We have a Divergent display at the moment near the entrance and although I haven’t actually seen anyone take a book from it, I had to replace a couple the other day so I was very pleased!
I’m trying to get people to borrow more of our teenage books but it’s difficult. The Teenage section is tucked away in the computer room, which doesn’t help, and should we change the name to Young Adult? There’s a big crossover with other books in the library and the Dark Romance section is very popular, so perhaps some of the teenage books should be promoted by genre rather than by age? Or perhaps Young Adult e-books are the answer – I love the graphics on another library blog (the inspiration for this display).
Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights
Times are hard for independent bookshops, with fewer than 1,000 now in Britain. But public libraries can still learn a thing or two from them. Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath is a wonderful example of how creative some of these shops are.
From there you can purchase a Reading Spa (either a Delightful one for £55 or an Extravagant one for £100) and enjoy a tea or coffee and cake with a bibliotherapist, who will offer you a pile of books especially selected to suit your tastes.
Or you might prefer a Reading Year (Paperback £135 or Hardback £220) and receive eleven books hand-chosen for you throughout the year.
I’m not suggesting that libraries start charging people for similar services but we do a lot of this stuff any way. At Langley, which is small enough for us to get to know a lot of our regular customers, we often recommend particular books we think they’d enjoy, and there are a lot of coffee and cakes around too. But what we’re less good at is marketing this service and we don’t even have a lot of general If you love… then try this information around the library. I’m definitely going to do something about that!
Toronto Public Library has some great book lists, including Read Alikes and Who’s Reading What lists with local celebrities and I also love some of the If you love this… graphics on anotherlibblog.wordpress.com and New Orleans Public Library.
When I did my library masters in 2002 we were told never to mention at a job interview that we loved books or reading because this would put the interviewers off. My heart sank but I took it on board and managed to get my first post as an academic librarian without once mentioning books. But several years later, at my public library interview in Sandwell, they asked me to tell them about a book I’d read recently and explain why I liked it so much. I told them all about Happenstance by Carol Shields and felt really pleased that I could be open about my passion for reading at last.
Most of the public library staff I’ve worked with have loved reading and that’s brilliant, because it’s much easier to sell a product you like (and we’re certainly in the business of “selling” the library services). But it’s more important to be warm and welcoming to library users, to listen to them, to help them find out things or access a job application form or set up an email account, than it is to be the best-read person in the world. If you listen to people talking about books they’ve read and keep up to date with book reviews and the new books in the library, if you use book choice websites, then you’ll be able to recommend books to people.
Now that my children have grown up, I read fewer children’s books, but I read articles about children’s authors and literature and look through all the new books that arrive at the library, so I can talk to kids and their parents about which books they might enjoy. Above all, I listen to the children who tell me about the fantastic books they’ve just read.
You don’t need to be a great reader to work in a public library but you do need to be interested in reading.
Will Manley’s Magic Bullet (mlissinginaction.wordpress.com)