Sunday, May 22, 2022

Digital Book Displays as Passive RA AND staff support for better readers advisory

Any of the major library eBook/eAudiobook vendors will allow you to set up your own displays for your patrons to discover. There are obvious uses - highlighting cultural awareness months, celebrating holidays, and participating in events like Banned Books Week. 

Another great way to use them is to provide both passive readers advisory for patrons who wish to explore your digital collection on their own as well as to support paraprofessionals when they are called upon to provide readers advisory on the phone, in virtual chat, or while on a public service desk. Even if a patron wishes to read a physical book or listen to a CD audiobook, having an easily accessible digital collection/list/shelf available will give your staff a place to start. They will be able to see authors, series, and subject headings that can give them some direction. 

Readers Advisory specialists can ask front line staff what kind of RA questions they are receiving and what sort of books patrons are discussing with them. You can also use read alikes for best sellers and read alikes for movies and TV shows that are popular in your area. Check your circulation stats and look for genres, subgenres, and non-fiction areas that are moving in your building. If you are part of a system with more than one branch, don't forget to look at more than one location. 

Programming is another area that you should not ignore. Tie in your digital book and audiobook collection to your programming. Patrons who enjoy a virtual or in-person program can explore topics further, starting with the list you provide. These patrons will have a better readers advisory experience if there is a list of titles that can be built upon. 

If a genre that you are not familiar with is something that staff and/or statistics indicate that you should focus on, ask the people that your in your library system. There are people all over your system who are fans of genres, subjects, and part of fandoms that you are not well versed in. Have that person who loves military science fiction create a list for you. Ask that gothic horror fan to look at your eBooks/eAudiobooks and see what they would add to a shelf. Maybe a short story fan lurks in your facilities department and would love a change of pace and a chance to promote their favorites. 

Having tools like online displays available will ultimately serve your patrons better as they can find more of what they love while also receiving better service from your staff. We can't all be experts on everything and it's a good practice to give staff a place to start when a patron asks.

Friday, January 14, 2022

2022 Book Challenges as Passive Programming/Readers Advisory

 There are so, so many possible book challenges that you can suggest to patrons looking to find some great new reads in 2022. I found one comprehensive list here. Adapt them for your library and create a year-long passive program with some sort of swag to be gained by completing it. 

Add links to your catalog and/or ebook collection when you post a link to the reading challenge or a PDF of your own challenge. You can use it as a weekly post to your social media or library blog. It's a good way to remind patrons of the older titles in your collection. 

What I'm going to do is take a look at a few of the lists and make some suggestions for horror titles that can be used for the challenge. As a passive programming idea, you could solicit suggestions from the library staff who run any of your book clubs whether genre-based (mystery, romance, sci-fi, horror, fantasy, historical, etc.) or age based (youth, YA). Don't forget to include large print and audiobooks. Add them to a social media post, online booklist, or book display. 

If your library subscribes to a service like Beanstack or ReadSquared, patrons can participate online. I would suggest making paper copies available for those who ask. 

Post weekly about the challenge. Have staff post their suggestions and solicit suggestions from the public. 

Even if your building is limiting access due to COVID, you can engage your patrons. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The New England Library Association Conference 2021 has Diversity Day today. I have the pleasure of presenting with Andria L. Amaral of the Charleston County Public Library and Paula Willey of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. Our session is titled Promoting Inclusion and Empathy with Passive Programming. Their book, The Passive Programming Playbook: 101 Ways to Get Library Customers off the Sidelines, is a great addition to anyone's professional collection and is especially relevant today. 

The slideshow is below in case you missed it. 

Friday, May 21, 2021

StokerCon 2021 Librarians Day post

As part of the Horror Writers of America's StokerCon Librarian's Day, I am moderating a panel on promoting horror in libraries. I have posted some of the displays I have done which include horror. Don't forget that you can include horror titles in almost any book display. 

Don't get stuck in the box of only promoting horror in October. Don't strictly segregate genres because your patrons don't care as much as you think they do. (One huge exception is romance readers - romance has a happier ever after ending.)

One final tip is this- book displays in libraries are not a school project. The objective is to get materials into the hands of your patrons. Be broad with genre and theme. You don't have to be exacting as far as which titles you include as long as it's not a genre or subgenre specific display. Even then, I use the broadest possible definition. 

Get Possessed By a Book
This display was easy to fit horror into. It's "Get Possessed by a Book". Include non-fiction titles and some movies. I included titles that were not horror because people will stop for an intriguing cover or a book they have read. This display included graphic novels, audiobooks, non-fiction and dark fantasy in addition to horror. 
Goosebumps - Always popular with kids, especially reluctant readers. While this was an October display, I would put it up during summer reading. It empties out very quickly. 

