16 Reader’s Advisory

Reader's Advisory is a service that helps readers find appropriate recommendations based on their interests, reading level, and other factors. Each library has a unique method of managing Reader’s Advisory requests. Some systems incorporate Lexile ratings, which indicate the difficulty of understanding a particular book. These ratings are typically associated with age levels for a particular work. However, age should not be a determining factor when conducting Reader’s Advisory.

After you have finished determining potential future reads for a patron, you need to locate the book in your collections or in another library. WorldCat is a massive service provided by OCLC that turns all of its participating libraries into a consortium of sorts. When you have found a particular manifestation of a work you are interested in obtaining, the bottom of the page will have a list of all nearby libraries that have a copy. You can reach out through Interlibrary Loan for access to the book. Alternatively, you may decide to purchase the book for your collection. WorldCat also has notes on similar items to a particular work, so you can use it for limited Reader’s Advisory purposes.

Places to Look for RA Searches

A Book List is a specialized list of books that are appropriate for a particular audience or that are all dealing with the same subject. Examples of book lists include summer reading lists for academic or entertainment purposes or lists of authoritative books specified by organizations or institutions for professional development. Awards lists include all works that have won a certain award. Book lists can be found in physical and digital iterations. Literary Hub, New York Times, BookRiot, NPR, Read.gov, and other websites contain booklists for many categories.

A Book Review is also a good resource for information about applicable texts. Again, NPR and the New York Times have book reviews. Kirkus Reviews is also an okay resource, although it focuses on books its companion institution, Kirkus Publishing, has published. A wider range of companies, institutions, and public services publish book reviews than publish book lists.

There are a wide range of websites librarians and patrons can use during Reader’s Advisory sessions. NoveList, a readers’ advisory service, not only provides access to information on 155,000 fiction titles, but it also offers a wide range of feature content that will serve fiction readers of all ages with author read-alikes, book discussion guides, reading lists and more. It is provided by EBSCOHost, which means that patrons will have to utilize library access in order to reach the website.

Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations (goodreads.com).”

Their service allows you to create a free account and:

  • “See what books your friends are reading.
  • Track the books you’re reading, have read, and want to read.
  • Check out your personalized book recommendations. Our recommendation engine analyzes 20 billion data points to give suggestions tailored to your literary tastes.
  • Find out if a book is a good fit for you from our community’s reviews.”

Librarians and other book lovers have created entire websites dedicated to fulfilling reader’s advisory tasks. Examples include Kitchen Sink RA, What Should I Read Next?, Fantastic Fiction, Your Next Read, Whichbook, LibraryThing, and Gnooks. Take your time and familiarize yourself with these websites, if not for yourself then at least for the sake of your patrons.

Finding Reader’s Advisory Results at Your Library

Finding acceptable resources for the reader is only half the battle. In order for the entire process to be effective, you have to ensure that your reader has a way to know about the item and have access to it. In other words, they need to see it in the catalog or request it through interlibrary loan procedures. They also have to know the metadata of the item. Let’s go through the metadata of some records at the CSI Library and WorldCat.



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Introduction to Library and Information Science Copyright © 2023 by College of Southern Idaho is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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