Readers Services

How can you keep up with genres or formats you don’t know well? And what about when a patron asks for a recommendation? Here are some great resources (like award lists, recommendation tools, and reviews) to help you build your collection and help patrons find their next read!

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The Readers’ Advisory Interview

What do you do when a patron asks for a recommendation? Readers Advisory (RA) is helping leisure readers find their next favorite book (and asking the right questions to get there)!

RA can be active (a conversation with a patron) or passive (a display or booklist), and can include suggestions for and related to non-print materials, such as audiobooks, movies, TV shows, music, podcasts, and even video games.

The readers’ advisory interview uses the same welcoming behaviors as the reference interview.  Approachability is the key.  Use appropriate body language and make sure the patrons understand that you have time to talk about books and reading with them.

The readers’ advisory interview involves engaging the patron in a conversation that elicits a board set of information about their reading interests and habits.  Examples of a couple phrases that may be helpful to use are:

“Tell me about a book you read that you really enjoyed.”

“Tell me the story of the last book you enjoyed.”

The key to successful readers’ advisory services is to have a commitment to serving readers in the library. A responsive attitude and maintaining a neutral stance on the “quality” of an individual’s reading habits will encourage good readers’ advisory interviews. Be aware of popular titles and hot topics, and understand that there are many tools to help you along the way.

Step 1: Initial listening period (opens channels of communication)
Step 2: Suggesting titles (open dialogue on books)
Step 3: Offer ongoing assistance

Recommended Resources

The following resources are great for collection development and for readers advisory.

** Highly recommended resource.

AILA | American Indian Youth Literature Award

Awarded biennially, the AIYLA identifies and honors the very best writing and illustrations by Native Americans and Indigenous peoples of North America.

ALSC | Children’s Notable Lists

Each year the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) identifies the best of the best in children’s books, recordings, and digital media.

BadgerLink | Core Collections Complete

Interface search for Children’s, Middle & Junior High, and Senior High Core Collections that includes reliable guides for collection development and maintenance, curriculum support, readers’ advisory and general reference.

**BadgerLink | NoveList

Fiction recommendation resource with read-alikes, discussion guides, reading lists, and more for a general audience (includes all K-8 resources).

PDF: Finding Books w/ Diverse Characters (Novelist)

**BadgerLink | NoveList K-8

Children’s fiction recommendation resource with read-alikes, discussion guides, reading lists, and more.

BCALA | Booklists

Booklists created by members of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association celebrating the Black experience and the Black community.


The best book reviews, readers’ advisory, and collection development guidance from the experts at the American Library Association.

PERMALINK to all issues and articles in BadgerLink.

The Booklist Reader is free to all, and often links to content on Booklist Online, a paid database of over 170,000+ reviews and feature articles.

**CCBC | Awards and Best-of-the-Year Lists

Selected children’s and young adult literature awards and best-of-the-year lists from the Children’s Collaborative Book Center (CCBC) at UW-Madison. An excellent collection development resource. 

**Fantastic Fiction

Search and browse bibliographies of over 50,000 bestselling fiction authors, with the latest books and series information. Great for adult series readers. 

Kirkus Reviews

The nation’s leading prepublication journal of book reviews.

PERMALINK to all issues and articles in BadgerLink.

**Literature Map

Type an author’s name into the map to find other similar authors.

NCTE | Children’s Book and Poetry Awards

The Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children, the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children, and the Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children from the National Council of Teachers of English. 

NCTE | Wisconsin Literary Map

The objectives of the LitMap Project include:

• Promoting Wisconsin authors in a searchable website format;
• Helping Wisconsin localities to recognize their native authors, novelists, poets, journalists, and essayists;
• Celebrating the NCTE centennial by participating in one of their suggested affiliate activities;
• Promoting our Wisconsin affiliate by featuring prominent links to and recognition of WCTE on the literary map website;
• Providing school districts both in Wisconsin and abroad with easy to access information and links to Wisconsin authors.

Publishers Weekly ($)

Publishers Weekly is familiarly known in the book world as PW and “the bible of the book business.” 

PW’s Best Books Lists

Sign up for one or all of PW’s FREE e-newsletters.

School Library Journal (SLJ)

The most complete provider of news, information and reviews for librarians and media specialists who serve children and young adults in school and public libraries.

PERMALINK to all issues and articles in BadgerLink.

**Starred Reviews

A project of the IFLS and Wisconsin Valley Library Systems, Starred Reviews provide an excerpt of the reviews that have been deemed worthy of stars by these publications:  Booklist (BL), Kirkus (KIR), Publishers Weekly (PW), and School Library Journal (SLJ).  There may be some duplication from month to month, as we don’t always catch which titles were featured in other, earlier publications.

We Need Diverse Books

We Need Diverse Books™ is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.

**Wisconsin First Nations: American Indian Studies in Wisconsin

An excellent resource for teachers and librarians in Wisconsin. Films, First Nations booklists by age, maps, games, timelines, and more.

Wisconsin Historical Society Press

The mission of the Wisconsin Historical Society Press supports that of the Wisconsin Historical Society: to collect, preserve, and share stories about Wisconsin’s past.

The Wisconsin Historical Society published its first book, Volume I of the Wisconsin Historical Collections, in 1855.

WLA | Children’s Book Awards

The Children’s Book Award Committee of the Wisconsin Library Association’s Youth Services Section annually selects outstanding books for youth by Wisconsin-connected authors and awards the Elizabeth Burr/Worzalla Award, Outstanding Books of the Year, and Notable Wisconsin Authors/Illustrators.

WLA | Wisconsin Literary Awards

The Literary Awards Committee of the Wisconsin Library Association annually selects outstanding books by Wisconsin-connected authors and awards the WLA Literary Award, Outstanding Books of the Year, and Notable Wisconsin Authors/Illustrators.

WorldCat lets you search the collections of libraries in your community and thousands more around the world. WorldCat grows every day thanks to the efforts of librarians and other information professionals.

YALSA | The Hub

The Hub is a teen collections blog for YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services Association. Learn more about the organization on the YALSA website.