One question I get asked all the time, by patrons who were attracted by one of our book displays and then spent a few minutes looking at all the books, is, "can these books be checked out?"
The answer is of course yes (that's why we put them on display). I don't actually mind answering the question, but any time I'm repeatedly asked the same question, I think there has got to be a better way to communicate the answer.
Then it struck me to use the same trick that restaurateurs and buskers use - you know when you see a tip jar with money already in it, you're more likely to put some in yourself versus a jar with nothing in it?
To translate this theory to book displays, we could start using dollar bills as bookmarks in display books, but I thought a better idea would be to always leave one of the display stands empty. It's subtle and non-verbal, but if someone sees that someone else has already checked out one of the books from the display, it might communicate to them that it's okay for them to check one out, too. Which is what we want them to know, especially if no staff person is around for them to ask.
I did this on all the displays around the Reference desk last week, and I'm waiting to see if anyone asks about checking out a display book. Usually it happens a couple times a week - so far so good.
What do other people do to let patrons know it's okay to check out display books?
Language is fascinating to me. I'm particularly interested in the idea that our brains are shaped by the language we use to interpret our environments and communicate - and therefore, people of different cultures do perceive the world differently.
So, apropos of absolutely nothing, here are the translations for a few library-related words, according to the Babel Fish translator.
Something else neat is that other language can be clever sources of product names - who among us wouldn't buy into a chat reference product called "Referencia?" But my favorite is the word for librarian - "bibliotecario" - I think I might change my business cards.
For those in New England, the coming weeks have a few book-related conferences worth attending. I'll definitely be at the first two, but not sure about the third:
Boston Book Festival - Saturday, October 16th
The Boston Book Festival is a day-long event, filled with talks from authors and illustrators and others in the book field. All the events are around Copley Square in Boston, and everything is free. I'm going to try to see Chipp Kidd, Bill Bryson, Joyce Carol Oates, Jeff Kinney, and anyone else I can find - not to mention renew my library card at the BPL.
New England Library Association 2010 Annual Conference - Oct 17 - 19th
This year's NELA conference is in Boxborough, MA, and should be a good time (as always). Highlights (for me) are the talk on censorship by Joe Raiola (senior Editor of MAD magazine), seeing Ethan Zuckerman again, a talk on Open Source ILS' by Stephanie Chase and Pamela Soren Smith - and I'll be doing a poster session on library website mashups.
Why Books? - Oct 28 -29th
Hosted by Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, "'Why Books?' probes the form and function of the book in a rapidly changing media ecology. Speakers from a variety of disciplines—literature and history to sociology and computer science—will discuss the public-policy implications of new media forms and will explore some of the major functions that we identify with books today: production and diffusion; storage and retrieval; and reception and use."
Busy busy busy. And if you're ever looking for a book-related event, remember to check out LibraryThing.com/local for events in your area - and also add your library's events there for more exposure.
With the demise of Bloglines, I've been going through all the posts I had bookmarked and pulling out the ones I wanted to mention in a post - this is one of those posts.
Something I really like about feed aggregators is that, by reading feeds from a wide variety of sources, it is possible to spot coincidental trends (which I like doing). For instance, a couple weeks ago I noticed a few of posts all about book covers:
And speaking of book covers, remember to play with LibraryThing's CoverGuess, to help build a database that can answer questions like, "well, I don't remember the title, but it was a red book, and had like this guy on a street with maybe like a purple penguin?"
Update: I forgot to include my two biggest book cover pet peeves:
Covers where the author's name is bigger than the title
Cook books where the chef (usually a celebrity) is more prominently-featured than the food
But this does puzzle me: if the point is to look fashionable, wouldn't it make more sense to make a clutch that looks like an iPad or Kindle? Or maybe retrointellectuaistas just have far better fashion taste than I. Well, yes, of course they do. It is creative and well-done, but I still need to cue Flight of the Conchords:
I might sound critical, but you know if they designed a man-purse based on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland or The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, I would want it.