Wednesday, June 20, 2012

SELLING library books.

I don't drink wine.  So if I had to buy a bottle, I wouldn't know what to buy.  I also don't drink hard booze all that much.  Give me almost any 100% agave tequila and a can of frozen limeade and I'm happy.  FYI, about 1.5 oz tequila with 3-4 tablespoons of frozen limeade mixed with cold water tastes great, and a couple of those gets me hammered.

So when I need to buy unfamiliar booze, I look for those reviews that the liquor store attaches to the price label in front of the bottles.  There's usually this tiny review from some source that sounds like Wine Enthusiast or Wino Cabal or something, that gives the bottle a score of some number close to 100.

So the liquor shelf might have a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (my wine of choice if I have to have wine) with a tiny slip of paper review that says,
"Rating 91. Crisp, fruity, hint of apricot, peach, banana, walrus. Excellent with fish, tacos, but not fish tacos."

And is makes me wonder why libraries never do this?  No, not sell booze, but attach reviews to the library books.

Yes, I realize that the books move.  They change locations almost every day. Except for the Scottish Poetry section. So there really isn't a permanent shelf where we can stick the review.  But we could have a display.  Or maybe get removable labels and stick them on the book spine.  And yeah, each spine is a different width, so the label would need to be smallish.

I don't know about you, but I often pick up a book from the shelf and ask, "Why the hell did we buy this?"  And not just to myself.  I ask staff.  I ask patrons.  I run into the street to stop traffic like Kevin McCarthy in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

So it would be cool if we took that original review that convinced us to make the purchase and stuck it to that book, now collecting dust, to show everyone that we had a good reason for getting it. And that they should read it. 

And as with DVD cases, those reviews might convince someone to borrow that book. 
  • "3 and 1/2 Stars" is a good enough reason to try something new. (And don't forget to add the images of the stars.)
  • "Booklist says, Recommended for all public libraries" could also work. 
  • and "Publisher's Weekly says, Read this Motherfucker already!" is going to make me want to punch the asshole in the face who tries to get that book before me.

So, what about it?  Is this another of my awesome ideas, or what?  Oh, fuck, nobody even read this.


  1. Hey, I'm a library student in Australia, I read everything you write. Cynical, intelligent and funny, this should be every librarian out there. I love your stuff. I am doing a Masters in 'library-stuff' and it's all so digital-focused. I'm cynical, I like to think I could educate my kids about the world from the books on my bookshelf.

    The U.S. is a few years ahead of us in library-horror, the issues you talk about in terms of privatisation of the public institutions of libraies - make me weep. And the shallowness of online life (its why I read your stuff but never comment - who can be bothered with online prattle) But trust me, all around the globe you have people nodding at their computers and laughing out loud. Things are fucked, people are dumb, but I can't wait to work in a library.

    Humans, relating to other humans at the library, its awesome stuff. Some of those pivotal moments in many people's lives, involved a librarian and a kid or a teenager. Please keep writing, don't stop.

  2. Sorry, but Bodart sells what you are describing here: shelf labels for the purpose of posting reviews. Other libraries have been doing it in one way or another before. Mainly for the reasons you point out.

    1. well, that's cool, then. I've never seen them. it's weird that they traveled forward in time to steal my idea; that seems like a lot of effort.

  3. I thought that was what a summery in an OPAC was for... None the less, has your library gotten an e-rate program? On my OPAC, people can give a book between 1 and 5 stars. Unlike in Amazon, they can not write a review... but if you notice a few books are getting 4 or 5 stars each week, you may be able to pull them for a display.

  4. I feel like us public librarians are supposed to whitewash everything and not have an opinion on the media we offer. So, I occasionally make displays of my favorite shit so people actually check out it. Sometimes it works.

    Maybe just a star sticker method?