Service Review | Readers' Advisory & What Not to Read

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    • #1257
      Georgia Pardey

      For my service review this week I worked through the State Library of Queensland ConnectEd course on Readers’ Advisory. ConnectEd was designed for public librarians to expand their knowledge and training, but it is also free and available to the general public. After a swift account set up, I easily navigated to the topic I wanted to learn about and enrolled in the course. I consider this activity to be a service rather than a program because there is no intended interaction with library staff. Rather it is a digital service to connect the user with specified materials.

      The web page is neatly formatted with introductory text and five compartments of information and training. First up is a lesson on Modern Readers’ Advisory Theory and a friendly cartoon (shown below) to ease you in.

      Straight away it is obvious that there are many external links available and helpful articles to educate the user. This includes content from ALIA and reputable published authors. Hyperlinks to glossary definitions are provided for new terms. SLQ outline three key reasons for RA services, which are to, “connect people with their reading needs, to support literacy, cultural and social development, and all the other benefits of reading!” These reasons encompass most of our ideas from the Twitter chat, aside from the library usage standpoints taken by a few students who noted that RA services increase borrowing and maximises investment in the collection.

      There is also video content to break up the written work and readings. One focuses on film advisory that identifies genre and appeal characteristics as discussed in the course material video. However, the SLQ recording is an overview of a specific group of suggestions and does not go into detail on the steps taken to reach those suggestions. In this instance the SLQ video is outshone by the I Need a Book! video that breaks down the appeal characteristics as frame, characterisation, pacing and storyline. Furthermore, while the course video is a little dated, the SLQ video is not so much more modern to make it a better choice when the content is not as thorough.

      The practical tips section has a comprehensive list of sources for RA knowledge such as private reading, engaging with others in the reading community (colleagues or library users) and reviews. There are also tips aimed at combatting an issue identified by Thorton-Verman and Schwart that librarians do not have time for general reading on top of regular duties. SLQ suggests engaging in reading clubs or hosting one-off sessions where each librarian can bring one book to discuss (see What Not to Read, Penguin Random House Book Club and Genre Study). There is a fun example provided where each person brought a book they hated and talked the others out of reading it. This looks like a fun reverse on the traditional approach to RA and I’d love to hear some of my fellow students talk me out of reading a book. If you have one in mind leave a comment below and I will come up with one too!

      As the Thorton-Verma and Schwart article illuminated, there is a need for confidence building among public librarians in their ability to deliver RA services. Making use of the SLQ ConnectEd service will surely equip public librarians with the resources necessary to build confidence in their RA abilities. There was a lot more information provided on the site that I have not been able to cover here, including a test section at the end of the training so that users can assess what they’ve learned. Overall, I am impressed by this service and consider it an effective mode of connecting the library user with RA information.

      Don’t forget to tell me what not to read below!

      • This topic was modified 8 years, 9 months ago by Georgia Pardey. Reason: Referencing
    • #1357
      Katherine Lee

      Hi Georgia. Great review! Sounds like a really interesting course.

      I hadn’t considered the idea of talking someone out of reading a book in relation to RA before. I do it all the time with my friends if they are asking about a book that I really didn’t like, but I don’t know if I would in a professional capacity. I wonder if a librarian has ever dissuaded someone from reading a particular book, perhaps they would if they knew the client really well?

      • #1358
        Georgia Pardey

        Hi Katherine. Thanks for the feedback!

        I think a librarian would have to learn how to talk someone out of a book if they were convinced they wouldn’t like it. Without insulting the patron’s opinion of course. They’d probably make a suggestion on an alternative so no one leaves empty handed.

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