Thanks to Ben Miller, director of the Sauk City Public Library, for this AWESOME guest post!
The Awesome Box is a simple way to solicit and share patron recommendations.
Here’s how it works:
- Your patron reads a book, watches a movie, or listens to audio materials from your library.
- They return the item and indicate that the item was, in fact, mind-blowing or awesome.
- Your staff scans the item’s ISBN into the library’s Awesome Box site.
- The item is then populated on your library’s Awesome Box page and links to the record in LINKcat where other interested patrons can place a hold on the item and have their mind blown as well.
But don’t just take it from me. Here are the creators, Annie Cain and Matt Phillips, explaining the Awesome Box concept: http://youtu.be/WE6eSGUq3WU
Because we’re a small library, we’ve traded the concept of a physical box for returned Awesome items with a laminated bookmark. Patrons just slip the bookmark in a book they think is great and it alerts our staff that we need to mark it as “Awesome.”
We also share patron recommendations for Awesome stuff in three ways. Online we have a link to our Awesome Box site: http://saukcitylibrary.awesomebox.io/ (this link is now accessible on LINK catalog computers, so patrons can browse the Awesome Box and place a hold without logging onto an Internet station) and newly awesome items generate a tweet on our Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/SaukCityLib/status/364479556444770304 (they’re working on the wording to make it more indicative of being an Awesome Box book.) In the library, we have a physical display for books. We check out items to an Internal card for a week if it is simply returning to that library and not filling a patron hold.
The Awesome Box was developed by Harvard Library Innovation Lab and is completely free for libraries to sign up and use. To sign up, go to http://awesomebox.io/ and enter your email address and wait for a response from the folks at the Innovation Lab. While you wait, you’ll want to gather some information
Here’s what you need to know:
- Username (used to log into the system)
Name of your library
- Your library URL
- Requested Awesome URL (SOMETHING.awesomebox.io)
- Catalog ISBN lookup URL (yourcatalog.com?isbn=)
For SCLS libraries you can use this URL for the last item on the list:
Patrons seem to really like both the act of declaring a book Awesome and finding books that other patrons have deemed Awesome. As a selector, I feel like I have a much better feel for the kind of books my patrons like because we’re actively soliciting their opinions.
In the end the Awesome Box is just, well…awesome.