Abstract

Is contemporary Reader's Advisory (RA) a purely populist service? In an effort to answer that question, this paper begins with a brief account of the ideological tension between populism and elitism in the library profession. It then continues to an exploration of the views on "taste elevation" represented in seven editions of the flagship Genreflecting series, published between 1982 and 2013. On the basis of this critical interpretive work, the paper concludes that the most plausible answer to its initial question is "no." While Genreflecting portrays RA as distinctly opposed to taste elevation, the service remains fundamentally normative, and further, inescapably concerned with the improvement of individuals' tastes. This is because while advisors do not try to elevate readers' tastes in books or genres, they do seek to cultivate in patrons a preference for pleasure reading. Insofar as RA is structured to instill such a preference, and insofar as to prefer is always to prefer one thing over some alternative, RA is essentially a project devoted to taste elevation in leisure activities.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-0682
Print ISSN
0024-2594
Pages
pp. 491-507
Launched on MUSE
2017-09-08
Open Access
No
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