Brush Up on Reader’s Advisory Skills – SJSU | School of Information

Published: May 24, 2024 by Aryn

While you do not have to be an avid reader to be a successful
librarian, it certainly helps. One of the most in-demand skills
for librarians according to SJSU’s MLIS Skills at Work
 is reader’s advisory. 

So what exactly is reader’s advisory?

While there are many definitions, one of my favorites is: “Simply
put, reader’s advisory is helping our customers find the best,
most enjoyable reading experience that matches their needs,
interest and reading levels. It is finding the right book at the
right time” (Source: Maine
State Library
). This ability to recommend a great next
read to someone else is not only an incredibly helpful skill but
also a wonderful party trick.

 While it would be beneficial for librarians to have read
everything in the library – with volumes in the tens or hundreds
of thousands – that endeavor is impossible. Not to mention, your
personal interests likely don’t match those of all patrons. 
Fortunately, librarians can build a skillset to allow them to
stay current with lots of different kinds of fiction and
nonfiction. Reviewing materials about up-and-coming books from
sources that note writing style, setting, characters, and format
allow librarians to get a general idea of which readers each book
would appeal to. Below are a few great starter resources: 

Kirkus Reviews
– One of the oldest book
review magazines, Kirkus is renowned for its honest (and at times
harsh) reviews that are popular among librarians, booksellers,
and those who work in publishing.

– A monthly list of top-reviewed,
soon-to-be-published books. This list is created from nominations
by librarians who’ve read advanced copies through sources like
NetGalley and Edelweiss.

While it’s wonderful for librarians to be ahead of the curve in
terms of anticipating new releases, it is also important to be
able to recommend existing books that may already be included in
the library’s collection. For example,  if a teen comes into
the library having just finished A Good Girl’s Guide to
, they may be interested to know that Holly Jackson
has just released a new thriller – The Reappearance of Rachel

While you may already be familiar with book review sites like
Goodreads, media sources
Books We Love
, or
NYPL Best Books of the Year
provide a good combination of
books that have been reviewed by experts and have commercial
appeal. For librarians looking to find the highest-rated books
all in one spot, LitHub
provides an annual condensed list of titles receiving accolades.

Though Reader’s Advisory is typically considered an element of
public librarianship, it’s an important skill for all librarians!
No matter your preferred specialty, you can start building your
reader’s advisory skillset today using the resources above or by
checking out Reader’s Advisory Service in the Public
, 3rd ed. (ALA Editions, 2005) by Joyce Saricks, or
genre-specific titles available through
King Library online

Two More Things…

Here are a few job opportunities that might be of interest!

Remember that internships can be an especially valuable part of
your learning experience at the iSchool while also helping you
when it comes time to look for jobs. Learn more about the
iSchool’s internship program here,
where you can check out the INFO 294 Student Handbook as
well as the Internship Sites

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