Consult the Cat
This spring, the Administrative Training Package is on Marketing and Merchandising Collections. The Cat is tolerated at all programs by the State Library staff, since she is a heavy library user. One of the topics focused on in Marketing and Merchandising is Readers Advisory. Resources for men and boys came up for special discussion since those users need conscious attention in many public libraries.
With male cats, the Cat comments, it very much depends on which population you are talking about. Tomcats are tomcats. They are more capable of analytic thinking and strategic planning than they are given credit for, but they are hardly homebodies and they are pragmatic to the max. Timcats are timcats. They are more placid, more affectionate and more playful. On the whole, the Cat prefers them. She wasn’t planning on having kittens anyway.
With human males, matters are rather more complicated. Since both sexes are still trying to figure out what makes human males tick, it is hardly a subject that can be addressed here. But librarians have come to realize that there is an unintentional neglect of library materials for males in many public libraries.
The problem isn’t that hard to solve, once it is addressed. But it isn’t enough to start buying with men and boys in mind. They tend to like convenience. Special displays, targeted to their needs and clearly labeled, would often be much to their taste.
There are some obvious candidates: lifeskills, how-to books, political topics, history, nonfiction that reads like fiction, hardboiled mysteries, science fiction, speculative fiction, westerns. Healthcare and financial advice are of equal interest to both sexes but both do well in displays.
In a small library, which is strained financially just keeping up with current offerings, it is mostly a matter of adjusted vision. Reviewing booklists really helps to develop the change in perspective.
Readers Advisory has become such a broad field that the Cat has an uneasy feeling that she could be missing the obvious. But several sites have recently been recommended. Booksforboys.com (http:www.booksforboys.com) is very usable. It has links that are clearly divided by both age and topic.
One administrative training classmate recommended Guys Read, maintained by Jon Scieszka. It is a very usable site, if not very deep. The participant commented that the search function appears to be broken. It still is.
If you are bored and restless and in the mood for a deep site, GuysLitWire is really worth exploring. It is not that easy to use but wandering around in it can give a broad idea of what appeals to men and turn up some fresh ideas for purchase. Also, it is not limited to books.
Simply googling Nonfiction that Reads Like Fiction always turns up some great resources. The Cat is very fond of the Palm Beach County Library System’s website. She has raved about it before. Lists of “Bests” and “Overbooked” also offer some good sources.
The Austin Public Library’s Teen Book Lists (http:www.connectedyouth.org/books) is a wonderful and comprehensive list.
Much more specialized, but quite interesting, is the Michigan City Public Library’s War Booklists (http:www.mclib.org/booklistswar.htm). It covers the subject war by war and force by force.
The best resource for boys can also be the most elusive. Boys that read, whatever they read, and are willing to help are a priceless resource. The same is true of teens in general. The same is true of men.
If you have resources you especially like, please post a response to this column. That would certainly earn a purr from the