Reader’s advisory is one of the most important aspects of public libraries—connecting library patrons to the best materials which meet their wants and needs. While the reference interview, in which the patron and the librarian interact directly, is one form of reader’s advisory, another form is passive reader’s advisory strategies, such as book lists, displays, posters, and more. In her Acquisitions Librarian article, Cathleen A. Towey wrote, “Passive readers’ advisory is the act of grouping, displaying or highlighting books to make them accessible to readers seeking to self-select titles” (2001, p. 134). Passive reader’s advisory tools and techniques should be used as support for library reference interactions, but, when these interactions are not welcome or accepted, passive reader’s advisory “reaches a group of readers who cannot or will not take advantage of real-time or face-to-face services” (Moyer & Stover, 2010, p. 73). Even signage and spine labels can be effectively utilized as a passive reader’s advisory strategy to assist patrons in finding the library materials they are looking for.
A new passive reader’s advisory strategy growing in popularity is flow charts. This type of display asks the audience a question and provides answers to choose from. As the flowchart progresses, patrons narrow down what they are seeking and, at the end, receive suggestions specific to the choices they made. Some flowcharts, such as the example below created by Ontario public librarian Karissa Fast, ask patrons questions similar to those librarians would ask in a reference interview.
Towey, C. A. (2001). Flow: The Benefits of Pleasure Reading and Tapping Readers' Interests. Acquisitions Librarian, 13(25), 131-140. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy.ulib.uits.iu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lls&AN=27648146&site=ehost-live
Wetta, M. (2013). Reader’s advisory resources: Beyond lists. Retrieved from https://wrappedupinbooks.org/2013/05/04/readers-advisory-resources-beyond-lists/