What You Need to Know about Readers’ Advisory

It’s more than a little fitting that this post is being published today. Today marks the last class day of my third semester in library school. As hard as it is for me to believe, today is my official halfway point on my journey to my MLS – I graduate in 12 (very short!) months. Standing here, with the starting point seemingly far in the distance and the finish line seemingly equally remote in the opposite direction, I feel that I have gained a fair amount of perspective on not only library and information science, but also on the curriculum that makes up LIS graduate programs. 

As an academic advisor by trade, I am accustomed to having conversations with students about what classes might work best and why. Having that conversation with myself has been less than normal! Throughout my MLS program I have, thus far, cleared an academic path that has given me a wealth of new knowledge. I have grappled with some of the biggest topics our field has to offer – neutrality, access to information, and serving underrepresented populations, among them. Indeed, one specific class has given me room to explore all of those areas (and more)! Readers’ advisory – connecting patrons with leisure reading – is a vital library service and one that is hard to do well. One way to become more proficient in readers’ advisory is to find a graduate program that offers courses in the subject. In my experience, those sorts of courses allow students to explore and reflect on popular literature in a number of different genres. In doing so, the librarian-in-training puts themselves in the shoes of future patrons and better understand one of the biggest reasons patrons visit their local libraries.

While a specific course (or several!) can be incredibly helpful, what, if for whatever reason, you can’t take a readers’ advisory course? Check out these four awesome reader’s advisory-related blogs!

RA for All

Perhaps the RA blog. Run by a current librarian who specializes in adult leisure reading, this blog is a great introduction to readers’ advisory, as well as a source for tips about actually doing RA with patrons. This is a great resource for librarians by librarians.

Smart Bitches Trashy Books

For those interested in how RA can be specifically applied to romance writing, there is perhaps no better resource out there. Formed by a community of longtime romance readers, this website reflects the love such a community brings to RA. A great place to learn from fans and authors about an often-maligned genre.

What Should I Read Next?

The simplicity of this website belies its genius. Simply enter your (or a patron’s) favorite book and be greeted by a list of recommendations. One downside is that it doesn’t give much context to how books are related, but it is a quick and efficient RA tool.

Literature-Map: The Tourist Map of Literature

Much like What Should I Read Next?, Literature-Map’s genius lies in its simplicity and its visual features. Literature-Map is built around the users favorite authors, and, once their names are entered, an interactive feature highlighting similar authors. This resource is particularly good for users who are looking for a more visual RA tool.


Cover image by Ed Robertson from Unsplash.


Nick Dean is a first-year master’s student in the School of Library and Information Management (SLIM) at Emporia State University. Nick currently works as an academic advisor at a medical school in Kansas City.

2 replies

  1. I adore RA for All. If you ever have a chance to see Becky Spratford speak, do it! She’s also great to follow and interact with on Twitter.

    One of the main things I remember from her is that it’s GOOD to talk at the desk–if you’re talking about things that can be provided by your library. Discussing favorite books with coworkers will help contribute to a reader’s advisory culture and intrigue your patrons, even if you don’t often get RA questions at the desk. If they know you’re a reader and you’re passionate about books, you might start to.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the resources Nick! I just started delving into RA this semester and there’s so much to it. I’ll be bookmarking these for future use. I feel like you’re my doppelganger…I too graduate from my MLIS program in December 2020 and was an academic adviser prior to starting library school.

    Like

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