40s at Work

Here is a transaction that happens at work that I like.

Patron: How many books can I check out?

Me: 40

Patron [ka-thunk jaw-drop]: 40?!

I want to say,

Yes my dear, the library is your oyster

I want to say,

And you only have 90 seconds! No bags or carts!  Go!

But I don’t generally say either of those.

Sometimes the patron says,

Who on earth would read 40 books!

I want to say,

You’re obviously not part of the club, ma’am.

Sometimes I say,

Imagine you have four small children and they each want ten picture books.

And sometimes I say,

Some people are really voracious readers.

And here’s the thing,

Go ahead.  Check out 40 books.  Just read the first page of each.  That’s only 40 pages.  Or don’t even crack them open.  Just lovingly stroke the covers, with your clean hands.  Put them under your pillow to see if osmosis works. Give yourself the luxury of 40 books, just for a few weeks.  You might like it.

I love giving people the possibility of 40 books.  40 books is a lot!

One time after I told a patron she could have 40 books, she said,

Has it always been 40 books? I feel like I didn’t get that many when I was a kid.

So I told her,

Sometimes I say,

You can have 40 books.

And Mom says,

You can have 2 books.

Sometimes Mom is the strictest librarian of all.

Woman with book and palm tree

**At the other library I work at, you can have unlimited books. But somehow it’s seldom as exciting as 40.

The Mystery of the Mystery Mystery

I as said in my last post about pushing books, I hate to be told what to read. This is not just due to my own obstinance, its also on account of, I’m fussy. I get in the mood for a certain kind of book, or a certain author, and that is the only thing I want to read. I accept no substitutes. I particularly like to discover an author that suits my tastes, greedily devour their whole catalog, and then mopily do research until I find a new writer and can feed my gluttony for reading all over again.

Which is why I don’t get why people would ever want to check out a surprise book.

Blind date with a hot read

Back around Valentine’s Day, libraries were doing this display gimmick called “Blind Date with a Hot Read.” This is a photo of one I did for one of the libraries where I work. Someone actually requested, via Twitter, that we do this! (Ours was a little unusual in that we made it easy on patrons and put the books in bags, so if you wanted to cheat and check out what your date looked like before taking it home, you could.) I can’t believe these displays worked! All over the country, people were checking out and taking home books, with no idea what they were.

So when I started at another library in late February, a library where the branch manager and I were heavily concentrating on devising ways to get the kids to at least browse the chapter books, I decided to see if this principle could be expanded, and created the Mystery Mystery. It’s just as it sounds. I wrapped a mystery in brown paper, drew a few question marks on the front, and waited to see if patrons would take home a book that they knew nothing about, other than the fact that it was a mystery. And they did! There was often much debate, but kids took a chance on the book. The one for adults met a similar reception (I did put a little note on the cover which said something like “best for ages 8-12” or “best for adults”).

mystery mystery

One of our 12 year old patrons saw the display and came up to me with his own suggestions. He said “why don’t you take two books and package them together, and then people don’t know which one they’ll get.” So I made it for him.

Asanti's Lucky Pick

In Asanti’s Lucky Pick, patrons can see a sign with the covers of each book. They know they will get one of the two, but the books are wrapped so they don’t know which one. This one seems to move even faster than the Mystery Mystery or the Blind Date books.

As foreign as it is to me, people actually seem to enjoy a little intrigue at the library. They like a little risk with their reading.