April 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Bathroom Book Blurbs: Reading Recommendations in Every Stall

We all have students who love to read, tolerate reading, or avoid it at all costs. But they all have one thing in common—they go to the bathroom. I use this to my advantage.

Much to the dismay of the custodial staff at my school, I use restrooms to advertise the library to students. In every stall and above every urinal, I’ve placed a Bathroom Book Blurb. People read anything when using the restroom—so why not advertise books? Here’s how.

Jaime LeRoy

1: Pick surefire books!

This is critical. In my experience, most students are not going to get excited about Anne of Green Gables, no matter how much we may have liked it as children. I begin with state reading lists. The Texas Lone Star Reading List for middle schoolers is full of diverse, exciting choices. From there, I look at new titles that everyone’s talking about. Make sure you have a gauge on what’s popular in your school. High fantasy and science fiction titles were hot in past years; more recently, it’s realistic fiction.

2: Make the blurb enticing.

I usually use Goodreads blurbs, but sometimes revise them to make them more engaging. I can’t read all the books I advertise, so I look at different reviews on blogs or websites such as Titlewave or Barnes and Noble. Then, I add information I know will draw students’ attention. Keep the blurb concise and give readers just enough to pique their interest.

3: Include the book cover and print in color.

We’re told not to judge a book by its cover, but we do. Having a clear image of the cover will catch a reader’s eye. If it’s unattractive, I try to find a different edition or use a copyright-free image that relates to the book. Be sure to print your blurbs in color to draw attention. I laminate my blurbs so they last a longer and usually change them once a month.

When I started my Bathroom Book Blurbs, I saw immediate results. The next day, students asked for the “book they saw in the bathroom.” Kids who’d never come to the library were showing up. I had to buy more copies to meet the demand.

When by Victoria Laurie (Disney-Hyperion, 2015) and Sweet by Emmy Laybourne (Feiwel & Friends, 2015) were the most popular last year. At one point, more than 20 students had holds on each. This year, I hope to form Bathroom Book Clubs, based on the blurbs. Of course, the clubs would meet in the library—but the name is bound to draw attention.

I’m also planning a faculty newsletter, Potty Mouth, for faculty-only restrooms. I’ll have information about library events, tech tips, and books that are currently popular with the students. I may add a “Letter to the Librarian,” responding to teacher questions. I hope it will be as beneficial for teachers as the blurbs have been for kids.

Jaime LeRoy is the librarian at Northwest High School in Justin, TX.

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  1. Love this idea! So simple and brilliant! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Love your clever marketing methods!!!Kudos

  3. I love this concept! I’m curious, though, do you also have blurbs in the girls’ washroom?

  4. I love this idea. I wonder if it would work at my library branch. Maybe I should start putting them next to the computers the teens like to play video games on.

  5. Love this idea, but just wondering. If you post a reproduction of the book cover in the bathroom, are you in compliance with copyright laws?

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