Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Readers’ Advisory Service in the Public Library by Joyce Saricks

The American Library Association published the third edition of Readers’ Advisory Service in the Public Library by Joyce Saricks last week. Our copy at the Thomas Ford Memorial Library is in processing. Knowing Joyce, I asked if she would grant me an interview about her new edition, and being the nice person that she is, she agreed. Here is what she had to say.

Rick: Joyce, how did you become a readers’ advisory librarian? Was there anyone who inspired you to pursue readers’ advisory service?

Joyce: I became a readers' advisory librarian because Kathy Balcom (then Mehaffey) did not want to leave the fiction collection unattended, when reference moved upstairs. I had never heard of readers' advisory before, but she planted the seed. I was lucky to hire Nancy Brown, who, among other wonderful strengths, could organize ANYTHING, and we were off.

Rick: Where you already big on fiction? What did you read as a youth and in college? Did you always have book to read with you?

Joyce: I was always a voracious reader. My town was so small that we didn't have a library, but both my parents were readers, and my mother belonged to the Book of the Month Club, so we had books. I read all the Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, Sue Barton books--and about everything in my classroom libraries through grade school. I didn't read as much in high school because I was in debate and forensics, and I read 3 news magazines every week. I do remember reading Gone with the Wind--and rereading it. Twice. In college I discovered the classics--and given world enough and time I still love to read 19th century English novels, as well as Henry James, Edith Wharton, and Thomas Mann.

Yes, I think I was always reading something. But I read more magazines when I was young--now I want novels!

Rick: Do you have a favorite book or author? Are there just too many choices for you to decide?

Joyce: Yes, too many to choose from. I love to reread Jane Austen, and I always read the new Daniel Silva, Arturo Perez-Reverte, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jeffery Deaver, Gail Bowen.....the list goes on and on. I am also addicted to audio books, so I listen to a wider variety of books than if I were just reading--fiction and nonfiction.

Rick: How did you decide to write Readers' Advisory Service in the Public Library?

Joyce: Nancy and I did a workshop on Readers' Advisory for RASSL (the south suburban Chicago reference group). One of the librarians there worked as a copy editor, or something, for ALA, and she talked to an editor who contacted us.

Rick: What’s new in the 2005 edition?

Joyce: Lots, I think. A new definition of readers' advisory to include nonfiction (and audio and video). I've expanded it to providing materials for adult leisure readers (and listeners and viewers). There's more about nonfiction readers' advisory throughout the book. More about appeal and readalikes. A totally revised chapter on reference resources, with more emphasis on web resources. New popular fiction list and a popular nonfiction list. More about Sure Bets and an annotated list of sure bets. Expanded readers' advisory interview, including nonfiction. More about promotional/marketing activities and measuring the service. Are you sorry you asked?

Rick: How did you come up with the readalikes concept?

Joyce: It's Mary Goulding's term. Do you remember her at Elmhurst and then, perhaps,head of system reference? She's the first person I ever heard use it, so I always credit her.

Rick: How do you think readers’ advisory services will change in the next two or three years?

Joyce: I think there will be more online. More places like Ohio with 24/7 reference and 24/7 readers' advisory, and we'll find a better way to market our service and our knowledge. We'll also rely more and more on online tools.

Rick: What would you like to see librarians doing?

Joyce: Talking with readers, talking among themselves, sharing books--fiction and nonfiction. Using the patron service orientation we learn with readers' advisory to make us better public service librarians.

Rick: Thank you, Joyce. I hope every library buys your book.

Saricks, Joyce G. Readers’ Advisory Service in the Public Library. 3rd ed. Chicago : American Library Association, 2005. ISBN 0838908977


Lesa said...

Thanks, Rick. I ordered Joyce's book today. Enjoy your blog since I'm a librarian as well - in Glendale, AZ. My former YS librarian is a grad of UT - Austin and she's going back there to get her doctorate. If you'd like to check out my book blog, it's at www.nikkishome.blogspot.com. I'm bookmarking yours to check again! Thanks!

Jen said...

Thanks Rick! Your interview was really interesting to me because I'm working on my MLS and doing a project on Reader's advisory for my Public Libraries class. Just thought I'd let you know in case anyone out there thinks they don't teach us RA in library school. :)