Jazz up Booktalking and Invigorate your Staff

gvpl booksmack at the Belfry
Libraries have got talent and RA enthusiasm to burn but how to harness it and reach the broadest audience possible? Booksmack!

This twist on booktalking is a fast paced, noisy tag team event which draws from all levels of staff. A group of 5 avid readers take turns talking as many books as they can in a 5 minute, then 2 minute then 1 minute round- about 50 minutes in total. The event is drop in, not pre-registered and meant to feel spontaneous. Presided over by an MC/timekeeper, the group seats themselves in a prominent place in the library- a foyer or some other public thoroughfare.

A staff MC introduces each participant in a jocular fashion then each has the opportunity to talk a little about individual reading tastes before launching into snappy and opinionated reviews. Participants come with a pile of 15 to 20 items in all formats recognizing that they likely won’t get through them but trying hard! The MC wields a noisy school bell and keeps everyone in line and on time. Booklists are printed in small quantities and accessible online.

We’ve Booksmacked at Victoria’s Belfry Theatre, on CBC and gone out into the community. Best of all, Booksmacked has been taken up by teachers, book clubs and even staff in a government workplace.

Booksmack serves many purposes: it promotes library staff as readers advisory experts, it emboldens non-professional staff to get involved with readers advisory and rejuvenates professionals who may no longer have much interaction with patrons. The program is also an excellent way to promote older titles, sleepers and other formats such as documentary dvds. Keep it short, use already scheduled staff and voila- you have an inexpensive and effective program.

Be warned- it takes a leap of faith to just launch into a book talk complete with cow bell and timer when you don’t know who is going to stop and listen . On the other hand, do it once and you will be sure to have an audience the next time not to mention staff who champing at the bit to perform themselves!

Olivia Anderson, Branch Head, GVPL

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3 thoughts on “Jazz up Booktalking and Invigorate your Staff

  1. Lara

    I highly recommend taking the Booksmack leap – I signed on with considerable trepidation but thoroughly enjoyed the experience! And took away a ton of new reading (and viewing) suggestions.

    Reply

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