I think most of my colleagues would agree that suggesting books to our customers is one of the best parts of our job. The benefit is two-fold. First, we recognize a fellow bibliophile when someone comes to the desk and asks, “Can you suggest a good book?” The person offers us an opportunity to talk about something that we love to talk about – books. Second, the customer, in turn, tells us about the books that they loved, and we reach for pen and paper to note the title and add to our ‘to read’ list. Many customers simply go to the Staff Picks shelf which the library staff keep filled with their favorite books and other materials. More often than not, our Staff Picks are cleaned out by our customers, giving us the opportunity to browse the stacks and find more treasures to fill our shelves.
When the library closed due to the pandemic, we quickly pivoted to virtual classes and online book clubs, yet we missed those customers who came to the library in search of a good read. They browsed our stacks, they asked us for suggestions, and they picked up books from our staff picks. We felt, they are, most likely, missing that personal touch as well.
To bridge the gap between librarians and the book lovers in the community, we came up with a solution which was only second best to meeting in person. Those of us who did reader’s advisory at the library and also gained from the knowledge of books from our community members came together to create a class called Staff Picks and Book Chat.
This is the plan we envisioned. A couple of HCLS staff members will briefly talk about a few books of their choice, then open the floor to the community members who register to attend the class to talk about the books that they loved. Everyone attending will get book suggestions from each other in the process. At this time of physical distancing, it is important we connect, albeit virtually, over something that we love, in this case, our collective love for books. We want to see you regularly, so we decided to hold the sessions every 2nd and 4th Friday of the month from 11 – 11:45 am.
If you would like to join us this Friday, July 10, register here.
The staff of Howard County Library System cannot wait to hear about all the books that you have read and loved.
Piyali is an instructor and research specialist at HCLS Miller Branch, where she co-facilitates both Global Reads and Strictly Historical Fiction.