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

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.


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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Tattooed Youth Librarians Of Massachusetts Calendar Now Available!

   November 14th, 2012 Brian Herzog

Tattooed Youth Librarians of MassachusettsFor anyone wanting to get a jump on their holiday shopping (or just needing one last stocking stuffer), here's an idea: the Tattooed Youth Librarians Of Massachusetts Calendar.

Now, I am neither tattooed nor a youth librarian, but the photo shoot for this calendar happened in my library. Neat.

The calendar is a fundraiser for the Massachusetts Library Association, and proceeds will benefit youth programming in MA libraries. Coordinated by Sharon Colvin (Chelmsford Library - my coworker), Noelle Boc (Tewksbury Library), Erin Daly (Chicopee Library), and Jessica LaMarre (Pembroke Library), the 18-month calendar features 16 individual tattooed librarians from across Massachusetts.

The calendars are available for $21 on the MLA website, and the project has been getting good press coverage [pdf], with more info on Facebook.

Another goal of the calendar is to dispel the stereotypical image of librarians. Check out their YouTube videos of the models talking about their tattoos and being librarians:

Meet Miss February & March 2013

Meet Miss May & June 2013

Meet Miss July & Mr. August 2013

Remember, the calendars are available for $21 on the MLA website - they might not last long!

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Night of a Thousand Boyfriends

   October 22nd, 2009 Brian Herzog

Night of a Thousand Boyfriends coverI was sitting next to our Teen Librarian as she was deleting books she'd just weeded from the Young Adult collection. We were kind of joking about the books that didn't circulate, and also lamenting how important cover art is to teens - if the cover of the book looks dorky or dated, they will not take it out.

Among those that didn't make the cut was Night of a Thousand Boyfriends - a choose-your-own-adventure book about dating. Ha. I loved those books when I was growing up, and thought one about dating was a funny idea.

I flipped through it, curious how "far" a YA book would go, and got quite a surprise. Here are some excerpts:

  • If you take the Ecstasy, turn to page 23.
  • If you decline the offer, turn to page 72.


  • If you suggest things are moving a little too fast anyway, turn to page 88.
  • If you insist that Brian run to the drug store for protection, turn to page 67.
  • If you throw caution to the wind and unfasten his belt, turn to page 39.

I'm sure teens have to make choices like this, but we both were amazed this made it into the YA collection.

Beyond that, this book was just bizarre - which is to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The book is about dating, so many of the paths involved going to clubs or bars, drinking, and going home with strangers. But some of the endings resulted in passing out, lesbian sex, kidnapping, internet porn, marriage, pregnancy - and being the Queen of Neptune.

So if you're looking for a book for a book club, Night of a Thousand Boyfriends by Miranda Clarke will certainly provide plenty topics of discussion.

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Reference Question of the Week – 7/5/09

   July 11th, 2009 Brian Herzog

I didn't intend for this to be an all-kids week, but this exchange just made me laugh.

Yesterday, a little boy, maybe about 8 years old, walks up to the Reference Desk and plops a stack of books down - three books from the Warrior series, Eragon, and Haunted Waters, by Mary Pope Osborne. He slides Haunted Waters towards me and says flatly:

Patron: Is this book any good?
Me: I'm sorry, I don't know, I haven't read it. Hmm, have you read the description inside? [open the cover to the inside book flap]
Patron: No... hey, that's a good idea... [skims description for maybe five seconds] ...yes, this book looks very interesting.
Me: Oh, great. Have you read anything else by her?
Patron: Yeah, I read all the Magic Tree House books, and I like those. But, um, I found this book in the Young Adult section.
Me: Okay...
Patron: Well, the Young Adult section is for older kids. I mean, they're almost adults, that's why they're called "young adults." I mean, like, 13 to 16 are called "teenagers" and 15 to, no, 16 to 18 are called "young adults." This book seems like it's for younger kids, like the Magic Tree House books upstairs [in our Childrens room].
Me: She must have written this book for older kids. The cover doesn't look like a Magic Tree House cover.
Patron: No, but when you're a young adult, you're almost an adult, right? That's why it goes to 18, or maybe 20, or 21. That's when they give you more responsibility, like gambling. That's a young adult.
Me: Hmm, I think we must use the phrase "young adult" a little more loosely, to include any kids between 5th grade and adults.
Patron: 5th grade!?!
Me: Well, some younger kids want to read older books, so we try to include a lot of things in that section. The Magic Tree House books are for littler kids, and this one looks like it's for kids a little bit older.
Patron: But can I still check it out?
Me: Sure.
Patron: Good. I'm going to check out the rest of these, too, but I've already read them. I liked this one because...

And honestly, he went on from there for about ten minutes talking about the Magic Tree House, the Warriors and the Eragon series, what they were about, and why he liked them.

Somewhere in there he asked if I knew when the 4th Eragon book was coming out. We looked around the internet, but only found that no date has been set yet. He was very disappointed, because he said he's been looking forward to this book "for a year." And coming from an eight-year-old, that's a significant amount of time.

In the end I didn't feel I really helped him very much, but he cracked me up. One big drawback of working in a multi-floor library is that I don't get to interact enough with kids.

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