This display was "What to read next if you love Stephen King." King is always popular in my library and people did stop to pick up other titles because of the display. It would be a great theme to showcase some diverse authors who have written books that you can tie to King's bestsellers. 
Unhappy Families is a great theme to for horror. Mix up the genres because people who read psychological suspense will often read horror. 
HP LovecraftNational Alien Abduction Day is one of those holidays made for book displays. Include some cosmic horror and introduce your patrons to something new. 

HP Lovecraft is another solid theme as long as you remember to include diverse authors and add a variety of cosmic horror titles

World Goth Day - . Include music and DVDs but this is an anytime display that will be fun for patrons and staff.
Scary reads for the beach. People love to read horror in the summer. Guaranteed. "Beach Reads" does not really just mean light and frothy. 

Shapeshift into Fall. This can include romance as well as horror. By using the word shapeshift instead of werewolf, you can draw in people who "don't read horror." An intriguing cover will draw readers to books they might never have discovered. 

When It by Stephen King was released on streaming this was a great opportunity to showcase read alikes.

Creepy Crawlies includes science fiction. There are also some great films you might have in your collection. 

Zombies were a pop culture phenomenon. This is a great anytime book display. 
Genre blended display with witchy books. Include non-fiction and fantasy. 
Horror short stories are extremely popular. I would also drop horror collections into any short story display.

One of the most common readers advisory questions I get is "What do I read after Stephen King or Dean Koontz." This display is my answer. 

Conspiracy theories was as popular as any library worker would expect and lots of horror fits in. 

When Bird Box was on streaming, I set up a readalike book display. Not all of the titles are horror but people stopped because they had at least heard of the show. Let pop culture sensations help you market your collection. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Women in Horror Month!


February is Women in Horror Month. This is a great time to bring your library's horror out for a non-Halloween display. Again, I guarantee you that it will circulate all year. 

Be broad and include non-fiction works like true crime if you need to. You can also grab some psychological suspense as there is a lot of crossover fans. 

On the sign, I included the URL for the official Women in Horror Month website as well as RA for All - Horror, a great resource for any library worker looking to get more information about horror. 

The Horror Writers of America have a great blog with information about diverse authors. Authors' groups are very supportive of libraries and are a wonderful resource. 

Mother Horror - Sadie Hartman is a horror reviewer and part owner of Night Worms Horror Book Box subscription service. Check out her Twitter and Instagram for more ideas. 

Putting out genres like horror in February when your patrons might be expecting something else will draw their attention. There are so many great horror novels written by women. Use this month to celebrate them. 

Don't forget to check out Horror Noire on Shudder, produced by author Tananarive Due

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Getting Ready for February - Black History Month


It's time to start thinking about Black History Month book displays. I will be posting pictures and ideas for the next few days. 

I wanted to share one of the more popular ones I put up. This is devoted to biographies of black chefs and cookbooks by black authors. 

It emptied out the library of all the books on the subject very quickly and I had to pivot to another topic. 

When you are thinking about promoting various history/heritage months, think outside the box. Don't limit yourself. Think about your own city/town/community. Think local history. Think about culture in a broad sense. 

Creating book displays is a good way to inventory your collection. If you can't find books for a display, your library might need to diversify its collection. There are always constraints due to collection development policy and budget but we can add books to represent our entire communities. Promoting them through passive readers advisory like displays, bookmarks, and lists will help your patrons find them. 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

 On Politics and Book Displays

My first instinct is to say "don't." It can be difficult and is usually not worth the amount of difficulty that you will face. However, it's totally acceptable to grab subjects from the news and toss up a book display. (Please make certain you know your library's policies and the thoughts of your administration if you have any second thoughts.)

How do you break down a news event into subjects? In 2017, I put up an FBI themed display. I 
FBI themed book display with fiction and non fiction
used fiction and non-fiction titles. The sign simply had the FBI logo. You have the option of so many thrillers, romantic suspense, and mysteries. There are histories of the agencies and books about famous agents and cases. 

No one complained and the display was successful in getting books into the hands of patrons. 

This display in March of 2017 invited patrons to "Learn more about Russia." The books were mostly about modern Russia and Putin. Within a few days, the books on Putin were all checked out and I had to find other books to fill in the display. 

These sort of displays allow people browsing your collection to discover books about topics they are hearing on the news. Chances are, the people who grabbed the non-fiction didn't come in looking to research that topic but the face outs grabbed their attention. 

What kind of display to put up right now, based upon current events? Depends on your community but some suggestions would be:

Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton books - these are the other recent impeachments. Don't forget to add any DVDs you have in your collection. 

Congress - Fiction and non-fiction about Congress and the Capitol

US Constitution - Fiction, non-fiction, lists of online sources about the American Constitution

Washington D.C. - There is so much fiction that takes place in DC. Don't forget non-fiction and travel books. 

Add books about the March on Washington to your Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day display. 

I hope this helps you to see that breaking down current political events into subjects allows you to bring some attention to books that patrons might not discover on their own.