Readers' Advisory 101

Learn how to become more comfortable providing readers' advisory (RA) services. Through practice sessions, learn how to use RA tools, craft annotations, read in genres, articulate appeal, and experiment with methods to offer RA services. Readers' Advisory 101 is tailored for support staff, library technicians, newly hired reference librarians, and those librarians who want to brush up on their skills. The topics covered are introductory in nature. Class segments are geared to cover issues of interest to staff in all types of libraries.

Readers' Advisory Service in the Public Library by Joyce Saricks will be the course textbook. This well-regarded textbook is published by the American Library Association and available for sale online.

At the start of the class, students will be asked questions about one genre book from the list below (they are welcome to read more than one). It goes without saying that if you register, proceed to read the book well before the class begins! The four books will be used as examples during the class to illustrate many of the subjects and be used in the book discussion session.

Romance - The Viscount who Loved Me by Julia Quinn
Mystery - Bootlegger's Daughter by Margaret Maron
Speculative Fiction - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Action/Thriller/Suspense - Ice Station by Matt Reilly
This course includes practice chat sessions conducted online. The chats will take place at 3 p.m., Chicago/Central Time on Thursdays, and will last 1-2 hours. Those students who miss a chat may comment on the chat transcript. Students will have the best learning experience if they attend all of these chat sessions.

Course Outline
Module 1: Introduction
Module 2: Basic Elements of Appeal
Module 3: Basic RA Tools
Module 4: Annotations
Module 5: The RA Conversation
Module 6: Marketing RA and Book Discussions
Module 7: Conclusion

Course Format
The course site will remain open one week after the end date for students to complete any assignments and submit the course evaluation survey.


A librarian since 1977, Joyce Saricks worked exclusively at the Downers Grove Public Library in Illinois until her retirement in 2004. In 1983 she developed and directed a readers’ advisory department there. She has written Readers' Advisory Service in the Public Library (3rd ed., ALA, 2005) and Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction (2nd ed., ALA, 2009). She currently presents workshops on readers’ advisory, serves as NoveList’s Readalike coordinator (and author), and writes a monthly column on RA for Booklist. She also teaches Readers’ Advisory at Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library Science.


Tech Requirements

Beginning in 2008, ALA will use Moodle for all online educational courses. Learn more about Moodle at

The course site will open one week prior to the start date for students to access Moodle instructions and set their browsers appropriately.


Liz Markel