I can highly recommend adding book talking to your professional readers’ advisory skillset. I learned so much from working on the project with Sally Pewhairangi, and attendees at our two events enjoyed themselves!
The project had two main outputs:
- one morning and one evening booktalking event at de Studi Cooking School hosted by a librarian (me) and Chef Polly Ross.
- a reading map in print and online created in collaboration with Sally Pewhairangi from Waimakariri District Libraries. Sally designed it – check it out… http://issuu.com/readingmap/docs/beyondchocolat
Save it to your mobile screen so you can pretend its an app :)
What worked about this project:
- Collaboration – We both read the books, discussed them and decided where they fitted best. I think you’ll agree the reading map booklet is sumptuous. We considered online presentation formats including Pinterest before deciding on Issuu because it allowed us to include links to both of our library’s catalogues.
You’re welcome to use the booklet as a resource for your community.
Consider what can be done with more collaborative input…
- Collection knowledge – We read most of the books and read up on others. We researched online, and developed a professional knowledge of around 40 books (some are also movies) with diverse appeal characteristics (some light, some informational, some contemporary, some historical, some mystical, some more grounded in reality, some with female protagonists, some with male…).
I talked directly about 15 titles in the booktalk and had others available for people to borrow.
- Contextual Readers Advisory – ‘Where can one book take you?’ was our starting point. Joanne Harris’ Chocolat is rich and satisfying, and if you want to keep reading we have some great recommendations for you.
We drew out various themes from Chocolat including new beginnings, French cooking, sweet treats, the seduction angle, the heartache…
Then in the booktalk event more cross-theme links were raised – for example, The 4 Hour Chef, School of Essential Ingredients and Cooking for Claudine all included the importance of showing respect for our food in cooking.
- It’s more than a list – Both the booktalk and the reading map are opportunities to talk up the books with people. We used sumptuous quotes in the reading map booklet that would intrigue readers into wanting to read more. And the mouthwatering images! At the event I talked about the books, read delicious excerpts and drew out people’s stories. Some people suggested books to add.
- More collaboration – As a follow-up you can encourage people to add their reviews to the catalogue or post them to Facebook; keep that recommendation chain going.
- Our community – For me, people sharing their stories at both events was the most valuable part of this whole project. They saw themselves reflected in different books and shared their stories to the enrichment of all. People appreciated the professional guidance in finding more good books to read and they loved the partnership of library and cooking school. I enjoyed working in the cooking school space and people loved that Polly created sweet treats for us during the discussion. Win Win. What other community partnerships and spaces could you see working for booktalks?
I’ve had rather a lot of positive feedback about the project which has reinforced to me the value of collaboration, community engagement, use of online tools and professional development in the readers advisory field (all things Jo and I advocate). And then I found this on the Swiss Army Librarian’s blog and had another idea – add QR codes to the books to point people to the reading map so they discover it that way…
I have some people to thank for the success of this project.
- Sally – for the rewarding collaboration and your project management, your sumptuous design, and your trans-Tasman support
- Polly (and de Studi staff) – for the venue, the hospitality and the delectable sweet treats
- Jo – for the initial idea, your support, and for live-tweeting the first event (yes, Jo was here!) and making people everywhere hungry for baked goods
My advice? These books are best shared with a friend, and this project is best shared with your community :)
Which book or genre would you pick as a feature for a booktalk?