Engaging Library users on your digital platforms requires a strategy for changing content. Library webpages and social media pages need regular updates to continue to attract and engage library users to our events, collections and workshops. As Librarians we have the skills to curate collection content and all staff could contribute blog posts, curated book lists, and book reviews based on their interests, skills or their reading habits. Our reading public are always looking for their next good read and often our users are time poor so they plan their trip to the library when the book they are interested in has been put aside for them. Staff can lack confidence in writing blog posts that will be made public even if it is under a pseudonym. Book Reviews are always welcomed but they can be a challenge to write. So here are some tips to writing a book review that I have adapted from other marketing posts regarding writing a product review.
Blog like you were telling a friend: When developing your blog post think about your book review as if you were telling a friend about the book. Remember some key prompts so that you can encourage others to read the book. An example could be: Took a while to get into this book but it was worth the effort. Block out the key takeaways before starting your review as this will prevent you from staying off topic.
Include both your likes and dislikes: this is something that I am just learning to share as previously I would only blog about what the books / content I enjoyed. It is important to share with everyone what the challenge of the book/ film / elearning that you are reviewing as authenticity and honesty is important when connecting with your communities. It will also encourage those who take up your challenge to read, see or learn what you are blogging about to get through the tough bits if there are any. Even if you are writing a critical review make sure you include one thing you did like. As part of the reason for my writing a book review is to encourage others to read I have yet to write a critical review. After mentioning this to other librarian friends they all tell me that many of their colleagues and clients take the fact of the librarian not liking a book as a challenge for them to take up and will borrow the item so I am definitely going to attempt a book review of a book that I have not enjoyed.
Include your recommendation: remember to make recommendation and always include an explanation of how / why you came to your recommendation or rating. Examples could be: This did not reach my 4 star rating because… Or: Definitely a five star for me but only if you are as big a …… buff as I am
Do not be nasty about your review: remember another human has poured their heart and effort into writing the book. Express your honest opinion but with respect for the writer and the art and effort of writing a book. Write your review from a point of view as a reasonable expectation of the genre: do not expect literary level writing from a best seller or a formula romance. Assume the best and review from a strength base — point out the positive — even if you did not enjoy it.
Check your writing: this reflects back on your library so a simple check of spelling/ multiple use of the same descriptor and grammar is important.
At my Library we are really encouraging a wide variety of staff to get involved and I have a fortnightly blog post called CEO reads that I have committed to writing and sharing with the public and staff. All to connect our readers to a wider variety of our collections. Improvement will come as I write more and also search and use the many writing tips I find. I hope you take up the library blog challenge and become confident enough to publish on your library website. As we have increased the variety and amount of content on our website the usage figures and hits have increased significantly. We can also track the amount of reservations made from our curated library collection lists and these are definitely on the increase as well. So writing new content and connecting users to curated bits of our collection is a strategy that is increasing loans and engagement. Hope it works for you too.