Staff Engagement in Readers' Advisory Service in the Public Library

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ed.D. in Leadership for Organizations


Department of Educational Administration


Corinne Brion


Readers' advisory, a library service where library workers connect patrons with their next read, has historically been considered a core responsibility of public library workers. Competing and increasing priorities, along with a long-held preference for reference work, has resulted in many library workers feeling less confident and engaged with readers' advisory work. This critical research study sought to better understand how, if at all, public library staff engaged with readers' advisory services and how, if at all, library leadership could support front-line staff provide this service. Additionally, this study sought to better understand the relationship between library administration and the professional development needs of front-line staff through a networked care (Barnes, 2015) lens. In this two-phase qualitative action research study, participants at a multi-location public library system in Northeast Ohio were surveyed and interviewed about their confidence and engagement with readers' advisory. Findings indicated that few library workers utilized established, purchased readers' advisory resources (such as journals and databases) and instead relied on crowd-sourcing and peer assistance. Findings also indicated an ambiguity with readers' advisory best practices and professional development in general. Support in the form of time, money, and staffing aligned in the interviews with prior research. A multiple phase professional development intervention plan was designed and outlined in the final chapter of this work. The professional development plan focused on shoring up the skills of existing library staff while providing an outline for onboarding new employees to this work. Using a combination of organization created resources, database purchased resources, and a subject matter expert, this intervention approach could be used in other organizations.


Library Science, Organization Theory, Readers' advisory, public libraries, library leadership, professional development, action research

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