So the soft launch was a little, well, soft.
It started off ok. I was the library’s first client, snagging this
I’m not sure what it is, but it seems to feature Shakespeare and death, which are two of my favourite things to read about.
Two other staff members also chose books.
One chose The Start-Up of YOU, the Linkedin-wide bestseller that promises to instil “a whole new entrepreneurial mindset and skill set.”
The other was convinced to go with A Complicated Kindness
Sadly, The Startup of YOU was returned unfinished at the end of the day. A Complicated Kindness is still out — I have higher hopes for that one.
After that, though, there was not exactly a flurry of activity, although I did hear that at least one group visited the cart. When I checked it out at 5 pm, some of the books had been rearranged — you can see here that The Heart is a Lonely Hunter has been moved to the top of the New Releases section — I am not sure how to interpret that.
However, the number of books appears to be the same.
We did receive two pieces of feedback, though.
One is that the students were reluctant to take books because they were worried there would not be any left for others. As someone who has stood behind very greedy people at breakfast buffets, I find this form of conscientiousness rare but laudable. However, in this case, students need to know that a) we have more books in the office and b) it would be really great if we did run out of books — then I would actually be able to sit on my sofa. I shall make a new sign to communicate this.
The other piece of feedback is that the cart is not good because books are not visible enough. While I would argue that a) the official Little Libraries do not offer great visibility either and b) the lack of visibility is an important aspect of the Little Library Experience in that it forces the subject to take a deliberate step to enter the library world by opening the door or drawer* — kind of Narnia-like. Unfortunately, I guess the field of Little Library Theory is not yet sufficiently developed for this argument , although LLT is a hot topic in the Journal of Radical Librarianship.
At any rate, the response to both of these comments might be to abandon the primary-colour library cart 😦 . Maybe I do need a home for the library that can contain more books and display them more effectively.
I am looking at other options, but I am being careful to avoid any item that is too expensive or purpose-built: for one thing, I am still recovering from The Summer I Spent $200 on Plasticine**; also, I feel that the little library should develop organically — it would be heavy-handed to introduce too serious a prop into what is essentially still a social experiment.
So I am exploring the wilds of Kijiji, an element of social media that was previously unknown to me. I now see that the world is full of things that are not quite exactly what I want at prices slightly lower than what I would pay in a store with the added benefit of doing business with a possibly homicidal stranger. However I realize that I must also exercise caution here, especially when it comes to geography. I remind myself that a $20 bookshelf bargain is no longer a bargain when it entails a trip to North Bay.
This next installment in the story may yield some unexpected adventures…
*Like vampires, except the other way round
** Admittedly, the Hypothetical Urban Prototype Models were beautiful, and the wire-clippers purchased in the same shopping frenzy come in handy surprisingly frequently.