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.


Patrick Jones Rocks My Socks

Yesterday, I attended the South Jersey Regional Library Cooperative's (SJRLC) annual Fall Membership Meeting. These events are always well worth attending -- in addition to the convivial atmosphere and opportunity to catch up with colleagues from around the region, SJRLC provides a fascinating workshop, as well. Two years ago, Richard Sweeney spoke about Millenials, and this year, YA services guru Patrick Jones was the guest and speaker of honor. Boy, was it an honor to hear him speak!

Patrick gave two rollicking, informative, and inspirational workshops: one called Reaching Reluctant Readers, and one entitled Moments of Truth (those are direct links to the PPT slides of his presentations, which Patrick has graciously allowed SJRLC to post to their blog.)

I scribbled several pages of notes in each of the two workshops, but I won't bore you with all of them. Here's a brief list of my biggest takeaways from the day, which are applicable no matter what age group you work with:
  • Know their names -- you must develop relationships with your teen users, and you can't do that if you don't know their names. Don't call them Young Adults. Don't call them Teens. Call them Caitlin. Call them Sean. Call them Shonda. Call them Carlos. Call them by their names.
  • The real job of a librarian is to make the community where you work a better place to live.
  • Remember, Accept, Project -- Remember what it was like to be fifteen, accept that a fifteen year-old can only act like a fifteen year-old, and project your memories of that mixed-up time to your young patrons through empathetic interactions with them.
  • Thank them for coming into the library -- every patron has a choice. They don't have to come to the library; they could have stayed home to play video games, or gone to the movies, or gone to work today. Instead, they decided to come to you. Thank them for stopping by, and ask them to come again. It's amazing what this little bit of positive reinformcement can accomplish.
  • Look at what got stolen last year, and replace it, before you buy anything else! Books that got stolen are proven success stories in your stacks. Show your users you value their opinions.

Some choice PJ quotes:

  • "I think it's really hard to entertain people in books." So go with what works more easily -- movies & CDs! -- and bundle them with related books when you can do so easily;
  • "Award stickers hurt relcutant readers and tell them 'this book isn't for you.'"
  • "Look at magazines as reading material, not as research material!" -- one of the best things Patrick ever did was to cut his book budget by 20% and pour that money into his magazine budget -- circ and in-library use of his collection skyrocketed immediately.
  • "The thing we always want kids to say is, 'I loved this book! Can you recommend another one just like it?'"

To say these workshops were inspiring really doesn't begin to cover it. This was a fangirl day par excellence for me. It was all I could do not to squee every other minute, seriously. Then again, that should come as not much of a surprise to anyone who read Mr. Inspiration, the interview with Patrick that ran in this August's issue of School Library Journal. Kudos to Patrick for being the living embodiment of Mary Poppins' spoonful of sugar (somehow he managed to serve up some stinging truths without once insulting his audience -- nicely done!), and many thanks to SJRLC for bringing such a wonderful speaker to New Jersey.


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