Addressing Language Barriers Through Readers’ Advisory: Librarian, Literature, and Locality


  • Joanna Bolick Appalachian State University graduate student



readers' advisory, language barriers, best practices


With patience and perseverance, the readers’ advisory (RA) relationship can form a long-term bond between patron and librarian, and can also serve to unite library, literature, and the community. But what happens when something hampers the librarian’s ability to bring patron and book together? The purposes of this survey of public librarians were to ascertain if readers’ advisory librarians were coming into contact with patrons who spoke other languages, to compile best practices and resources librarians used or could use during these types of readers’ advisory interactions, and to gain feedback directly from them regarding the interactions themselves. An electronic survey was distributed to public libraries in North Carolina in March 2014. Responding librarians listed over 29 different languages that they were aware of being spoken within their local libraries. Results also indicated that 8 out of 10 public librarians in North Carolina have encountered communication barriers during RA services, with just over 6 out of 10 of those encounters occurring because of the differences in languages spoken during the exchange. Although North Carolina librarians are resourceful individuals who rely on each other, skillfully employ learning strategies, and turn to technology to solve RA problems, results also indicate frustration at the lack of resources and support available to them in these situations.

Author Biography

Joanna Bolick, Appalachian State University graduate student

A 2014 graduate of Appalachian State University's Masters of Library Science program, Joanna Bolick is continuing her studies regarding family literacy through Appalachian State's Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership. She is also a Developmental English and Academic Success Instructor at A-B Tech in Asheville, North Carolina. 






Research & Librarianship