Let’s get this library show on the road

Over the last two weeks, the library team has been zipping up and down the M4, visiting our Trust’s hospitals for our Library Roadshow.

Working for a community health NHS Trust means our staff (and therefore our library users and potential library users) are spread out all over the county. We put a lot of effort into outreach activities, which has really paid off, and the latest of these was our Roadshow. We wanted to physically represent the library outside our base hospital to raise the profile of the service. In hindsight, we wouldn’t have chosen the week we all needed to have our annual reviews!

RJ at Roadshow
Ready to roadshow

We kept things fairly simple, as we’re a small team so we don’t have a huge capacity. Two library staff went to each Roadshow date, taking place over lunchtime, with a display stand, leaflets and freebies. Strawberries were a lovely, slightly unusual (and seasonal!) freebie. We also ran a prize draw for a £20 Amazon voucher – entry was just filling out any of our forms (registration, current awareness bulletins, comments slip). One of our library assistants printed out new registration forms on purple paper, so we could identify any that came back to us afterwards, which was a very smart idea!

Of the five dates, I manned two, both outside the hospitals’ receptions/cafes which was a good location for ‘passing trade’. I made a conscious effort not to just list everything the library does, instead focusing on one or two things that might pique interest for particular types of staff. For example, the way nurses revalidate changes earlier this year, so I could promote my nurse reflective reading groups. Or if someone said they don’t have time to use the library, I talked about our literature searching service and that we can send items out in the internal post. Also just telling people about why we were doing a Roadshow worked well too – I hope it made people feel more included and valued.

I was unexpectedly fine with approaching people to chat. I put this down to having to drive to the venues. I’ve only been driving for about a year and I’m still a little nervous. But I’m too busy being nervous about driving to worry about public speaking! I just need to find something worse than driving to conquer my nerves on the road…

Top tips for a Library Roadshow

  • Don’t just list everything you offer. Focus on what’s particularly relevant to that member of staff and show them the benefits.
  • If your stand is over lunch, stealthily eat something throughout, or you’ll end up driving back hungry with a library assistant merrily chomping away in the passenger seat  😦
  • Keep your box of refill leaflets tidy, so you’re not rooting around under the table awkwardly while someone waits for a flyer on laptop loans.
  • Use coloured paper for forms your handing out for a simple way to track them coming back in afterwards.
  • Relax and be yourself – people will respond to that and will be more inclined to stop and chat.
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