Ed. Note: This blog was written by Maria Cipriano. Maria is a Collections Librarian and manages the Electronic and Online resources for Toronto Public Library. Recently she presented at Digipalooza about Toronto Public Library and their success with curated collection.
Last month I did something that I normally avoid like the plague – public speaking! Somehow I found myself at the podium at the 2015 Digipalooza Conference addressing a HUGE group of people (something I am more than a little phobic about). I was asked to speak about the experience our library has had merchandising our OverDrive collection with the curation tool in Marketplace. You know that I have to feel pretty strongly about something if I have agreed to do this dreaded task.
First off, I want to tell you that curating collections is the favorite part of my job. I select adult eBooks for Toronto Public Library and oversee our OverDrive collection. I love putting together lists of great books and I create or add to existing curated collections almost daily. (Quite frankly, I am a little obsessed…in a good way.) The constant flow of new titles keeps the collections fresh and has helped to grow a following of avid eBook readers who go there first for reading recommendations. If you feature good content that you know you customers want, they will keep coming back for more. The feedback about our collections has been overwhelmingly positive. Our most popular curated collection is the “Hot Releases of 2015” list where we gather all the best sellers and books that have received media attention this year so far.
Let’s face it, browsing through tens of thousands of eBook offerings is a daunting task foranyone. Offering a selection of hand-picked titles significantly enhances the user experience and allows us to engage with our public by providing a remote readers’ advisory service. Curated lists can help your customers find the content they are looking for in one easy place. If you don’t have a lot time to create and maintain curated collections, inviting your branch staff to help put together book lists might work for you. We maintain a “TPL Staff Picks” collection that does just that. Not only does it allow staff to let their expertise shine but it also fosters a positive attitude towards digital collections in general. Library branch staff are readers’ advisory pros!
The curated collections have also had a positive impact on our circulation and the overall turnover rate of our collection (Our library is on target to hit three million downloads for this year alone!). I regularly feature older best sellers or well-reviewed titles that have many available copies to get them circulating again. Do you have a ton of available copies of “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett on your virtual shelves right now? Are you awash in older John Grisham eBooks that cost your library an arm and a leg? Feature them in your curated collections and watch them get snapped up.
Featuring titles works like a charm. If you need proof check out these two slides from my Digipalooza talk:
In addition to improving our circulation, featuring content has helped our library get a better return on our investment for our eBook collection. The harsh reality is that our budget is finite and many of the high demand titles are punishingly expensive. It’s a struggle to provide adequate copies of the latest best sellers while the demand for eBooks continues to grow. Waiting lists for the hottest titles is a fact of life. Our curated collections help guide our customers to their next great read while they wait for the latest best seller. Read-alike lists are fantastic for this. I make it my mission to feature as many pricey older titles as I can in order to ensure that we are getting a good bang for our buck!
Here are some examples of some lists that have been popular on our site:
- Book Club Favorites
- Pulitzer Prize: Winners and Finalists Throughout the Years
- New York Times: 100 Notable Books of 2014
- Girl on the Train Read-Alikes
- Great Beach Reads
- Get Ready for the Holidays (holiday cookbooks, crafting and gift making)
- Start a Mystery Series (The first book in the series)
- The Book Was Better! (Books that have been made into movies)
- Toronto in Fiction
- African American & Urban Fiction
The possibilities to promote titles in your collection are endless. Curating is fun, easy and highly addictive – you should give it a try if you haven’t already.