A date with a book

The Whitehorse Public Library has found a quick and easy way for patrons to explore its collection.

The Whitehorse Public Library has found a quick and easy way for patrons to explore its collection.

Throughout February the library is organizing blind dates pairing patrons with books.

The goal is to help readers discover books they wouldn’t usually pick up from the library shelves.

“Part of it is helping people choose,” said Sarah Gallagher, assistant librarian at the Whitehorse Public Library.

“If you read a lot, you’ve got your list … but other than that, you’re going, ‘where do I even begin?’”

The library first tried the Blind Date with a Book program two years ago, after a summer student discovered the initiative at another library.

It proved successful but time-consuming for the staff, so it wasn’t organized again the following year.

“Then on the first of February (the following year), patrons came in and said ‘where is the blind date with the books?’” Gallagher said.

Staff worked on speeding up the process, and the program is now back.

All of the library’s staff are involved, Gallagher said, reflecting the different reading sensibilities.

“You can see the different staff personalities in different books,” she said.

Immediately upon entering the library and going up the stairs, patrons will find a Valentine’s Day-themed cart with brown envelopes.

Each envelope contains a book, with a short descriptive write-up from a staff librarian. It ensures patrons don’t find themselves with books they’ll completely hate, in the same way a friend wouldn’t set you up for a blind date with someone they know you’ll clash with.

“We write a hook so that we’re not describing the book but give enough details so somebody isn’t going to take home a gruesome crime novel if they only read romance,” Gallagher said.

“Are your friends bored with your tired old jokes? Try something new. Why not?” one envelope reads.

“Who shapes our history?” reads another one.

It’s only been nine days since the Blind Date with a Book program started this year but it’s already a success.

The cart has had to be replenished twice, Gallagher said.

The blind date program is very much in line with other initiatives the library has been working on to help readers choose books.

There are the staff picks, the themed displays, and also shelves for recently returned titles.

“As we’re checking books in, we see so many interesting things,” Gallagher said. “Our reading lists are (longer) than we can ever possibly read.”

Because of the program’s success, patrons are asked to only take one book at a time, she said.

The staff has to package each book, write the hook, and affix a new codebar on the envelope — all of which takes time in an already busy library.

Each book comes with a feedback sheet and the chance to earn a gift card at a local bookstore.

Feedback is important for librarians, who are always working to find new ideas for books to add to the collection, Gallagher said.

“We really do try to address what people are looking for and respond to what the community wants,” she said. “A big part of our job is to be reading journala and reviews, pre-publication alerts, online and in journal form.”

The Blind Date with a Book program runs until Feb. 28.

For more information, visit the Whitehorse Public Library or go to facebook.com/ yukonpubliclibraries.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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