or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


This One Weird Trick Will Increase Library Program Attendance!

   March 17th, 2017 Brian Herzog

One of the things I truly hate, hate, is clickbait. I find myself specifically not clicking on things that sound clickbaity, just because I feel insulted by something thinking I can be manipulated. (That'll teach 'em.)

Especially though when it is totally unnecessary. A recent Lifehacker article entitled "This Secret Trick Will Save You From Getting Lost In Central Park Forever" could have just as easily, and less annoyingly, been titled, "How To Use Central Park Lampposts To Avoid Getting Lost." I still would have clicked and read, and would have felt less dirty about it.

Of course these show up as links all over the internet, but I've also seen a trend on YouTube to name videos with clickbait titles too. One of the channels I used to watch, Wranglestar, has become terrible for this, and I've all but stopped watching him because of it. Recently though, he published a video explaining why he uses clickbait video titles. It was interesting, and the tl;dw version is that he found it to be the only way to make money on YouTube anymore: regular titles don't get clicked, which means videos don't get watched, which means no monetized ad revenues for him.

If it is that effective, maybe library ought to pay attention. So, just as a "funny thing to think about but I would never do for real" project, here are a few of our library programs re-titled as clickbait:

Now those would totally boost our attendance numbers.



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Reference Question of the Week – 3/5/17

   March 11th, 2017 Brian Herzog

wire hangerI'm at work on a Saturday covering our "Info Desk," which is kind of like a mini-Reference Desk right inside the front door.

During my lunch today, one of my coworkers from the real Reference Desk relayed an interesting interaction she had this morning:

A guy came up and said he was locked out of his car. I asked if he wanted to call AAA or something, but he just asked if we had a wire coat hanger.

I said I thought that didn't work on new cars, but he said he thought he knew a trick and wanted to try it.

So I went into the lunch room and found the one wire hanger we had on the rack*, and I gave it to him. And it must have worked, because I saw him a little later and he just gave me the thumbs-up.

Ha, that made me laugh. I think I'd be a little uncomfortable giving a patron a hanger, but I'm sure I've given out worse. My three favorite things about this are:

  1. he thought to ask the library for something (even something unusual)
  2. we were able to give it to him (even though it was unusual)
  3. and his life was better off for it (or so the thumbs-up seems to imply)

And even better, now this patron has a great "guess what happened to me today at the library!" story to tell people. Nice.

 


*By the way, she had just dumped everything that was hung on this hanger onto the nearest chair. Me asking her, "why is all this crap on my chair?" is what prompted her telling me this story in the first place.



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Whose (First) Line Is It book display

   March 6th, 2017 Brian Herzog

Our new YA librarian is redefining the teen area in the library. In the course of listening to her plans though, I remembered a display our previous YA librarian had done that I thought was pretty neat.

It looks odd, but she covered popular books with a blank sheet printed with the first line of the book. Partly to gamify the display so people could guess what book it was, but also just as a novel and eye-catching way to get people engaged with books they may not otherwise have picked up.

whosefirstlinedisplay
whosefirstlinedisplay-close

Also: looking at these photos on flickr, I realized I took them in December of 2015 - oops. Still, it's a cool idea.



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The World Still Is A Good Place

   February 1st, 2017 Brian Herzog

Last week, someone called the library asking if they could return a book by mail. Of course, we said, that's no problem.

This week, a package arrived with this inside:

How awesome is that? I have no idea if American Airlines, or airlines in general, make this a general practice, or if this Flight Attendant just did it because he felt it was the right thing to do. But it is great, and we appreciate it, and I'm sure the patron* does too.

In any case, I sincerely hope American Airlines reimburses their above-and-beyond Flight Attendant for postage. Thank you very much Tom!

 


*By the way, we looked up who had it checked out and called to let them know their (lost) book was returned, but the phone went right to voicemail. Probably that means they're still on vacation - but now without Rodney Dangerfield to keep them company.



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Display Idea: What Your Neighbor Is Reading

   January 20th, 2017 Brian Herzog

A reader of this blog, from the Wayne County Public Library, sent in a pretty awesome display idea that I wanted to share:

At Wayne County Public Library we have a display by the checkout counter called "What Your Neighbor is Reading." We just place items recently turned in on a cart with a "What Your Neighbor is Reading sign on it that has an image of Wilson (from "Home Improvement") on it. Previously, we used an image of Gladys Kravitz (from "Bewitched"). Our patrons enjoy seeing the pop culture figures and they like the convenience of being able to check books out so close to the register.

How cool is that? Just putting the little local spin on it and identifying them as something their neighbor is interested will definitely draw peoples' attention. Very similar to "Recently Returned" shelves, but more fun.

She also mentioned that they place a colored slip in each of the display books that is removed at checked out, and have a sheet at Circ they use to track stats on displayed items. Another great idea.

I hope you find this as neat as I did and can use it in your library. Thanks, Gigi!



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An Old Solution to a New Problem

   December 8th, 2016 Brian Herzog

One of those on-going discussions in the library world is how to display new books.

Well, new-new books are easy: when something is recently published, it goes in the new book room, or on the new book shelf, for six months or a year or whatever you're library's practice is. And usually, it also gets marked with some kind of sticker so pages know to shelve it as "New" rather than in the regular collection.

The question has been - at least for me - what is the best way to handle books that are not recently-published, but that are still new to the library (and therefore possibly new to our patrons)?

If I missed ordering something when it first came out, and then a patron donates a copy, should it go into the new book room like a new book (even though it's not "new"), or should it just go right into the regular collection (even though people might miss it there)? I've heard arguments both ways on this, but the Jackson (NH) Public Library has a great (and obvious) solution that just never occurred to me.

They do put these old-but-new-to-the-library books into the new book room - and just mark them "NEW-ish." Brilliant.

This labeling lets people know the books aren't just published, but also allows the people who browse the new book room (rather than search the catalog) to easily find them. And that's the important thing.

This might be commonplace in other libraries too, but like I said, it never occurred to me before. Now I just need to convince the staff at my library to go for it. We'll see.

Way to go, staff at the Jackson Library.



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