Scott Rader is the young adult librarian at the Hays Public Library in Hays, Kansas. He loves working with teens, listening to music, and watching TV . . . all of which he uses to improve reader’s advisory. He doesn’t have any pets or kids and he paints in his free time. He says reader’s advisory and policy are his favorite parts of the job. You can find Scott on Twitter @ScottyRader. He’s here to talk about how he uses his passions to fuel his RA skills.
About a year ago I graduated with my MLIS. School killed me. It put me in a reading rut that I still haven’t recovered from, which sucks. Reading, recommending, and talking about YA books are a favorite part of my job. This slump, however, has led me to connect with books more personally.
We have a teen at my library who loves The Warriors books. She has a huge 3 ring binder, you know, the big one, filled with Warrior cats she’s drawn. She loves to show them to people and talk about the books. They are an easy introduction for people interested in the books to talk to her about them. They are also just a fun way for her to share her drawings. She’s interacting with the books much more deeply than if she read one and gave it 5 stars on Goodreads.
So, I read a book, Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon, and I loved it. I wanted to show my love for this amazing thing that gave me all sorts of feelings. But I am not someone who can draw or paint “fan art” and anytime I write “fan fiction” I get embarrassed and delete it. However, fan mixes offer an easier way to show love and to geek out over your fandoms. So, I put together a reading mix for Silver Phoenix. And I shared it with the world. And Cindy liked it. And, since I have amazing taste in music, IMO, I felt I must share more.
Fan mixes are just mixtapes for … anything (it really isn’t that complicated, make a mixtape for something you love). They are a great way to share feelings, through song, with characters, authors, OTPs, worlds, etc. I also think they create an interesting way to present Reader’s Advisory to your readers (any fan art, fiction, etc., really). I haven’t done much with my fan mixes at this point, besides sharing them on my personal tumblr and the library’s tumblr. I am squirreling them away until I have enough to make a display. I am also sharing them to encourage teens make their own for their favorite books. Those can go on display too! Teens can listen to the mixes. Maybe they like it enough to check out the book. Maybe they don’t. Either way, they know I like the book enough to make a fan mix for it. I think it also encourages them to show off their fandoms and to really connect with the media they consume.
For instance, when I first started my library job, Twilight was huge. Some readers really liked the supernatural element, some wanted sexy vampires, some were Team Jacob, some were invested in the love triangle. It’s important to tease out these connections with readers. I think the best way to do that, especially as a public librarian, is to consume everything and just enjoy the experience.
I am not saying be a fan of everything, but be willing to be a fan. Listen to the teens around you and try out their suggestions. Maybe you will find a new love (mine are Vampire Diaries and One Direction) and maybe you’ll find a few duds (I just don’t get The Mortal Instruments or Pitch Perfect), but understanding what teens like and why they like it, understanding their connections and their fandoms, can make for more well-rounded reader’s advisory.