After Lisle Library’s Adult and Teen Focus Librarian, Noelle Spicher, started hearing about the success of teen book box programs in other libraries, she began crafting a procedure to try out the program at LLD and it went live in January 2020. A few months after the launch of the teen program, adults began asking if they could have book boxes too, and Noelle went to work figuring out the logistics. The adult program has been running alongside the teen program since October 2020. The steps involved are:
- Patrons sign up for a book box using an online form on the website or they can fill out a paper form at a service desk.
- The form asks for name, library barcode number, grade (if a teen), favorite genres, books they have enjoyed, reading likes and dislikes, and preferred genre.
- Staff then use the reading preferences supplied with tools like NoveList to choose a book.
- In addition to a book, the boxes contain an assortment of fun extras, like tiny notepads and pens, mini-coloring books, mini-colored pencils, candy, cookies, and stress balls. The patron keeps the extras and returns the box and book.
- A link for Book Box information was added to LLD’s website and an internal procedure was drafted to ensure staff knew where the prepared book boxes were located and how to check the boxes out (a Post-It is attached to the outside of the box with the book’s barcode number so that staff don’t need to open the box and spoil the surprise for the patron).
- The program is advertised with posters and flyers in the library, social media, and by adding flyers to curbside pickup bags.
Noelle has received enthusiastic feedback from adults and teens on the “Rate Your Book” forms included in each box. One adult patron took a picture of the contents of her box and sent it to Noelle along with the comment: "Loved this! I like someone else picking books out for me :) I couldn't put it down." A teen wrote on the book rating form, “It was very suspenseful and I really liked it! I loved all the plot twists!”
According to Noelle, “If the Book Box program has gotten a book into the hands of a teen who wouldn’t otherwise have been reading, or gotten a teen who wasn’t using library services to use a library service, or introduced a teen to a new author, book, or genre that wouldn’t have been on their radar otherwise – I think it’s been successful.” The same can be said of adult patrons who appreciate the novelty and surprise of receiving a book box with a title chosen just for them, and perhaps a mini-pack of Mint Milano’s and a tea bag or two.
In this time of stress and possible isolation due to Covid-19, the Book Box program allows the Library to connect with teens and adults in a personalized and festive way, by providing hand-selected books and fun extras that can also be retrieved via curbside pickup. The program encompasses outreach and readers’ advisory, while promoting reading and all the library has to offer to our communities.
Our guest blogger today is Gail Graziani. Gail is the Assistant Director of Adult Services at the Lisle District Library. Gail is also a member of the My Library Is.. Advisory Team.