YOUR Citizen Reader

Who exactly is Citizen Reader anyway?

For the last couple of days I've had a post up detailing my new nonfiction and readers' advisory training service, YOUR Citizen Reader; so now it seems only fair to polish up the old CV and post that too. My apologies in advance for all mercenary postings this week; try to think of it like "pledge week" here at CR. (Unlike public broadcasting, I don't get tons of money from the federal government --tee hee--and have to find my own methods of producing those wily little things called "income streams.") Thanks for your patience--and regularly scheduled nonfiction reviewing will resume next week.

When not blogging as Citizen Reader, I'm a mild-mannered freelance librarian and back-of-the-book indexer named Sarah Statz Cords.

Freelance Librarianship and Publishing

Most recently, I've authored several readers' guides, published by Libraries Unlimited:
The Inside Scoop: A Guide to Nonfiction Investigative Writing and Exposes (2009)
Now Read This III: A Guide to Mainstream Fiction (with Nancy Pearl, 2010)
The Real Story: A Guide to Nonfiction Reading Interests (2006)

My first book, Public Speaking Handbook for Librarians and Information Professionals, was published in 2003 by McFarland.

I am also the editor of the Libraries Unlimited Real Stories series of readers' guides, which are reference books that help readers find nonfiction reading they might enjoy. I formerly worked as an associate editor for the Reader's Advisor Online database and blog, published by the same company (Libraries Unlimited/ABC-CLIO).

I have taught a course on the Reading Interests of Adults at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Library and Information Science (twice). I also review business books for Library Journal and have reviewed nonfiction titles for Bookslut.

Public Library Experience

Most recently, and for more than seven years, I worked as a public library assistant for the Madison Public Library (WI). I worked as both a circulation clerk and a reference librarian: shelving books and helping maintain the collection; helping patrons with their readers' advisory and reference questions; writing book reviews for the library blog; and helping with an email-based reader's advisory service. I was also in charge of tax forms, but I prefer not to relive those memories.

Bookstore Interlude

Before that I worked as a clerk at McDermott Books, a used bookstore in Madison (WI), which was heavenly. (McDermott's is no more, sadly.) I assisted readers and helped fulfill internet orders, and it was there that I learned the importance of deciphering what readers really want: when young men asked, quietly and with furtive glances, "for gardening books," what they really wanted were books on how to grow cannabis.

Academic Library Experience

My first jobs out of library school were in academic libraries. In College Library, the undergraduate library of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I worked in the circulation department and spent time at the reference desk, while also hiring and supervising student workers who were sweet but felt differently than I did about the importance of either showing up for their shift or calling to let me know they wouldn't be showing up at all.

In Wendt Library, I served tomorrow's engineers and scientists as a reference librarian, becoming more familiar than I ever thought I would or could get with ANSI standards and chemical engineering databases. I have an abiding love for engineers (engineering students were uniformly polite, and total sweethearts) that dates from this period.


I have a B.A. in Journalism and an M.A. in Library Science, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


I often avoided childhood chores in order to hide in various spots in the house and outside to read books. I read primarily fantasy, but also whatever I could get my hands on, from a friend's Sweet Valley High series to my parents' bookshelves of politically conservative nonfiction titles. I became an eclectic reader out of necessity.

Introducing: YOUR Citizen Reader.

Coming to a computer screen near you: online training for all your readers' advisory needs!

Let's be honest: it's getting tougher to find money in the budget for offsite workshop and conference attendance. And sure, there are great free training and RA resources on the Internet--podcasts and websites and archived programs, oh my--but who has the time to find the most suitable ones? That's where my new service, YOUR Citizen Reader, comes in: now you can attend workshops on a variety of RA topics, all from the comfort of your own computer.

What I Offer, As YOUR Citizen Reader:

A budget-friendly option: Because you won't have to pay any of my travel costs (and I won't incur any of my own), I can offer online talks and training sessions at reasonable prices.

Customization: You can tell me exactly what type of information you need, and I'll create a workshop specifically for YOUR needs. How often do you get to tell the presenter what you want?

Flexibility: You don't have to make plans to attend a specific conference or session; we can agree on a date and time that is best for you and your staff.

Low-tech options: I prefer to offer live sessions through Skype (meaning you'll have to download the Skype program onto your computer and sign up for a Skype account) but I am just as happy to offer different types of training: podcasts produced specifically for you (and which can be listened to at your convenience, simply by clicking on a URL); discussions by conference call; specifically designed print handouts and self-training materials; webinars using your meeting software; and even email discussions and support.

Workshop Topics include:

Nonfiction (nonfiction RA; specific types and genres; title awareness)
Literary and Mainstream fiction (fiction RA; specific types; title awareness)
Readers' Advisory (RA 2.0; Introduction to RA; indirect or passive RA)
Public Speaking (specifically for librarians and information professionals)
Professional Writing for Librarians (book reviewing; writing for publication; library and personal blogs)

How Do We Start?

I'm so glad you asked. Please email me at [email protected] with questions or to start planning your training session today! And if you're wondering just who I am and what other training experience I have, please feel free to read about my qualifications.