03 November 2008
BOOK REVIEW: POP GOES THE LIBRARY
Brookover, Sophie and Elizabeth Burns, Pop Goes the Library: Using Pop Culture to Connect With Your Whole Community, Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc., 2008, ISBN 978-1-57387-336-9, US$39.50, foreword by Erin Helmrich, Teen Services Librarian, Ann Arbor District Library, Michigan
Based on their blog, Pop Goes the Library, Brookover, a Library Media Specialist at Eastern Regional HS, Voorhees, NJ (and formerly Senior Teen Librarian, Camden County Library System, Voorhees) and Burns: head of Youth Services, NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped, Trenton and former lawyer, have created a wonderful guide to creating a library that will please and inspire your younger users.
In the introduction they write, “This book is about identifying and harnessing the power of your community’s pop culture.” (xvi) More of their mission comes from the blog’s manifesto: “We’re public librarians. We believe libraries can learn from and use Pop Culture to improve their collections, services, and public image. We love TV, music, the movies, comic books, anime, magazines, all things Net… you get the picture.” (xv) Even if you don’t work in a public library, you can learn from this book since we are all serving and marketing to the same people—and, increasingly, this means to younger people.
“To us, pop culture is whatever people in your community are talking, thinking, and reading about.” (3) Community can be the hospital, law firm, or organization you work for just as much as it refers to the people in a public library’s district. They encourage readers to talk to teens; they will be the future users of your library—public or special. They include a good section on trendspotting to help you become proactive, get ahead of the curve, and be prepared for the future. None of this is any good if you don’t tell your users of the new and exciting things you are doing, so there is a section on marketing. A long chapter is on information technology and stresses the importance of being at least somewhat IT literate, a problem many solos face. “Technology can both be pop culture in itself, and can be used in innovative ways to provide pop culture library services such as materials, programming, and outreach.” (112)
The biggest lesson Brookover and Burns make is that you shouldn’t work in isolation; use the combined talents and knowledge of your peers, management, and users to improve the library. One of the best features of the book is the Voices from the Field section at the end of each chapter. The “voices” are librarian responses to survey done by the authors in July 2007. There are three chapters and an appendix on programming, with a list of ideas month-by-month. Other appendices include websites and resources by chapter and a list of core pop culture resources for library professionals (e.g., print, web, video). There is an index. The book is supported by a web page with links to many of the resources in the book.
This is a great resource for any librarian, public or otherwise, who wants to bring a fresh approach to collection building and programming.
The blog: http://www.popgoesthelibrary.com
The book’s web page: http://www.popgoesthelibrary.com/popbook