Library seeks to increase circulation
By Angie Landsverk
There is a reason why baskets of books are now around the top of the stairs in the Waupaca Area Public Library.
Each basket represents a different genre and offers library patrons an easy way to discover new topics and new authors.
“There are probably 10 to 12 books in a basket. People can check out one book from the basket, or they can check out all 12,” said Marcie Cook, who is a circulation assistant at the library.
The library hopes this effort helps boost its circulation.
“As more people turn to the convenience of digital books, audio books and movies, we’ve a experienced a decrease in circulation of the physical items that our library houses,” said Library Director Peg Burington. “Last year, I challenged our staff to come up with ideas to increase our circulation of physical items.”
Cook came up with this idea of grouping books by genre and displaying them in a visible area of the library.
She said people unfamiliar with the library may feel overwhelmed searching for books.
They often head to the collection of new books or to the area where the large-print books are because those sections are smaller and thus easier for them to navigate.
“People like looking at these smaller collections first,” Cook said. “This (the baskets of genres) gives them a small, little choice of books they can look at and choose from.”
Her idea to create baskets of books followed something similar the children’s department did last November.
That is when Youth Services Librarian Sue Abrahamson reached out to schools in the Waupaca School District and asked if teachers were interested in receiving bundles of books.
“We would put together a bundle of books with 10 to 15 per bundle,” Cook said. “We had 30-plus teachers sign up.”
The majority of them were elementary teachers, but some middle school teachers signed on as well, she said.
Once a week – throughout the month of November – the teachers received a new bundle of books.
“It boosted circulation in the children’s department,” Cook said.
It was around this same time that Burington asked the library’s staff to think about ways to increase the library’s overall circulation.
Cook took the children’s book idea and tailored it to adults.
She came up with 36 different genre categories and decided to include books from each department of the library in the baskets.
The idea behind that was to introduce adult patrons to books from the children’s and teen departments that may also be of interest to them.
“Right now, there are 12 baskets, and each basket has a different genre,” Cook said. “I have 36 different genres, so I change them out once per month.”
Some of the latest genres in the baskets are animals, history and books made into movies.
Burington said Cook observed and talked to library patrons to determine their browsing habits.
“Her basket idea has been a fun, new way to highlight books and bring titles to their attention that they might have missed when browsing the shelves,” she said.
Cook said each basket also has an envelope filled with postcards patrons are free to take.
The names of additional book titles and authors related to each of the genres are on those postcards.
If someone likes to read mysteries, that person may then grab the postcard and get that information, Cook said.
The project began in January.
Initially, the books were placed in cardbook boxes, wrapped in gift paper.
“Peg (Burington) liked the idea and thought it was going well, so she invested in baskets for the program,” Cook said.
Putting this project together took a lot of time, Cook said.
“We have lists that we’re working off to keep track of which books we’ve already used,” she said. “I have a wonderfully supportive staff. It’s not a project I’m doing just by myself.”
She said it was fairly easy to pull books from the adult and children’s departments, because she works in both of those departments.
Cook asked Teen Librarian Emily Heideman and the teen room staff to suggest titles and authors from that department.
‘Making the lists doesn’t feel like work. It’s a lot of fun,” Cook said. “As patrons take things out of the baskets, something new is added.”
They track which books are checked out of the baskets.
“Each book in a basket has a bookmark, noting the genre, so we can tell which ones are popular,” she said. “When a book is checked out, the bookmark is removed and placed in a collection basket. That is how we know to refill that genre, based on the number of bookmarks.”
When Cook initially came up with the idea, she ran it past Linda Hagen, who is one of her coworkers.
Hagen helped Cook work out the details and accompanied Cook when she pitched the idea to Burington.
“She loved the idea,” Cook said. “Then I had to pitch it to the staff.”
Cook said genres such as travel, gardens and hobbies will be among those featured in the coming months.
“I’m hoping this will last for a while,” she said. “I’m hoping the baskets go into fall when it is Banned Books Week.”