Spratford, Becky Siegel

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Spratford, Becky Siegel

PERSONAL: Female. Education: Amherst College, B.A., 1997; Dominican University, M.L.I.S., 2001.

ADDRESSES: Office—Berwyn Public Library, 2701 Harlem Ave., Berwyn, IL 60402.

CAREER: Dominican University, River Forest, IL, adjunct faculty member in Graduate School of Library and Information Science; Berwyn Public Library, Berwyn, IL, readers' advisory librarian and reference librarian.


(With Tammy Hennigh Clausen) The Horror Readers' Advisory: The Librarian's Guide to Vampires, Killer Tomatoes, and Haunted Houses, American Library Association (Chicago, IL), 2004.

SIDELIGHTS: Librarian Becky Siegel Spratford is a readers' advisory librarian in Illinois who helped create her library's readers' advisory section in 2000, noted a biographer on the American Library Association Web site. As part of her duties, she advises readers and patrons on types and availability of selections and helps them pick fiction and nonfiction appropriate to their tastes and age level. Spratford expanded her advisory counsel to a wider audience with the publication of her The Horror Readers' Advisory: The Librarian's Guide to Vampires, Killer Tomatoes, and Haunted Houses. In the book, Spratford and coauthor Tammy Hennigh Clausen offer a detailed overview of the horror genre in both literature and film. It is comprehensive enough to give librarians unfamiliar with the horror genre enough of a grounding to successfully advise readers on book and literature choices. The guide "does not just advise on advising but does a dissection of the literary devices in horror and allows the librarian to understand what this literature is about," commented Kliatt reviewer Joseph DeMarco. Writing from a horror lover's perspective, Spratford and Clausen address the needs of librarians, but also of readers "who believe that they've read it all," noted Lynn Evarts in School Library Journal.

The authors "give credible explanations as to what makes horror appealing and why horror fiction has become so mainstream," remarked Karan Jones in Australian Library Journal. They outline a brief history of horror and how it relates to, and has been affected in popular perception by, horror films. Spratford and Clausen are careful to explain that horror is more than just deranged killers and splattered guts; the genre also consists of quieter, more-thoughtful fare such as subtle ghost stories, creepy atmospheric pieces, and elegantly written tales of the weird. Horror sub-genres are covered, including themes such as witches, ghosts and haunted houses, werewolves, mummies, vampires, biomedical horror, demonic possession, and psychological horror. They explore seven basic factors that motivate people to read horror, such as readers' desires to find a place to confront their own fears or to explore the psychology of horror. The authors include aids such as summary lists, book descriptions, and comprehensive suggestions for finding additional horror resources. They also devote an entire chapter to the readers' advisory interview and what librarians can expect when advising patrons on horror choices. Librarians can find practical advice on marketing their horror collections to both new and old readers.

Kenley Neufeld, writing in Teacher Librarian, concluded that The Horror Readers' Advisory is "the right book for any novice or experienced horror reader who needs to buy, read or recommend horror fiction." Evarts also noted, "Librarians will find this book invaluable" in advising patrons seeking darker reading and viewing options.



American Libraries, May, 2004, 'Scared Silly,' review of The Horror Readers' Advisory: The Librarian's Guide to Vampires, Killer Tomatoes, and Haunted Houses, p. 64.

Australian Library Journal, February, 2005, Karan Jones, "The Fascination of the 'Orrible," review of The Horror Readers' Advisory, p. 95.

Kliatt, July, 2004, Joseph DeMarco, review of The Horror Readers' Advisory, p. 36.

Library Journal, September 1, 2004, Jennifer Baker, "Fresh Meat for Horror Fans," review of The Horror Readers' Advisory, p. 195.

School Library Journal, July, 2004, Lynn Evarts, review of The Horror Readers' Advisory, p. 135.

Teacher Librarian, October, 2004, Kenley Neufeld, "Funding and Advocacy for the School Library," review of The Horror Readers' Advisory, p. 38.


American Library Association Web site, http://www.ala.org/ (June 19, 2005), biography of Becky Siegel Spratford.