I put up the "Display for Dummies" this month. It features a selection of the library's ...for Dummies books. These books are a terrific, well known starting point for just about any subject under the sun or so I thought.
In a previous retail incarnation of myself I was helping a customer find a book on whatever topic they were looking for. I was practicing my reference interview skills at the time and through this process I found that the customer did not know anything about their subject. Being fairly confident that the ...for Dummies book in-stock at the bookstore would probably be a great starting point for the customer I brought them over to it. As it turns out the customer did not appreciate my helpfulness and was offended that I would recommend a book that would personally insult them. Well I thought I was doing a good job and I thought that the ...for Dummies book would be a good choice, but apparently not.
I managed to smooth the situation over and eventually the customer settled on that book, but only after an explaining the usefulness and the intention of the...for Dummies books and that I meant no offense. I did learn somethings during this whole interaction though. Not everyone has the same familiarity with the book world that I do, and that I can not take for granted what people do or do not know. Not everyone appreciates the self-deprecation that goes along with the ...for Dummies books. When I now recommend a ...for Dummies book I am more careful when describing it, so it comes across differently to a library patron that I feel may be more sensitive. The same principle applies for the An Idiot's Guide to... series as well! Finally, when a librarian recommends one of these books to you they are not making an editorial comment, they are just trying to give you some good information.