I have the privilege of visiting every single elementary school in town (there’s only 7 so it’s not that heroic) to promote the Summer Reading Club. The community is relatively affluent, so lots of the kids are super readers with their own respectable home libraries. It can sometimes be challenging to engage these kids (especially the older ones) with the library when they can simply stop by Chapters to buy what they want, or pay to attend an event that seems way cooler than any library program.
So I have started throwing out tidbits of book news to the kids to peak their interest when I can tell that they’re not so impressed by the library. The latest bone I’ve been throwing out is the release date of the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book and mentioning that kids can already put their name on the library holds list for the title.
Well, in about a week there’s been 18 holds on the book. And it’s still five months away from being published! And it’s not just Wimpy Kid. I’ve also been promoting the new Creepella Von Cacklefur series that comes out in August and each of the two books now have over 20 holds. Big Nate On a Roll, which also comes out in August, has a respectable 6 holds.
Now, from a collection development standpoint, it may seem like I’ve created a bit of a monster. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are 50 holds on the new Wimpy book by November. You may be worried that poor lil’ Kid #48 will be using one of those assistive bath device seats before he gets his paws on the book. But you should see how pumped the chidlers get when they hear that a new installment of a beloved series is forthcoming. It’s insanity. I have actually started prefacing the news with “I have something to tell you, but you have to promise not to freak out.” And all the advance holds actually gives me a really good idea of how many copies to buy. I’ve already purchased 10 copies of the new Wimpy book and I will gladly buy more as the holds list increases. Even if I have to weed 20 of these books in two years (and I don’t think I will since the original Wimpy books are all out), the buzz that was created and the demand that was met will make the purchases well worth it.
So there’s yet another argument for librarians to stay current. Knowing what popular authors have books on the burner, and when those books will be available, can help crack those tough nuts. When we can give kids something they probably won’t find on their own (and can’t buy!) – like a brand new book announcement gleaned from Twitter or Publishers Weekly – we become valuable. It’s not just about selling what the library has, but what the library will have. We have to show that we’re with it, we know what kids want, and it will be ready and waiting for them as soon as it’s released.