One thing we message about a lot at NoveList is that anyone can do readers’ advisory and that there are good ideas to be found outside, on the internet, in your library, on TV – basically almost anywhere. 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 – all perfect for when you feel out of ideas.

  1. Create timely, seasonal displays. I’m sure you’re thinking “Well…duh!” Anyone that walks into a library during February expects a Valentine’s Day display – that’s just a given. But people have shared ideas for seasonal displays that were more unexpected, like this one from Penny S.: “We did a display of fiction based on pets (mostly dogs) for Valentine’s Day called ‘I love my pet.’ We made buttons for patrons saying ‘I love my dog’ and ‘Ask me about my cat’ etc. Our display also had pics of all the staff pets.”
  2. Share what staff are reading. This was a frequently offered idea, and it makes sense right? Librarians sharing the books they’re reading – 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 this idea from Melanie L. that you can easily make in LibraryAware: “I love having bookmarks with staff recommendations – we’ve just started and it is fun for staff and useful for patrons who get to know their librarian’s reading tastes. Great for when there is no space for displays, too.”
  3. Sticky note RA. I loved this low-tech, low-key, low-cost RA idea. Alexi S. described it: “We create sticky note RA to place in the cover of new books – ‘enjoy this book? Try these similar titles!’ It’s low impact, can be done very fast, and helps patrons…We fill out the sticky notes as books are shelved in the New Books display and use the read-alikes from NoveList.”
  4. What your neighbor is reading display. This idea has had a few different iterations throughout our webinars, like “Recently returned” and “Someone else just read this,” but the core idea remains the same. Readers come in and see what everyone else is loving, and it’s a display you don’t have to do a lot of thinking about. With virtual everything, these “recently returned” books could be shared on a Twitter feed with a link to the catalog.
  5. The Island of Forgotten Books. This was another display idea with a few different iterations and a fantastic way to get those low circulation titles out and about again. Other attendees mentioned similar displays they’ve done, like Books from the Bottom Shelf, Hidden Gems, and this swoon-worthy idea from Frances S.: “I created a display called the Island of Forgotten Books that looks like a grass hut, complete with a palm tree. We have seen a 50 to 75% checkout rate each month and have saved tons of books from weeding projects.”
  6. Stalk the readers. Ok, don’t *actually* stalk them…but if you’re shelving and notice a patron browsing a certain genre or author nearby and happen to know a little bit about it, talk to them about it (from a six-foot remove, of course)! Susan S. tells how she does it: “I spend a lot of time shelving the new books, aka stalking the browsers there…great opportunity for hand-selling!”

    Bonus tip: This would be a great time to check out your NoveList Select Analytics Dashboard to see what titles, authors, and series your readers are browsing in your catalog.

  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. At our webinars, we've learned some great hashtags to follow for libraries using Twitter, like #AskALibrarian (catch us participating every Thursday at noon eastern!) and my new personal favorite, courtesy of Tara B.: “We have a social media campaign that is #TheresADeweyForThat with library staff out in the world reading a book from that call number in a clever setting – wine book in a vineyard, Treehouse book in a treehouse, yoga book in a yoga class. Nonfiction RA is fun to do, too!”

Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention that we have some great readers' advisory tools available to help you. Check out NoveList Plus for help with finding books on a theme and LibraryAware for making great bookmarks and social posts. 

Readers’ Advisory Foundations


Are some of your staff new to readers’ advisory? Want help getting staff at all levels ready to excel at connecting readers with books? Hire a Learn with NoveList expert.

Jennifer Lohmann is the Director of Sales and Marketing for NoveList. She’s reading Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe in preparation for a Crash Course on Narrative Nonfiction.