INFO 220-10
Resources and Information Services in Professions and Disciplines
Topic: Readers Advisory Genres and Techniques
Fall 2016 Syllabus

Joni Richards Bodart
Phone: (408)924-2728

Syllabus Links
iSchool eBookstore

Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning August 24th, 6 am PDT unless you are taking an intensive or a one unit or two unit class that starts on a different day. In that case the class will open on the first day that the class meets.

You will be enrolled into the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

This course will focus on the philosophy and methodology of matching patrons to genres and authors, locating elusive or nameless books, and organizing and highlighting the adult fiction collection to enable patrons to easily and effectively locate the materials they are seeking.  This course also provides the student with an opportunity to focus on the literature of genre fiction, including specific genres and subgenres, specific titles and authors within them, and the characteristics of the readers of each of the genres.

Office Hours:
By appointment only, in Clark Hall, 418H.  You may also ask questions via email or on the Canvas FAQs discussion board.  I will answer email on a daily basis or as quickly as I can.  I will also be posting to the FAQs section of the discussion board when questions are asked that are of interest to the whole class.      

If you need to speak to me by phone, I will do all I can to be available to you, but scheduling that call in advance to make it convenient for both of us, and ensure that I have enough time cleared to respond to your questions or problems.

The Canvas Site
Please check the site regularly for announcements, discussion board questions, and so on.  As soon as you can access the website, go to the discussion board and introduce yourself, both professionally and personally.  Share your most favorite and least favorite genres.  Read other students’ introductions and genres, and contact anyone you might like to work with.  Explore the various forums for other information I think might be helpful to you.  You also need to take a look at the Course Documents section for articles, bibliographies, and other materials.  Assignment due dates are also posted there, as well as below.  You will be submitting all your assignments via Assignment Drop Boxes.

Please let me know right away if you have problems with anything.

Collaborate sessions
There will be six Collaborate sessions, plus a non-lecture Introduction and Q&A.  They are all required, however, synchronous attendance is required only when you will have an active role in the book discussions scheduled for that date, or when we have guest speakers.  (This class currently has 16 people registered.  There will be 10 people involved in each book group, which means a total of 80 slots to fill.  This equals to 5 slots per person, one as a leader, and 4 as either group member or observer.)  All sessions will be taped, so you can watch them later.  The links to the recordings will be posted on the Canvas website. 

Dates and content for the Collaborate sessions are:

  • September 1, 630-730 pm PT, longer if required—Introduction to the course, Q&A, discussion of students’ preferred genres, and some formation of book club teams, based on number of students attending

  • The following sessions will all be from 630-900 PT, and will include at least eight book club type discussions of selected/required books, although that number will change as registration changes.  The other dates will be used for  guest speakers—three are currently scheduled.  Specific dates for speakers are being scheduled, and book discussions will be scheduled as people introduce themselves, pair up, choose books, and sign up for dates. 
    • September 13 (SCHEDULED—NoveList training presentation, one book discussion if necessary)
    • September 27 (SCHEDULED—Presentations by David Wright, Seattle PL, Kaite M. Stover, Johnson County (KS) Library, RA experts and authors
    • October 13 (example—two book discussions)
    • November 3 (example—two book discussions)
    • November 17 (example—two book discussions)
    • December 8 (example—two book discussions ONLY IF NECESSARY)

Course Requirements

All assignments are designed to help you gain knowledge that will allow you to achieve competency in one or more of the competencies listed above.  They are not busy work, and I have designed them carefully to give you both knowledge and skills that will help you succeed as a reader’s advisor.  If you don’t understand how a particular assignment will help you do this, please ask me.  I will be happy to explain.

You will need to post some of the assignments on the appropriate forums on Canvas to share with your classmates. 

Please make sure that when you are submitting work at the end of the semester that you make sure the links are active and will lead me to the assignment.  If I cannot open the assignment or reach you to let you know there’s a problem, and grades are due, you will not get credit for that assignment.  This is less critical during the semester, when asking you to resubmit your work doesn’t involve the time crunch that always happens at the end of the semester, since the deadline for grade submissions is absolute and not at all flexible.


Your first participation assignment is to introduce yourself on the appropriate Canvas discussion board.  You also need to share your expertise on the various genres when you post your introduction—what genres are you very familiar with?  are the most important/your favorite titles/authors in those genres?  When working in groups, what are your strengths and weaknesses, and what roles do you enjoy or not enjoy?  Are you an early finisher or procrastinator?

