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Stratford librarian recognized with Leadership in Adult Readers’ Advisory Award

Updated: May 31

By Galen Simmons

A Stratford librarian has been recognized for her work helping locals find the right books to read, and training her colleagues to provide similar assistance.

Stratford Public Library public-service librarian Melanie Kindrachuk was recently presented with the Leadership in Adult Readers’ Advisory Award, an award that honours excellence in readers’ advisory service to adults, but the Ontario Public Library Association.

“Readers’ advisory is sort of a classic service that libraries offer. It’s library jargon that basically means finding the right book for the right person at the right time,” Kindrachuk said. “We have been doing that forever, but in the last few years – especially with (library CEO) Krista (Robinson)’s support, we have been building new training for our staff so everyone can learn the skills. You’re basically learning what’s available out there to help you find things according to people’s questions. We always say, ‘When you’re doing readers’ advisory, it’s not about us, it’s about the customer.’ It’s about what they want, it’s not about what we like.

“We’re trying to find something that meets what they say they want – their mood, what they feel like, what they’re looking for. And generally, when we talk about reader’s advisory, we’re talking about fiction.”

While Kindrachuk said recommending a book she’s read before would be relatively easy, readers’ advisory service is much more complicated. It’s about asking questions about what a library patron likes and doesn’t like to read, what they’ve read before, how they’re feeling, what their preferred genre is and even what kinds of television shows and movies they’ve watched.

From there, Kindrachuk and other staff can punch the right keywords into their library databases to come up with some suggestions. Depending on whether a patron enjoys or dislikes those books, the librarians can continue making suggestions, building those all-important relationships between library staff and community members.

“With readers’ advisory, you’re not just trying to find a book about something, but a book that has the right mood for what you’re looking for,” Kindrachuk said. “Do they like something that’s really fast-paced and thrilled, do they want something more literary and slower. It’s a good chance to talk to someone who’s asking to see what they like, and you get to know people a lot more because you’re talking about their preferences and what they’re in the mood for, the kind of things they like. You get to talk about more than just books when you’re talking to people.”

Kindrachuk, who was nominated for the award by her colleagues at the Stratford library, said it’s important for all staff at the library to stay up to date with what’s available in the collection and what new books may be added to the collection in the near future so they can have those conversations with patrons, bounce ideas off other staff members and come up with suggestions on the spot.

“It’s nice to know that she’s being recognized for all her hard work not just for herself and our library, but for the profession in general as she is regularly sharing her skillset through committee work and presentations at conferences and such,” Robinson said.

The award was presented to Kindrachuk at the 2024 Ontario Public Library Association’s RA in a Day Event on April 30.


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