What Big Library Read has taught us
For several years now, we’ve proudly hosted the Big Library Read, the world’s largest digital book club. Every few months, we work with publishers to make one title available to library users across the globe without any wait lists or holds. This exciting event brings people together from all walks of life through the power of community reading.
Thanks to library promotion, author involvement and the instant accessibility of digital books, we’ve seen millions of checkouts of Big Library Read selections, with numbers continuing to grow. Despite the fact that each Big Library Read features a different genre, we see involvement from every type of library user and interest remains high whether the titles are bestsellers, debut novels or something in between. The continued participation in this event, regardless of title, has led to an obvious, but essential, conclusion: Readers want available content.
As digital reading and especially digital library usage continues to grow, it’s no secret that libraries are constantly working to keep up with demand. Library card holders understand that holds lists are a part of the library experience, but while they wait for the latest book from their favorite author to become available to them, they inevitably end up borrowing something they hadn’t yet heard of simply because it’s available at the time they’re online. Personally, I have borrowed dozens of books on Libby because of the curated collections my library features are loaded with books without holds lists. We’ve seen countless anecdotal messages on our Big Library Read discussion boards where people say things like, “I hadn’t heard of this book before but I’m excited to try it out!”
Users are, of course, often looking for specific books but they’re also willing to try something new out while they wait. Worst case scenario, they just return the title early!
How to capitalize on this
Every time a Big Library Read comes around libraries see hundreds, even thousands, of checkouts from that single title. What if I told you that it’s possible to see that type of success with content in your own collection every day? Several libraries are currently using the top “hero” space of their website and Libby to promote simultaneous use titles or older books that they have a large number of copies of. These tend to be former bestsellers that have gotten buried in the collection, and featuring them leads to instant circulations. Perhaps you have dozens of copies of The Help or American Gods and now they’re just sitting in your collection somewhere. You can use these to increase your checkout numbers without needing to spend any new money.
When someone sees a title that has 50 people waiting they might not have placed it on hold at the time, and now is their chance to borrow it straight away! Examples of successful libraries executing this currently are The Ohio Digital Library and Kentucky Libraries Unbound. When asked about this program, Anne Kennedy of the State Library of Ohio said, “This is something every single library should do. No matter what we feature, it gets checked out every single day. Even back list titles that have never been checked out will circ dozens of times in a day when featured.”
If this is something you’d like to set up, simply contact your Account Manager at OverDrive. We can update your featured content as often as daily so whenever people visit your site they see something new that is available to borrow!