Parents reliably dropped their middle schoolers off after school for book club meetings at the Jolla/Riford branch of the San Diego Public Library. But despite a warm welcome from the librarians there, and the enthusiasm of those moms and dads, few kids stuck with it. “We tried everything to boost enrollment, including e-blasts at school, posting flyers, and rounding up kids in the library on the same day, but the club was really struggling,” recalls Shaun Briley, the La Jolla/Riford branch manager and a 2016 Library Journal Mover & Shaker.
A sea change was in order—and a lightbulb went off. “At the time, I was writing occasional book reviews for the Sunday edition of the San Diego Union Tribune,” says Briley. “Also, I had done some marketing work for a publishing company in the past, and the two things came together in my mind.” He wondered if there wouldn’t be a demand for middle schoolers who could act as a focus group by writing book reviews.
In researching this idea, he came across NetGalley, the digital service that provides online galleys to professional readers on behalf of hundreds of publishers worldwide in order to help promote and market new books.
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