I got the go ahead from the higher ups at my branch to start a Staff Picks display section. For those unfamiliar with the term (like a surprising amount of people at my library), the Staff Picks is just a designated area where library staffers can put books that they read and would recommend to the public. I’m also asking everyone to write a little bit about why they chose the book and to claim their pick by putting their name on it.
There are several benefits to having a staff pick section in a library:
- Staff Picks are like instant reader’s advisory. Looking for a new book? Why not try one that has a library employee stamp of approval?
- MU doesn’t have a lot of display space but setting up the Picks on a lower shelf on the main floor creates a quick and easy to maintain attraction. Having the books out in the open is also more accessible than using the locked display cabinets found by the library entry.
- Patrons can feel more familiar with staff with this personal touch.
- Everyone in the library can get involved so it helps get everyone interested in the collection.
- If the display catches on it can even help increase circulation statistics and expose patrons to parts of the collection that they might usually overlook.
The benefits listed above are ones I rattled off to staff when they started asking why I was doing this. The idea, however, is not new–I’m stealing the present incarnation from my previous place of employ.
The key, of course, to Staff Picks is that the staff needs to pick books. It looses some of its credibility and authenticity when it becomes a display solely comprised of “Miss Print’s” picks. During the first day/phase of staff picks I spend a good deal of time telling everyone about it and pestering people to participate. A lot of responses included “Oh, so and so tried that” and balking at having to write up a mini-recommendation. Bear actually had the audacity to suggest there was nothing he would read/recommend at the branch to which I snapped, “It’s a public library, there has to be something you have read.”
But the seed is planted.
Phase Two is to set up the display with my own picks and just point it out to everyone. Hopefully people will start to add to the display since the whole point is that it can be self-sustaining. Other than that I don’t plan on pestering anymore because (1) there is nothing else to say and (2) everyone has heard it already. Apparently some have heard more than enough:
Bear: “What are you going to do if we don’t pick something? Are you going to beat us up?” [holds up rulers in a vaguely-ninja-like manner]
Miss Print: “No. You’ll lose all of my love and respect.”
Bear: “Oh, is that all?”
Miss Print: “Shut up Bear.”
So, no I am not going to do much more to promote staff picks because I can’t force people to share their favorite books. But I hope it does catch on because it’s a really great (easy to implement) idea and I’d really like to be able to point at one thing at my branch and say that I started it.