Book Promotion: Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

Don't JudgeTwo years ago we did the whole Blind Date with a Book Contest. Last year we missed out because I was in Russia, and this year, I’ll be going to TCEA for the first time, so I wouldn’t be there right before Valentine’s Day. Instead I decided to do a spin on that called Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover. It is basically the same thing because I wrapped up all the books and then put them out with only 2-3 word hints at the book. Students check out a book and then do a short book review if they wanted to be entered into a drawing for a gift card.

So far I’ve wrapped enough books to fill a book truck front and back (so four long) twice. I still don’t even think I’ll have enough books to finish out this week because I told those that were interested they could have a second book this week. I might regret that decision, but the kids are excited, and even a few teachers are checking out books.

The funniest part was that I wouldn’t let them check them out for a whole day while I started putting the display out. They were literally begging to check them out when the official contest began. Love seeing such excitement about books.

PS…some really do have horrible covers, and we are rating the cover as a part of the book review they submit, so actually I guess we are judging a book after all!

Adventures in Makerspacing

Yes, the title is slightly plagiarized. Did anyone see the movie Adventures in Babysitting? This girl is babysitting kids and everything keeps going awry. That is kind of how I feel about my first year with an “official” makerspace. That and the children’s poem, because:

When it was good it was very very good.

When it was bad it was horrid.

The good news? The bad was usually comical and a learning experience. The great news? No one even cared but me. So here goes…my reflections on year one for what they are worth.

  1. I had a makerspace but just didn’t know it was a makerspace. As a group we are too hung up on this name makerspace. Do you have a makerspace already? Ready for the test?

o   Do your students make things?

o   Do you have an area to explore new ideas or equipment?

o   Do you do individual or group projects just for fun?

If you answered yes, the odds are YOU have a makerspace. Don’t worry about the label. They key is the creation. What are you DOING in your library?

  1. Junior High parents don’t come to my activities. Sniff, sniff. My parent events were colossal failures. Am I worried? A little. Do the kids care? No. In fact, they told me they didn’t want their parents there because they didn’t want to share.
  2. You have to cook edible slime…trust me on this one.
  3. The number doesn’t matter. If you make it accessible, eventually they will come. My numbers varied dramatically (rain being the biggest issue). While I’m going to keep reaching for more, I have stopped taking it personal if attendance is low. They are busy too, and some days it is just a scheduling issue.
  4. Food trumps all. My food activities were huge. Duct tape not so much. I know…I was shocked too!
  5. It doesn’t have to just be technology, and when you do, it doesn’t have to be a lot. I only have two arduinos and two Raspberry Pis. Since we all know nothing about them yet, that is enough. We kind of sit in groups and learn together.
  6. I’m in love with MAKE: Magazine. I’ve literally clapped when it came in the mail (yes, I’m a nerd)
  7. Teachers are pack rats-and they share. Ask for what you need, they will help if they can!
  8. You can’t have too much stuff! Don’t get hung up on what you don’t have (cough-3D printer-cough). Focus on what you DO have. Origami is just as popular as learning coding on iPads. Boys like slap bracelets as well as battleship. Sometimes the makerspace voyage is more about the relationship than the product.

So, have I solved all the issues? Hardly! But I know where we are going and know what I still need to pull into my backpack to take with us.

My wish list for next year: (what I know I can do both with time and financially)

  • 20% increase in participation
  • Weekly events
  • Monthly events
  • 2 Parent/student events (I refuse to give up on this)
  • Doodler Pen-would love more than one but this is a budget thing
  • Robotic legos
  • More board games
  • Barbies (we are going to make zombies thanks to a great idea I heard from Justin Hoenke at TLA)
  • eTextiles supplies (sewing machine, LED lights, etc)

My dream list for next year: (what I probably won’t get, but would in a heartbeat if money was no object)