Read textbooks, and participate in class discussions on discussion boards.  Participate is defined as posting 1-2 times weekly, both in response to the questions I post and to others’ reactions to them.  Comments should be thoughtful and insightful, adding to our mutual learning process.  Discussion threads will last for two weeks each. 

Class participation also involves being an active group member, and contributing you and your partner’s book discussion.  Discussion leaders will be required to do a self and peer evaluation as part of their grade.  This evaluation will be an informal paper, describing how you decided to work together, who did what, and how well or how poorly your process worked.

In addition, when you find a book you really like, I expect you to share it with the class on the appropriate genre forum—some folks may also enjoy reading it. Due 12/16 (which is also my birthday)


Subscribe to and participate in Fiction-L, an RA listserv. Participation is defined as responding to all posts in which you are interested, and initiating queries of your own.  Please note that your responses to posts may be in answer to questions about titles, or may be in response to discussions on the list. You are also welcome to start discussion topics--many students subscribe to this list, and you don't need to feel hesitant about contributing.  These are good folks, and will treat you with respect.  And do remember that even those of us with experience can have a brain dead day and need help.  I am a member of this list, so I will be able to see your participation.  You will need to post about once a month, and more if you choose to.  

To subscribe, go to the following URL,, click on the hyperlink for Fiction-L, and follow directions. I recommend the digest version, rather than receiving individual posts--the volume is high.  However, when responding to the digest version, you will need to change the subject line to reflect the topic of your post, rather than the number of the digest. (While you're there, explore this super site!) Due:  sign up now and begin participating as soon as possible.)

2. DATABASE OF TITLES (CLOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 6)

Read the 8 required titles for the discussion demos and at least 27 other titles for adults (total of at least 35 books), covering most of the genres.  If you are familiar with one of the genres, and have read deeply in it, you might want to read fewer titles, or just skip it, to give you a chance to read in the genres you are not familiar with, and broaden your knowledge. 

Create a blog of the books you read, with each title evaluated and annotated, and information divided into sections specified below.  Information MUST be original, not copied from reviews or other sources of information, and should include:

  • cover art
  • bibliographic information, including price and number of pages  If title is available in more than one format, include all available formats, other than those that are OP.
  • a reader’s annotation (15 words or less), designed to be used on a bookmark/booklist in order to intrigue or interest the reader
  • a summary, which outlines the plot and may or may not include the ending
  • an evaluation, which sums up your opinion on the book—your review of it
  • a rating scale based upon both popularity and quality.  Please post this scale at the top of your blog, and then use the scale in the entry for each book—I recommend modifying the VOYA scale, since it has the correct formal/informal tone. 
    • VOYA’s Review Codes
    • Quality
    • 5Q--Hard to imagine it being better written.
    • 4Q--Better than most, marred by occasional lapses.
    • 3Q--Readable, without serious defects.
    • 2Q--Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q.
    • 1Q--Hard to understand how it got published, except in relation to its P rating (and not even then sometimes).
    • Popularity
    • 5P--Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday.
    • 4P--Broad general or genre YA appeal.
    • 3P--Will appeal with pushing.
    • 2P--For the YA reader with a special interest in the subject.
    • 1P--No teen will read unless forced to for assignments.
  • the genre and subgenre of the book
  • appeal factors (NoveList can help with this)
  • booktalking ideas, or how you might approach writing a booktalk on it (This doesn’t mean write a whole talk, but jot down ideas on what parts you might use in a talk, including page numbers and characters’ names.)
  • book discussion questions or ideas
  • why you chose it—as in why you were intrigued enough to pick it up.  (It looked interesting is NOT a sufficient reason, nor is that it was required or on a list.)  What hook drew you to the book? (I saw it in a display; my BFF said I had to read it; website (give link) recommended it; cover; info on back of book or on flap; love this author; love this topic.)
  • link to author’s website, and to interviews with author, if available (online or in print resources)
  • links to reviews available online, if available, and cut and paste of reviews available only in print
  • readalike titles or authors
  • awards won and lists appeared on
  • any other information you consider relevant, such as names of characters or locations
  • any hooks, ideas characters, etc., that might be clues to help you remember the book in the future. “Clues for the Future” or something similar should be the name of this section.
  • five of these titles should include audiobooks.  Either listen to the entire book in lieu of reading it, or listen to about one hour of the audio version of titles you have already read for your database.  Notice the differences between reading and listening, and include them in your comments on the title.  How well did the book translate to audio?  Also comment on the quality of the reader and how it impacted your enjoyment (or not) of the book.  Listening to full cast recordings in addition to single narrators is recommended.


