reading matters, so let's make public library reader services awesome!


Archie comic

I discovered a term last week that pretty accurately describes an anti-readersadvisory behaviour I have occasionally seen, and been told of. When staff chuckle over the inferiority of graphic novels and romance novels and those who read them, they’re indulging in bookshaming and readershaming.  When it was highlighted online it sparked some great responses from library staff including critically; ‘Have they had any RA training?’

If you’re into promoting a reading culture, help stamp out bookshaming and reader shaming among library staff with some professional readers advisory training. Start a genre reading group or encourage staff to start conversations with readers who read that thing that is not their thing so they can find out what it is that appeals to them about it. Encourage wide reading (and that includes reading reviews about books that your community reads). I was challenged to read a romance novel and now I love them and can recommend some titles to other romance readers. I’ve always liked stories with real people and a relationship of some sort (not necessarily romantic partners) so it made sense. I’m still in the novice stages, but I’m enjoying the learning process.
I grew up on comics like Peanuts, Archie and Mandrake, so I understand their appeal. But if a staff member was dismissive of reading material with pictures, I’d talk about the artwork with them (I’ve learned a lot from Frew and The Phantom) and the storylines, the characters that draw people in… I mean, most staff know the importance of picture story books for young children, so what’s different about comics and graphic novels?  Bravo to the libraries holding comic festivals! All reading matters.

Comic festival in Parkes ‘Ever since we launched the comic book collection in the library, we’ve noticed that fathers will borrow the comics and will share them with their kids.’

In retail all staff are expected to know about all the product lines; know how they feel, where they come from, what’s in them, how to use them, who wants them, what they can do… If we can’t match that standard, then that’s a real shame.

Read more about bookshaming and reader shaming:

A Little Stone: the rippling repurcussions of bookshaming by Priscilla Thomas
‘Bookshaming has repurcussions we often cannot see.’

On Peddling Reading by Vassiliki Veros 
‘As long as people in authority speak with either disdain or in a patronising way then advancing literacy programs and reading initiatives will struggle to take hold because who wants to take part in an activity associated with a bunch of judgmental twats.’

The State of Readers Advisory by Henrietta Thorton-Verma and Meredith Schwartz in Library Journal
‘You don’t have to like a book…you just need to make it ­appealing to the right user.’

Confessions of a former bookshamer by Greg
‘Suddenly, reading stopped being something I did to show off and went back to being something I enjoy.’

Share if you’ve talked about comics and romance novels with a reader or two!


2 comments on “shame!

  1. Empty Nester
    February 19, 2014

    Ranganathan’s Laws of Library Science
    “Every reader his or her book.
    Every book its reader.”
    S.R. Ranganathan
    Thank you for your thought provoking post

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This entry was posted on February 19, 2014 by in reader services, readers, reading, staff development and tagged , , , .
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