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Friday Fiction: A Wild and Crazy Librarian

Runaway Bride Returns coverRunaway Bride Returns
Ridgway
2009

What happens in Vegas….

Now this one sounds fun! This time our featured librarian is not shy and virginal but actually cuts loose. Better yet, this time she is a library consultant and advocating a bookstore model for libraries (GASP!) She does sound wild. Who knows? Maybe one too many cocktails at a library conference led to some poor decisions.  Let’s imagine some librarians cutting loose dancing on tables with an unbuttoned cardigan and swinging a Baker and Taylor cat tote bag around. Now that is a party.

This book is a keeper and I think ALA needs to consider Vegas for a conference venue very soon.

Mary

Runaway Bride Returns - back cover

Runaway Bride Returns exerpt

18 Responses to Friday Fiction: A Wild and Crazy Librarian

  • Yes, that does sound like a different take on the librarian image.
    So is her view on “neighborhoods” all that radical? Does it make sense? As a nonlibrarian, I’m curious.

  • Oh yeah! Wild librarians ,fantasy comes true, however in my local library I just can’t see it. Even my imagination can’t conjure up one of them running off to Vegas and getting married to an almost stranger.

  • @Fraser: I think it is starting to spread to more libraries now. These libraries are usually characterized as “dewey-less libraries” where common subject matter is placed together as opposed to being put in order by dewey number (though the point of dewey is to do the same exact thing, but this way patrons are looking for the subject as opposed to a number). The problem comes when you have items that could be classified in more than one subject, for example does a book that has decorating and recipes in it go with the decorating section or the cookbook section. Some are a bit more complex than that.

    “It was what labeled her as a rebel in bibliophile circles”: bibliophiles are a tough crowd, and to be a rebel to those circles must make one pretty tough.

  • ALA Annual is in Las Vegas in 2014! Time to volunteer for a committee with 2 year terms!

  • Jamison, thanks. We had that problem in the bookstore where I used to work and grouped things by subject. Is it easier with Dewey?

  • In the DFW area, the only library I’m aware of that groups in “negihborhoods” is Haltom City’s. Personally I don’t like it, increases the search time, but that may be because I’m so familiar with the Dewey for my favorite subjects.

  • @Fraser: If there is one phrase that predominates this field, it’s “it depends.” Dewey allows for a lot more flexibility in terms of more diverse subjects, but it depends on the library. Where I work, I usually use a shorter form of the number that has been attached to an item (small collection, not a big need for diversity). Also, since I’ve gotten to know the numbers pretty well, I find it easier in that regard as well. But, I can see from a patron/customer point of view that it may be easier to go by subject, especially when some of the subject headings used in catalogs are not ones that patrons are used (cooking used to be under cookery). So, once again, it depends.

  • There’s a few libraries in our county that have adopted the bookstore model, and one that I know is thinking of it. I think I’ll try to find this one, it looks like fun!

  • I like Dewey better. Except for Fairy Tales. Then it’s a pain in the tuchus. Those should be grouped together by type instead of having that long string of numbers.

    I don’t see why some people have such a hatred of dewey. It’s so easy. I know if I want a cookbook I just go to the 600s. Music and sports – 700s. History and travel guides – 900s. Then it’s easy to narrow down from there.

  • @Fraser: The bookstore style of organization makes it easier to find large, general subjects, but more difficult to find more specialized topics. For example, you might have a section on astronomy with five books about Pluto. In a bookstore, those five books would be scattered through the astronomy section based on the author’s last name. In a library, all five books would be grouped together (although there might be some outliers. A biography of Claude Tombaugh would probably be of interest to someone reading about Pluto, but be would shelved in a slightly different location.)

    You could solve that problem by breaking the books up into smaller “neighborhoods,” but that starts you down a road that will just end with you reinventing the Dewey Decimal System. And when you get right down to it, the two establishments have completely different rationales behind their organization. A library wants you to find the specific book you’re looking for as quickly as possible. A bookstore wants to get you in the general area of a book you’re interested in and then encourage you to browse through a bunch of other titles you might want to pick up while you’re there. A properly organized bookstore will include as much vagueness as they can get away with without actually making their customers mad, because browsing drives sales.

    I’ve never really understood the need to completely do away with the DDC to create the same feel as a bookstore’s organization. Since the current system already groups books together with similar subjects, it seems like an issue of signage more than anything.

  • As a bookstore veteran, I disagree on vagueness (only worked one store though, so it may be different elsewhere): The more specific we can get, the less we have to help customers find things, or play “guess where?” when shelving.
    On the other hand, making things microspecific also confuses people who are looking in “self help” by author’s name instead of the subcategory “self-help–children of alcoholics” by author’s name.
    This conversation has made me realize that while I browsed by Dewey back where I used to live, I almost always get the Dewey numbers off the Internet now that I’m in a bigger city–the library’s so much huger, browsing would take forever.

  • And here I go into book stores and wish they were in Dewey like the library! But that’s what being a veteran page will do to a person, I swear I see call numbers in my sleep.

    @Jami: The library I work at keeps the (children’s) fairy tales at the end of the picture books, just because no one thinks to browse for them in non-fiction. Much easier, until someone from a different branch is filling in and messes it all up!

  • Well, our fairy tales collection includes both for children and adults – so putting them in the picture books wouldn’t help. It would be nice for the kid’s stuff to put them together like “All Cinderella Types”, “All Snow White Types”, etc because many cultures have tales that are very similar.

    Really though, Dewey is far superior to the book store/neighborhood organisation.

  • Isabella went home to her cats!

  • I still have an abiding fondness for LCCN from my years at university/as a university tech services aide, but Dewey works, more or less. All cataloging systems work “more or less”, which is the point – to codify and standardize one system so that things are at least consistent. “Neighborhoods of related subjects” would just seem to be asking for trouble because everybody sees different relationships between subjects and what seems to be a completely logical connection to one person may be bewildering to another.

  • I happen to know of a certain state library association that was banned from holding its conventions at a specific hotel because of things that went on there one year during their state convention. But I will never tell.

  • “to help modernize their services, increase their ease of use and popularity…interest seemed to kindle…”
    I see what you did there!

  • Again, I really wish guy-brarians had this much fun. Ooooh Baker & Taylor plus cocktails = lots of exciting graduate level books!