Fields, A. (2011), "A Few Good Books: Using Contemporary Readers' Advisory Strategies to Connect Readers with Books", Collection Building, Vol. 30 No. 4, pp. 184-185. https://doi.org/10.1108/01604951111181173
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Stephanie Maatta teaches at the School of Library and Information Science at the University of South Florida, and her research interests, in her own words, “focus on books and reading as a social and cultural phenomenon”. A Few Good Books is both a comprehensive guide and a textbook for practitioners and library and information students in the area of readers advisory (RA) services.
Thorough in its approach, this book is designed to be “the most current text on readers' advisory, meeting the needs of a new generation of librarians and readers”. It considers the use and value of emerging technologies to assist RA and the changing groups of readers, including adult new readers and new speakers of English, who can benefit from a good RA service. It aptly meets this aim with detailed and comprehensive chapters on a range of areas relevant to RA. It is designed to complement other key texts in RA, and refers to other standard works where they provide more detail or coverage than is given in this volume.
There are four main parts to this text, each consisting of several chapters. The first, on reading and readers, looks at the history of books, reading, and RA services. The second looks at ways to reach the contemporary reader, including a chapter on Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 tools for delivering this service, and another on the issues and benefits associated with books in various electronic forms. The largest part of this text considers the art and science of RA with chapters dealing with the reference interview and RA conversation, strategies for identifying and knowing “a few good books”, before considering various fiction genres and RA services for different user groups. The final part, titled simply Notate Bene, considers several aspects of RA services that are common to all types of genre and reader. There are four useful appendices containing a wide range of resources for RA services, including booksellers' lists, book awards and resources for book discussion groups.
The academic style of each chapter ensures that details are logically and comprehensively covered, and there are many useful tables interspersed in the text showing good comparative data of tools, services and resources. Each chapter ends with a succinct conclusion, a list of works consulted in the writing of the chapter, and a section of further reading, alerting users to other items of interest. The text ends with an author/series/title index to works mentioned in this book, and is followed by a comprehensive general subject index for easy access to specific topics in RA.
A Few Good Books is likely to stand as one of the key texts in readers' advisory services, due to its comprehensive and academic nature, and its decision to complement rather than supplant other key texts in this area. This volume is recommended for larger libraries where RA services are provided, as a text supporting the teaching of RA in library and information science, and for those wanting to use new or emerging technologies in the practice of delivering good RA services.