The Book Adept

According to a 2017 Pew Research survey, between 64 and 73 percent of library users say they go to the library to check out a book. Despite libraries’ focus on promoting information literacy or providing makerspaces, the public is telling them that recreational reading is their priority.

The sad truth, however, is that many libraries do not prioritize any kind of readers’ advisory service. At most, it is seen as an incidental extra perk, and librarians are vaguely expected by their administrators to have at least rudimentary skill in providing it. But readers’ advisory isn’t considered a required course in most library schools, so unless a librarian has taken the initiative to pursue an online webinar or has read a book or two about it, readers’ advisory is not a skill that can be offered by most librarians, except haphazardly and ineffectually by those who are avid readers. Seventy-five percent of patrons who enter the library on a quest to find a good book answer “no” when asked if a librarian offered to help them find one (NoveList secret shopper survey, 2015). What good does it do your patrons to offer them a giant box of books to read, but be unable to help them find just the one they want?

Give your library staff the training they need, via a seminar or in-service training workshop with the Book Adept. Let the Book Adept move them towards a successful future as readers’ advisors.

In a Book Adept readers’ advisory workshop, your staff will learn:

  • Who readers are: how they read, what they read, why they read;
  • What books are available: the complexities of genre, literary fiction, and readable nonfiction;
  • How to put those elements together via appeals, doorways, and the readers’ advisory interview to send your patrons home happy.

Why would you want to do this?

  • Library staff feel confident and empowered. Happy staff stay in their jobs.
  • Satisfied patrons come back. That boosts your circulation.
  • Happy patrons talk—to potential new patrons, to city council people…
  • Loyal patrons vote. You want your library to persist? You need funding. Your patrons will make sure you get it.

Readers’ advisory will put you on track to a future with busy, fulfilled librarians and satisfied, reading patrons.

Try it.

Read my remarks about prioritizing readers’ advisory in the March/April 2020 issue of Public Libraries magazine. ReaderRevolutionPLA_ma2020

Please join me on my blog for book reviews and readers’ advisory pointers.