Readers' advisory services

Last updated:  27 March 2024

A readers’ advisory service is one in which knowledgeable, non-judgmental library staff help readers with their leisure reading needs. 

Using knowledge of fiction and non-fiction material, familiarity with the library collection, and print and electronic reference tools, the readers’ adviser helps the reader answer the question ‘What do I read next?’ 

The service includes suggesting new or unfamiliar authors and topics or genres, interesting casual readers in more systematic reading, maintaining contacts with local educational agencies, promoting reading and encouraging use of the library service. 

Readers' advisory work includes:

  • promoting the pleasures, rewards and excitement of reading and thereby encouraging people to read  
  • suggesting books to read, and taking a pro-active role in suggesting reading materials to library patrons  
  • making the books in our public libraries accessible and appealing  
  • promoting the broad range of reading materials in public libraries. 

Best practice resources

Guidelines and benchmarks

Guideline 6. Information and readers’ advisory services in Living Learning Libraries: standards and guidelines for NSW public libraries provides guidance to public libraries in developing readers' advisory services.

Professional development

  • Sign up to the PL Portal online training platform to access a range of short courses and mini modules.
  • Visit our YouTube channel to access webinars and training videos on a range of topics relating to public libraries.
  • Subscribe to our enewsletters to stay informed about upcoming events, promotions and professional development opportunities.
Rewarding Reading

This practical course will develop participants' readers' advisory skills, equip them to share their knowledge with colleagues and assist them in the delivery of reader development programs. It combines material on how to provide guidance to readers with exercises and tips for trainers.

Topics covered include:

  • reading as core business
  • appeal characteristics – communicating with readers
  • benefits of reading
  • giving advice – listening and being heard
  • case studies –conversations with readers
  • information sources, tools and techniques
  • promoting new messages with new skills
  • measuring the impact of improvement

The Rewarding Reading course is offered to public library staff from time to time. See the Professional Development section for current offers.


The Public Library Services team is available to provide advice to NSW public libraries on collections and services.

Contact us to discuss how we can assist your library.