How the Public Library Can Connect with Readers on Goodreads

researchlibrariesSomewhere between 600,000 and a million books are published each year, and that’s on top of an estimated more than 129 million books (at last count) that have been published over time. This vast collection should thrill readers. But it presents a challenge too: How to choose what to read next?

Public librarians and like-minded friends have always been excellent guides to this universe. Today, readers also have the internet: Amazon, book review sites, and social networks for book lovers allow readers to search with abandon for new books rising in popularity as well as learn about the well-loved classics.

Goodreads, a popular social network for readers, is an excellent resource for learning about new books and making decisions about what to read next. It enables readers to keep track of the books they read, see what their friends are reading, and read reviews by other book lovers. These features make it an excellent place for public libraries to promote their collections, engage with readers and share their own recommendations and insights.

Here are five ways you can use Goodreads to market your public library.

Create a Member Page

By joining, public libraries can use their member page to share information about their collections, start reading lists, and make recommendations using status updates. Goodreads users can add the library as a friend or simply follow its updates. Take a look at the New Jersey State Library Goodreads page for an example of how it works – and be sure to add us as a friend!

Start a Book Club Group

Another way to engage readers is to use Goodreads’ Groups feature to establish an online book club. For example, Emma Watson, the actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, runs a group focused on feminist writings. Here at the State Library, we decided to take our Book Café online and established a group on Goodreads to accomplish this. You can find it on Goodreads under the name, Online Book Café. Here, we encourage discussions about what our library users are reading each month.

Start a Reading List

Goodreads allows members to create reading lists. One advantage of their approach is that you can create an unlimited number of lists, or as Goodreads calls them, “bookshelves.” There are a couple of defaults, including “read,” currently reading,” and “to-read,” but you can add a customized shelf too. For example, our “read” bookshelf includes all of the new titles that have been added to the Recent Fiction shelves on our third floor. We’ve also created an “audiobooks” shelf to feature the books we have in this collection.

Highlight Staff Picks

As I noted earlier, one of the most valuable services that librarians provide is helping people find books to read. Goodreads can help you reach a wider audience for Staff Picks. Simply create shelves for different genres. For example, “Staff Picks – Fantasy,” or “Staff Picks – Young Adults.”

Create an Instructional Video

Once you’ve created your member page, bookshelves and groups, be sure to promote it to your library users through your social media channels, website, email newsletters and on signs posted around the library. To help others get the most out of Goodreads and find your page more easily, consider creating a short instructional video about how they can set up their own accounts. Check out these videos created from two recent State Library webinars here and here.

For more information about Goodreads and other reading resources, check out this blog post.


About Tiffany McClary

Tiffany McClary is the Director of Communications, Marketing & Outreach for the New Jersey State Library. She coordinates marketing and public relations initiatives in order to enhance the reputation of the State Library, and promote the value of NJ libraries and the services and programs that they provide to residents.