The goal of this database is to give you enough information to recall the book quickly, to recommend it effectively, and to add new titles easily in the future. The style and format are up to you, but it should be attractive, easily read (type large enough and distinct from the background, and so on), and searchable, including an alphabetical list of all the titles in each half of the blog.  Software that can be used includes but is not limited to Live Journal, Blogspot, Blogger, and Wordpress—just make sure I can access it.  You do not have to make this blog public, although lots of people do, and so get comments from folks online who discover it.

Here’s a suggestion from a previous student about organizing and remembering titles: 

“I downloaded a voice recorder app to my smart phone.  After finishing each book, I spend approximately 3 minutes conversationally addressing each of the topics for the upcoming database.  I play this back and create complete sentences for my blog postings.  I realized that characters, plots and opinions were starting to jumble in my head as I neared the finish of my 7th book, and doing this helped me keep things straight in my head.  I also made a brief list of all the components of the database on my phone, so I have that information at my fingertips when I make audio notes on each title.   I also use this list to refer to when I am reading the book, to be sure to notice all the pieces I need to include.”

I have arranged for this class to have a free subscription to NoveList, and information on how to access it will be given during the first class.  I have also set up a training session with NoveList that I strongly urge you to take advantage of, since they will help you make the best use of this unique and valuable tool. 

Due 10/9 and 12/12 (First half of  titles due in October, the rest of your titles due in December.)

3.  SITE EVALUATIONS  (CLOs 4, 5, 7)

Visit two libraries, one bookstore, and two virtual interactive RA websites.  At brick and mortar sites, evaluate the RA area and services for adults, including staff, resources, displays, and effectiveness.  More details on this will be given during the first Collaborate session.  This is a “secret shopper” assignment, and you should not identify yourself as a student or someone who works in a library.  Write an informal, but detailed, paper describing your experiences and rating the sites on a five point scale, with five as “couldn’t have been better” and one as “I won’t be back.” 

You should also rate the bookstore on displays and customer service, and in your description of your visit, discuss how the service at the bookstore and at the onsite libraries differed.  You should spend at least 30-45 minutes in each location. 

If there is more than one librarian on duty, try to talk to all of them, if possible, and talk to at least two bookstore staff members.  If one doesn’t answer your question completely, you may ask another librarian/staff member the same question, or go on to another topic. 

Look at what articles on the course website and your texts say about an RA interview/exchange, and compare that to your experiences. 

Take pictures at one or two sites, and compare and contrast how displays and marketing techniques are used and what seems to be the controlling theory or theme for placement of displays and titles within displays (if any exists).  Also, look at some of the book covers in your pictures, and what the covers say about the content and if any covers "talk" to or reflect other covers and how that effects the display.   Note:  I have been saying “books” but you also want to reflect the various formats in the displays, if there are any—books are only one part of what they may contain.

For the virtual websites, go to ones that include interaction with a librarian, whether synchronous or asynchronous, and discuss/describe your experience and how valuable it was. Compare and contrast it to your experiences in the physical sites you visited, and explain how the virtual websites are either better or worse or just different than the virtual ones.  Give the same kind of information you provided in your discussions of physical sites.   Due 10/2

4. BOOK DISCUSSION DEMO  (CLOs 1, 2, 3, 6, 7)

With one other student, lead a 45-60 minute book discussion for adults during one of the Collaborate sessions (dates listed above).  In each group there will be two leaders, five/six book group members, and two/three observers/evaluators. You will each sign up as a leader once.  You will sign up for roles using a Google doc which is on the website.  The genres you will be able to choose among are:

  • horror
  • mysteries/crime
  • adventure
  • romance
  • historical fiction
  • suspense/thriller
  • science fiction
  • fantasy
  • graphic novels
  • chick lit
  • Christian fiction
  • GLBTQ fiction
  • popular nonfiction

If you have friends in this class you would like to work with, you need to talk to them as soon as possible, and sign up for the genre you want to lead, before someone else does.

