Friday, March 19, 2010

Reader's Advisory Tips

I'll admit it - one of the things that scared me a little in library school was the concept of Reader's Advisory. How are librarians expected to know about every genre, author and topic in the library? It's impossible. And therefore, how do you make recommendations to patrons for a "good book" based on their own reading interests (and not your own)?

The January/February 2010 Issue of Public Libraries is all about Reader's Advisory. There are a number of great articles to read if you are interested in honing your Reader's Advisory skills. But there is one in particular that answers the questions posed above, and gives some great tips on being a "Jack of All Trades" - in terms of Reader's Advisory anyways. The article is "Jack of All Trades Reader's Advisory: How to Learn a Little About a Lot", by Rebecca Vnuk. The full article should be available via the Wilson Web professional database soon, but here are a few tips from the article in the meantime:

1. Put aside some time each week for self training. Break out of your "reading rut" and at least explore other authors/genres. Use the Adult Popular Fiction Checklist on Novelist as a way to find authors and genres you are less familiar with. You don't have to read every author, but pick one new one a week and at least skim some of their works or find some information about them online. For each genre get to know the top 5 of each of the following: classic and up-coming authors, must-know titles, and trends or subgenres. Get to know these and you'll astound any patron with your knowledge.

2. Keep track of what you read. If you are like me and just can't seem to remember every author and title you've read, utilize one of the great tools available that allows you to quickly and easily look up what you've been reading. These include Shelfari, Goodreads and LibraryThing. And don't be afraid to use them when assisting a patron. You can even set up a staff account on any of the above so that your whole staff can add what they've been reading.

3. Read reviews of books. Quite often this will give you enough to go on for a recommendation, even if you haven't read the book yourself. Professional journals and blogs are a good source of information for reviews. The author suggests two online resources she uses often: and

(Source: "Jack of All Trades Reader's Advisory: How to Learn a Little About a Lot", Rebecca Vnuk, Public Libraries, 49:1, January/February 2010, p.34)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for the "shout out"! I'm so happy you find the article useful!
    Rebecca Vnuk