Shared Success: Book Fair Advice from a Veteran Chairperson
By Kay Gooch, Librarian at Gullett Elementary in Austin, Texas
With over twenty Book fairs under her belt, Kay agrees that planning and conducting a Book Fair is not an easy task, but with the right team behind you it can be a rewarding experience. Kay’s number one piece of advice is, “build a solid team of volunteers that includes a co-chair that is dedicated to creating a wonderful reading event.” Each year Kay builds a committee of volunteers that is led by a co-chair which frees her up to do special promotions like Booktalks before the fair.
Kay adds that it is important to keep it fun! “If the job of conducting the Book Fair is not fun, than it’s not worth doing,” remarks Kay. If plans start to become too big and unmanageable then it needs to be scaled back and Kay feels it’s her role as the chairperson to reign in the big, grandiose ideas and remind volunteers that the Fair is for the kids.
Can a Workshop Make a Difference?
Over the years Kay has tried many ideas and programs to make her Book Fair successful and she has found that it is best to stick with the activities that work for her school. One place Kay is able to find fresh ideas or a new twist on an old program is at the workshop. Kay requests that two volunteers from the committee attend the Book Fair workshop and she remarks, “they always come back with new ideas and it’s a great way to bond with other chairpeople in the community.”
Promoting the Book Fair
Creating decorations for the Book Fair can be a time consuming part of fair planning so Kay suggests leaving up decorations year-round! Even though Kay’s first fair is in November she starts off the school year with a fully decorated library that features the Book Fair theme. “It’s a great way to continually remind and excite students about the Book Fair,” says Kay. Volunteers work so hard to create such fantastic themed decorations and when they see them used all year they feel their work is really appreciated.
Kay makes sure that the Book Fair is even promoted during summer by conducting a special reading program where students get rewarded by reading throughout the summer break. She includes the fall Book Fair theme in these materials and students are able to earn Book Fair dollars to redeem at her November Fair. It's an easy way to remind students and parents that a book fair is coming.