Thursday, March 2, 2017

Special Topic Paper - Summary

The topic I focused on in my paper is passive reader's advisory.  I decided to go the more informative route and described the various ways librarians use reader's advisory strategies in their libraries.  In the paper, I covered displays, book lists, bookmarks, and even flow charts and other miscellaneous forms of passive reader's advisory.

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

Wetta, M. (2013). Reader’s advisory resources: Beyond lists. Retrieved from


  1. Hi Julie, I had read about passive readers' advisory using flow charts, but had never seen one. What a great way to assist our more reserved or private patrons. Thank you!

  2. Hello Julie,

    First, thanks for stopping by to read my post! Whenever I comment back to people on my own posts, I don't know that they ever even read them or get the notification, so I'm going to say thank you on yours!
    Second, very nice summary on your topic paper. When we were given options as to what to write about, I was weary about passive readers' advisory and I was not sure what it was about so I stayed away from it, but you wrote about it beautifully! Of course, some patrons will self-select titles on their own and it seems like you highlighted some good ways to do so. The flowchart is beautiful, and an awesome example. It can lead to so many great reads. Good job!!

  3. I love that you included a flowchart. Those are great ideas. I was also able to find one for my topic, Young Adult books Adults. You can find it here:

  4. Hi Julie,

    I love your topic. I think this would work very well with teens and kids too! Another passive form of readers advisory is that we recently started a Staff Recommends display at my library - all of us in our department have to find and read a book (not bestseller) and if we like it, write a blurb and it goes on the display. All of us librarians have different tastes and some of us even branch out of our comfort zone for it so there's a variety for people to choose from. It's proven effective because we have a hard time keeping the display stocked!