I can come to your library, book club meeting, or conference to talk about how to help your readers find their next good read. Click here for more information including RA for All's EDI Statement.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Call to Action: Booktalking Prompts Made Easy

Today's Call to Action is in direct response to the concerns, excuses, and complaints I get when I work with libraries as we try to get staff book talking more.

The main problem is that in the midst of a busy work day, people get flustered about what to talk about and often don't incorporate book talking into their interactions with patrons at the service desk.

But here is the thing, it is important to  be having impromptu conversations about items in our collections with patrons every chance we get, even if we aren't specifically suggesting them for that reader. So here is the world's easiest hack to make you and every one of your staff members into awesome book talkers--

Every time you start a shift at a service desk, bring an item from the collection [any collection, it doesn't have to be from the one you work at] and put it on display at the desk right next to or in front of you. Every staff member should have a post it or bookmark for this that reads "Becky [insert name of person] Is Excited About..."

Here are the two key things here:

  1. You bring an item with you ever single time you work with the public and put it out. This gives you a prop to remind you to chat about something in the collection
  2. It doesn't have to even be something you have read or watched- just something you are "excited about." Maybe you heard about it, someone else read it, you want to watch it soon, etc...
People often tell me that they run out of things they have personally read or watched. This solves that problem. Also bringing the item and putting it out creates an interactive display. You are showing patrons that you have an item ready and waiting that you would love to share with them. You can put up signs for them to ask you what you are reading all you want, but it is when we show them that we want to share items that they start to realize they can bother us about fun things. They might even start the conversation themselves.

Then when that item goes, grab another. In fact, considering bringing a few items for every shift. Just replace your "Becky [insert your name here] is Excited About..." prompt and get back to work.

When we bring something we are "Excited About" with us to our desk shifts, we are removing the excuses of not remembering to book talk, not having anything to talk about, or not currently reading or watching something-- excuses I often hear when people cannot get their staff to have more conversations about their collections with patrons.

And it also invites our patrons to interact with us. We can share what we are excited about and then ask them to share what they are excited about too.

RA Service is about way more than being asked a specific question and then answering it. RA Service is about having conversations about our collections with patrons. Sharing great leisure reading and watching options in general and asking them to share theirs too. When we create conversations around our collections, we are encouraging patrons to look for more items. One the conversations happen, they will start to ask us for help finding items. Trust me, I have seen it happen, in my library and in others all over the country.

Plus it is a really fun way to have an ever changing small display that can fit anywhere.

For past Call to Action posts, click here.

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