Portable MSLIS: Chapter 14

As an undergraduate, I majored in English with an emphasis in creative writing so Chapter 14 immediately caught my attention as someone who is now hovering on both sides of the library fence: as a writer and as a future librarian. As Chelton points out, there is a very fine line between recommending a book and suggesting a title (Chelton, p. 159). As an avid reader, I know that there are authors who very much appeal to me and I often recommend their work to other readers but I realize that as a librarian I have to be conscious of pushing my favorites (or even my ideas) on patrons.

For a school librarian, I find this dilemma particularly confusing as one of the foremost important factors is encouraging students to read. This problem also relates quite well to Chapter 9 which promotes the idea of knowing your patron base so that you can adequately maintain a collection that serves them rather than a collection of your favorite books and authors. Especially for teaching librarians who often deal with difficult reading populations, it seems that it can be difficult to properly handle an advisory encounter.

The idea of promoting reading through library displays seems like it would be especially useful in a school library. The displays not only grab attention but, if they are done well, they will have a wide variety within the larger theme promoted. Even merchandising and arranging shelves will certainly affect how a patron will experience the library and may, in some cases, effect which books (if any) they opt to borrow. Thinking of a library like a retail store helps to conceptualize how important appearance and organization can be.

In my interview with public librarian Carol Boutillier, she mentioned often that the cleanliness and homey feel is very important to her patrons. The children’s section was very brightly colored and used child-sized shelves so that even the shortest patrons would be able to reach their books and she felt that it was important to change the “highlighted” books on display on a weekly basis so that patrons constantly saw a huge variety in what the Sparta Public Library has to offer.


Chelton, M. K. (2008). Readers advisory services: How to help users find a “good book”. In Ken Haycock & Brooke E. Sheldon (Eds.), The portable MLIS: Insights from the experts. Westport, Connecticut, Libraries Unlimited.

Evans, G. E. (2008). Reflections on creating information service collections. In Ken Haycock & Brooke E. Sheldon (Eds.), The portable MLIS: Insights from the experts. Westport, Connecticut, Libraries Unlimited.

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