Following on from our last post on connecting our communities with reading, today we feature Chris Orpen, Regional Librarian from Logan North Library, in Queensland. She attended “Best Sellers” readers advisory training with Paul Brown in November 2010, and then introduced retail principles of customer service and visual merchandising via staff picks into her library.
Encouraging staff to write regular short reviews for shelf talkers has always been a problem. All start out enthusiastically but the demands of day to day ‘busyness’ often pushes the reviews to a low or non priority. We developed a simplified process to overcome this issue. Each staff member has a colour coded book mark with a 5 star graphic and their name. They simply choose a book they enjoyed or would recommend, place the bookmark inside with the label showing, and place it on our designated end displays. Using this method we have loaned over 11,000 ‘staff picks’ in the last 12 months.
We had always planned to expand this concept if the project was successful. To overcome the lack of written review, each staff member has their photo (with the corresponding colour code) on display near our Readers Advice desk. Accompanying the photo is a dot point list of reading preferences and hobbies/interests. This assists borrowers in selecting items of common interest. The concept has proved very popular with many borrowers ‘following’ particular staff members, and it also adds a personal aspect to our selections. An unexpected advantage has been that new members get to know the staff much more quickly.
We talk a lot in our library service about connecting people in our community with reading, and this week quite a few great ideas were raised by staff.
- add Recommended Reads labels to book and DVD spines because people like to read what others have read and enjoyed. The labels would make them easy to find on the shelves for customers and for adding to displays.
- Taking reading to the nursing home residents (many of our staff have a great affinity with older people)
- Partnering with a local art magazine by contributing reviews of library art-related books with reviews written by librarians
- Promoting the add a review facility in our catalogue so people can share what they’re reading with others, with great incentives like books and awesome t-shirts.
I read about a great idea from two different sources this week.
The Victorians Love Libraries campaign and the Literacy Aotearoa Travelling Books project (LA via @SallyHeroes). We’re already registered on Bookcrossing, so could investigate doing something similar through there.
LA’s CEO Bronwyn Yates noted that ‘adult literacy is a major national issue’ (in New Zealand just as it is in Australia) and that ‘sharing the pleasure of reading books with others is hugely rewarding.’
What would be really useful in this country is a central collaborative project bank that library staff add to, gain inspiration from, and ultimately use to save time and duplication of effort, so that we can collectively make a huge difference. Have you seen the Love2Read Ideas Bank?
How are you connecting your community with reading?
How would you like to connect with your professional community to promote reading?