  • LittleBits
  • LiliPad Kits
  • 3D Printer
  • New Furniture-I really want the makerspace area to be visually appealing and more functional, but this is a huge expense and not sure how to make it happen.
  • One day a week dedicated to making in the library so kids could come anytime during the day (don’t see this happening due to testing, but I’m working some angles)

So that’s it. Nothing new or overly profound. Here is the advise I gave to librarians recently in a training. I believe as 21st century librarians we now fall into two categories

  1. Those who say I can’t
  2. Those who say you can’t stop me.

I choose to be the latter. How about you? I dare you. I double dog dare you to MAKE this year. Doesn’t matter where you start…but try this if you need more info:

Book Review: School Library Makerspaces by Leslie B. Preddy

School Library MakerspacesBook Review:  School Library Makerspacesby Leslie B. Preddy

I should warn you makerspaces are my new passion. Not an expert (more like a librarian stumbling around in the dark) but I got a grant, and my equipment is starting to arrive. Next year I’ll look at adding more. I started out small, but wishing now I’d gone ahead and asked for a 3D printer too.

This book is full of ideas for makerspace activities. The ideas have a secondary focus, but some of them could be easily adapted to a younger level. It broadly covers the concept of a makerspace and has a wealth of links and resources. I started using some of them immediately. These activities are great ways to get students involved and interested in what the library has to offer in the makerspace area. There is a big focus on re-purposing materials for fun projects, and I love that idea. Next year, I’m even going to do some makerspace challenges with parent/student teams.

If you have no idea what a makerspace is, than I wouldn’t start with this book. This book is more focused on ideas you can actually use in your makerspace. Here is the video I made for our students when introducing the concept of a makerspace:

Having just started a makerspace area in my library, I’ve added a link to our collaborative wiki on makerspaces. If you want more information, this is a good place to start. FYI if you have a library or a makerspace, feel free to join the wiki and share your ideas.

Nothing really to quote, but the back of the book has an invaluable list of websites for makerspace ideas and resources. Too many to look at all at once, so I put them into my Protopage and am slowly catching up.

Recommended Ages:  Adult/Teacher
Genre:  Professional Resource
Overall Opinion:  Highly Recommended
Source: Book








Reeling in Readers: Creatively Promoting Books

I realized the other day that the link I posted won’t work on iDevices because of the flash component in SpicyNodes. Here is the same content in text/link format.

When I first started in the library several years ago the digital book trailer was the way to promote books. While I still see the value in book trailers (still post several a month), I also think it is essential for us to also look at other platforms for book promotion.  Here are just a few.


Create a poster you can “touch” with things like website links, videos, social media, and text.


QR Code Displays

Display books in the library with a QR code that links to information about the book, book reviews, series information, links to a movie, or facts about the author.
Tips on QR codes (the QR code tab):

Student Videos

Have students create short videos promoting a book they like. Can be short clips just showing them and the cover or an actual interview about why they liked the books. Be sure to choose a variety of students.


Use SpicyNodes to showcase read a like lists or genre spotlights.



Create bookmarks for students as they check out in the library. Can have QR code links to library resources, photos related to books read in the classroom, popular genres, etc.


Book Blogs

Book blogs are still popular with students. They enjoy knowing what you are reading and how you think. Share frequently electronically and also post by book displays for students without Internet access.

Prezi Scavenger Hunts

Use Prezi and create short guess the book prezis, author information, or series challenges.



Create simple websites or pages for book promotion such as read a like lists.


Popcorn Maker

Add pop up text to any video posted on YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud or HTML5. Think old school MTV pop up videos. Use this tool as a way to highlight things you want students to remember.



Record a short excerpt of the book with an introduction to why students would enjoy the book. Can have guest readers for a surprise students. Only need a program like Audacity, a computer, and a microphone.

Website: for recording
Website: for hosting

Talking Book Displays

Use a short recorder next to a book for book promotion. Have students or teachers record and have a contest for students to guess the voice.


Flash Version of Links Above:

SpicyNodes link: