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Reader's Advisory 101


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This PowerPoint provides an introduction to the RA interview and RA techniques, as well as providing RA resources.

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Reader's Advisory 101

  2. 2. Nice to meet you!  Courtney has worked for BPL for 20 years as: a page in Adult Services; a Circulation staff member; one of the team managers at the Towne Square Branch; and now as the lead person for Homebound Services.  She has managed a national chain bookstore and co-owned two used bookstores.  She takes the directive to “never apologize for your reading tastes” to heart.
  3. 3. Nice to meet you!  Renee is new to the Library! at Hillcrest  She has worked at two public ( Durland Alternatives in Ithaca, NY and BPL) and one academic libraries.  As a volunteer for Homebound Services she selected books for patrons with a wide range of tastes.  Renee loves to read non-fiction, mystery and Western Americana.
  4. 4. What is reader’s advisory?  Reader’s Advisory is a conversation between the staff member and the customer with the hope to establish a reader for every book and a book for every reader.  RA techniques can be applied to all the formats we offer including audio-books, games, movies, and music.  There are many ways to accomplish this, but the most important is to be interested in reading and to desire to share that interest.
  5. 5. What is reader’s advisory?  And remember… it’s OK to fail at RA!  Not every book recommendation will be a winner for that reader; the important thing in RA is to collaborate with the reader to understand what they are looking for.  In a Reader’s Advisory interview, the measure of success is not finding the right answer, but rather it is successful when a reader perceives that the library is a place where they can talk about books and obtain suggestions and resources to meet their needs.
  6. 6. The reader who’s read everything  “Like habitual smokers or drinkers, readers feel secure knowing supplies are not going to run out […] ‘When I come to the end of a supply of a given thing, I’ll go, “Oh my god, what am I going to do now?”’” – Catherine Sheldrick Ross, Readers’ Advisory Service: New Directions  Our patrons really want the author they have just read and loved. They’ve run out, so our goal is to find an adequate substitute. This is the purpose of the RA interview. • In our second session on April 28 we will hold another RA session that will go into detail on genre fiction and suggested readalikes for some other big names.
  7. 7. The reader’s advisory interview  RA is a conversation. When having this conversation it’s important to use:  Open-ended questions  Active listening  Paraphrasing  Neutral questioning (no leading questions)  We also want to avoid making assumptions about the questioner
  8. 8. The reader’s advisory interview  To get information from the reader, start with the general and move to the specific  General questions  What are you in the mood for?  What are some books or authors you’ve enjoyed?  Specific questions  What did you enjoy about the book?  Ask about appeal characteristics:  Story, setting, language, character
  9. 9. The reader’s advisory interview  Nancy Pearl’s four doorways  Armfull of Books wiki  The characteristic that appeals most for one book may not be the same as another  Ex: My favorite thing about mysteries might be a great plot, but my favorite thing about literary fiction might be great descriptive language  Knowing some appeal characteristics of a book similar to what the reader is in the mood for will help you dial in to the right match
  10. 10. The reader’s advisory interview  How does the reader currently find new materials?  Ex: bestseller lists, friends, bookclub, Amazon, etc.  This question helps assess what the reader has read and if they also need some new resources for books  What direction is their reading going?  Where can you translate/expand their taste?  Litmap -  Audiobooks add an extra appeal characteristic
  11. 11. The reader’s advisory interview  Test your skills: RA mismatches  They asked for: something like Alice Sebold’ s The Lovely Bones  They asked for: a John Grisham novel  They asked for: a Harry Potter-series readalike  They asked for: an author like Maeve Binchy  They asked for: something like Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken
  12. 12. Translating the readers’ advisory interview into a search  Once you know a reader’s appeal characteristics, you can use an RA resource such as Fantastic Fiction to find readalikes and make suggestions  Select several possibilities  Are they looking for stand alones or a series?  Priorities for finding materials  Is it on the shelf?  If not, can you place a hold?  Do they need to/should they start with the first title in the series?  Is it the best introduction to the series?  Is it the best introduction to the author?
  13. 13. Translating the readers’ advisory interview into a search  Test your skills: RA challenges  The reader who has read everything by their favorite author, such as James Patterson or Danielle Steel.  The person who provides minimal information – only yes, no, or I don’t know answers.  The person looking for books for someone else, and what that person wants isn’t clear.  The overly-specific person: ex: only wants highbrow non-fiction on audiobook read by a British male narrator.  The reluctant young reader in the library solely because mom/dad/teacher told him to find something.
  14. 14. Reader’s advisory resources: readalikes for the big names  Danielle Steel  James Patterson  Lee Child  Diana Galbadon  Maeve Binchy  Debbie Macomber  Clive Cussler  Nora Roberts  Barbara Kingsolver
  15. 15. Reader’s advisory resources: the best of the best  Best of the best handout  Fantastic Fiction  Fiction_L  NoveList  Reader’s Advisor Online  Romance Writers of America  Stop You’re Killing Me  Whichbook
  16. 16. Arm Full of Books  The library has a reader’s advisory wiki at   Username:  Password: books  The wiki includes an extensive list of RA resources.  Interested in contributing? Just ask one of us how.