The continued growth of digital services has shifted training priorities and resources in all libraries. However, traditional and virtual services still rely on one key staff competency, readers’ advisory. Whether it is eBooks or children’s books, suggestions must be based on identifying the unique interests and needs of each customer.
In any discussion of readers’ advisory, it is necessary to provide practical guidance to staff on how to engage customers in conversations about their favourite books. We need to move from theory to best practices to ensure that front-line staff are seen by customers as experts in delivery services.
Readers’ advisory training begins with ensuring that all staff understand why readers’ advisory is an important practice for public libraries. The article discusses the how of readers’ advisory and introduces the framework of readers’ advisory: Nancy Pearl’s Doorways into Fiction, and appeal factors, largely pioneered by Joyce Saricks and implemented and refined by NoveList.
When it comes to the study of readers’ advisory, there is plenty of sage advice out there on the theory of helping someone find a book. It’s important to get to know what your reader is in the mood for. Try to understand what your reader is looking for by asking questions regarding what they’ve read recently, what they enjoy or don’t enjoy in their books, what are some of their favourite books and authors?
A crash course in RA: common mistakes librarians make and how to avoid them. The article discusses how to avoid OPAC dependencies and personal experiences and focus on appeal.
Whether it’s learning to ski or how to sew a straight seam, a great teacher shows contagious enthusiasm while breaking down the skill into manageable pieces. Becky Spratford is no exception. An authority on readers’ advisory, well-known presenter, and author of the blog RA for All, she provided a wealth of RA guidance during the interview. Secrets of Readers’ Advisory — Part Two is a continuation of the conversation with more great suggestions.
Reinventing RA to ensure books, audiobooks, movies and digital resources are promoted during the pandemic has allowed libraries to new services to customers. Read how some public libraries are providing their services online and via social media channels:
- Which read next (Hamilton Public Library)
- Reading recommendations (Oshawa Public Library)
- Personal picks (London Public Library)