The Easiest Way to Increase Participation in the Library (and Get Great Feedback)

I recently completed a contract for my first library job (yay! but now I need another one, boo!). This is why it’s been so long since I did any updates to this blog–I just didn’t have the time, between work and volunteer work. However, since I’m now job hunting and finished with volunteer work for the summer, hopefully I’ll have some time now to work on my large backlog of reviews. But for now I’d like to talk about one of the things I did while I was working as a school librarian.

One of my challenges was getting to know the kids–all 500+ of them, and getting to know what they wanted to read. I knew something about kids’ books, I could see what was on the shelves, but what books were the kids of that school in particular hungry for? How could I get them to talk to me, a brand-new adult in their school lives? How could I express my attitude that it was their library and that I was there to help them, and that I really wanted some honest feedback about what they wanted? How could I make them excited about books and reading?

My answer was pretty much the easiest, cheapest thing I could possibly do, but I found it really helpful, especially when my first book-buying trip came up. I wrote questions on chart paper and stuck them on the counter for the kids to answer. I know, it sounds a bit lame–out of all of the creative, technological, informative things I could do, and I went with chart paper? But they actually really enjoyed answering the questions. I don’t know if they liked being asked, or if they liked the idea that they got to write on the chart paper instead of the teacher always writing–I didn’t ask. I just put it up and let them write.

I will add that it was mostly the middle grades who answered the questions. And I was pleasantly surprised that I really didn’t have a problem with anyone writing inappropriate things on the paper, which had been a concern. I put a new question up each month.

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September 2014: What was your favourite book that you read this summer? Mine was Viminy Crowe’s Comic Book.

Answers:

  • The Land of Stories
  • Bad Kitty
  • Lego Ninja Go
  • Wethers fairs
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  • The gray eyed goddess
  • Whatever after
  • Laly the fairy
  • Rainbow Magic
  • Rainbow magic these books are good
  • Baby mouse
  • Diary of a wimpy kid
  • Dork Diaryis #5
  • Captain Underpants
  • Dork Diary #5
  • Diary of a wimpy kid dog days
  • Ivy + Bean bound to be bad I read a lot of great + exiting books this summer
  • Rainbow magic fairy coco suger and spice

At first, the kids signed their names fairly often, but that trailed off as time went on. I’ve removed the names from my transcript for privacy reasons. I’ve also duplicated the spelling, as best I could. There tend to be a lot of repetitions of answers, for the more popular items. These were a big help when I was buying new materials, since it gave me a good idea of what genres and new items in series to keep an eye out for.

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October: I wish the library had more books about ___________.

  • Dork diaries
  • Drama!
  • Avengers
  • By raina T get it NOW
  • Dear Dumb Diery
  • Judy Moody
  • Frozen books
  • Art books
  • Cooking books
  • Dear Dumb Diaries
  • Magic series
  • I spy
  • Sparky the Dog
  • Geronimo Stilton
  • Dragons!
  • Popularity pappers
  • Candy apple
  • Dork diries book
  • How to make your mom nice
  • Ancient Greek + Rome
  • One Direction
  • Dork diareies
  • Pirate technology + cooking recipies +knock! Knock jokes
  • Sisters
  • Mitholgy + Gods
  • Lego books
  • Ivy and Bean
  • Ever After high book 2 and 3
  • The Giver series
  • Sisters by raina t.
  • Candy Apple
  • Pigy and gerld books and other mo wliums
  • Dr. Suess
  • Soccer new additions
  • History books
  • the popularity papers
  • top ten
  • ever after high books (book 2)
  • halloween
  • copy of dork diries
  • Cupcake Diaries + how to dral
  • Anne Frank
  • Lord of the Rings
  • The English Roses
  • Amulet #6
  • World record books
  • Car books

November: Who is your favourite fictional character?

