As part of our environment scanning, I’ve gathered nearly 40 position descriptions on library jobs in a couple of months – mostly from Australia, some from New Zealand. Many of these mention a requirement for ‘readers’ advisory’ skills, but I am interested to find out what each library service means by that.
Despite the national guidelines, are some services just adding the buzz words in without thinking what that entails strategically?
When just the term is listed in a sentence I wonder – is that further articulated in the library’s strategic plan?
Do you know what you’re supposed to be doing if  ‘readers’ advisory’ is in your position description?

For example – ‘Excellent skills in information technology and readers advisory services’, and
‘Undertake customer service duties plus reference, readers advisory and information work’.

And then I found more explanatory inclusions like this that really demonstrate what and why:

‘Ensure your library provides quality information, vibrant collections, and reading services that demonstrate a passion for libraries and for reading and an understanding of the need for these services’ (my emphasis).

Our library uses the wording below for information services/readers engagement. I adapted it from phrasing used by the Brisbane Library Service a few years ago, and was guided by the Standards and Guidelines for Australian Public Libraries (2011). (p.29) I have phrasing around ‘understanding the need…’ in our Readers Engagement Plan.

Staff will maintain a strong knowledge of information resources and tools, and ability to determine what the customer needs. Additionally, staff will engender an enthusiasm for reading with customers through reader engagement skills that demonstrate a strong understanding of the process combined with reading knowledge.

The 2011 edition of the Standards is due to be revised, and I have seen that NSW has included readers advisory in its guidelines (NSW Living Learning Libraries – p. 37). Both reports were produced by Sherrey and Ian at Libraries Alive! What does it mean on the frontline for NSW public library staff?

We’re finalising our survey for public library staff, and from that and interviews we plan to find out more about what readers advisory means to you and your service.
Let us know!

what does readers’ advisory mean to you?