Book Rivers: Where Your Patrons and Your Collection Meet

One of the most common questions at the front desk of a library is “What should I read next?” The answer can vary greatly depending on who you’re asking. Librarians are expected to have a large, up-to-date repertoire of books they can recommend on any subject, genre, or author. While most librarians are up to the challenge, it’s still a big ask to be able to rattle off recommendations for any category at the drop of a hat.

This is one of the many reasons book rivers and “Recommended Reads” can be a great tool to connect your patrons to your extensive collection. Book rivers can be used to show patrons what’s new and trending at the library.

stacks of books

When patrons ask for recommendations, they typically want to hear about books that are relevant to today’s issues. While to Kill a Mockingbird, Where the Red Fern Grows, and 1984 are all great books and most have stood up to the test of time, it’s typically not what most readers have in mind when looking for recommendations. More modern books that speak today's issues, such as That Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, and American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins, all come to mind as appealing to a wide audience while really challenging our current mindset.

Libraries are now more than ever supporting digital content like ebooks and audiobooks. With the reign of true crime podcasts, true crime audiobooks are soaring in popularity. To connect with your patrons on the go, digital collections are easily accessible through mobile apps and include topics that appeal to every patron. I personally devour audiobooks on my commute into the office.

One of the advantages of using book rivers is you can deliver a lot of information about the book at a glance. Book rivers can be put on any page of the website. For example, on the teens department page, highlighting trending young adult novels would be a great idea. In addition to seeing what’s trending, hovering over the book covers will reveal the book’s synopsis. Clicking the book cover will take you directly to your library’s catalog.

With our Recommended Reads content type, you’re able to feature books by tags like New Releases, genre-specific reads, or perhaps a tag like New York Times Bestsellers Indie Next List for upcoming books that are recommended by librarians and booksellers across the nation.

Highlighting items in your collection is key to ensuring patrons fully utilize the variety of services offered at your library. These recommendations should be relevant to today, cover a broad range of topics, and provide insight to how robust your library’s collection is. Bay County Library System does a phenomenal job of curating lists of books for their patrons organized by engaging topics like “Early Readers” or “Winter Reads.”.