Wednesday, December 19, 2012

50 Great Cookbooks at Thomas Ford Complete

It took all year! With a review of Jacques Pepin Celebrates, the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library has posted reviews of 50 of the library's most interesting and useful cookbooks. These reviews may be found on the library's Thommy Ford Reads blog and their book jackets may be seen as a group on our 50 Great Cookbooks Pinterest board.

50 is a lot of reviews. We chose the number after seeing what National Public Radio was doing with some of its continuing reports, such as 50 Great Voices, which profiled incredible singers. Like NPR, we called upon staff from various departments of our organization to select and review candidates. Since we have many good cooks on the staff, it seemed a project tailor-made for us. We did not have a committee to vote on the books nor did we make anyone write a specified number of reviews. Still, we got the reviews written and in the process highlighted a great variety of titles from both our adult and children's collections.

Two of our objectives were to 1) draw more people to our review blog by diversifying the content and 2) increase the use of the cookbook collection. Whether we succeeded here is not really yet known. Visitors to the blog are up 48 percent in 2012 over 2011, but it is only the second year of the blog; that increase might have happened anyway. The second most read post ever on our blog is our review of Dining with the Washingtons: Historic Recipes, Entertaining, and Hospitality from Mount Vernon at 247 views. Only two other cookbook reviews have cracked the top 25 all time posts so far. Stats on our cookbook circulation have not yet been tallied.

There are other benefits of the project. We have tested some new methods of marketing, introduced some of the staff to review writing, and all learned more about what to expect from a cookbook. From the books I reviewed, I have some new recipes, improved my vocabulary, and learned about numerous helpful kitchen gadgets. Having cookbooks on the reference desk through much of the year, helped us initiate readers' advisory conversations with some clients.

I think it is now time for a party.

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