Workshops Breathe New Life Into Your Book Fair


Librarian Sara Schlehofer, a longtime Book Fair chairperson at a private Catholic school, faces common but daunting tasks: keeping her collection interesting and stimulating; adhering to Common Core Standards; and sustaining these efforts within a limited budget.

Each year, Sara has found that workshops focus her book fair goals and keep her informed about available merchandise. With 20 Book Fairs to her credit, the librarian at St. John Notre Dame School in Folsom, Calif., needs inspiration to help her achieve a two-fold purpose: promoting reading while raising much-needed money.

“I go to workshops to refresh myself,” Sara says. “I retain by visual learning. At the workshops, I learn how to operate the machinery and how to take advantage of programs that Scholastic Book Fairs offers me so that I can quickly know how I can make the best of my time and effort – my six days twice a year when I generate $118,000 in gross income.”

At a recent workshop, Sara’s field representative, Leigh Osterhage, asked the participants to come prepared to give booktalks, an opportunity close to Sara’s heart. Sara must be extremely selective about titles due to the nature of her school. Since she is determined to raise the bar on Lexile levels, she promotes quality titles at her school through booktalks.

“I literally lose my voice because I have done so much booktalking.” she says.

Sara’s investment of time has proven to generate great results. At workshops, she discovers new titles, challenging and appropriate choices that her students can enjoy. One year after attending a workshop, she discovered Michael D. Bell’s Red Blazer Girls series about girls at a Catholic school in New York City. She has earned as much as $7,200 selling particular titles. That’s time well spent.

“Unless you know the merchandise,” she says, “you’re only going to maintain the status quo.”

As Sara enters her 11th year of Book Fairs, she looks forward to learning more tips and finding more great buys at workshops.

“I think that’s where I find some of my best ideas!” she says.

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