February 15th, 2014 Brian Herzog
I would say right off the bat that this post is NSFW, but it happened to me at work so it must be okay. Just, be warned(ish).
One slow afternoon, after school, a girl who was probably about fourteen came up to the desk and asked for books on learning to draw. Specifically, she said, she wanted to draw people.
No problem - in fact, the 740s are right near the Reference Desk. I walked her over, skimmed the titles, and pulled one down called Step-by-step guide to drawing the figure. Sounds promising, right? The cover shows artistic-looking sketches, no problem there, and just what we're looking for.
No, the problem came when I flipped open the book to see if the inside was what she was looking for. Hover your mouse over the image below to see the first page I flipped to*.
The patron didn't seem phased, but it's not often I show naked pictures to fourteen year old girls. Not just an image, mind you, but an actual photograph of a naked woman. I know this is perfectly normal in the life of a librarian, but, I don't know, it just took me by surprise and felt weird.
But it did turn out to be what she wanted, so the patron took that book and another one we found, and she seemed happy.
*I have two theories on why I was able to flip right to this page:
- Either I have an uncanny ability to find naked women, or (and more likely),
- This is the most popular page in the book and the spine has been broken by previous readers (perhaps fourteen year old boys)
Tags: art, awkward, drawing, figure, human, libraries, Library, naked, people, public, Reference Question, woman
October 24th, 2012 Brian Herzog
Have you ever heard about something, liked the idea, and just accepted as fact that because you've heard about it, everyone else must have too, and then a couple years later happened to mention it in a room full of people like it's common knowledge only to have everyone look at you with blank stares? I get this a lot.
Most recently, it happened with the Human Library Project - you know, the idea in the news a couple years ago where libraries had collections of people you could check out - police officer, politician, Buddhist, lesbian, etc - and sit and talk with them to learn about their life experience.
I personally loved this idea, because it's a way to meet types of people you may never meet in your life's normal routine. Of course, I don't think the project every took itself to be grander than it was - I mean, you're only talking to one person, so of course you can't automatically generalize to everyone of that person's "type." The human books aren't stereotypes, so it's not like you're learning what life is like for all black men, but you do find out what life is like for this black man - which might be more than you knew before, and that's a good thing.
Anyway, like I said, I loved this idea when I first heard about it, and tucked it away. I happened to mention it during a meeting a couple weeks ago, and everyone in the room thought I was making it up. So I started asking around over the course of that week, and no one I talked to had heard of it. So, here you go, world - consider yourself officially informed. You are welcome.
I thought I'd also take this opportunity to mention a few other non-traditional things you can check out of libraries. Earlier this year, there was a PLA session on non-traditional collections, such as circulating ereaders, guitars, and running a seed library.
The iLibrarian blog is also a great resource for these types of ideas. Recent posts there include:
Seeing things like this makes me happy I work in libraries, but sad that I can't work in all the libraries. I mean, I've always thought it was cool that some libraries circulate cooking pans and artwork, and just last week we referred a patron to the Library of Congress' Talking Books program. But how much fun would it be to check out farmland or to offer a Maker Station?
Pretty fun, is my answer. I get excited by potential, which is why I never despair over the future of libraries - we've got potential coming out of our buns.