I can come to your library, book club meeting, or conference to talk about how to help your readers find their next good read. Click here for more information including RA for All's EDI Statement.

Ten Rules of Basic RA Service [Updated April 2023]

These rules are used in conjunction with my signature RA training program. Description:

RA for All: Readers Advisory belongs in every library, no matter its budget. The implementation of this vital service is the responsibility of every staff member-- from pages to directors, from those behind the scenes to the ones on the front lines. This program will remove the mystery behind providing great RA service. Using her “Ten Rules of Basic RA Service” as a guide, Becky Spratford will use your own love of your favorite books to show you how to help any patron find their next great read. It's not as hard as you think. But more importantly, you will learn why a staff that can harness the power of sharing a great read will become a stronger team and improve service to all patrons, especially the hardest to reach ones.
OR if you prefer soundbites....
Flip Your Focus and Think Like A Reader
Here are the three statements that set the stage.....

Click on the image to enlarge it

Becky's Ten Rules of Basic RA Service

1.   Betty Rosenberg: “Never apologize for your reading tastes.”
     -- Strike "Guilty Pleasures" from you vocabulary 
      -- A non-judgmental list of what you should read”

2.   Suggest don’t Recommend
      --Library anxiety is real; including your own TBR Anxiety
      --This means you can talk about anything!

3.   Everyone reads a different version of the same book.

4.   Write down adjectives about what you read; plot you can find.

5.   Read ABOUT books widely, so you can suggest widely
     -- Book Pulse
     --PW Newsletters
     --Shelf Awareness
     -- make sure you are reading with an equity, diversity, and inclusion lens

6.   Share what you read- with staff and patrons.
      -- RA Service is about CONVERSATIONS not transactions
            --and conversations require listening
            --Conversation Starter exercise
----        -- Curbside and Discovery [Passive RA]
      ---use the words of others
      --step-by-step guide to improving your staff’s booktalking skills

7. Use resources
    --Think of your job as “leisure reading reference."
    -- Ask your patrons how they find book suggestions.

8. Working together is your MOST valuable resource
     --both across whole staff and with other libraries
n-         --Stock Your RA Pantry

9. Bridge the physical-virtual divide
     -- opposite sides of the same coin
     -- find ways to get your in building stuff online AND your online stuff in building
     --Examples: unboxing videos, interactive displays, "props" [post online or use in person]

      -- Get Booked podcast as a practice tool
          [Click here for a spreadsheet of every book recommendation]
      -- Participate in #AskaLibrarian
      -- reader profile exercise

Ten Rules in 5 Words: Read, Reflect, Record, Share, Repeat

The 5 Resources You Cannot Live Without 

GoodReads: Plot summaries [don’t waste your time recording plot; it is right there for you], author pages, possible readalikes, but more importantly, customer comments! 5 star and 2 star reviews are the most helpful. 2 star reviews in particular will tip you off to limiters and glaring appeal issues. [FYI- 1 star reviews are generally too mean and petty to be useful]. Treat customer reviews as patrons.  Post your 3 words for each book to preserve the major appeal factors. Also use as a platform to practice writing reviews and/or helping anonymous patrons.
  • Here is a post [by me] about how to use Goodreads during the RA Conversation to get more individualized results
NoveList: Many things you need all in one place. [Full disclosure-- I write for them.]*

Book Riot: 
Categories for major genres/formats, lots of lists, trending genres covered, very responsive to changes in the tastes and media, required to have a certain percentage of “diverse” voices, conversational style that can be used to share titles with patrons immediately

Author Recommendations of Other Authors:   least “professional” of my general RA resources, is also one of the most effective, pointing a patron to the authors and titles that their own favorite authors love. Patrons find great joy reading these books, even those in a genre outside their normal comfort zone. Stephen King is the perfect example of this phenomenon. King, the best known horror novelist in the world, is famous for turning previously unknown books into bestsellers just by mentioning his affection for said book. But where do you find this information? A few places, including, the author’s Twitter feed, front or back covers of a book, or Fantastic Fiction where at the bottom of each author record there is a section which gathers an author’s “recommendations.” Click here for a longer post about this including links to examples where I have talked about this. Including this post about using the same editor as a similar readalike option.

Gnooks: When you are desperate…distract them.

For my list of my favorite genre specific resources, click here

*If your library does not subscribe to NoveList, I suggest Fantastic Fiction as a replacement [although, talk to me about getting a free NoveList trial because it really is the best.]