Nancy Pearl Admits She Plays Angry Birds

Our guest speaker at my library’s Staff Development Day yesterday was none other than world-famous librarian Nancy Pearl!  You may already know her from the “Shushing Librarian Action Figure.”  Or, for you more literary types, NPR’s Morning Edition. Yep, my library’s pretty hip.

At our staff day, Nancy described herself as a “reader” who comes at books from both a library and a bookstore background.  But public librarianship is near to her heart — she calls it one of the only two democratic institutions left in our communities, the other being public schools. They remain places where people from all walks of life and all ages can come get the information they need.

And Nancy is all about her readers.  When I was first initiated into the field of librarianship, I really loathed the idea of “Readers’ Advisory.” Too prescriptive and authoritative, gross!  But Nancy and her peers call it “Readers’ Services,” and she describes her work as collaborative: a conversation and a relationship between readers.  Ooh, I like that — sounds a little more Freireian!  And, argues Pearl, “people are desperate for ANY kind of direction about what to read… and that’s the role librarians can fill.”  Consider me a convert.

The heart of Nancy’s talk was the so-called Three-Legged Stool of Librarianship. She identifies three functions that are so important the stool will wobble unless they’re balanced: Continue reading