Last Friday Elizabeth and I participated in something new: a materials review session for local school librarians. We had never done this before and were very curious what it would be like. Elizabeth was approached by one of our good customers who works at a school library two towns over. Every three months librarians from public schools in the district get together for a materials review session. Often this is run by one of the librarians, but Sue asked if the bookstore could do it. Elizabeth said yes and we were off.
The materials review session was on science books for all ages, but mainly elementary grades. Elizabeth did all the research and gathered some wonderful books ranging from the Max Axiom graphic novel series about all things science-related, to novels about Tesla written for kids, and the best collection of animal books I’ve ever seen.
The review session was a wonderful way to showcase what we know as a bookstore and what we can offer libraries, be they public libraries or housed in schools. The gathering was informal and lovely, hosted by Sue at her house. While Elizabeth and I did not avail ourselves of the wine (however, the cheese was superb), the others did and everyone settled in the living room while we spoke about the books. It was a rare early spring day when the temperature was almost 70 degrees and the sun was shining. I was mightily impressed that the living room was full and no one thought about not coming. These women (sadly, not a man in the room) were rapt, eager to learn more and to talk about books. What I loved hearing was how the same book can be a huge hit at one school and completely not checked out at another. These librarians all knew their students so well it was amazing.
Elizabeth created an order form more for reference than for actual orders as most schools are at the end of their budget cycle. We knew that going into the session. It felt important to let some of the librarians get to know us. Not everyone shops at the bookstore and to get some time with them felt far more important than getting orders. We are trusting that they won’t order on Amazon, which is always a risk whenever you do a book talk. We offered a better discount for anyone who ordered within 30 days after the book talk. So, we are trying to be competitive with Amazon. But it’s really not about that. Getting access to a room full of head librarians who are in charge of ordering was far more important. Building a network with schools takes time and is all about baby steps. The more they get to know and trust us, the more likely they will order from us when they have budget money in the summer.
In the end, I think we talked about more than 50 books and I did a roundup of forthcoming adult titles for their own personal summer reading. It was a lovely gathering and everyone left happy and chatting about books. Not a bad way to start the weekend, at all.