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Library's Facebook challenge draws big response from readers

A small staff of librarians led by Kitsap Regional Library digital branch manager Sharon Grant weren’t sure what to expect as 3 p.m. rolled around on Jan. 19. KRL libraries were closed that day because of the snow that disrupted all of Kitsap. But the planned “Facebook Challenge” readers’ advisory event was going to happen anyway.

The idea of a Facebook Challenge came from other library systems that have used the social networking site to encourage readers and librarians to interact. The basic idea was that readers would post on the KRL Facebook page the names of a few books they had enjoyed reading, and KRL Librarians would respond by suggesting other books they might like to read.

All fears that we had scheduled a party but no one would come were erased in the first five minutes of the event as homebound readers from across Kitsap County started posting the titles of books they’ve read and liked. So many people came to the KRL site that the library staff could not respond to all of them in the allotted two hours.

By the time the dust settled on the event at 5 p.m. that afternoon, a total of 267 people had posted on KRL’s Facebook page seeking reading suggestions. KRL staff worked over the next five days to respond to each and every request, much to the satisfaction and surprise of the participants. KRL received more than 60 messages of thanks for the dedication shown by the staff in responding to the requests.

In addition to providing the people who posted with recommendations for good reads, the posts on the page created a virtual reading list. Many people commented about all the interesting books that were being mentioned by the readers who posted.

To put the event in context, a library system serving the county where Cleveland, Ohio, is located sponsored a similar Facebook event. In a much larger urban area, over a six-hour time period, that library system drew the participation of about 200 readers. In just two hours, and in a smaller population center, KRL prompted 33 percent greater participation.

KRL now has more than 2,600 fans on Facebook, after adding 231 new fans just in the week of the Facebook Challenge. More than 3,850 people came to KRL’s Facebook page that week.

For more information, contact Sharon Grant, 360-405-9036.

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