Detailed information on each of the roles you will be playing in the discussion groups:

LEADERS—you will be responsible for the choice of the book and  promoting it on the appropriate discussion forum prior to the Esession during which your book group will meet.  Choosing the book: 

  • Both leaders must have input into the choice of the book
  • In order to choose a specific title, both leaders must have read and enjoyed it
  • Look in RA print and online sources and in your texts
  • NoveList is available as one of the SLIS databases—take time to examine it closely—it will be helpful in choosing titles for your group and for your databases (you will also be participating in FREE NoveList training as part of this class)
  • If you choose a title that’s part of a series, make SURE that it is a standalone title, or is the first or second title in the series, and you give the group enough information about the earlier titles to get them caught up
  • Consider the number of pages—you have a lot to read this semester!  Too long, and you will have group members who may not finish it, no matter how much you promote it
  • Remember that the titles you read for this course are genre fiction, not literary fiction or  “Lit-er-a-chure, my dear!”  They are titles that are popular and readable.  For instance, if you want to have a mystery reading group, you can use Evanovich, Robb, Francis, or Davidson, rather than classics like Christie or AC Doyle.  These are NOT titles that are “good for you.”  They are titles that you want to read—guilty pleasures as it were—curling up with a good book and telling friends and family you are doing your homework!!
  • Should be available in paperback, and a title most public libraries would be likely to have

Promoting the book by posting on the discussion forum for your group:

  • Book cover
  • Write a booktalk on the book (see information under booktalk assignment)
  • Write a reader’s annotation on the book
  • A brief bio of the author—preferably not stuffy—can come from their website, since most authors have them
  • Other titles author has written
  • Anything else about the book or author that might hook someone into reading it

You will need to turn in: 

  • list of questions you used in the book discussion (you may choose to distribute some of these/all of these ahead of time, to give group members a chance to start thinking about their responses)
  • a description of the role each of the leaders played—how did this group function?  Who did what, and how was that decided?    
  • a description of how this title would be a part of an ongoing book discussion series
  • information on how you promote this series and to whom
  • examples of flyers, booklists, bibliographies, bookmarks, PR materials, displays and so on should also be included.  (This is NOT meant to indicate that you have to have an example of each of these!  Just select from among these suggestions several things you want to use with your group.) You do NOT have to read all the titles you include in them, but you need to have seen a review or recommendation of them to ensure their quality.  (Each leader can use one of these items to also help fulfill the bookmarks assignment. There is more information about this under that assignment.)
  • evaluate the other leader and yourself, using a narrative form, and discussing each individually, with detail and specificity, and including both positive and negative feedback

GROUP MEMBERS—You are responsible for your part in making this group work and not sabotage the discussion—even though this doesn’t totally reflect what happens in real book groups!

You will need to:

  • read the book, keeping in mind that you will be participating in a discussion of it
  • take notes on the book (format is up to you, or you may choose not to take notes, but this needs to be a deliberate decision that you can share the rationale for if asked about taking notes)
  • participate in the discussion by responding to the leaders, making comments of your own
  • make comments by raising your hand and waiting for the leaders to call on you.  They will be aware of the order in which people raised their hands because they will be made moderators
  • evaluate the leaders and members, including yourself, using a narrative form, and discussing each person individually, with detail and specificity, and including both positive and negative feedback
  • have a good time!

OBSERVERS—Your input will be valuable in giving other participants information on how they can improve their performance, and how well they were able to complete the assignment.  You will need to:

  • read the discussion board forums about the book/genre—you will be commenting briefly on their effectiveness as part of your observations/evaluations—did they make you eager to read the book?
  • read the book being discussed—you have to know what the discussion is about
  • evaluate the leaders and members, including yourself, using a narrative form, and discussing each person individually, with detail and specificity, and including both positive and negative feedback
  • submit your comments to me and I will forward them to the students participating in each group;

Please take a look at Haycock’s lecture on working in virtual groups to help you make your group work most efficiently.  There is a link to it in the Course Docs area of the Content tab.

Due as scheduled—all materials and evaluations must be turned in within one week of each discussion.

