Virtual Book Displays

My library is, at the moment, closed for public browsing due to increased COVID case numbers. Even when we do reopen for public browsing, many people can’t or won’t return to the library until they feel safe. And, there are always patrons (maybe new ones!) who have never stepped foot in your library but are still interested in learning about new books. How do you share your collection with patrons? Virtual book displays!

I’ve shared a bit about how we’ve approached Virtual Reader’s Advisory, with short book talk videos, as well as Instagram Stories showing off parts of the collection. I don’t know how directly these boost circulation numbers or increase a patron’s likelihood to reserve a specific book. Essentially, a patron would have to stop a video, sometimes try to zoom in on a screen, find the name of a book they are interested in, open our library catalog, find the book, and put it on hold. Of course, they could always call us–but no one likes to talk on the phone. There are too many steps involved, and quite a few barriers to making videos and photos of our collection easy and effective virtual book displays.

My coworker discovered Genially on some of the library Facebook groups, and it seems like an innovative tool that makes those passive display photos or videos more immediately interactive. If nothing else, it is a lot easier for users to put books on hold if you share your virtual book displays using this service.

Virtual Book Displays: Genially Interactive Image

The final product is what you see below–an interactive image–a photo of your collection where users can hover over icons to learn more about the items in the picture.

When embedded on social media, the post (disappointingly) isn’t immediately interactive–instead it asks the user to click on the image and goes to a webpage, which contains the interactive image. You could embed the image on your library’s website though (as shown above).

Creating an Interactive Image is easy, though a little time consuming. Set up your in-library display, and take a picture. I’m not confident, but it feels like the picture quality was reduced when uploaded, so you don’t need to worry about using your best camera for the photo.

Upload your photo in the editor, and use the “Interactive Elements” option in the left toolbar to add buttons to your image that encourage users to bring their cursor to that spot on the screen. There are plenty of options–make sure to select “See More” to see more image options and colors.

Add buttons to your image, click on those buttons, and edit, creating a tooltip, pop-up window, or direct link.

Our tooltip just includes the book cover, title and author, and a link to reserve the book in our catalog. You could use the “Window” feature to include a book summary if you’d like.

Genially can create a lot of interactive content, though at this time we are only using it to create Interactive Images using a free account. Pro accounts offer different services, with downloads and offline creations become available, but brand personalization, removal of the Genially logo, and statistics only become possible with a Master account. Everything I’m sharing above is possible on the free account.

Our posts go live on social media soon, and I’m excited to see if they generate any interest. Have you used Genially? I’d love to see and share your displays! What other ways have you promoted your collection virtually? Share in the comments!

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