Book Preview: How Do You Define Pop Culture?

The first in a series of snippets from the book designed, we freely admit, to encourage you to think about buying a copy, and to encourage conversations among our online & in-print readers about the topics we address in the book.

Although the book is now out there, in the world, and may even be winging its way toward you right this moment (if you are my Mom, who pre-ordered her copy months ago, because, well, she’s my Mom! I should live so long to do the same for my daughter), I don’t view it as final & complete all by itself. I am hopeful that the book will truly come alive (a la Frampton, only with better hair, and no cheesy vocoder) in real-world and online conversations, discussions, and arguments.

So, enough with the introductory remarks already! Here’s a taste from the book’s first chapter, Using Pop Culture to Connect:

We define popular culture very broadly: To us, pop culture is whatever people in your community are talking, thinking, and reading about. The breadth of this definition can be intimidating — after all, it includes everything! — but we think it will give you the flexibility to identify and meet the pop culture interests and needs of your particular community.


We also insist on this potentially challenging definition because we want to encourage you to see popular culture everywhere around you. By viewing the world through this lens, you open yourself and your library to an overwhelming abundance of possibilities.


When we present workshops on using pop culture in libraries,we like to emphasize that although pop culture is often associated with youth culture, it is not limited to the interests of any particular slice of the demographic pie. Although it’s natural to conflate pop culture with celebrity news, music, and movies, because pop culture magazines from InStyle to Entertainment Weekly to In Touch report on these areas regularly, this definition is too narrow. It ignores the great wealth of pop culture topics that lie outside of those areas regularly canvassed by Entertainment Tonight.


Because people are passionate about the aspects of pop culture that interest them most, these topics can be a powerful lure into the library, not only for your supportive veteran users,but also for those elusive and tantalizing non-library users.

So, what do you think? Does this feel like a definition of pop culture that you can put to work at your library? If not, how would you tweak it? Or would you throw it out & start all over?

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