This paper will analyze the article ‘Readers’ Services and the Library Catalog’ by Laurel Tarulli. This article examines the nature of the relationship between readers’ advisory (RA) services in libraries and catalogers. The article states that these two groups should work together more closely to create a more interactive library service. The article argues its case effectively, and makes several interesting and relevant points. There are some stylistic weaknesses though, with its repeated use of questions weakening the flow of its arguments. This paper will argue that the article raises useful ideas, especially with regard to the use of library catalogs as a form of social media, but could have been constructed in a more effective way as far its style is concerned.
The article begins by using an emotive appeal to the library services professionals who are reading it. It details the satisfaction and warmth which comes from recommending books to readers, and the ‘magic’ which occurs when interests overlap and conversations spark. This is an effective way of grabbing the interest of library professionals, highlighting the emotionally positive impact of possible changes, rather than dry technical details which would render the impact of the argument less effective.
The question of reforming Readers Advisory (RA) services is then raised. It is suggested that the services that this department offers should look to be more closely integrated with the work carried out by catalogers of the library stock. Both of these groups, it is argued, possess skills which can improve the readers’ experience, and make more informed recommendations for readers. The argument is that too often degree-qualified staff are treated as the only professionals capable of helping customers in this way. Catalogers have direct contact with most books, and are therefore in a uniquely useful position when it comes to being able to entice readers into the library.
A central part of this improvement and integration would be to use digital technology more effectively, especially social media. This would allow libraries to create websites which functioned as social spaces as well as sources of information, with links to readers’ blogs, recorded book discussions and other interactive features. New mobile apps could be designed for smart phones, and the demand created by libraries could go on to trigger new and better designed apps. The article makes the case in an excited, it somewhat unstructured way. The use of questions is effective at first, but then the reader is faced by a whole series of questions with no solutions, which makes the article little more than a list at times, like notes from a meeting.
Overall, however, the article effectively addresses issues of reforming library services. This article is valuable because it discusses innovative ways to collaborate between cataloging and reader’s advisory. As professionals in this field we should be looking to enhance and develop our online services, so that we can that reach out to even more readers. There should also be more collaboration between catalogers and other librarians.
Tarulli, Laurel, ‘Readers’ Services and the Library Catalog’,