Joanna Merlene Phillips Schofield



Download Project (11.6 MB)


One of the most fundamental tasks of a public library is to connect readers with books and other materials and therefore, library staff are responsible for making this connection. This service is called readers’ advisory (RA). An evidentiary exploration of staff engagement with readers’ advisory is needed as a first step to improve the services of matching readers with high quality books and to increase the self-confidence of staff suggesting these titles. A thorough examination of the professional librarians’ perceived obstacles to RA will shed light on how to engage staff and prioritize readers’ advisory work in the public library. The purpose of this study is to begin building an understanding of the culture of RA at the public library and to begin identifying staff perceived obstacles to high-quality RA service. Using a critical ethnographic approach, interviews were conducted with two public librarians at the Stark County (Ohio) District Library to gain insight into the shared approaches, perceived barriers, and organizational support for RA among the professional librarian working group. Data analysis identified three dominant themes in librarian engagement with readers’ advisory: the use of resources for readers’ advisory knowledge, emotion as a significant factor in engaging in readers’ advisory work, and the role of the branch as an organizational support for RA. Analysis revealed that organizations must support this work through professional development, quick access to professional resources, and time allotted to readers’ advisors to maintain their expertise in books and book attributes. Organizations must also teach and model readers’ advisory as a conversation between patron and librarian in which a reading relationship is built over time. Further study is needed to expand the sample population to all front-line library workers to better understand staff-perceived obstacles at all levels of the organization.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research

Primary Advisor

James L. Olive

Primary Advisor's Department

Educational Administration


Stander Symposium project, School of Education and Health Sciences

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Quality Education; Decent Work and Economic Growth

Obstacles for Librarians Engaging in Readers’ Advisory Service in the Public Library