curated collections

(Ed. Note: This blog was written by Jessica Russell, Collection Development Manager at Harris County Public Library.)

We love OverDrive’s Curated Collection feature here at Harris County Public Library! It’s all of the creative excitement of putting together a book display with none of the hassle of trying to put your hands on enough books related to the theme. The HCPL team has some favorite approaches to coming with collection themes. We love:

  • Tie-ins to library programs, like Celebrate National Library Week with Books About…Books and HCPL’s Tournament of Books.
  • Texas Library Association’s reading lists, like the Texas Bluebonnet Awards and the Lone Stars. These are required reading in many area schools.
  • Local area events, like Comicpalooza, Houston Money Week, and Houston Rodeo (Let’s Get Saucy: BBQ Cookin’ and TX Food)
  • Genre spins and read-alikes, like Modern Kids’ Classics, Book Boyfriends, and MORE LIKE: Thirteen Reasons Why
  • Media/Pop Culture tie-ins, like May The Fourth Be With You!, S-Town Reads, and Tale As Old As Time
  • Seasonal themes, like Snow What? YA Books for Winter and Snow and Swoons—Holiday Romance

My favorite collections are the ones with snappy titles. Oh The Horror! (YA horror) and Batty for Books (kids’ Halloween books) were fun, and I loved A Murder of Read-alikes for SIX OF CROWS. Pinterest is helpful if you’re stuck for a good title. I do love bad puns and have to be talked down from posting anything too cheesy.

Customer response to our collections has been amazing. I have had to take smaller collections down after a few days because everything was checked out, and I hate to have nothing available. Our Comicpalooza 2017 collection has checked out completely a few times since it’s been up. Our romance collections always do well. We had a customer tweet about our Book Boyfriends collection! The last time I changed out all the collections we saw the kind of circulation bump we usually only get when we purchase new materials.

Our Marketing department is fabulous about promoting our collections. I contact them when I put up new collections, and they include a link in their social media posts. I also love to hand-sell the collections and make a point of showing our HCPL OverDrive page when chatting about the library with anyone/everyone.

A few curation tips:

  • Keep some draft collections going all the time so you always have something new to post.
  • Change out your collections regularly! Customers love seeing something new go up.
  • Set your collections to show available titles first.
  • Ask around for fresh collection ideas and themes.
  • Use curation to do a directed deep-dive into your collection. Doing curation will show you gaps in your collection and direct you to needed purchases.

Happy Curating!