5. BOOKTALKS  (CLOs 1, 2, 6)

Write booktalks on two titles in your database, one may be on the title your book group is discussing or one of the titles that you mention in your group as being readalikes, the other talk should be about one of your favorite titles from this semester.  I will give  you information on writing talks during the first class session, and also post information on the discussion board.  Due 11/27

Grading and Evaluation

  • Database—25%
  • Book Discussion Demo—25%
  • Site evaluations, Participation in book discussion groups, Booktalks, Participation in website—all averaged together equally—50%

All assignments will be due as noted above.  The drop-dead due date is Dec.  You MUST turn in all assignments by that date.

If you need to turn in an assignment later than the dates above, I will be glad to be flexible, BUT ONLY IF YOU REQUEST THIS PRIOR TO THE DUE DATE.  Requesting late submission on the day the material is due is too late.  Material turned in late without permission will be penalized one letter grade.  If you send me a URL when you submit an assignment so I can look at it, and I cannot open the link, I will let you know about the problem, which MUST be corrected within 48 hours, or your work will be counted as late.  Please check your links, and make sure you have published or opened your site so I can examine your work, and check your email to see if I have let you know that there are problems.

Course Outline

  • History of RA
  • Psychology of RA
  • Current practices
  • Barriers to RA
  • RA interview
  • Print resources
  • Online resources
  • Programming for RA
    • Booktalks for adults
    • Book discussion groups for adults
    • Adult reading programs
  • Creating a RA Space for Adults
  • Book displays and merchandising
  • Bookmarks and bibliographies
    • Writing annotations
  • Genres of RA—Titles for adults
    • Historical fiction
    • Crime
    • Adventure/Thriller
    • Romance
    • Science fiction
    • Fantasy
    • Horror
    • Christian fiction
    • LGBTQ fiction
    • Chick lit
    • Popular nonfiction
    • Other genres as listed in textbooks

Course Workload Expectations

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group;contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Prerequisites

INFO 220 has no prequisite requirements.

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate effective use of the standard tools and online resources and sites used by readers' advisory librarians.
  2. Identify characteristics of various types of genre fiction and the most important authors in them.
  3. Discuss the appeal of each of the genres and the characteristics of their readers.
  4. Explain the psychology of RA, and the impact the personalities of the customer and the librarian have on the process.
  5. Conduct an effective Readers' Advisory Interview, using it to fulfill the customer's recreational reading needs and wants.
  6. Demonstrate effective booktalking and book discussion techniques.
  7. Set up book displays, compile bibliographies, and evaluate the arrangement of the fiction collection, using a variety of book merchandising techniques.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 220 supports the following core competencies:

  1. C Recognize the diversity (such as cultural and economic) in the clientele and employees of an information organization and be familiar with actions the organization should take to address this diversity.
  2. D Apply the fundamental principles of planning, management, marketing, and advocacy.
  3. I Use service concepts, principles, and techniques to connect individuals or groups with accurate, relevant, and appropriate information.
  4. J Describe the fundamental concepts of information-seeking behaviors.


Required Textbooks:

  • Herald, D. T. (2013). Genreflecting: A guide to popular reading interests (7th ed.). Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 1598848410arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • LaPerriere, J., & Christiansen, T. (2008). Merchandising made simple. Libraries Unlimited. Available through Amazon: 1591585619 arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Recommended Textbooks:

  • Moyer, J. (2008). Research-based readers' advisory. ALA. Available through Amazon: 0838909590 arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Moyer, J., & Stover, K. (2010). The readers' advisory handbook ALA. Available through Amazon: 0838910424 arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Saricks, J. (2009). The Readers' advisory guide to genre fiction. ALA. Available through Amazon: 0838909892 arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Grading Scale

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100 A
94 to 96 A minus
91 to 93 B plus
88 to 90 B
85 to 87 B minus
82 to 84 C plus
79 to 81 C
76 to 78 C minus
73 to 75 D plus
70 to 72 D
67 to 69 D minus
Below 67 F


In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work or undergraduate (for BS-ISDA);
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA, Informatics, BS-ISDA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation. You must repeat the class if you wish to stay in the program. If - on the second attempt - you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Graduate Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). Undergraduates must maintain a 2.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

Per University Policy S16-9, university-wide policy information relevant to all courses, such as academic integrity, accommodations, etc. will be available on Office of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs' Syllabus Information web page at: Make sure to visit this page, review and be familiar with these university policies and resources.

In order to request an accommodation in a class please contact the Accessible Education Center and register via the MyAEC portal.

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