Fried Chicken or Chicken with Vegetables? Or, What I Learned From Flavor Flav
Last weekend, Melissa and Carlie W. kidnapped me and forced me to watch the entire season of Flavor of Love in one day. (OK, I'm exaggerating on the kidnapped and forced part.)
By the end, I had discovered a valuable lesson for librarians. (No, not about how to be a reality TV contestant who wins the attention of Flavor Flav.)
Flav's favorite food is fried chicken; so one of the challenges for the ladies is to make fried chicken. They get the recipe and a kitchen with all the ingredients.
Some jumped right in and made the fried chicken. One made the chicken but tried to dress it up with orange slices. And another... she made chicken with vegetables. As Hottie* addressed the camera, she explained** that she was a great cook and had been raised a vegetarian, and that she would make chicken and vegetables for Flav. It was healthier. And she wouldn't fry the chicken, she would microwave it because it was healthier and more sanitary. So she did. And because her dish was better than fried chicken, it would win. Flav's reaction was "the hell?", because he didn't want chicken and vegetables; he wanted fried chicken.***
The moral of the story for librarians:
Do you give patrons what they want, or do you give them what you want to give them?
Our patrons not always as specific as Flav was, with his request and his recipe. But still, Hottie truly believed that she knew what was best, because she didn't listen. She was too caught up in the story in her head about doing what was best for Flav.
Do you not offer anime and manga, even when the teens want it and ask for it, because you don't like it and are not willing to argue for it's inclusion in the collection? Or, on the flip side, do you love anime and manga and plan some great programs, but the teens in your library are just not that into it?
Do you dislike fantasy so never include it in your booktalks to schools, even tho the fantasy books at your library don't stay on the shelf? Do you say your teens don't like fantasy, but if you looked at your circ statistics, would you discover it's the most popular genre at your library?
Is your library still debating whether or not to carry DVDs, even after patron after patron asks for it?
Is your priority still paperback copies of teen books, when the teens come in asking for the brand new hardcovers they see in the bookstore?
Did you hear about a totally cool program another library did -- say, doing a library version of Project Runway -- so jump into doing that program at your library? Did you find out if your patrons even watch Project Runway?
When planning a program, doing outreach, buying materials, ask yourself -- are you thinking of what the patron wants? Or are you thinking about what you want to provide?
You Know What Time It Is!
*Flav made up his own names for the contestants, apparently because of his memory problems. Tho why it's easier to remember New York and Pumkin instead of Tiffany and Brooke, I have no idea.
**Those who watched the show know that Hottie was always living in a world of her own and honestly believed that her world was the real world.
***In trying to be entirely honest, I should add that even someone who likes chicken with vegetables would have said "the hell" because all Hottie did was shove uncut vegetables into a whole raw chicken, sprinkle it with marshmallows, and nuke in the microwave for less than a minute, serving raw chicken and veggies to Flav.