Blogger Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla

Booktalking, or How to Make Your Circulation Skyrocket

Today is an important and exciting day at our library. Today, May 13th, marks the first day of our annual Booktalking project at public and private schools in our town.

The Kindergarten/First Grade booktalking bag is ready to go!  photo courtesy of the author
The Kindergarten/First Grade booktalking bag is ready to go!
photo courtesy of the author

From mid-May through the end of the school year, librarians will visit almost every child in grades K to 8. We come bearing exciting news about summer reading, but just as importantly, we come bearing booklists! Beginning in the fall of the previous year, we zealously hunt down buzzing ARCs and F&Gs, searching for the perfect new books to add to our lists. We try to have a book on each list for every child – all genres, genders, and creeds. With the advent of Common Core, we beefed up the amount of non-fiction titles on our lists, so there’s a healthy mix of fiction, graphic novels, and non-fiction. We put 15 to 20 new titles on each list, we buy 10+ copies of each book, and then we bring the show to the schools. We visit individual classes in their classrooms and school libraries. We hope to hit every classroom, making sure that each child in town knows that Summer Reading is approaching.

The effort that goes into booktalking is enormous. Between Fall of 2013 and March of 2014, when we ordered our first cart of booktalking books, the librarians read, considered, and had meetings about over 200 books. This is in addition to our normal reading and collection development duties. Booktalking essentially takes up 6+ months of the year, but the payoff is worth it’s weight in gold, or in this case, statistics.

It is not an understatement to say that booktalking drives an entire year of circulation. Our circulation numbers are twice (and sometimes three or four times) as high in June, July, and August as they are during the rest of the year. We are a small town library, with a population of about 20,000, yet because of booktalking over the summer we routinely have 15 or more holds on a title that we have 10 copies of! Children race into the library after we visit their classrooms looking for the titles we talk about. And their excitement about the books we talked about bleeds into their excitement about Summer Reading, which helps boost our Summer Reading participation stats. It’s our favorite time of the year!

This year’s selections are listed below:

Kindergarten/First Grade

Second/Third Grade

Fourth/Fifth Grade

Public librarians – do you booktalk at schools? How many times a year? Does it drive your circulation?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *