Library staff excited about reading

Column by Kari May


The libraries were closed on Aug. 6 for a staff in-service day. We host a staff training day once a year to provide in-depth training to all staff at the same time, helping them build new skills so that they can serve you, our customers, better.

This year, guest speakers from our neighbors at Douglas County Libraries shared tips and tricks on how to engage patrons in conversations about books and make suggestions for something you might like to read. Each staff person made a brief presentation on a book they read recently and why they enjoyed it. Then our presenters challenged us to take five minutes to become familiar with a book and then describe it to someone as something they might want to read. It's amazing how long five minutes can be when you stop to focus on something for that long. And also how much you can learn about a book in that amount of time.

We do tend to judge a book by its cover, and usually it gives us a fair representation of what's inside. The description on the back of the book also gives you more information about the book. Sometimes there are endorsements or blurbs by other authors, maybe some you know and have enjoyed reading. The chapter length, sentence structure, and size of the font can also give you clues as to what kind of book you've picked up.

A lot of people work in libraries because they like books, and they like to talk about books. If you're stumped and don't know what to read next, stop in and talk to one of our librarians. Based on what you have read and liked in the past, the librarian's reading interests, and now, her skills with assessing a book in five minutes, staff here at the library are eager to help you find the next book to captivate your attention. Fiction or non-fiction, adult or children's, the next good book is waiting on our shelves for you to discover.

On a side note, it is interesting to watch people's behavior when they encounter the unexpected. Despite advance signs in the library, and on our website and Facebook page announcing that we would be closed on Aug. 6, many people stopped by the library on Tuesday anyway. In Elizabeth, the parking lot was full and the front door was unlocked so that staff could get in for training, but the door into the library was locked. I can't tell you how many people opened the front door to the library, stepped into the vestibule, and encountered the locked door. I am pretty sure the percentage of people who opened the door was much higher than the ones who stopped, read the sign on the door, and walked away. Which just makes me wonder — what is the best way to inform the most people of special events at the library?

Kari May lives in Elizabeth and is the director of the Elbert County Library District. She can be contacted through the library at Visit the library at


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