Fiction readers' advisory services in New Zealand public libraries : an investigation into how personal reading habits and other factors affect the confidence of library staff who answer adult or young adult fiction readers' advisory queries
Fiction readers' advisory is the act of assisting a library borrower to find their next piece of fiction to read for leisure purposes. This is a significant part of public library work for staff members who work face-to-face with library borrowers. The confidence of library staff members who provide these services is therefore an important issue. It was hypothesised that a number of factors would influence the confidence of staff who answer fiction readers' advisory enquiries, including the amount and kind of pleasure reading undertaken, library size, years of library experience, and training. An online questionnaire was used to survey a sample of frontline public library staff members in New Zealand to gather data about readers' advisory services in public libraries in this country, as very little research has been undertaken here in this area. There was an excellent response to the survey invitation, and 130 completed questionnaires were received. Survey respondents' confidence about answering fiction readers' advisory enquiries was positively correlated with several factors, including amount and breadth of personal reading, length of public library service, kind of training received, and number of readers' advisory tools available. Negative correlations were suggested between library qualifications and confidence, and library size and confidence. Other factors which may influence confidence were also identified, such as library staff morale, having sufficient time for answering enquiries properly, and time for pleasure reading.