Last month, the Huffington Post linked to a story on Flavorwire about books that originally started as an element of a fictional story, but then were later published as a real book.
I know that sounds a little confusing, but I did recognize most of them*. For the most part, books like this are fiction, and libraries shelve them as such. As the article mentioned though, television shows have also spawned real-life books - Richard Castle's books, from Castle.
However, one of these books recently(ish) caused a bit of a debate in my library - Roger Sterling's character from Mad Men wrote a book titled Sterling's Gold: Wit & Wisdom of an Ad Man. The points of the debate were these:
Since this book is "by" a fictional character, should it be shelved as fiction?
Since it is about the character that wrote it, should it be in autobiography/biography?
Since the topic is business advice written by a successful businessman, should this be shelved with the business books?
Since this is derived from a television show, should it be shelved in the television section?
Since it is humorous, should it be shelved in the humor section?
We ultimately chose the last option, and shelved it at 818.6 (which was also the C-I-P suggestion). According to WorldCat, that seemed to be the most common Dewey number, but not the only one:
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?
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
I recently noticed in our Reference collection one of the quirks of the Dewey Decimal System that people often refer to as "serendipitous" - but look at the picture below to see if you also see a problem:
809 - History, description, critical appraisal of more than two literatures 809.91-.92 - Literature displaying specific qualities and elements 809.933 - Literature dealing with specific themes and subjects
And so, I get that these books are each about specific kinds of literature. But come on - a book about the Holocaust shelved between two books about imaginary things? It really is like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other fool Holocaust deniers got into OCLC and caused this to happen - a cataloger sleeper cell.
I'm going to talk with my Head of Technical Services to see how we can fix this.
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.