Sunday, October 18, 2009

Non-Fiction Readers Advisory

I'm starting to think about my PLA presentation. (Yes, I know it isn't until March. I'm just starting to think about it.) Mary Kelly and I will present a session on non-fiction readers advisory.

I think sometimes librarians don't think of non-fiction in terms of readers advisory. At least, not like they do with fiction. When a patron asks for a good book suggestion, does your mind go straight to fiction (or a fiction genre)?

Some of the topics I will include in my presentation are:

1. Pairing fiction and non-fiction books. Did you love the Shopaholic series? How about pairing it with Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine.

2. Techniques for talking to patrons about non-fiction. Booktalking non-fiction is sometimes easier than fiction because you can emphasize that "it's all true!"

3. Some new titles that are sure to be a hit with our public library patrons (and not necessarily popular titles we've all heard of. I'm taking us off the beaten path!)

4. It is sometimes easier to get reluctant readers, new readers, and even non-readers to pick up non-fiction.

That's my teaser! To hear more, you'll have to come to PLA in Portland, Oregon. I'd love to hear what you think about Non-Fiction Readers Advisory, though. Do you have tips and techniques to share?


  1. We have a special elderly patron who asks us to pick out one or two non-fiction or biography books for him each week. When I'm at that branch I spend time talking to him about what he did when he was working, the fun things he likes to do, what he's read before. It all helps me find the perfect book for him. Because never fear, he'll tell you exactly how he felt about your pick when he returns it the next week!

  2. I like the career and hobby angle! I've also asked people what magazines they like to read and what kinds of movies they like to watch to get an idea of what they are into.

  3. I really hope I get to attend your presentation at PLA! I'm a Reference Librarian and our department is completely separate from the Fiction area, so we have to do non-fiction readers advisory pretty regularly. My sneaky way of introducing readers to non-fiction is through displays and monthly non-fiction book discussions. Whenever I lead a book discussion, I bring in other related non-fiction books.
    For example, when I led a discussion on A Long Way Gone, I brought in Bite of the Mango (a female perspective on the conflict in Sierra Leone) and one of the patrons checked it out. It's been a pretty successful technique so far.