HW Assignment: Secret Shopper

This week’s assignment was to visit a library where the librarians do not know us and “test” them on their Reader’s Advisory skills. Here’s a summary of my report:

I went to the library hoping to get a good recommendation for an Adult fiction book that read similar to a YA book. The librarian on duty asked me what authors I enjoyed reading and I told her that I liked Sarah Dessen and, more recently, Morgan Matson. She said, “Okay, let’s see what we can find” and proceeded to start typing on her computer. After a couple of minutes of that, she turned to the other librarian at the desk and asked what she thought some good authors would be that were similar to Sarah Dessen in Adult fiction. The other librarian came up with a few authors and explained about their style while the librarian that I had first approached jotted down the names for me.

I liked that the first librarian I approached was very welcoming and helped made me feel comfortable in asking for a book recommendation. I also liked that she referred me to a librarian who seemed to know a little more about the genre I was interested in. It made me feel more confident that I would get a good recommendation.

The second librarian made an assumption about what I liked about Sarah Dessen’s books. And while I did like the aspect that the librarian referenced and based her recommendations off of, there are more elements of Dessen’s books and writing that I enjoy beyond that. I would have piped up and said something, but the librarian really didn’t give me an opportunity to. She gave a few author suggestions, but didn’t check to see if I’d already read anything by them.

In the end, it was recommended that I look into Jodi Picoult, Kristin Hannah (specifically “Firefly Lane”), Alan Bradley, and Anna Quindlen. Honestly, none of the Picoult or Quindlen books stood out to me as interesting—they all seemed to deal with women who were significantly older than me and in a completely different stage of life. I don’t really find reading about middle-aged women with teenaged children that appealing. I did like the sound of both “Firefly Lane” and Alan Bradley’s mystery series however.

I think I was expecting to be asked more questions about my reading preferences than I actually was. If I were in need of another book recommendation, I would probably give them another shot. It seemed like both librarians had at least some training and knowledge of Reader’s Advisory Services.

Overall, the experience was pretty good. I am legitimately excited to read both “Firefly Lane” and the Alan Bradley mystery book (I actually plan to use it for this class) but I’ll probably end up returning the Picoult and Quindlen unread.


17 thoughts on “HW Assignment: Secret Shopper

  1. What a cool assignment! I’ve never thought to ask a librarian at my local library questions like that. I actually agree with her Firefly Lane suggestion. That’s one of my favorite books by Hannah and it’s probably the closest to Dessen. I’m surprised she didn’t suggest some New Adult authors. I probably would have done that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I was expecting them to recommend New Adult as well but that genre wasn’t even mentioned. Before this class, I never considered asking librarians for book recommendation either–I only ever went to the library to pick up books that I already knew I wanted to read!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve noticed that there isn’t a great New Adult selection at my library. The books are either lumped in with Adult Fiction or YA. I was thinking they really need to create NA section. Most of the NA books I get from the library are through their e-reader database.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It is such a new and emerging area. We put ours in Adult. I think they will have to be around a little while longer before they start to file them separately. Of course, you have to have room to do that too, and I know my library doesn’t.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I am a big Sarah Dessen and Morgan Matson fan too. I never would have thought of Jodi Picoult or Kristen Hannah. They are both great authors. What a great experience!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The librarians’ response to your question reminded me a little more of an approach one would take with a reference question. They were friendly, the first librarian asked the initial question, and then turned to her tools, which included consulting her computer and her fellow librarian. Then, they came up with what they thought was the “answer” to your question. While you did get some suggestions, RA is not like reference help in that the answer is so much more subjective and needs a lot more input from the interviewee. I don’t think the librarians did a bad job, but perhaps they focused more on finding a “right” answer than on finding the right answer for YOU.

    Liked by 1 person

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