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 March 2022]

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
----        -- 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

Authors recs of other authors: There isn't a single place you can go per se, but do not forget that many patrons will love trying an author or book that one of their favorite authors recommends. Try searching for a patron's favorite author on Twitter [don't need an account to view] and then see what authors they are promoting there. Most established authors do this. Also the back of a book a patron liked-- does it have blurbs by other authors? Those can be readalike author options. And Fantastic Fiction tries to catalog as many of an author's blurbs or recs that they can. Search an author in the site and scroll to bottom of record for examples. Then use Novelist or Goodreads to find out more about any titles or authors you find.The point here is you are using resources and need to know nothing about any of the authors involved, just that the patron in front of you likes them. [8/19/20 addendum: 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. And for a list of recent "own voices" titles for genre fiction, here is a link to working list of diverse titles created by Anna Mickelsen.

*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.]