Library Lesson Learned

The other day at work I was shelving books when a woman asked if I work there. Eager to be helpful and put my developing library wisdom to use, I said yes. She said that her daughter, who was there with her, had just finished The Trumpet of the Swan and was looking for other books by E.B. White. I asked if she had read Stuart Little or Charlotte’s Web, and she said yes. I think my next utterance was something along the lines of “ok…hmm.” The girl then proceeded to give an effusive summary of The Trumpet of the Swan, hoping that I could come up with another book that she might like. I don’t know much about children’s literature, and suggested that she ask the children’s librarian. Needless to say, my first official readers’ advisory opportunity was a total bust.

In my reference class last semester we talked about readers’ advisory resources, so I know they are out there. But in that moment, with the girl looking longingly at me as I struggled to think of the title of any children’s book, it would have been cumbersome to go to a computer and search for similar books. Instead of recommending a book, I recommended a librarian who is better versed in children’s literature.

People who work in libraries are expected to have answers. I didn’t feel like a failure because I couldn’t recommend a book, but that experience did make me conscious of the unpredictability of librarianship. I am not going into this profession expecting to have all the answers, but I aspire to do whatever it takes to find them, even if that is as simple as asking a co-worker for help.

Libraries | People

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