May 15, 2018
10 ideas for libraries participating in the Great American Read
As Lindsey wrote about in a reaction to the release of the top one hundred best loved books in America, the NoveList office is all atwitter about the prospect of watching and voting on America’s best loved book. Like you, we all have our opinions, our favorites, and our “what the  is that book doing on the list?!” As libraries around the country rub their hands together, put their heads together, and click on PBS for a national discussion of reading, we have some ideas of ways you can encourage your community to participate.
Even better than ideas -- we have some freebies for use in your library.
- Viewing parties. Who needs the Super Bowl when you can get your community together to watch, cheer, and smack-talk their favorite reads? Luckily for you, we have some viewing party event signage for you. And might we suggest that you offer these adorable book chocolates, an idea stolen directly from RUSA and their Carnegie awards ceremonies.
- Poll your community for their favorite read. The Hunt for Red October might be on my list of most beloved books (true!), but people in your community probably have their own ideas for a list that represents them. So ask ‘em! Ask ‘em on Twitter, Facebook, on your website, and with online polls. Then prepare for the big reveal -- does your list overlap with the list PBS released?
- Vote on the current list. The NoveList office has their ballots ready (and a handy voting sheet made in LibraryAware) and the trash talk might get heated. We’re in the heart of college basketball country. John Green vs Jason Reynolds could be a battle to rival Duke vs UNC.
- Displays. This list was made for displays! Putting Charlotte’s Web next to Fifty Shades of Grey is bound to get your patrons asking questions like, “Why?” and “Can I take these books home?” (That was always my favorite question from a patron. It seemed like proof that I caught the attention of someone who might not be a library regular).
- Read-alikes. We’re getting busy making sure the NoveList read-alikes for books on the list are in tip-top shape and this list is a great way to get your patrons interested in other books in your collection. Fans of James Patterson’s Alex Cross series may be looking for more plot-driven, fast-paced works of suspense series suggestions, in case the great man ever runs out of cracking ideas. *Bonus Idea #1* Make bookmarks with staff favorites from the list and their read-alikes.
- Compete for bragging rights. The list was released April 20nd. The first episode is May 22nd and voting begins immediately after. That gives you and your community all summer to read, read, read. Then, everyone can checkoff what they’ve read and submit their list for a prize. Perhaps the goal is to see who’s read the most number of books from the list in general. Maybe to see who’s increased the number of books they’ve read the most over the summer. No matter what, you get *Bonus Idea #2*! Incorporate this reading challenge into your summer reading program.
- Book clubs around the titles. I’m there for a book club that discusses both A Prayer for Owen Meany and The Coldest Winter Ever -- and I’ll bet your patrons will be, too.
- Advocate for your favorites. Is your favorite title on the list? Maybe it’s one of those titles that has people scratching their heads (no judgment -- I’m both a Twilight and Hunt for Red October fan, so I’ve got your back here). Get staff members together for an hour on Facebook to champion their favorite book from the list and encourage patrons to advocate, too.
- Art contest. This idea is especially for children’s librarians, but there’s no reason adults can’t participate, too. Use your art skills to make a new cover for your favorite book.
- Staff cheat sheet. At NoveList we read lots of books, but no one in our office has read everything on that list. We’re betting that’s true for you, too. As your community gets excited about the Great American Read and starts asking for more information on Invisible Man, make life easier on yourself by having the genre, appeals, themes, subject headings, and series information of the titles at your fingertips. Extra credit for having information about the audiobook appeal factors! Check NoveList for this information. We’ve got you covered.
NoveList is here to support you as America reads together. All the titles are now an awards list in NoveList (type UI 447355 into the keyword search to see them all). Hopefully, that will make it easier for you to find the read-alikes you need for your bookmarks, appeal information for your cheat sheets, and book discussion guides. We’re also in the process of putting materials in LibraryAware for you to use.
Is your library planning events for the Great American Read? Do you have ideas to share with other libraries? What support would you like from NoveList as you get your American community reading greatly? Let us know.
Jennifer Lohmann is the Director of Sales and Marketing
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