Voted off the Island

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Me: “I know you said you preferred Fantasy and SF, but since you’re a character-driven reader, I think you might like the Lincoln Rhyme series.”

Patron: “Oh, I like Thrillers okay. I read that one… what was it… they made it into movie.”

Me: “You’re kidding. They made a book into a movie?”

Patron: “You always this sarcastic when you’re talking about books?”

Me: “I’m always this sarcastic, period. I’ll personally let you know if I ever stop.”

Patron: “Yeah, cause it’ll be at your funeral, cuz you’ll be dead.”

Me: “Right. So this book that was made into a movie? Can you tell me anything about it?”

Patron: “It starred… um… that guy. Um. Ben Afleck’s best friend?”

Me: “Matt Damon. And the thriller you read was The Bourne Identity, by Robert Ludlum.”

I’m pretty proud of that. From “Thriller made into movie starring Ben Afleck’s best friend,” I got the title and author. Not bad for a librarian who doesn’t watch movies (or read Ludlum, for that matter.)

Unfortunately, my brilliant deduction didn’t overly impress the patron, because the patron was actually a coworker in disguise. It’s easy enough to dazzle ordinary citizens, but other librarians expect genius as a matter of course.

I’d been telling New Girl the results of her reading survey. Here at Wilhelmsplatz, we offer a very cool service: the reader fills out a survey of reading interests (Do you want issue-driven? Action-based? Lots of characters? Sports as a theme?), and we reply within a week with ten book suggestions. New Girl has been pestering me for book recommendations, so I finally told her to fill out the form. Maybe I’ll have some reprieve while she goes through the books I came up with. Should take her at least two weeks to read the whole Lincoln Rhyme series.

Readers’ advisory is the best part of being a librarian. Many librarians will disagree with me, but RA is the best part of my day. That’s why I wanted to work at Wilhelmsplatz: it’s one of the best RA libraries in the country.

So I was feeling wounded over the Staff Recommends display. I picked some of the best books EVER and put them on a shelf with “Jessica recommends” on it. Everyone else got a shelf, too. Guess who got voted off the island first? It’s just not fair! None of my books were moving! Every other staff member managed to circulate some books, but not me. I started to get desperate. I posted myself by the display and tried to handsell the books. (“Sir, you look like the type who’d enjoy The Long Tail.” “I’m just here to fix the copier.”)

Nothing. No dice. Apparently I was a failure as a librarian—good for placing holds on books for people, but not much else.

But then we launched our recommendation-a-day book blog. It’s very cool: there’s a brief book suggestion each day, and it’s completely cross-searchable by genre, appeal characteristics, etc., ie. “quirky characters” or “graphic novels” or “young adult.” A different librarian maintains it this week. This is my week. Of the three books I’ve suggested so far, one has a copy checked out; one has all three copies checked out, with three holds on it; and one has one copy checked out with two holds on it.

Maybe I shouldn’t quit librarianship in despair, after all.

2 responses »

  1. Ah, the dog eat dog world of book displays. Whenever I set out my own choices they’re always big losers that don’t go out, which helps to remind me (as if I needed reminding) that there’s lots I still don’t understand how and why people pick out what they read. And kudos on the Ludlum identification…I’ve tried to block the film experience of "The Bourne Supremacy" out of my head so I probably would have missed that!

  2. I usually get laughed off the island with my book recommendations. :)Chessie >^..^<


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