Saturday, May 20, 2006

BookExpo America: Leslie Burger

Leslie Burger

Leslie Burger, incoming President of the American Library Association, spoke at BookExpo America 2006, May 20, in Washington, DC. The title of her speech was "Your Library on Steroids: How Public Libraries Are Transforming Their Communities."

The speech focused on subtle things libraries can do that would make a big difference in how people see them. "Stories of Hope & Inspiration" included her own Princeton Public Library website which includes a link on the home page where patrons can "Buy a book for the library." It takes them to Amazon and a "wish list" of books the library wants.

Other points:

A recent USA Today article said Starbucks wants to sell & maybe publish books. Burger said that means books have a future and selling them will continue to be profitable.

People have come to expect programming from libraries so they need to deliver.

The Library of Congress is "considering" junking LC Subject Headings. Burger said no one searches for things by subject headings. When she wants to find something, she types keywords into Google.

Many books sitting on the shelves in public libraries look so bad that people don't want to check them out and will buy a nice new copy instead. Libraries need to trash the old books with library bindings and buy ones with better eye-appeal.

Put authors on library tours. Conventional wisdom says authors don't think they can make enough money selling books at these events to make it worth the effort, but Burger said authors sold lots of books at their events.

Libraries can get money by partnering with Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

As usual, when the discussion turned to non-library topics and politics, the presentation suffered. Otherwise, an interesting talk by Burger.

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