I conducted my Secret Shopper experiment later than most of you. I will admit I was a little nervous, since many of you had not-so-good experiences. Well, I had the same kind of experience.
I went to a library a couple towns over from me. It is the central branch of a countywide library system that has ten other, smaller branches. I wasn’t sure which desk to approach, but the first desk I saw was the Reference Desk. I was politely acknowledged by the staff member (librarian or not, I did not know). I asked her if she could help me find a book to read. Maybe it was the way I phrased my question, but she responded with, “What’s the title?” I told her I didn’t know yet, and that I was asking for a recommendation. She then asked me if I had a library card. Since this library is under a reciprocal agreement with my library, I do. However, I wondered why she asked me this. Having a library card should not matter if a patron is just browsing for good titles, or if a patron wishes to read a book while in the library. Anyway, she asked what I liked to read. I told her that I like a little bit of everything, but I wanted something with romance in it. Nothing Harlequin Romance-ish, just a good story with a good romantic feel to it. She handed me a printed booklist of Romance Novels, suggested the library’s website section called “The Reader’s Place,” and made sure I was aware of the library’s subscription to NoveList.
Her suggestions were of RA tools, not actual books. The tools, though, are pretty good. I went to the website, and I took a look at “The Reader’s Place.” It is an extensive, well-organized portion of their website dedicated to the different fiction genres and subgenres. However, I left without a book. The staff member never left her desk. She never actually provided me with actual Reader’s Advisory. I left with a piece of paper telling me what Romance Novels I should read, and knowledge of a website that I may just use when I advise reader’s about what to read next.
I gained a little something, but not what I was hoping for.