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.

2007-02-06

Sports Matter Again

To follow-up on Susan'searlier post, I wanted to make mention of last weekend's sporting event. To back up Susan's point that sports are important to your patron's, Superbowl XLI was the third-most-watched television show in US history.

Note that I didn't say third-most-watched Superbowl or sports program, it's television show. It ranked behind the 1996 Superbowl between Dallas and Pittsburgh and the M.A.S.H. series finale (#1 watched show of all time). Yikes. That's a lot of people watching one thing. You could probably figure that a number of people who didn't watch the game were working, but I bet a lot of them did what I did and listened to the game on the radio. I've only been in Iowa for a week, but this game was huge for people out here. Iowa has no professional sports teams, and many people are Chicagao Bears (less than 3 hours away!) or even Indianapolis Colts fans (only 5 hours away!). The results of the game have been all over the media, the grocery stores, even in the stacks. I suspect people will be talking about the game through the weekend.

What does this mean for your library? Could you feasibly host a Superbowl event and show the game at your library? I'm not sure if there's licensing to worry about for the game, but you could do something like Princeton Public did with the World Cup this last year. Would people want to leave their homes to come out to the library to watch the game? Maybe. If you offered food (the YA librarians are nodding their heads) and drink (soft drinks people, be realistic) that would be a start. You could also offer 'gambling' by having prizes--such as free movie rentals if you charge, or gift certificates, or no late fees for a month, or something--for final score (you could make one of those popular Superbowl grids) and other things related to the game. You could have football computer games in the library pre-show as a warm-up for the crowd. There are football throwing games that I've seen in sports bars that I'm sure could be rented for a half-time competition.

What about the rest of you? Anyone want to throw a Superbowl party at their library?

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2007-01-22

Sports Matter

Before I changed careers to become a librarian there was one thing I could count on every Monday morning and Friday afternoon—someone would be talking about weekend sports around the water cooler. But since I became a librarian, first in an academic library and then in a public library, I noticed that my colleagues rarely mentioned the “F” word, by which I mean “Football”. This morning as I was weeding old magazines and journals at home I came across an issue of Booklist from 6/1/06 and 6/15/06 in which columnist Will Manley of The Manley Arts: The Worried Librarian writes, “In my role of chief worrier of the world, it’s important for me to avoid worrying about trivial things. For instance, I don’t care who wins the Super Bowl or the World Series. I will leave the worries of spectator sports to those who have a psychological need to assign some sort of cosmic meaning to games involving balls of various shapes and sizes.”

Fellow Librarians, this kind of attitude is a difficulty. It is especially important to care about sports if you are attempting to attract male readers. According to research from Neilsen Sports “over 60% of American households say that they have a football fan”. When I worked as a youth services librarian I once asked some middle school boys to help me make a book display. They were unenthusiastic until I told them I wanted to do a display about sports. Their eyes lit up and they buzzed about in the stacks selecting books “that kids would like about basketball, football, hockey…” When I was a young adult librarian the books I put on display about sports flew off the shelves. Sports books displays work.

February is Super Bowl time and also the beginning of Black History Month. Yesterday in the NFC and AFC title games history was made as two African-American head coaches go to the Super Bowl for the first time, Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears and Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts (Read more at Superbowl.com). Create a book display. And if you are a night-owl there is some fantastic tennis going on down under at the Australian Open, live on ESPN2 in the wee hours of the morning. Perhaps create a display featuring books about the country of Australia, tennis and Australian writers?

Even if you are a librarian who does not care about sports (and I know there are many librarians who do care about sports) bear in mind that many of your patrons are sports fans.

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