Staff Picks: See What BC Libraries Staff is Reading

Silver lining

It can be a struggle to find the good in a disaster that continues to unfold, but adapting to a more online world has had some unanticipated silver linings, one of which is Staff Picks, an online display of recent BC Libraries staff reading, the result of a gentle pandemic collision of online book displays and 3×5 cards.

Once upon a time at the beginning of the pandemic, staff on our O’Neill Outreach Team had the bright idea to move the O’Neill lobby book displays online. It wasn’t quite like stumbling on a physical book in a creative lobby display involving a rocking chair or beach umbrellas (book displays returned to the O’Neill Lobby in fall 2021) but helped us remain engaged with our community in an isolating time.

One thing led to another

As O’Neill staff worked on assembling online book displays, someone wondered aloud, “what about telling people what we’re all reading? You know, like those 3×5 cards on bookstore shelves with staff mini-reviews?” We were all reading a lot, so the idea caught on quickly. And because we were already putting book displays online, the path was clear. We piloted the first Staff Picks display, it got enough web traffic to tell us people liked it, and after a few months did another. And then another.

A new normal

And then things returned to a semblance of normal in fall 2021, and owing to the priority of shifting a whole library back to operating in person, Staff Picks was back-burnered. But we knew it was a good idea. In the words of Paul Bridden, Head of Access Services, “It’s another way to engage with our community of readers, to highlight titles you might not have seen otherwise. Serendipity is a wonderful way to spark intellectual curiosity.”

This time around, we’re planning to refresh the display at least three times a year: spring, fall, and summer. We’re also discussing ways to involve the whole BC community in highlighting titles from the collection; look for those developments next year.

It’s what we do

It’s one of many BC Libraries efforts to make some of our over three million items more visible. Others include:

  • The Pop Collection in the O’Neill lobby
  • Graphic novels and new books on O’Neill level one
  • And This is Eleanor Early! and many other digital exhibits at Burns Library (whose staff have led the way to BC Libraries’ growing presence on social media and digital displays)
  • Highlights of the Theology & Ministry Library (TML) collection on social media
  • Thematic monthly displays at the TML entrance (currently books on Advent), in addition to new faculty publications
  • Upcoming monthly themed displays in Bapst Library
  • Many concurrent monthly displays at the Education Resource Center (ERC). Right now: texts on trauma-informed teaching, curriculum materials for teaching social justice concepts, and ERC staff favorites.