Monday, November 5, 2007


In my reference course, we just completed our (brief) overview of the portion of the practice of librarianship which is known as Readers' Advisory. This seems fairly simple, you just tell people what's good to read, right? Wrong. It involves a rather intricate interview, and is a sort of trial and error discipline. After all, you aren't recommending books to your best friend (that's easy!), you're dealing with a total stranger.

I was thinking today about the daunting prospect of someday practicing Readers' Advisory myself, and my thoughts led me to America's most recognizable readers' advisor, Oprah Winfrey. I have been reading books selected by Oprah's Book Club since middle school, and I have never read one that wasn't phenomenal. I have never begun one of her selections, only to put it down because I found something better to read. How does she do it? Of course she doesn't do it herself, she has countless drones (I mean, Harpo employees) reading round the clock to find novels with the perfect balance of readable high-brow literature, emotional intelligence, and timely social issues that will appeal to the entire country. On her website, there is no list of the criteria they use to pick the books or even a mention of how they go about it, only a list of darn good books. (However they do it, I'm sure it's a fantastic job, one that I would love to have!) If you need something to read, go herefor ideas:

It seems to me that libraries don't use the resource they have in Oprah enough. I'm sure that library sponsored book groups read her books frequently, but I have never heard of a library printing her selections on a bookmark or flyer for people to take along while browsing. Or what about pulling all of her recommendations for a display. That would boost the circ stats, because people love Oprah, whether they admit it or not.

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