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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Have you ever had a Blind Date .. with a book?

Have you ever just picked up a book and started reading? Most of us will look at the cover, read the back blurb and then decide. There has been plenty of research which shows that the book cover makes a big difference when people are choosing a book to read.

Teenagers seem to display lots of anxiety when you ask them to read something that they haven't created an emotional or quizzical bond with. So creating the environment for students to have a blind date with a book is liberating for them, encouraging them to take risks where they might not normally engage in this behaviour.

February 14th is "Library Lovers Day" and last year our school ran a "blind date with a book" initiative and students had the opportunity to borrow and read a book that they might not normally read. We chose large and small books from across a wide range of genre's and when students borrowed the book they got a little love heart chocolate. For some, the chocolate was used to close the deal, tempting them to look at something that they might not have looked at before.

Some local libraries have even used their "banned books" as a blind date.

How to make it happen in your school library
  1. PromotionAdvertise that Blind dates are going to occur. Tease your audience with "have you ever been on a date with a ..." statements. Engage your staff and your students. "I went on a Blind Date with a spy last week" (Ian Fleming book). Marketing is the key and the more people who know about your initiative in your school library, the higher likelihood of success.

  2. Communication Media
    Think posters, bookmarks, school web site, twitter. How can you leverage the tools that you already have and focus it onto your promotion. Can you use romantic music in the library to create an atmosphere? Aromatherapy? Chocolates?

  3. DeliveryLast February we ran the blind date initiative for a week coinciding with Valentines Day "Library Lovers" celebrations. At the end of the week we took the display, but students still asked for blind dates afterwards. How can you incorporate this initiative into wider reading circles or English classes. Can you tee it up with book reviews for prizes?

  4. Maintain the momentum
    Last February year we put 10 books on a custom display and then spend every day covering another 4 or 5 books for about a week to fill the display up again. Next year we might cover up to 50 books before hand so that we are not taking up that valuable time. How can you promote the Blind Date books that your students have read? Can they upload a picture, a selfie of them and the book to your library web site?

  5. Measuring your success
    How do you know that your Blind Date initiative was successful? Evaluate both from a quantitative (increased borrowings, book reviews, physical traffic, electronic traffic) and qualitative feedback ("I loved that book, "yes I will recommend it to others"

At my school, we asked the students to give the book 100 pages or 3 chapters, whichever one came first.  Majority of students finished the book and then recommended it to others.

Overall our initiative was a success and we are looking forward to doing it again next year.

Will you be putting together a Blind Date library promotions campaign? If so, let me know!

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