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Traditionally, summertime is reading season, and we could all use a little bit of help with something, whether it’s finding a part-time job, learning a new skill, or exploring family history.
The library is your “go-to” place to find trained professionals who can help you find the information you need. Librarians are also highly skilled at recommending your next great read!
So, what are reference and readers’ advisory services, anyway?
At public libraries, school libraries, and academic libraries, librarians offer in-person and virtual assistance for users. Reference services help library users find information and perform research. Readers’ advisory services connect readers of all ages and abilities with texts.
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Your reference librarian can support you by:
- Answering your research questions
- Providing resources to help you succeed in your quest for services and information
- Teaching you to use library (and other) resources that meet your learning and business needs
- Connecting you with new peers and hobbies
- Assisting with projects based on your educational, business, or personal needs
- Allowing you to access community resources
Your reference librarian can help you locate a variety of sources, properly cite your research, apply critical thinking skills, and evaluate data. She’s an excellent choice for library users who need to perform research for projects, compose formal letters, make decisions, or revise their resumes! Since reference services are usually free and are, take advantage of these expert solutions offered by your library.
A Note on Virtual Reference Services
The recent pandemic doesn’t seem to be hindering reference services at all. In fact, reference services may be easier than ever for users to access. Libraries offer a variety of chat options, video appointments, and phone services to meet questions and respond to the needs of their communities.
With regard to how the pandemic has altered reference services, “We have a good rhythm now and are able to help patrons pretty quickly,” shared one Brooklyn Public Library employee in a recent interview (Source: LibraryJournal).
Readers’ advisory services typically include:
- Virtual and traditional book club opportunities
- Introducing readers to new authors and fiction (or non-fiction) books based upon their preferences
- Fulfilling requests for new reading materials
- Helping library users to locate books, meet authors, and discuss literature
When performing readers’ advisory services, a librarian can help you (or your teen) to analyze and interpret texts as well as finding new materials to read. For example, if you’re enrolled in an English course and have difficulty understanding Shakespeare, a readers’ advisory librarian can help you break down the language into everyday terminology.
I highly recommend contacting your librarian in advance and booking an appointment with her for readers’ advisory services. That way, she can plan to devote time to your needs and show you how to use resources.
Explore Virtual Readers’ Advisory
If you would like to get started exploring readers’ advisory resources on your own, check out one of the following sites:
- LibraryThing: a social networking site readers with suggestion features for book recommendations
- Goodreads is similar to LibraryThing; this site allows you to record book lists, review books, join groups, and receive reading recommendations
- What’s Next: a free fiction resource from Michigan’s Kent District Library
- Whichbook: this site allows you to modify book searches based on story characteristics and formats (such as ebook or audiobook format)
Libraries offer many more virtual readers’ advisory resources as well! Ask your librarian about newsletters, databases, book delivery services, and other options which may be only available via the library. Visit the library website or call the front desk to ask about options and features.
Often, librarians perform a combination of services. In other words, the same librarian who can assist you with reference services can most likely provide readers’ advisory services to you (or your children) as well! However, libraries with more staff often divide these roles.
In other words, if you live in a large city, there are probably multiple librarians at your local public library who focus on providing readers’ advisory services. These services are often divided among different age groups. For example, if your teenager is a reluctant reader, a Teen Services Librarian can provide her with suggestions and new books. In contrast, an Adult Services Librarian can help you launch a new historical fiction book club.
If you’re not sure where to begin, call your library and describe the service (or material) that you’re looking for. Library staff will point you in the right direction and connect you with the appropriate librarian who can best meet your needs. Many libraries offer chat support as well as homework support and 24/7 remote services. Try visiting your local public library online and explore the services available to you!
Your state library is another great resource that shouldn’t be overlooked. Trained library professionals at state libraries across the U.S. can help you answer questions and connect you with a wealth of resources.
- Check out Telehealth and Social Services or Business Resources from Delaware Libraries.
- Visit the California State Library to find out about Grants and Funding Opportunities to make your vision a reality!
- Search for magazines, newspapers, and books online at the Florida Electronic Library.
- You can also find nationally available resources by visiting the Library of Congress website online at www.loc.gov.
For an alphabetical list of state library sites, click here and explore options near you, as well as library web sites across the country.
I encourage you to find a state, local, or academic library near you and embark upon a new quest for knowledge, adventure, and information! Your librarian can help you steer your ship towards rewarding reads and meeting data needs. Take advantage of her highly-trained expertise today!