In 1931 Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan proposed the five laws of library science. One of them is “Every reader their book”. I use this as a key when helping library patrons find the perfect book for themself.
Each patron who comes into the library is looking for something different. Some are looking to learn more about gardening. Some want light entertainment. While still others are struggling to find a book that interests them at all. It is my job to help them find what they need and “Every reader their book” is my secret weapon.
When a patron needs a book about plants I could simply point them to the 635.9 section and say “Go for it.” But even I, and my black thumbs, know that there is more nuance to plants than dirt and green things.( Although most of my plants eventually turn brown.) A book like Hip houseplants (635.965 Hamilton) would be a great resource for a customer who had taken to home horticulture in the last year, but it would be practically useless for a customer wanting to attract birds to their outside garden. That customer would need a Bird-friendly backyard: natural gardening for birds: simple ways to create a bird haven (639.978 Zickefoose.)
Many people use reading as a form of escape and want a light hearted book to relax with-they would need a book that they could pick up at odd intervals and be able to hop back into the story with no trouble regardless of how long it had been since they had a chance to read that book. If I suggested the book American Gods by Neil Gaiman with its fluctuating cast of characters and timelines the customer may have to spend a few minutes reacquainting themselves with the characters and the situation. “Wait. How did Mr. Wednesday, Shadow, and Mr. Nancy get to this place? Oh yeah, they rode the carousel in the roadside attraction. Yeah, that’s right.”
Customers of all ages also have different format needs when it comes to books as well meaning that their perfect book may actually be an electronic or audio version or, my favorite, the electronic audio version, of the print title. A person who finds the small print in The Broken Gun by Louis L’amour difficult to read may find the large print version a better fit and less tiring for their eyes.
Many parents are worried about putting books into their babies hands for fear of them ripping pages. This is an understandable concern as I had to sheepishly present Clumsy Crab to the front desk one day when my daughter ripped a page in half while trying to turn the page herself. After this I decided that I would check out board books for my daughter until her fine motor skills progressed a little more. Board books are small books with thick pages that are easy for tiny hands to turn. Many of the board books available at the library can help parents teach baby simple concepts like colors, shapes, and numbers.
The Chickasha Public library serves a diverse group of customers who each need a specific book to suit their needs. One of the most satisfying parts of my job is deploying my secret weapon to ensure that each reader finds the book that fulfils their need in that moment. Come on down to the library and let staff help you find the book that will help you become the reader you were meant to be.