Sunday, March 30, 2008

Book! Book! Book!

Today I went to a seminar by one of the most famous librarians in the United States, Nancy Pearl. Never heard of her? Well, how many of you have had an action figure made in your likeness? The action figure even has a movable arm, and when you raise her finger to her mouth she says, "Shhhhh!"

The talk concerned what librarians call 'readers advisory', or simply suggesting books to people. This may sound easy enough, but there is some science to it. Think about how hard it is to explain to someone who asks why you liked a book. But unbeknownst to you and I, there are some common things we say that can clue librarians into what we would like to see in our next book.

The librarian in Book! Book! Book!, by Deborah Bruss and illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke, has trouble with readers advisory. She just cannot interpret what her patrons want.

After the kids go to school, the farm animals are bored. They decide to go into town and, seeing happy people coming out of the library, go in and see what there is to do. The horse goes in and asks for something to do, but the librarian only hears, "Neigh, neigh." The cow, pig, goat, etc. all have the same result.

Finally the chicken goes in and says, "Book! Book! Book!" Finally, the librarian knows what to do. Just as Nancy Pearl recommends, she brings the animals three books.

So do you want to know if your librarian has been trained by Nancy Pearl? If you tell them about a fiction book you like, they will bring to you one novel similar to the one you read (perhaps an older book by the same author), one fiction book in a different genre with similar elements, and one non-fiction book dealing with the same topic.

Then you can yell, "Don't Nancy Pearl me, Buster!" Upon which the librarian will shush you just like the action figure.

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