Encouraging the Browse

I just popped into the universe of Library Society of the World on FriendFeed and have been enjoying the conversations more than I can say. I am new enough to say I am not *quite* willing to characterize the fabulous characters and esprit de corps but it feels like a mighty good place as participants from libraries of all types ask questions, declare and share and sassy-talk as good as it gets.

A question today about whether browsing behaviors have been explored in surveys garnered a range of comments and got me thinkin'... how do we best encourage and enhance browsing by kids and families who use us?

Of course,  it can be encouraged by the "Art of the Display"on each book shelf. Leaving room for face out display is a huge selling point for our books and leads browsing kids to all kinds of fun books outside of their interest area.  And what to choose?!?  As someone who has an art background, I look for book covers that have large graphics, interesting titles and are designed in a way that says, "Read ME!". I always pass by books in series to find hidden gems -well-written fiction; intriguing non-fiction; authors who know how to write but may not be well-known.  I like to look for picture books and easy readers that need an extra boost (forget Curious George, Berenstein Bears and Seuss -kids and families find them on their own) - this is secret spy-stuff reader's advisory that is so deep and so stealth that kids find treasures in spite of themselves!

Who are we as librarians but literature experts who read widely (if only reviews!) to find the fascinating, the unique, the facts and the fiction?  Yep, we acquire popular dreck but we can lead kids - pied-piper-like- to the more powerful, the more fascinating, the good stuff.  We are the ones, through our selection and collection building work and our face out displays among the shelves, that can make browsing a fun sport in libraries. Thanks LSW for leading me to think about this most fundamentally fun part of our job!

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