On the Need for Readers’ Advisory

I read this article a couple weeks ago and I keep thinking about it:

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Reader by Colin Robinson (posted on The New York Times on January 4, 2014)

In it, the author argues that one of the consequences of the decline of professional book reviewing and slashed library budgets is the loss of quality guidance for readers. Expertise has been replaced by crowd-sourcing, solipsistic online communities, and impersonal algorithms of limited nuance.

For the past several years, the main focus of libraries has been library technology and innovation. As a digital librarian, I spend all my time at work dealing with issues of library technology and service in an online world. This is an irreducibly important field.

Articles like this one remind me that readers’ advisory is one of the most important services libraries offer in this digital age. As intently as we focus on becoming leaders in library technology, I wonder if it wouldn’t serve our community and our industry just as well—if not better—to focus on becoming leaders and innovators in the field of readers’ advisory. There’s an obvious need for it.

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