One of the things I love most about working in a library is connecting people with just the right book. After school is finished for the day, I can often be found wandering through the stacks with a bewildered teen or tween, stacking books in their arms and saying, “I know you’ll like this one.” I also enjoy giving book talks when I have a captive audience, so my teen advisory board has heard my spiel more than once, and every class that comes through for a tour gets a few book talks thrown in for good measure.
However, I can’t be there every time someone needs a new book, and sometimes people want to be left to discover things on their own. This is where passive readers advisory comes in. There are ways for me to promote books within the library without having to stand next to the shelves waiting for an unsuspecting patron to pounce upon. These are some of my favorite passive readers advisory tools:
Displays are an obvious way to do readers advisory. I have pretty limited space in my current library, though, so sometimes my display features just a few books on a common theme or with a common “look” to them. I do make sure to rotate the types of displays I do, though, and to include genres or authors I don’t typically read myself. In those cases, I read up online or enlist the help of my teens or another staff member to make the best display.
Bookmarks are another great way to make a display. I will take brightly colored cardstock and list a few recommended read-alikes to a particular book, then place the bookmark in the book so that the top is clearly visible. I have observed some of my patrons veering directly toward books containing these bookmarks.
Sticky notes are a great way to call attention to books that are displayed face-out. I noticed that very few of my teen patrons did anything with the books I had carefully displayed. When I added a brightly colored sticky note to the front of the book with a short teaser, these books started flying off the shelves.
This type of RA will depend on your patron base. I have created on-shelf QR codes that lead to a list saved in our catalog. The code paper is about the size of a business card and will say something like, “Do you love reading about Percy Jackson’s adventures? Try some of these books!” and the code will lead to a list of mythology read-alikes. I like this option for people who access the library’s catalog on their phones or for those who like to make lists of books to put on hold.
These are very similar to the “staff recommends” signs often seen in book stores. I have some small signs that say “We recommend [title of book] because” with room for a short description. These are folded to form a tent shape and set in front of our face-out displays. Like the sticky notes, this type of RA requires semi-regular maintenance, but it also allows various members of my staff to shine and show off the types of books they enjoy reading as well.
For all of these varieties of readers advisory, it would be easy to include staff members or teens in the creation and maintenance of the displays. I am a strong proponent of delegating tasks and giving teens ownership over their area in the library; this is a great way to get them involved in some of the day to day tasks that help keep the library looking welcoming and inviting.
What are some things you do in your library to provide readers advisory even when you’re not there to do it in person? Let us know in the comments!