Tag Archives: Library promotion

Canada Reads inspires the reader in all of us

7 Feb

Canada Reads is an annual competition where celebrities debate on the “best Canadian novel”. The goal of the Canada Reads debate is to put a spotlight on Canadian literature and, perhaps more importantly, it also ambitiously attempts to get Canadians to read more. It seems of course like a natural reaction for anyone who listens to an hour-long discussion/debate on the merits of a few specific books to then be enticed to go out and read them. The proof that Canada Reads truly does increase the readership of the selected titles is demonstrated by a noticeable increase in their book sales. Bookstores will usually jump on the promotional bandwagon and market these books as contestants on Canada Reads (in the bookstore where I used to work we would use special stickers to identify the Canada Reads titles). Equally from a public library perspective, the exposure creates a rush on these titles and consequently all of the copies in our provincial system are currently checked out and the reservation list grows longer as the debate intensifies.

Today was the first round of the three days of debates hosted by the amazing representative of culture in Canada Jian Ghomeshi. The five books voted to be included in this year’s competition and whose winner is supposed to represent the essential Canadian novel of the past 10 years are Essex County by Jeff Lemire, The Birth House by Ami McKay, The Bone Cage by Angie Abdou, Unless by Carol Shields, and The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis. Now here I must shamefully admit that I have not yet read any of these five books. In fact prior to Canada Reads, I had never even heard of Essex County or The Best Laid Plans. This is particularly embarrassing considering that I’m a public librarian and that prior to my MLIS I worked in the book industry and have always had a keen interest in promoting Canadian literature.

I perhaps should not be too embarrassed though considering that the whole point of Canada Reads is to say to all Canadians “Wake up! Canadian authors produce amazing literature and you should read their books!”. Apparently librarians are not to be exempted from this wake-up call. As librarians we should not pretend that we know everything about popular books and authors or what people should be reading. We are often too guilty of reading only the genres that interest us or we simply regurgitate the recommendations that we’ve heard from others. What I love about Canada Reads is that it entices people to explore books outside of their regular reading habits (this year for the first time a graphic novel was included in the competition).

Tanya Abramovitch, director of the Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc library gave the assignment last year to her students in McGill’s School of Information Studies Public Libraries’ course to read three books from a genre that they would not normally chose. I think that this assignment is a brilliant idea and that more librarians should be encouraged to read outside of their comfort zone. Canada Reads provides a cultural spotlight for Canadians to discover amazing titles and authors that they might not have otherwise read but that are worthy of our attention. Librarians need to be actively promoting Canada Reads as a way of tapping into the media attention surrounding these titles to increase readership. However, we cannot simply rely on Canada Reads; we need to be at the forefront exploring publishing catalogues, literary magazines like the Quill and Quire, websites like Goodreads, and our own library’s book stacks searching for the next great book to recommend.

I encourage everyone, even those not in Canada, to follow Canada Reads on the CBC Canada Reads website.

I also would really love if people posted below their own recommendation of a book they feel is worthy of a national literary competition.

Happy reading!

Library Revolutions Video

25 Sep

I am totally a sucker for cheesy library-related videos. This promotional video for the University of Kansas’ library is a spoof of the Matrix and definitely has a professional quality to it! I’m not quite sure who its target audience is though because it seems a bit too long to hold the attention of busy students. Nonetheless it is really well done and it would be cool if McGill had a video like this! The director of this video is Emmy-winner Chris Martin who was a film student at the University of Kansas. He has also produced another pretty awesome library spoof video called Lord of the Libraries.

Very cool stuff!

New video on Asturias Academy

14 Aug

Here is a new video on Miguel Angel Asturias Academy where our group of McGill’s Librarian Without Borders volunteered to help develop a library project in April. It is such an amazing place that fosters a passion for learning in all of its students. I was completely blown away by the founder and director Jorge Chojolán who narrates this video; he is truly an inspirational man with a great vision. I actually danced with him on our final night in Xela!


I am beginning to sponsor a student to attend Asturias which I think is an incredibly worthy cause. As a condition of my sponsorship, Steve Mullaney, the Director of Development and acting Librarian, is ensuring that the student I sponsor is a member of the school’s Book Club. For more information on Asturias Academy please don’t hesitate to contact me or visit the school’s website.

My first defeat

25 Jul

Today I experienced my first defeat as a Library Director. I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later. I was not defeated by the municipality, the library board, my employees, or a patron. It was Mother Nature who did me in!

For the past month, I have been working hard to organize a library promotional/fundraising event to coincide with the popular Tracadie 2-mile swim. This annual event draws a huge number of participants and my idea was to display material from the library that would interest this target group of potential users (books on sports training, nutrition, biographies of athletes, health issues, etc). In order to promote our library network’s “Adopt-a-book” fundraising program, I also put together a comprehensive Wish List of specific titles to purchase for the collection for which people could donate money in return for an Ex Libris with their name in the adopted book. My summer student workers made a beautifully designed sign with the motto “Make a Splash your Library” and one of the board members had volunteered to come help out. I was so excited about my first attempt of fundraising and promoting the library at a community event to people who might not necessarily already be library members.

Despite all this preparation, Mother Nature had different plans. The swimmers were supposed to start at 1pm this afternoon and I was going to set up at the community centre where participants and spectators would meet afterwards for a meal and the prize ceremony. However, this morning the heavy rains and wind created water conditions that would have been unsafe for the swimmers and so the event was cancelled.

I obviously applaud the event organizers who came to this decision based on the security of the participants. Although I was still very disappointed when I realized that my work to create highly targeted promotional material would go unused. I might have reacted a bit dramatically when I found out it had been cancelled but I should have remembered that organizing library events and activities is always a risk. What if you put a lot of work into an event and no one shows up? What if you invest time and money into hosting a guest speaker who turns out to be boring? I don’t regret the time I put into organizing the library’s presence at this event. If it had worked out, I’m confident that we would have raised a lot of money and awareness for the library. I will try to think up a way to recycle this idea, even if it does mean waiting until next year’s edition of the Tracadie 2-mile swim.

What about you? Any horror stories of event planning that went awry? How did you attempt to save the day?