial elements the reader
• Consider the reader’s mood, life experience,
past reading history, world outlook.
Making Recommendations
• Pull together a list of suggestions you think
the reader might enjoy, based on what they
have told you about their reading tastes.
• Spend no more than 15 seconds going over
each recommendation.
• Let the reader choose.
• Offer future services.
Common Mistakes
Avoid these common pitfalls when offering
Readers’ Advisory services.
• Avoidance behavior
• Beware of OPAC dependence.
• Get beyond personal experience.
• Don’t promise anything – it’s not about YOU.
• Follow-up after the session is over.
Group Exercise
• No, we’re not going to do jumping jacks.
• Break up into four assigned groups.
• Go over the reader response your group has
been given.
• Come up with title suggestions and be able to
answer why you recommended them.
Group 1
• I just finished Ice Station by Matthew Reilly.
What was great about it was that it never
stopped. I mean the battle started right away
and there was never a break in the action. It
was fantastic. Those Marines are iced — all
the gear and the tactics. I don't like to read
much, but Ice Station was so great it made me
forget I was reading. It was like being in the
middle of a video game or movie. Have
anything else like that?
Group 2
• The last book I read was Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth
Gilbert. Everyone is reading it so I had to pick it up. It
was lovely. She is such an interesting woman and so
brave. I enjoyed the descriptions of the countries she
went to and what she did while she was there, of
course, but I think what I liked most was how she
shared her inner thoughts — so reflective but funny
too. I thought it might be just light fluff or all me, me,
me, me, but it was so much more than that. I read all
the Oprah books and just love them. I am half way
through Away by Amy Bloom — what a story — any
way I wanted to ask you for a few suggestions for my
book group. It is my turn to pick the title.
Group 3
• Born in Fire by Nora Roberts is my favorite book. I
really got interested in art glass after reading that
book, she talks about how glass gets made and even
works several projects into the book. I loved that. It is
set in Ireland and they use a few Irish words here and
there and that is nice, but mostly I like Maggie and
Rogan. She is so fierce and brave and he is just yummy.
It is the first book in a series and I love how they keep
showing up in the other books. Turns out Maggie is a
great mom. I really like how Roberts makes everything
seem so real but still so romantic and happy. I have
read all her books and hope you can help me find
something else just like her.
Group 4
• I liked Absent Friends by S. J. Rozan. It is a story about a community
of friends from Staten Island who grew up together and the impact
of 9/11 on the group, especially the death of one of the friends,
Jimmy McCaffrey, a firefighter lost in the fall of the towers. Jimmy
was always a hero to the group and even more so after his hero’s
death trying to save others. Then news reports imply that he was
involved with the mob and the shooting of one of the friends many
years ago. The death of the reporter is the flashpoint for this
story. Did the reporter fall, jump, or was he pushed? The story is
told from the many points of view of the friends. You learn about
Jimmy, but even more about the friends. There is suspense as you
wonder about the impact of the childhood death and the reporter’s
death on the group. The story does not go in a straight line, but the
chapters are short which makes it seem to move quickly.
Group 5
• I like the western/mystery series by Steve Hockensmith about the
Amlingmeyer brothers. The first couple of books are Holmes on the
Range, On the Wrong Track, and The Black Dove. In the last title,
the brothers Amlingmeyer, having given up cow punching to
become detectives like their idol Sherlock Homes, look for jobs in
San Francisco and find a murdered acquaintance instead. His death
is made to look like suicide. The brothers look for the reason and
the killer and find lots of things they didn’t expect. ‘Big Red’ (Otto)
is the larger, younger brother who aspires to be a writer. Older
brother ‘Old Red’ (Gustav) is the short, wiry, unlettered (illiterate)
member of the pair who admires the ‘detectiving’ of Sherlock
Holmes. The mystery part of the stories is serious – people are
either dead or in danger. The chapter headings and dialogue
between the brothers are very funny, but not comic or ridiculous.
Group 6
• I just finished reading Far Bright Star by Robert Olmstead and I just loved
it. Napoleon, a world weary and hardened horse soldier, is training new
recruits in the southwest and Mexico during the hunt for Pancho Villa. The
soldiers are herded into a dry bed by a motley band of Villistas and
soldaderas who toy with them before they begin to try to kill them.
Napoleon and his green soldiers fight valiantly, but in the end it appears
that only Napoleon and Preston, a recruit from the East who is used to
buying his way out of situations, survive. The two are marched to a camp
and tortured--Preston very brutally and sadistically. You get the idea that
his brutal treatment is in revenge for something he did in the past. Preston
eventually killed, the soldaderas haul Napoleon back to a dry riverbed to
survive or die. What I loved about this book was the battle scenes which
were very realistic and horrifying. I also loved the way Olmstead talked
about Mexico. Can you recommend something like that?
