Submitter: This book would be out-of date at any library, but at our library, it’s both out of date and out-of sync with patron demographics. We are a bilingual private school in the Persian Gulf. The vast majority of our students are Arab, although we also have some students of South or Southeast Asian descent and a scant handful of students with at least one parent from Europe or North America. A book that assumes most readers’ names can be traced to medieval Britain would be out-of-touch with the naming practices even in very WASP-y U.S. communities. In a school where we have scores of Mohammeds and Ahmeds,and not one student named David, this seems utterly irrelevant. Apparently, the kids agree; the book hasn’t been checked out since 1986.
Holly: It definitely looks like something out of the 60s! The little white children on the cover are the first clue to its irrelevancy in your particular library. How on earth did it end up there in the first place?
Submitter: I found this book while weeding in my public library’s psychology section. It seemed so innocuous at first. I pulled it off my cart and thought the cover was a bit dated (for good reason, it had apparently been hanging out at our branch for over 20 years!), but that it had a topic that would appeal to lots of patrons. Then, I opened it up… and couldn’t decide whether it was laughable or horrific. The unfortunately-named Dr. Crook’s main memory device is to pair a person’s face and name together with a concrete image. So, for example, if you meet someone new named Tony, you immediately picture his face on a Tony Award. This is such an odd image that you’re supposed to have no trouble picturing it and remembering Tony’s name the next time you bump into him. That all sounds reasonable enough… until the author illustrates just what he means on the next pages. For once, big hair isn’t the scariest thing going on in these photos. (Let me just say, I’m glad my name isn’t Helen.) This is probably a useful technique, but there are lots of books on improving memory out there. It didn’t make it back onto our shelves.
Holly: Dr. Crook! Ha ha ha!! Of course, my 12-year-old boy brain went straight to “what if their name is Dick?” I’m not drawing THAT on the poor kid’s face in the yearbook! Hey, people, I know LOTS of people legitimately named Dick!
Shame on me.
Submitter: Baby name books can provide for hours of fun and a whole variety of drinking games. I love them as much as the next 27-year-old single librarian. But like any good thing, even baby name books can go bad. This one has gone as bad as that carton of cream you left in the back of your fridge. Hilarious in its breadth of pigeon-holing children and marginally offensive in how it tries to get you to pre-define your kids, this book might not be “the very best baby name book ever”.
Holly: This book has some seriously weird lists. I wouldn’t necessarily weed it…but I wouldn’t necessarily have BOUGHT it, either!