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Friday, November 22, 2019

Using Best Books Lists to Help You NOT to Overwhelm You

I wanted to end this week with my annual reminder that "BEST" season can be overwhelming if you don't have the correct mindset about it. New lists are coming at us every day, while patrons are coming in and asking for the same books appearing on those lists. But we need to remember, that while those best lists are bringing patrons in with a specific book to ask for, that does not mean they HAVE to get that book. In most cases, they just want A book, one that will be "good" because someone else who knows better said it was "best." Many of our patrons don't know or realize that we can help with their wants, their leisure requests. These list provide them with a tangible request to bring to us, to start the conversation about their reading needs, in a way that lessens their anxiety about asking and "bothering" us.

Rather than feel overwhelmed about all the "best" books lists, and being annoyed that everyone is asking for the same books, book that are already checked out and have long holds queues; instead we need to celebrate the bounty that is the "best list" and use this bounty to our advantage. And not just now, at the end of the year, but all year long. [Psst....a best book is still best in January or June or any month really; no one removes that status after the best book season ends.]

Let's begin with a little basic patron psychology. When a patron comes in asking for a specific title off of the best lists, understand that this is not the only book they will accept. As I said above, this is a specific request for a book, but what the patron is really asking for is a suggestion of a book that will be worth their time.

You can tell them that the book they want is out now, and you can take a hold, but did they read [insert similar book from last year's best list here]? Statements like, "This was on last year's best lists." Or, "Many people never got a chance to read this 2 years ago when it was on the lists." Or something that reminds them that best lists come out every year and no one has ever read all of them.

Best lists are a treasure trove of information that can help you to help readers all year long. Today's bests are a great way to bring people into the library to ask for leisure reads. They are one of our best marketing tools [along with Summer Reading], but they are just that...a marketing tool. The current list is helpful to bring them in, but it is the accumulated backlist of best lists, from everywhere and anywhere that become a great resource to help readers find a "pre-approved," already vetted as best by someone, read.

But where to find all of the best lists, especially the backlist versions? That could take forever. Thankfully, that is not the case. They are all easily available in one place thanks to Largehearted Boy.

Largehearted Boy has the ultimate aggregated list of every possible best book list here. It is updated daily AND there is easy access to past lists. And I am not kidding about easy. At the end of the list of lists, he provides a linked list of the archives from every past year. Right there, in plain sight, with single click access.

This is a resource I use all year long. In fact, it is one of my favorite and most used resources to connect people with their next good read.

Again, best lists are not only a great option now, at the end of the year, but also anytime of year. Have a patrons who wants a great romance in May, but has read all the newest ones? Go to Largehearted Boy's most current best books archive. Do a "find" for the word romance. Multiple best romance lists appear. Click through and look at them together. Read them all? Go back a year [at the bottom of the page and choose "2018"] and repeat.

They are still best and you probably still own a majority of the books from the last 2-5 years of "best lists." This archive contains every type of best book in every imaginable reading category, and from every publication, even the ones that barely cover books. And you can read "best" books anytime of year, not just at the end of a year. There is no law against it, regardless of the fact that many of us who serve leisure readers act like that is exactly the case and never give out or promote "best" books except from November-January.

So let's just stop, okay. Don't be so closed minded. And give your patrons a little more credit. They are not as simple minded as only wanting the exact best book from the exact list they have brought in. [even if they insist they do; those people just don't understand that you have more of the same for them in last's years list from the same publication. That's not their job to know that, It is yours. And it is your job to communicate it to them in a way that makes them excited to take a book home.]

Resources are our friends when we help leisure readers and best lists, especially the backlist ones, are our "best friends" because they help us find the perfect, new to them, read for our patrons-- all year long.

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