Reading & Readers’ Advisory

Readers’ advisory is a service that creates a conversation with library patrons in order to suggestion specific books (or e-books or audiobooks or any format) or authors. This conversation is focused on the library patron’s preferences and past reading experience. Let’s look at some ways this service supports readers!


Libraries Support Readers

This may seem like an obvious point, but libraries strive to support readers. This is done in a number of ways, one of which is offering a service specifically designed to meet to help a reader find a book they will enjoy. This book may be an uncommon title or a bestseller they’ve never tried.

Building Relationships

A library patron that has a satisfying reading experience through readers’ advisory is more likely to return for more materials and for more suggestions. This kind of relationship with patrons is important to build the library’s profile in the community. 


Readers tend to rely on the bestseller lists when they don’t have personalized recommendations. Unfortunately, this list isn’t necessarily the best way to have a satisfying reading experience. An experienced readers’ advisor, however, can focus on the reader’s past reading habits and preferences to create a custom list of suggested titles.

Reach Readers Where They Are

Libraries are creating digital footprints to keep up with readers. Readers’ advisory has been adapted to fit various forms of social media like Twitter, Pinterest, and SnapChat. The Seattle Public Library, for example, is one of the many library systems with an active YouTube channel. They even offer 30 second book talks, like this one.

Outside Your Comfort Zone

I mentioned this above, but readers’ advisory can connect readers with unexpected material. This can take many forms such as linking genre fiction to nonfiction resources. For example, in What to read next: A Discovery of Witches I linked a supernatural romance to a nonfiction book on wine culture because they share a lot of the same elements.

Sharing is Caring

Most people find leisure reading to be a deeply personal activity. Getting a reader to open up and share their reading preference is significant. Encouraging staff to reciprocate in a relevant way is also significant. This will increase library staff’s readers’ advisory skills and help build a stronger team to offer comprehensive service. Remember—it takes a team to offer successful readers’ advisory!


This is really just touching on the basics. Readers’ advisory services are continually evolving to help patrons discover their next read. Understanding appeal factors and using the local library collection is one way to build a relationship with patrons and the community.

Feature pic is out-standing by GPC.


Gilbert, J., & Fister, B. (2011). Reading, Risk, and Reality: College Students and Reading for Pleasure. College & Research Libraries, 72(5), 474–495.
Koester, A. (2014, June 9). Thoughts on Reader’s Advisory [Blog post]. Retrieved from
Morris, L. (2013, October 14). Readers Advisory: Fresh Approach, Same Core Service. WebJunction. Retrieved from
Ontario Public Library Association. (n.d.). Readers’ Advisory Conversation. Retrieved from
Orr, C. & Herald, D. T. (Eds.). (2013). Genreflecting: A Gudie to Popular Reading Interests. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.
South Ontario Public Library Service. (n.d.). Readers’ Advisory. Retrieved from
TEDx Talks. (2012, April 21). Reading with Purpose: Nancy Pearl at TEDxSeattleU [Video file]. Retrieved from
Vnuk, R. (2013, May 9). Jack of All Trades Readers’ Advisory: How to Learn a Little About a Lot. Public Libraries Online. Retrieved from

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