You are What you Read – Essex County Council Libraries

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Name of the project

You are What you Read promotion in Essex County Council Libraries – September 2008

Purpose

To promote the September theme of National Year of reading “You Are What You Read” and to underline the message that libraries are for everyone. The promotion provides library staff with the opportunity to interact with readers in a fun way.

About

We wanted to create a fun activity that all libraries including mobiles could use to promote stock, allow interaction between customers and staff and give the message that reading is for everyone.

It was clear from the outset that we wanted some kind of quiz activity. We also wanted it to be light hearted enough to have a very broad appeal, going beyond who we perceived our regular users might be. This would also be an angle to used in press releases with the intention of present libraries to the media in a slightly different light to usual.

A short quiz was created with 5 questions. The questions focused on non-reading activities such as your favourite type of chocolate in order to reach beyond those who are already passionate about reading. There were 5 reader types:

Footballer’s wife – you love a bit of glitz and glam

Thrill seekers – You’re drawn towards suspense, action and adventure

Nice cup of tea and a sit down – You like a good story you can sink into

Truth will out – you prefer facts to fiction

Life on Mars – If it’s set on another world you’re reading it

All libraries ran the promotion. In addition to the quiz leaflet there were also stock headers and authors list.

Fiction in Essex Libraries is arranged by genre. The suggested authors were a deliberate attempt to encourage readers beyond the genre that they usually choose. To this end the lists were two sided. Authors the reader might already be enjoying were on one side. ‘You may also enjoy’ suggestions were on the other. Hence chick lit fans were directed towards sassy crime. Sci-fi and fantasy fans were lead towards the quirkier areas of modern fiction.

The quiz was put to use further beyond library buildings. It formed the basis for an issue of the Essex Libraries e-newsletter. It was promoted in the Staff magazine INSX. Quizzes were also put to use at the county show to engage visitors in conversation about library services.

Website links for more information

The quiz and suggested author lists can be viewed on the Essex County Council website www.essex.gov.uk/youarewhatyouread

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