Friday, May 17, 2013

Helping Books Dance Delightfully Off the Shelves - Shelftalkers

Shelftalkers = signs that make your books dance off the shelves into the arms of grateful readers. You know those great PR promotional shelf signs everyone sees in all types of retail and book stores. 

One comment that keeps coming back to me from a presentation I did in April for the Library Association of Rockland County (New York State).

A librarian was concerned about purchasing new nonfiction for K-12 that would not circulate. I agreed because most of the time the NF taken out has been for research.  We need to shift this thought process, work to find the right types of  NF that will dance off the shelves.  This discussion lead to shelftalkers. It is critical that we don't seat back to wait and see if a book will dance off the shelf.  Promote your product every day and every way to help create partners on the dance floor - book to reader and reader to book.

Step One:  Purchase NF that has the right type of appeal for your customers and not just for research.

I read a review recently in SLJ for a book about experiments with candy.  The reviewer felt it might not be considered a first purchase but supplemental.  I say - order that book - grab it when it arrives and promote it.  I love candy and I know a large segment of the population does as well.
Add a shelftalker to the book that says "Get a special surprise when you check out this book"  When the student checks out this book on candy experiments reach under your circulation desk and give them some candy for one of the experiments.   Hopefully, the candy makes it home for the experiment:)  Think about logical ways to promote and reward. 
Learning to read instructions is a great way to introduce NF to students.
Candy Experiments By Loralee Leavitt c. 2013

Step Two:  Promote and reward your students for their interest in NF. 

Speak to your students as they search for books.  Engage your students.  Rewards come in many shapes and sizes.  A reward can as simple as being the first to line up to go back to your classroom or the next student who gets to check out their classmates books during the next library class.  Let your students know why they are rewarded - Dialogue with your students, for example - "Thanks for being the first person to check this out"  or "I can't wait to hear what you think of this book next week"

Step Three:  Shelftalkers to the rescue.  Don't let NF linger on the sidelines.

I started to think tonight about other parts of our society that promotes products. Every grocery store and all the large retailers put out an advertisement flyer each week of what is on sale. The shelftalker can be compared to the "on sale" flyer - here is the special of the week.

We need to do more promoting or pushing the product to the customer every single day.

It needs to be continual so that the product provided (books, books, and more good books!) is consumed in the manner we want.It should never be a one time promotion.

I want to see EVERY single library put a note in the corner of every display case that says "If you want to check out any of the books on display - just ASK - we are happy to see them go home with you to enjoy!"

People won't ask so you must promote the idea of PLEASE help us dismantle this display - this sign is another version of a shelf talker.

One of my summer projects will be to create a standard set of shelftalkers for the busy librarian.  I will be working with Jackie Graves who is a retired librarian from Central New York.  She is a very creative person and will assist me in assembling a ready made kit to help promote library collections specifically your NF.  Stay tuned to see how our summer project takes shape.  If you have any questions about shelftakers or clever ideas that you use, feel free to share and comment.

A few web sites to help you build your book dancing muscles:
Not about library shelf takers but use this one for inspiration
A great visual shelftalking experience.
A commercial web site for shelf signs that offers a FREE sample.
I ordered one last week and received it within a week.  A very nice sample!