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Brooklyn Public Library (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

So much scribbling, so much ink, how to decide what book to read next? This month, the Brooklyn Public Library launched a free service for personalized recommendations from the people who know their books best — the librarians.

Bkyln BookMatch logo (via BPL)

According to the library, they’ve received over 600 responses to Bklyn BookMatch so far, with 35 librarians tasked with tracking down tomes to fit inquiries. The way the service works is you fill out a form on the library’s website, typing in the kinds of books you like and what you’re looking for, and then you receive in return a reading list of five books that might be good fits.

As Brooklyn Public Library President & CEO Linda E. Johnson explained:

A librarian actually writes each response; it’s not a computer or algorithm. BPL has all kinds of librarians helping with this service — children’s, teen, and adult librarians. We have a diverse group of librarians that reads widely across genres. The recommendations are made based on each librarian’s expertise.

Librarians at the Brooklyn Public Library, ready to recommend books (courtesy BPL)

The New York Public Library has its own book suggestion service, although it uses an algorithm, much like the majority of online recommendation sites, from Goodreads to Pandora. With Bkyln BookMatch taking a human tactic, there’s more chance for the unexpected and for trying out things that might not be quite as logically matched. As of this writing, my inquiry on books related to New York City infrastructure hasn’t been answered yet (the library cautions that it can take up to a week to respond, or longer with high demand, so not a service for those on deadlines), but I am looking forward to whatever the librarian curators select for a reading list. Hopefully this will get people to then head over to the library for the book, rather than just plugging that list into Amazon, showing how the personal side of libraries can be something essential to reading.

Try out Bklyn BookMatch on the Brooklyn Public Library’s website.

h/t Brokelyn

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Allison Meier

Allison C. Meier is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Oklahoma, she has been covering visual culture and overlooked history for print...