Wednesday, July 28, 2010
It's just reader's advisory
This article on "The Fine Art of Recommending Books" by Laura Miller, writing for Salon magazine, is basically describing what a good librarian skilled in reader's advisory does: match a reader with books that meet the reader's needs. We ask questions; we assess the reader's tastes and mood to find the next read, and we sometimes may do a bit of research to find it (be it online or from a guidebook for instance). We do it in a way that is more personal and thoughtful than any online algorithm. I would say it is a skill and an art. The article also highlights librarian extraordinaire Nancy Pearl. I think the only thing Ms. Miller left out is actual recommendation websites such as Library Thing and GoodReads (this is the one I use personally to keep track of my reading). Sure, she mentioned Amazon's robots, but that is just not the same. Many online communities now exist for readers to share their books and reading experiences in more relaxed settings. Still, an interesting little piece worth a look. I think I would use it also as springboard to promote what we librarians already do.