One thing we know (and encourage!) at NoveList is that anyone can do readers’ advisory. There are good ideas to be found everywhere — on the internet, in your library, and on TV. Here are some of the easiest we’ve seen in webinars, on social media, and in other conversations with library staff from around the world. These are all perfect for those times when you need inspiration. 

  1. Create timely displays. We all have seen displays of love stories for Valentine’s Day or holiday books in December, but there are plenty of other ways to tie displays into a specific time-based theme. Create a display of cookbooks when a new season of Great British Bake Off is released, or have some fun with a no-shave November theme like this library did.  
  2. Share what staff are reading. Librarians love sharing the books they’re reading, so this idea is kind of a no-brainer. Readers can connect with staff and put a book to a name! Try a “staff member of the month” display highlighting one staffer’s picks, buttons for staff that say, “Ask me what I’m reading,” or create bookmarks featuring staff photos or avatars. Readers will come to understand which staff member’s tastes align with theirs and will be on the lookout for the bookmarks bearing their friendly faces – or maybe will even strike up a conversation to get personalized recommendations! 
  3. Sticky note RA. We *LOVE*  this low-tech, low-key, low-cost RA idea we heard from a customer. As books are shelved in their New Books display, they create “Sticky note RA” by placing (you guessed it) sticky notes inside the cover of new books that say ‘enjoy this book? Try these similar titles!’ using readalikes from NoveList. It’s low impact, can be done quickly and easily, and encourages patrons to continue to check out titles from your library.  
  4. What your neighbor is reading display. This idea is simple and effective. Readers LOVE knowing what other people are reading. Create a display of “recently returned” or “most checked out” books and you’ll see your patrons linger over it to learn what their fellow bibliophiles have read. You can simplify it even more by just pushing the cart of recently returned items into a common area and leaving it there for patrons to browse — no muss, no fuss! 
  5. The Last Chance display. This is another idea that we’ve heard many different iterations of. Pull books that haven’t circulated in a while and are in danger of being weeded. Then, allow readers to give them one last chance to stay in the collection. Other versions include the “bottom shelf” display where all the books come from the bottom shelf where few people have crouched down to browse or the “hidden gems” where overlooked titles are given a second chance to shine. 
  6. Talk to readers, including your colleagues! What better way to practice your readers’ advisory skills than to talk with other readers? A simple “what have you been recommending to your friends recently” or “what kinds of books do you like” can open the doorway to a fruitful and fulfilling conversation about books. Whether you are shelving and strike up a conversation with a patron about what they’re reading or chatting with a coworker in the breakroom, having casual conversations about books will help you feel more confident when you’re asked for book suggestions in the future. Plus, this has the added bonus of potentially alerting you to titles and authors you aren’t aware of, especially if your fellow reader has different tastes than you!  
  7. Participate in social media conversations. Maybe I’m a little biased with this one, but social media is such a great platform for RA and connects you to readers all across your community. TikTok is all the rage for book recommendations now, but sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have plenty of bookish conversations happening, too! Whether it’s #AskALibrarian on Twitter every Thursday at noon ET (check us out @NoveListRA) or posting book reviews, you can dive in and join the book chat wherever you are most comfortable. Be warned, though, you might end up with even more titles to add to your TBR than you offer up to other readers! 

The Art and Practice of Providing Outstanding Reading Recommendations

Connecting readers with books they love is a core library service. But talking with readers about their tastes and then trying to match those readers to books is a lot harder than it sounds. Learn how to navigate common scenarios librarians face when working with readers

Halle Carlson is a Content Development Manager at NoveList. She’s currently reading All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers and listening to Mika in Real Life by Emiko Jean.