Jessica Moyer on Young Adult Readers' Advisory

On January 17, ALA Editions is launching a four-week, facilitated eCourse, Young Adult Readers’ Advisory, with Jessica E. Moyer, an ALA Editions author and LIS adjunct faculty at University of St. Catherine in Minnesota. ALA Editions interviewed Jessica about the course. To learn more and enroll, see the listing at the ALA Store.

I had a chance to talk with Jessica about her background, and what students can expect from this course.

Patrick Hogan: What’s your approach to teaching readers’ advisory in an online environment?

Jessica E. Moyer: One of the reasons I enjoy online teaching is the opportunity for all students to be fully involved in the course, regardless of where they are.  I create weekly discussion topics and expect all students to contribute regularly - the more contributions we have, the better the discussion.  Every time I teach I find that I learn new materials from my students and their interests and experiences.  

PH: What are a few of the factors that distinguish readers’ advisory services with teens from adult service?

JEM: I find that adult readers often know more about they like to read where as teen readers can struggle to say exactly what kind of reading experience they are looking for.  This means librarians suggesting books to teens may need to ask more questions, work with dislikes instead of likes and provide lots of interesting suggestions.  

PH: It seems like establishing rapport would be the critical. If a YA librarian has a knack for that, what readers’ advisory skill would deliver a  big boost in service?

JEM: Knowing how to talk about books in ways that teen will not only understand but will entice them into reading.  Knowing which books are mostly likely to appeal to certain readers.  

PH: A popular perception is that teens have neither the time nor the desire for leisure reading. What is your research telling you on that?

JEM: Teens do want to read, but they are limited by time.  I’ve found, however  that they are more limited by access.  If they can get access to materials they like and want to read, at a time they have a chance to read, they will read.  But often there are too many barriers - not sure what to read, no easy way to get it.  This is one reason I am excited about ebooks and digital library services - anything that will make it easier to get reading materials to teens when they have time to read.  

PH: You’ve probably learned from questions and discussion boards from your previous teaching experience. What about readers’ advisory with teens do librarians find most challenging?

JEM: Knowing when and what adult books to suggest.  Lots of teen readers like reading adult books, but aren’t sure what to read that they will enjoy.  Most teen librarians are familiar with the YA collections but may not know much about adult books so they can be challenged when working with these types of teens.