National Libraries Day

Try Something New

I’ve been extra busy the last few days, which has left me far too exhausted to write anything for the blog until now. The current short-staffing at the library tipped into crisis when two people went sick at once, and I got called into the breach. To have a service so pared down just before National Libraries Day has put me in moods that have alternated between foul, exhausted, peeved and despairing – often within the same hour.

Today (Saturday 7th), was the day itself, and I set up the display you can see pictured here. One of my passions is to introduce people to new books and new authors, and with Valentine’s Day being so close, I decided to kill two birds with one stone: hence the Blind Book Date Service.

I encouraged my colleagues to pick out favourite books, and then wrapped those selections in plain thick paper from a store of offcuts I had out the back. A photocopy of each book’s barcode is taped to the front, along with a cryptic description. I’ve kept a spreadsheet of books just in case we get requests for any of them (and we have had one go to satisfy a reservation as of this morning).

A couple of quick tweets, and a lovely chain reaction of interest started, with books starting to slowly but surely leave the display, tucked in with people’s hauls of other books. I’ve put new, classic and well-loved books into the selection: Neil Gaiman, Wilbur Smith and Alan Bennett’s stories lie side by side with nonfiction accounts of walking the London Underground routes, unexpected owl adoptions and soldiers’ training memoirs.

I’ll be interested to hear people’s responses when they bring them back. It’s not an original idea by any means – plenty of libraries have done it before, and my parents enjoyed it when their local service did one – but it’s the first time we’ve done anything like it at our library, and people don’t quite know what to make of it. It’s certainly started some debates as people try to work out what the books are beneath their wrappers.

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