Group 7
• I liked The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke. The story
happens in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans
is reduced to a medieval city; services are unattainable,
hospitals are without meds or power, the smell is
overwhelming. Many of the characters in this Dave Robichaux
mystery are the same as in Burke’s previous novels, but the
setting is very different. Katrina is in the room, glowering,
destroying and laying waste. Who killed the two black men
rowing about the city? Was it a crime or justice? What
happened to the addicted priest? Is there a vigilante running
about the city? Tin Roof Blowdown is not a traditional
mystery, and the atmosphere is creepy without ghosts. You
don’t know quite where the next action is coming from.
Group 8
• Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith is an incredible story. During the Stalin
years, a society much superior to the ‘decadent west’ where health
care, food, shelter and safety are guaranteed by the state, serial
crimes are not possible. The multiple, ritual killings of children are
‘random’ accidents. Leo Demidov, a war hero and star of the state
security force, is assigned to look at one of the cases. He cannot
sweep the inconsistencies of this child’s death under the rug or
ignore the similarities with other deaths. Even though the only
crimes acknowledged are crimes against the state, Leo insists that a
serial killer is operating along the rail lines throughout Russia. He
jeopardizes his career and is demoted far from Moscow. Will Leo
solve the crime? If he does, will he seal his own fate with the state
by forcing them to admit that terrible things can happen in an ideal
society? I never thought about what life was like in Russia during
that time. The details seem accurate and consistent. The
descriptions are horrific and chilling.
Group 9
• Altar of Eden by James Rollins is a good book. It reads like an action
movie; you can see the scenes move through your mind. After a
hurricane passes near the Louisiana delta, the Border Patrol sends a
helicopter to pick up Dr. Lorna Polk, veterinarian/biologist for
ACRES, the Audubon Center for Research on Endangered Species. A
trawler has washed up carrying a load of extremely
exotic/genetically modified animals and a trail of blood up the
gangway. Lorna and Border Patrol Agent Jack Menard are in a race
to capture an escaped saber-toothed jaguar before it reaches the
mainland and to find who has developed and enhanced several
extinct animal species as terrorist weapons. Lorna and Jack aren’t
thrilled to be working together; they have history which resulted in
the death of Jack’s brother.
• Baker, Jen, et al. "A selection of core resources for readers' advisory
service." Reference & User Services Quarterly 50.1 (2010): 6+.
• Chelton, Mary K., and Janet Nottingham. "Doing it right: a readers'
advisory program. (Readers' Advisory)." Reference & User Services
Quarterly 41.4 (2002): 335+.
• Chelton, Mary K. "Readers' advisory 101: a crash course in RA: common
mistakes librarians make and how to avoid them." Library Journal 128.18
(2003): 38+.
• Duncan Smith, Iain, and Mary K. Chelton. "Talking with Readers."
Reference & User Services Quarterly 40.2 (2000): 135.
• Duncan Smith, Iain. "Valuing fiction." Booklist 1 Mar. 1998: 1094+.
• Hollands, Neil. "Improving the model for interactive readers' advisory
service." Reference & User Services Quarterly 45.3 (2006): 205+
• May, Anne K., et al. "A Look at Reader's Advisory Services." Library Journal
125.15 (2000): 40.
Shameless Self-Promotion
Reading Women:
A Book Club Guide for Women's Fiction
by Nanci Milone Hill
ABC-Clio. 2011. ISBN # 978-1-59158-802-3
More Shameless Self-Promotion
The Book Hussy
Reading Anything… Any Time… Anywhere
May, Anne K., et al. "A Look at Reader's Advisory Services." Library Journal
125.15 (2000): 40.
Moyer, Jessica E. "Adult fiction reading: a literature review of readers' advisory
services, adult fiction librarianship, and fiction readers." Reference & User
Services Quarterly 44.3 (2005): 220+.
Saricks, Joyce. "Celebrate ARRT." Booklist 1 Feb. 2009: 24.
Saricks, Joyce. Readers’ Advisory Service in the Public Library. 3rd edition.
Chicago: American Library Association. 2005.
• Shearer, Kenneth D. and Robert Burgin, ed. The Reader’s Advisory
Companion. Englewood, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited. 2001.
• Smith, Duncan. "Your brain on fiction." Reference & User Services
Quarterly 49.1 (2009): 38+.
• Wyatt, Neal. "An RA big think: the concept of appeal is on the table,
and readers advisory librarians are revolutionizing it." Library Journal
132.12 (2007): 40+.

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