How To Help Librarians Help You Find Your Next Read: What to Expect and Where to Go for Reader’s Advisory

It’s a feeling avid readers know too well: you’ve just finished devouring a truly wonderful book, and as you finally close the covers on the last page, dread sets in. What now? You want more! But the book is over, and you don’t have any idea what to read next that will give you the same feeling. Or maybe you want to branch out into a new type of book, but have no idea where to start. What do you do?

Enter your friendly neighborhood librarian to save the day!

When you ask a librarian for help finding the next good book you want to read, we call that “Reader’s Advisory.” We like to think that every book has a reader and every reader has a book. It is our job to connect the two, and that is what Reader’s Advisory is all about. It’s like we’re book matchmakers!

Here are some bits of information you might want to give the librarian when you ask for help finding a good book to read. You don’t need to know all of these off the top of your head, but the more of this you can tell us, the easier job we will have finding the perfect book for you.

 

  • The title of the last book you really liked
  • The name of your favorite author
  • What genre of book you are looking for
  • What are some other genres of books that you like, but might not be looking for today
  • What subgenres you like (i.e. cozy mysteries versus thrillers, hard sci fi versus space operas)
  • The title or author of a book you really didn’t like
  • How you want to read the book (Do you want a physical copy? Large Print? An audiobook? An eBook? A graphic novel?)

The librarian might also ask you some questions that seem a little off the wall, but don’t worry. We’re just looking to get more information about what you might like. We might, or might not, ask:

  • What’s your favorite TV show or movie?
  • Where would you like to go on an ideal vacation?
  • What is one adjective to describe the kind of book you are looking for? (Spooky? Silly? Suave?)
  • Who is your favorite literary character?
  • Something else completely random

Sometimes, questions like these help us to narrow down the choices by getting at aspects of a book that are hard to describe directly. 

So, where should you go to get this wonderful Reader’s Advisory service? The short answer is any desk with a librarian at it! They’ll either be able to help you, or direct you to a colleague who can. At the Central Library, the best places to start would be the New and Novel desk on the first floor of the Johnson Building for the adult collection. If you are looking for a children's book or teen book, you can go to the Children's Library or Teen Central on the second floor of the Johnson Building. If you’re at one of the neighborhood branches, talk to one of the branch librarians. 

An image of the circular "New and Novel" sign in Central library
The circular New and Novel sign shown here hangs in the Johnson building above the desk where librarians are available to give Reader's Advisory.

If you want, you can get Reader’s Advisory from the comfort of your own home. Our Shelf Service website lets you ask a librarian for personalized reading recommendations. You can also browse through NoveList Plus, which is a database we provide that helps you find books that are like books you’ve already read.

Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help finding a book! We’re here to help, and Reader’s Advisory can be one of the most fun parts of our job. We get to strut our stuff, show off our collections, and help you walk away with a smile and your next favorite book!

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