I have talked about the backlist many times on this blog, but the basic gist is that there are more great reading choices lurking in the stacks than there are on the new shelf. The newest hottest books are selling themselves because that's what is dominating the media right now; but most are quickly forgotten. You will have your best luck and your most rewarding experiences with the backlist titles you suggest. [You can see more from me on the topic here.]
Now from this perspective the backlist is a treasure trove of suggestions of books that have a high probability of being on your shelf right now for patrons, but how is it a training opportunity?
Well, here are a few ways you can turn your backlist into a training exercise:
- Look at the current bestseller list or the end of the year best lists and come up with readalikes that are 2 years or older. Make a display to show off your awesome backlist options for your patrons. For example:
- Only allow yourself to suggest titles 2 years or older to patrons for an entire day. I have done this before [without telling anyone]; it is fun, but challenging. I prepared a few days before by going through my list of older reviews and the readalikes I came up with. I also went through some best lists from year's past to get ideas. But you can't use a stock list of prepared titles because as you work with specific patrons, their unique tastes will come into play. As the day went on, I was forced to look at titles I had forgotten about for years but were still great reads!
- Afraid to do this all day with actual patrons. Do it among staff, either formally in a staff meeting or over the course of a month more informally by challenging each other to come up with old readalikes based on actual patron interactions.
- Make an effort to go through the backlist of major award winners and nominees. You will be amazed at how many of the titles you know but have completely forgotten about. Just jogging your memory will help you to get out of your suggesting rut. [I talked about in detail about using old awards lists as an RA tool in this post.]
The point here today is that spending time consciously using only older titles as your suggest books to patrons is a win-win for everyone. You stop living only in the present, your patrons get wonderful suggestions, and those great reads languishing in the stacks get read and enjoyed.
Check back tomorrow for the final training tip in this series.