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.


Gwyneth Paltrow, Your Library Director

A few months ago, the New York Times had an article, Martha, Oprah ... Gwyneth? on Gwyneth Paltrow's website Goop.

Ah, a chance for me to be snarky, I thought. I mean, Goop? From a person who named their child Apple? A person like Gwyneth telling a person like me how to live my life.... she has a personal trainer, a chef, a rock star husband, etc., etc. Because blogging and librarianship aren't in the same tax bracket as movie star, we don't have much in common.

Sophie rightly said to wait and read before unleashing my talents of critical discourse, er, snark.

So after briefly looking around the website and not getting why Gywneth is doing this, I signed up for the weekly email newsletter (also available at the website).


I still have no idea why Gwyneth is doing this. And it doesn't matter.

Because her newsletter is brilliant. And it's something that every library could, and should, be doing. Who knew? Gwyneth's Library Lessons could get added to her Goop website.

Once a week, the newsletter comes in my inbox. Each week, the topic is different: "See", "Do", "Make", "Be." There is a breezy, short, friendly intro from Gwyneth. Gwyneth doesn't hold herself out as the expert; so the main part of the newsletter is from others. This past week, it was "Party Jams", lists of songs to play at parties from various people in the music industry. Another week, "Five Minute Do-Overs", all DIY, by various make-up people.

Gwyneth isn't pretending to be the expert; she's bringing the experts to her readers.

And isn't that what libraries do? We are not the experts. But we help connect our patrons with information from experts, whether the information is found in our materials, or via the Internet, or from the programs we offer.

Why not use the Goop newsletter model for weekly library newsletters from the Library Director? Just as Gwyneth writes the intro, so, too, could your Library Director. Content can come from various people. Fitness tips from the health teachers and coaches at your local schools. Staff members could contribute favorite recipes from the books on your shelf. Health ideas from the local hospitals. Auto maintenance from local auto shops. Information on colleg applications from the local guidance counselors or college admissions people. With a wide variety of people contributing, no one person or department gets overwhelmed and burnt out with the responsibility. Keep it short and sweet, with a couple of library materials referenced, whether it's books, DVDs, games, or databases. And, like Goop, all also posted on the library website.

Yes, it would be easy to mock Gwyneth and Goop and the newsletter. But it's much more productive to be inspired.

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Congratulations, Melissa Rabey!

The 2009 YALSA Election Results have been announced; and Melissa Rabey is on the Printz! Congrats, Melissa!

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