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  • Amulet #6 I read 1-5 please 6
  • Rachell Russel
  • Sleeping beaty
  • The hungry caterpillar
  • Scooby doo
  • Niki from dork d
  • Bunnicula
  • Raina by raina t
  • Niki Maxwell
  • Nikki
  • Harry potter
  • Neil Flambe
  • Mackenzie and Carson
  • Nikki
  • Nikki = dork direrres
  • Land of Stories
  • Christmas
  • Mackenzie and Nikki from Dork Dairys
  • Which oerson
  • What grade?
  • Bad Kitty v.s. uncle meray
  • Nikki from dork diaries
  • When santa lost his HO! HO! HO!
  • Ry
  • Niki in Dork diries
  • Barbie I can do anything
  • Barbie I can be a vet
  • Alex and Connor + freggy from the land of stories.
  • Juie + Lydia -> Popularity Papers
  • Duck
  • Candy Apple
  • Sleeping White
  • Olaf From Frozen
  • Jason Grace
  • Percy Jackson
  • Thea Stilton
  • Geronimo Stilton
  • Kas
  • Please exit
  • Quack Duck

December: What book would you like to find in your stocking on Christmas morning?

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  • Land of stories
  • Any Christmas book!*
  • Dork diries 3
  • Weird but true 3
  • Magic puppy’s Christmas
  • Spirit animals
  • Dork Diaries (golden book 1 or 4)
  • Nancy Clancy
  • Rainbow Magic
  • Dork Diaries
  • 6th book of spririt animals
  • Dork Diaries
  • Peaguses 2
  • Dork diaries #6
  • Guiness world records 2015 gamers edition
  • Divergent series J
  • Dork diaries (all of them) -> exept for ke princess J
  • Dork diaries #6+3
  • Nancy Clancy
  • Dork diaries #1
  • Sisters
  • Nancy Clancy
  • Dofl Diaries
  • Rainbow Majic (Special Editions)
  • Dork diaries

January 2015: Did you get a book for Christmas? What book did you get?

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  • I live in a mansion
  • I got an art & doodling book. -> not a Book
  • Spirit animals
  • Peagus
  • What ever after!!
  • Ever after high
  • I got advetrue time
  • A book-> tittle Book ->about what -> what book
  • No books at all
  • I got a pokemon book! (the dark tower)
  • Minecraft
  • Ever after high
  • Dork diaries
  • A game
  • Dork diaries # 6 + 5
  • Dork diaries
  • Ever after high!
  • I got the hunger games
  • Please get Drama
  • Smile, Sisters, Drama,
  • Once Upon a time and Cold as Ice
  • Books about skating J
  • Nacy Drew
  • Nancy fancy
  • Madeline the cookie fairy
  • No books at all !!
  • I got Amulet 6 J
  • I don’t know pooh pants 6
  • Dear dumb diaries
  • A book of Christmas stories in Spanish
  • Dork Diaries #5 + 6
  • What ever after #1
  • Dork Diaries 7 and 8
  • Madilline and the cookie fairy
  • Rainbow majic
  • Lago book

February 2015: What is your favourite Non-Fiction book? What Real Things do you like to read about?

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  • ABC Hockey
  • I like the Diffent Maple leaf player’s like Sidney
  • The player’s
  • Maple leafs Book
  • Hockey
  • I like hockey
  • Football
  • I Like to read abourt Panda’s!
  • Beathany Hamboltin
  • Soul surfer
  • I Like reading Smile, Sisters
  • I Want a sister!!
  • Giraffe
  • Like to read about animals
  • Why dose it run
  • Exotic Animals
  • I like to read about Animals
  • I like to read about animals
  • I like to read about Hamster’s or Gunie Pigs
  • J.R.R Tolkien=Sillmarion/Chrildren of Huron X
  • Soul surfer!

March 2015: What Book do you think would make a good Movie?

