Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.

2005-08-15

Is Posh Spice Welcome At Your Library?

Thanks to LISnews, I found this interesting article about Victoria Beckham, aka Posh Spice: Posh: I've Never Read a Book.

Let's ignore the "never" for now (seriously, not even Hop On Pop when you were 6?). And let's put aside that this is a snippet from an interview. And let's not go into her "autobiography": its not a secret that celebs don't write their own books.

This is your potential customer. Do you laugh at her at her? Do you talk about her behind your back? Or do you direct her to the things your library has that she has said she likes: "I prefer to listen to music, although I do love fashion magazines." Show her your popular music collection. Show her your magazines and explain what issues can be checked out. What about non-fiction books about fashion and couture?

And do you hear what she says about reading -- "I haven't got enough time" -- and conduct a respectful Reader's Advisory interview? Maybe she's unaware that books can be fun, and would be interested in a fictional behind the scenes, gossipy look at the fashion world, like The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger.

Or maybe her "not reading, preferring to listen" attitude is the key point of this conversation. Maybe she would be interested in your audiobook collection.

And maybe -- after you've listened to her, and shown her some suggestions, and been friendly -- maybe she'll come to the conclusion that the library is a welcoming place, even for someone who "never read a book." And she and her sons will come back for a visit.

It is highly unlikely that Victoria Beckham will show up at your library. But it is very likely that you have customers who, like Victoria, claim never to have read a book; not to have the time for reading; and who prefer music and fashion.

Is there a place at your library for them?

5 Comments:

  • At 10:37 AM, Anonymous walt crawford said…

    First-rate essay! Points all well made and worth taking.

     
  • At 3:53 PM, Blogger Sophie Brookover said…

    Yes, yes, yes! And: replace the word "fashion" with "sports" or "heavy metal" or "cars", and we already have lots of patrons like these. They're called teenaged boys. In this case, what's good for the underserved grown-up is good for the equally underserved teen. How well are we serving all of our non-reading patrons (or would-be, should-be, oughta-be patrons)?

     
  • At 7:22 PM, Blogger Chris said…

    Here's the thing - we try to show people who hate reading the magazines, but the current issue is AWOL and all that's here right now is months old and picked over with pages falling out. And, once you get done trying to explain your boring, inpenetrable CD filing system to this person (if their eyes have not completely glazed over)the CDs they want have a l-o-o-o-n-g waiting list or have long since walked away. What's wrong with smiling and saying I've got some great book recommendations if you're interested, here's the Internet, enjoy the free web surfing and air conditioning? Can we accept that maybe some people will always think we are unhip, and instead of desperately seeking approval, wouldn't it be cooler to say, look, we're here when you need us? I think it's great that we are trying to broaden our collections to appeal to more people. But we also need to understand that we can't be everything to everyone all the time.

     
  • At 8:49 AM, Blogger Chris said…

    I hope that previous comment did not sound too snarky. Maybe I was just tired. I stayed up late watching "Six Feet Under" and had fitful dreams all night about the cast - why did Claire die alone? Why wasn't anybody waiting for her? Anyway, I digress.
    I thought some more about my comment and was thinking that the thing that trips me up is that some people just do not like books. They have not bonded with books the way we librarians have bonded with books. We optimistically think that all we have to do is match the person with the book that speaks to their interests and passions. But they may just not be tuned into books at all. And we should not judge them for that. Maybe they associate difficult childhood experiences with books. Do you remember what torture it was for some kids to read aloud in class? Do you think they associate books with anything but humiliation? So let's be sure to push our other formats, but let's not assume that there is a book out there for everyone.

     
  • At 10:44 AM, Blogger Liz B said…

    Chris, I agree with so many of your points; both "but let's not assume that there is a book out there for everyone" and "But we also need to understand that we can't be everything to everyone all the time." My initial post was mainly in response to all the "victoria beckham is a moron and her children will be twits because she does't read" etc reactions. People who "don't read" and expect that condescending reation from libraries will never come thru the front door. You are right: we need to be equally welcoming to the person who will NEVER want a book. And we have to equally respect that person and be welcoming and not see them as "inferior" for NOT being "book people" and never being bp & being quite happy, and, yes, dare I say: well rounded. And smart. And productive. The guardian did an excellent article about this same point here.

     

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