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

Vacation Lessons

   September 16th, 2008

Cocoa Beach Public LibraryToday is my first day back from a week and a half long vacation. I went to Florida for a cousin's wedding, and then to Ohio for the birthday parties of my niece (1) and nephew (7). I had a few goals for the trip, so here's the update on those along with a few things I learned along the way:

  1. Playaways (at least with the included earbuds I used) are not loud enough to be heard when you're sitting on an airplane next to the engine. Next time perhaps I'll try a noise/anti-noise arrangement
  2. Key West isn't much fun when it is evacuated before a hurricane (I didn't make it to the library)
  3. People in airports don't take other peoples' books, even when "free book!" is written on the cover. I released five Bookcrossing books in airports this trip, and watched at least three people sit down next to one of them, look at it, and then go about their business. I found this interesting, but I'll have to rethink my guerrilla strategy for promoting literacy
  4. The Brevard Country Library System is wonderful. I used both their main library and Cocoa Beach branch, and everything worked, the staff were all nice, and it was just pleasant all-around - exactly what I needed while on vacation. I also picked up a few tips to bring back and implement in my own library
  5. Boston's Logan Airport has chairs with power outlets and USB jacks built right in - great
  6. Even if you're not in a hurricane, it can still effect you - the Keys were evacuated in advanced of Hurricane Ike, so I had to change plans and go north to Cape Canaveral. And then at the end of the trip when I was flying back from Ohio, the remnants of Ike knocked out power to much of southern Ohio and shut down the Cincinnati airport, thus canceling my flight
  7. A birthday party of eight seven-year-old boys is never dull

It was a good trip all around, and now I'm back to real life and the library. But NELA's annual conference is just over a month away, so that's another trip to look forward to. I'm part of a panel presenting "Library 2.0 For You" (or, L24U, if you like that sort of thing) on Monday, so mark your calendars.

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2 Responses to “Vacation Lessons”

  1. Liz Says:

    I’ve wondered about the procedure for “releasing” Bookcrossing books – honestly, I’m not sure that I’d pick up a book laying around in the airport, even if it did have “free book” on the cover – maybe _especially_ if it had “free book” on the cover. Especially in an airport, where the whole “have your belongings been in your possession the whole time” issue is so prevalent.

    I wonder if the bookstores or newsstands would get behind it – although, why give out books for free when you’re trying to sell them? Perhaps putting them on or near information kiosks or literature shelves (where you pick up pamphlets, etc on the area) would be more successful. If there were some way to make it official, like a book exchange shelf or something, that would be ideal, though probably neither likely nor practical. Hmm.

  2. Brian Herzog Says:

    I think you’re right that the businesses, and probably the airport itself, wouldn’t support a free book swap in airports. And people do seem more suspicious there than other places. I tend to leave them in places where no one is, like an empty gate, so no one will see me. But maybe I should start leaving them in more frequently populated places, like restaurants or food tables. Hmm.