Readers Advisory Conversation
The readers’ advisory conversation takes place between a reader and a library staff member about books and reading. This conversation includes the readers’ advisory interview, the determination of appeal factors, reading suggestions, and the follow-up, both immediately and over the long term.
Simply stated, readers’ advisory is the task of promoting the library’s collections and trying to get the material in the customer’s hands so they can check them out.
Reader’s advisory is the process of matching readers and viewers to materials. Reader’s advisory answers questions that have more to do with the patron’s leisure reading than with informational needs. People read to escape from the mundane and everyday life, out of curiosity (what’s all the excitement around this book/author), to connect when feeling excluded or alone, to challenge their ideas, knowledge and philosophies, and for sheer pleasure.
All staff may act as a reader’s advisor. The job of a readers’ advisor is to suggest/recommend material and provide customers with a value-added library experience.
- When customer’s check out material this is the best time to discuss with them other material they may be interested in.
- When circulating around the immediate area of the desk, take the opportunity to engage customers and ask them if you can help them find an item of interest. Lead them to the online catalogue to show them how to find books from their favourite author or genre. Let the customer know that the shelving cart contains items that customers have recently read and returned.
Conversation or Interview
When you chat with customers, you often find they are open about their interests and you can offer your suggestions or perspectives on what you have read, listened to, or watched.
The following are questions or suggestions you can ask during the reader’s advisory discussion:
- The item you are looking for is currently checked-out, but we do have it in audio-book and it is downloadable.
- If you like that genre, remember that we label our books with genre stickers.
- There are many other titles in that series, would you like me to look that up for you?
- How did you enjoy that title? Was it interesting?
- I also read this book. How did you find it?
- The Quick Pick is not available, but I can show you where the display is so you can choose another title while you wait for the one you want.
- The item you are looking for is currently checked-out, but I can check our catalogue to look for read-a-likes.
Actions to Offer Suggestions
- The catalogue is a great way to find items to suggest to customers.
- New lists of DVD’s, fiction, non-fiction, audiobooks etc., which are always updated.
- For print material, enter the following keywords in the ‘Subject’ search of the catalogue:
|Ghost stories Fantasy fiction|
Legal stories Science fiction
Love stories Horror fiction
Spy stories Suspense fiction
Sea stories Christian fiction
Western stories Historical fiction
Once the search results are listed, many online catalogues have the ability to limit by facets (usually found on the left of the search results screen). For example, you can limit by children vs. adult material or language.
For movies, enter the following keywords in the ‘Subject’ search of the catalogue:
|Animated films Historical films Spy films|
Biographical films Horror films Superhero films
Comedy films Musical films War films
Epic films Science fiction films Western films
Fantasy films Short films
Gangster films Silent films
Once the search results are listed, you can limit by the facets on the left (e.g. children vs. adult etc.)
RA websites offer great information and provide a visual for you and the customer to peruse:
Closing and Follow-up Customer Service
- Give them a book to hold: Put a book in their hands so they can look at it while you talk about it. Customers are more likely to borrow something they can touch. Front-line staff should be empowered to ensure that customers don’t leave the library without “something in their hands”.
- Make them comfortable: Invite them to sit at a table to look over the books. Bring over extra titles by the same author or within the same genre for them to choose from.
- Follow through: Remind them: “Any time you want any other suggestions, I’d be pleased to help.”
A Word on Series
Science fiction series usually should be read in order. Character based series do not usually need to be read in order.
Booktalking Your Way to the Friendliest Library in Town – A slide show that offers valuable tips on how to engage customers in a readers’ advisory conversation.