Tasting New Books


L. Thompson

Cassidy Martin and Riley Hyatt, freshmen in Leslie Thompson’s English class, use phones, Chromebooks, and QR codes to take part a “book tasting,” a hunt for new reading material.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, communities big and small faced various challenges, from keeping small businesses open to managing new school schedules. Conifer is one of the small communities that has made vast changes to handle the new situations while still accommodating student needs. March 2020 was the last “normal” month students, teachers, businesses, workers, and families experienced before the lockdown. Since then, mask mandates, social distancing, and closures have changed the way of life.

With the Conifer Public Library being a part of Conifer High School, it faced its own challenges as well. The library was closed to students and the public but has fortunately been able to reopen and offer new and adapted services to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions. One of these services is a “book tasting”, established by Karen McIntosh the Digital Teacher Librarian for the Conifer Public Library.

Freshmen Keira Payne and Isabelle Allem hunt for books together during a field trip to the library. (L. Thompson)


“Book tasting is an opportunity for students to really explore different books, genres, and stories that they wouldn’t necessarily check out or read. So it’s a sampling of books,” said Mclntosh. This is not the first year that the library has held a book tasting, but this year it was changed to be digital. By using QR codes, students can find books and collections that may interest them. 

The program works by having students scan a QR code that brings them to the Conifer Public Library website where they can find various books and collections that may interest them. 

The book tasting is especially beneficial to students because they are often given books to read through their classes, and oftentimes those books are not of interest to many students. They lack a choice of what to read, which is exactly what book tasting conquers. 

“I just wanted to give kids the opportunity to explore some different subjects that they might want to read,” said Mclntosh. She aims to expand availability for students and make it easy for them to get into reading that they’ll enjoy. 

“I’m a big believer in giving students as much choice as possible so that’s what I wanted to promote, some student choice and what they wanted to read, and just kind of get that joy and love of reading back,” she said. 

Many people are participating in the Conifer book tasting. Karen Mclntosh sent out the information for the program to all the english language arts teachers in the school. All of the freshmen classes happily participated.

Asher Phillips, freshman, takes a break from investigating new books during the “Book Tasting” exploration in English class. Karen McIntosh, DTL, offered students QR Codes that linked to hundreds of books they could explore then check out if they wanted to. (L. Thompson)

The book tasting is serving as a fantastic way for students to get re-involved with reading and finding material that is specific to their preferences.  

“I wanted to first of all get kids back in the library” and “I just wanted to bring people back in,” Mclntosh said.

With the immense changes that come from the pandemic, getting people back has been very beneficial to the library and the community. In such a crazy time where people can’t go out as much and do many of the things they used to, finding a new book or two is a wonderful option that librarian Karen Mclntosh has made possible.  


Book tasting is an opportunity for students to really explore different books, genres, and stories that they wouldn’t necessarily check out or read.”

— Karen McIntosh