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  • Cupcake Diaries
  • Land of Stories
  • Diary of a wimpy kid and parrots!
  • Leonardo the terrible moster
  • Magic tree house Theo
  • The last dragon cronicles
  • Rainbow magic
  • Dork Diarys
  • Thea Stiltons
  • 22 Jump Sttret
  • Land of Stories
  • Dork Diaries
  • The pigeon series
  • My weird school days
  • Smile
  • Star wars
  • Star wars
  • Drama
  • Sisters
  • Makayla the pop star fairy
  • Robet mu????
  • Aaliyah the bunny fairy
  • Rainbow magic!
  • Rebecca the famous singer
  • Whatever after
  • Spirit animals
  • Ranbow magic
  • Oddrey joins the team
  • Thomas’s snow suit
  • Dork D
  • Anne frank
  • How to train your Dragon (already a movie)
  • The south of the Emire
  • Teammates
  • Uhhhh

April 2015: What is your favourite graphic novel or comic book? Or comic book character? I like Fray and Runaways. And Iron Man.

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  • Percy Jackson
  • Dork diaries
  • Cuckcake diriya
  • Phone bone from bones
  • Dork Diaries
  • Batman
  • Harry Potter
  • Sisters-comic
  • Dork diaries
  • Persy Jackson J
  • Dork Daries
  • Dear dumb diary
  • Dork Daries
  • Rainbow magic
  • Dork diayrs
  • Rainbow mica
  • Conner from The wishing spell (Land of Stories)
  • Dear dumb dorks
  • Dork diary
  • Supermon is I latterly like ❤
  • Sonic
  • The Silver Six/
  • Rainbow magic
  • Percy Jackson
  • Zoe from Dork diries
  • Bady mouse
  • Paper crafting
  • Rainbow MAgIC
  • Dear dumb diary
  • Ever after high! <3<3
  • Raina- smile & sisters by Raina telgemeier
  • Rainbow magic
  • More lego books
  • Raina telgmeier
  • Raina smile, sisters, drama

This one was interesting, because I wouldn’t have classed things like Dork Diaries as graphic novels, but they literally are since the illustrations are an integral part of the book. Books like Dork Diaries, Popularity Papers, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Big Nate were tremendously popular with the middle grades, boys and girls. But when I tried to put together a readalikes page for them, I really wasn’t sure what to call them, as a genre. Graphic novels? Illustrated novels? If anyone has a suggestion, I’d love to hear it in the comments.

May 2015: My favourite thing at the BOOK FAIR was…

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  • The Erasers and the book marks
  • Being super BAD
  • Fash in dish in
  • The Posters and the book
  • The Posters!
  • Books
  • the posters! !!!
  • Ever after hig
  • Fancy! -> contact book
  • Posters
  • EVeything
  • Word search book
  • The penes.
  • Everthink
  • smile
  • the Bookmarks

May was our book fair, the first one I’d ever run. I’ll write separate post about that later.

June 2015: What was your favourite book that you read for the first time this year? Mine was The Rule of 3.

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  • Stick Dog!!
  • PERCY JACKSON The LiGHTNING THEIF
  • Confadensha
  • Spy school
  • Thea Stilton
  • Smail, Sisters + and drama
  • The lighting theif
  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins J
  • The hunger games
  • Dragon breat
  • Geronimo stilton
  • Geronimo stilton
  • Dear Dume Diary!
  • I FUNNY, I even FUNNIER
  • Mine is dairy of the wimpy kid hard luck
  • Big Nate
  • Sisters and Smile and drama
  • Smile
  • Bob the cat!
  • Soccer-books- Messi etc
  • Clash of clans
  • The land of story’s Enchantress returns
  • Spy Camp Catboy The Hunger Games!
  • Spot
  • Smile or sisters
  • Simile and and drama
  • SquishJ J Smile J
  • Sisters, Smile, and DRAMA

So something so simple gave me some great feedback and let the kids feel like they had a voice in the library and what I bought for them. Another advantage I’ll mention is that the kids would often write their answers down together–multiple people would sign their names to the same answer, or they would group around the paper together and discuss what they were writing. I ended up being really pleased with my simple idea.

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