Librarians + online communities = happiness?

Last Friday, I spoke at the CILIP Youth Librarians Group (@youthlibraries) one day workshop at the invitation of the wonderful @mattlibrarian. The day was called “Raising Teen Issues: Engaging with your teenage audience” and Matt encouraged me to talk to “How to Get Your Books Off the Shelves”, covering things like the Hot Key ring and other discoverability tools to help librarians help teens find books.

I’m not sure if the librarians liked or agreed with my talk at all… I hope they did, but I had to dash off while other brilliant talks were happening and didn’t get to speak with anyone. So, I’m hoping you will tell me what you think about what I was trying to say.

The Hot Key ring is a great tool to understand the content of a Hot Key Book quickly. But that doesn’t help with discovery of other publishers’ books, nor is it a big enough solution to getting teens to take more books off the shelf.


I believe in the power of community to foster excitement about reading, which is why I think programs like Chatterbooks set up by the Reading Agency are so brilliant. Bringing people around a table to share their love or dislike of a particular book leads to meaningful connections that will keep people coming back to friendships made, the emotional rewards, that sense of belonging.

But getting people physically together is hard. Gathering people together online, however, is so easy. And there are so many places online where people are talking about books, where teens can read reviews, exchange with other book lovers and even watch videos dedicated to the wonderfulness of books.

My talk focused on featuring some of these passionate book lovers, hoping that librarians would be able to connect their teen readers with them. I featured BookTubers* like the amazing Books and Quills (full disclosure: Sanne is now a Hot Key employee!), bloggers like We Sat Down and local author champions @ProjectUKYA. I talked about Goodreads, Movellas, hashtags like #ukya and community writing projects like our very own Story Adventure. You can see the full power point presentation on Slide Share (see the end of this blog).

And while I did get a couple of chuckles, for the most part, my talk was met with unreadable faces.**

So, nervously, I ask you all now, should librarians direct teens online to discover books? Was I right to encourage them to get familiar with the discovery tools out there and then guide their readers to those communities?



*Don’t know what a BookTuber is? It’s a person who spends hours and energy uploading videos to YouTube all about books they love or don’t love. Which, by default, is my kind of person.

**Special thanks to the two lovely librarians who seemed already entrenched in books online, and @KimberleyAlyson  who tweeted after the event.

Slide Share presentation: