5 Simple Readers’ Advisory Best Practices

5 min read

By Kara Kugelmeyer

How do you discover your next read? I am always on the lookout for my next read.  For me one of life’s sweetest moments is discovering a new title that I am sure will open up a new universe for me.

With thousands of books published each year and no way to read them all… sigh. Finding those trusted sources to recommend my next read is important to me. While there are a host of ways to find that next good book, I the best is to ask the original readers’ advisory service – public librarians.

Readers’ advisory (RA) is both and art and a science and practitioners support all formats: print, large print, eBooks, audio, etc., and of course all genres as well!

My work at Thorndike Press, the home of the large print book, allows me the great good fortune to get to know some of the best practitioners of RA. I asked them to share some of their thoughts on RA and large print.  I found them to be wonderfully enlightening and I hope you will too.

Readers' Advisory Best Practice 11.       In considering your readers’ advisory service plan, don’t forget large print readers. We know that all the popular titles we love are available in large print too, but our patrons may not know this. Add large print to displays in the library and highlight the collection on your webpage. Like everyone else, large print readers love to talk about what they enjoy, and they deserve a well-rounded collection and our expertise.
Joyce G. Saricks, BookList Editor



Readers' Advisory Best Practice 2

2.       Promoting large print involves passive and active readers’ advisory activities. Passive readers’ advisory includes placing large print shelving in a high traffic area so the large print books are clearly visible to all who come into the library as well as creating displays and book lists using and highlighting Large Print titles, no matter where the display is set up in the library. Active readers’ advisory involves library staff leading customers directly to the large print shelving area and having one-on-one conversations with readers to try and determine what their next great read will be – in large print!
Lucy M. Lockley, Collection Development Manager, St. Charles City-County Library District (MO)


Readers' Advisory Best Practice 33.       Be nosy. Hang around the large print stacks, introduce yourself and talk to patrons about what would they like to see that isn’t here. What do they like about your collection? Work the circulation desk what are people checking out? What in large print is on the hold shelf? What do patrons have to get thru inter library loan? What in your collection is being requested thru inter library loan?
Lisa Marie Joyce, Collection Development Librarian, Portland Public Library & South Portland Public Library (ME)



Readers' Advisory Best Practice 4
4.        Remember no two people read the same book. Don’t make assumptions on why people like a book; there is no substitute for a good reader’s advisory interview. You and the patron may like the same book for very different reasons setting, characters, voice….
Lisa Marie Joyce





Readers' Advisory Best Practice 5
5.       Series. Know how to find the order of titles in a series. Know which series need to be read in order, which don’t, and find a way to explain the difference to patrons. Many patrons can’t imagine reading any series in an order other than the way they were published.
Lisa Marie Joyce


Thank you to our large print RA best practice contributors! Here’s a little bit more about them:

Joyce G. Saricks ran the Readers’ Advisory department at the Downers Grove Public Library (IL) and has served as an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University. She has published two titles with ALA, The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction (2009) and Readers Advisory in the Public Library (2005). She is also the author of, Read On … Audiobooks: Reading Lists for Every Taste, which offers original annotations for more than 300 audiobook titles grouped according to some 60 themes, fiction and nonfiction.

Lucy M. Lockley coordinates the district’s Readers’ Advisory Team and has presented conference programs for the Missouri Library Association, the Public Library Association, and the American Library Association. Lucy has served on the Reading List Council, Notable Books Council, and the Zora Neale Hurston Award Committees, was Co-Chair for the RUSA CODES Readers’ Advisory Committee, and Chair for YALSA’s 2012 Midwinter Trivia Night Planning Taskforce. She wrote the chapter “Keeping Up: Genre Studies as Continuing Education” for ALA Editions The Readers’ Advisory Handbook (2010) and is a member of the Booklist Advisory Board (2012-1014).

Lisa Marie Joyce is a Library Reads selector and is very active member of the public library community, posting on EarlyWord and other RA resources.

What about you? Do you have other RA best practices? We’d love to hear them!  Keep on reading and sharing and remember a good book is just a librarian away!



About the Author

Kara is a Product Strategy Manager at Five Star & Thorndike Press. She’s currently reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Anchor and The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier and The Bees by Laline Paull.


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