Blame Erin Helmrich. Her article in the Spring 2004 (updated link forthcoming!) issue of Young Adult Library Services (YALS), “What Teens Want: What Libraries Can Learn From MTV” got me all fired up to do something about a subject near & dear to my heart: pop culture and how librarians can learn from it to make their public services better. Not more efficient, necessarily, just more current, more interesting, more appealing, more visible.
Pop culture is a huge part of what drives the public, young and old alike, to their libraries. They want to see their tastes & interests reflected in our collections and in the programming we deliver. They want to see that we take their interests seriously, that we have books about late NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, that we’ve installed Jay-Z’s Black Album on our listening stations, that we circulate issues of YM, Martha Stewart Living, and Entertainment Weekly. If we don’t cater to those interests, we risk losing our audience, and with them, our relevance to the culture at large.
I’m not advocating that we relinquish our obligation to provide the highest quality services possible; I am advocating that we expand our notion of high quality service to include taking popular culture seriously. It’s incumbent upon us to give the people what they want. And it’s incumbent upon us to honor our heritage as stewards of cultural memory. Guess what? We can do both. I don’t know how, just yet, but I’m working on it.
And that’s what this blog is all about. It’ll be an ongoing exploration of the intersection of popular culture and libraries – a compendium of links to pop cult news, lists of suggested reading/viewing/listening, and discussion about how we can incorporate all this stuff, for lack of a better word, into great library service for people of all ages.
Welcome. I hope you’ll participate in the discussion.