When you think about readers' advisory, what comes to mind? Is it gratifying discussions about books at the reference desk? Informal resources like genre lists and theme bookmarks? Those methods of suggesting titles to read are great, but they don't necessarily meet the needs of all our customers. What about those customers who don't want to talk, and who don't want to work through a list to find their next book? How do we get great books into their hands without violating their level of comfort at the library?
It may seem vain, but here's what I'm trying: a one-book display at the check-out desk called "Miss Amy Recommends."
I've been at my library for over a year now, and while that is by no means a long time, I have noticed that customers have gotten to know who I am. Especially those customers with children. That's Miss Amy, she came to my school! or Miss Amy did that airplane program I went to--those are things I'll overhear as children let their parents know who I am. So that's reason 1 of my rationalization: library folks know who this Miss Amy person is.
Reason 2 stems from something that occurred several times this summer. While I was interacting with summer reading participants, I had several regular library visitors start to ask what I was reading. I'd explain a bit about the books I had currently read, and more often than not the child would ask if he or she could check out the book I mentioned. Whatever their reasons may be, some kids want to read what the kidlit-reading grown-ups in their lives are reading.
Reason 3 is that this display is so very simple. It's simple for customers, who need only look at the book, decide it looks interesting, and then check it out. This display is also really simple for staff. Since it's just one book at a time, it takes up minimal space. The "Miss Amy Recommends" bubbles were simple to make and are reusable. And the only criteria I use in selecting books to display is whether I would make an effort to hand-sell the title or not. Do I like it? Yes? Then it gets added to the small pile of books that will rotate onto the display as soon as the current book gets checked out. Easy peasy.
I have noticed that picture books tend to be picked off the display faster than chapter books (with the exception of The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee, which was plucked from the display within two minutes of being placed on it). But one of the beauties of such a simple display is that I can replace a book that doesn't seem to be catching customers' eyes. I'm finding this display a great way to keep things fresh and moving while letting young customers and their caregivers know I've got their reading interests in mind.