In recent years the links between many local libraries and bookshops have weakened because of a reduction in resources and trained staff that many libraries have had to deal with, and by the closure of many small independent bookshops. Despite this, there is a tradition of collaboration that should be celebrated.
One of the key ways in that bookshops and libraries can work together is by running author events. Libraries often have space to host far larger groups than bookshops, which in turn have stock that can be sold and then signed by visiting authors. Both have the ability to reach out to different sections of the population to promote these events, and by pooling their contacts in the publishing industry a far greater spread of authors can be approached. Libraries are often keen to host events as they raise visitor figures, can be cost-neutral (owing to ticket sales) and directly support our key role in promoting reading.
Other ways in which they can work together revolve around the different skills each workforce has, and how they can be used to train and inform each other as well as the users of both services. Small bookshops often have staff with specialised knowledge, which can be a vital resource for libraries when trying to build and develop collections. Library staff are often practised in running sessions teaching IT skills and how to access and use online resources.
Bookshops and libraries can also collaborate in running, promoting and supplying book clubs. While some libraries have dedicated collections for reading groups, others may not, or some groups may want to read a title that is not available via the library. By offering discounted rates to book groups, libraries can increase sales for bookshops, and strengthen the links between the two organisations.
If libraries and bookshops can work together, both can benefit from increased interest in books and the dissemination of reading for pleasure. The important thing is to make sure there is a dialogue between the two groups that is mutually beneficial. In the long run, it will benefit us both.
Jonas Herriot is customer service manager at Richmond Library