Interview ~ Awful Library Books Blog

Share the story behind the Awful Library Books blog. First, let me guess… Mary and Holly started as young intern librarians (is there such a thing?). But, Mary and Holly were no ordinary librarians. Oh no. Instead of the traditional shushing, they liked to play clever pranks on unruly library patrons. One day they went too far. How were they to know that the now shrieking-in-terror woman was the new wife of the mayor who was just putting the final touches together on the key to the city for the new library director? Poor Holly and Mary were sentenced to the basement archives where they were to sort the books that did not sell at the annual library surplus sale. And the rest is………

Oh, Kelly- I like this version so much more! Actually our story is very dull. Holly and I were presenting at a conference on collection quality. We always enjoyed old books or odd topics and shared a few titles. We were trying to make our point about keeping your collection current and useful. Some of these books do that just beautifully!

What are your favorite awful books?

I get new favorites all the time! We got such a chuckle out of Dee Snider’s Teenage Survival Guide. Holly is a huge metal fan. We also get such a kick out of titles like the History of Umbrellas or A Passion for Donkeys. There isn’t anything wrong with these books, they are just funny. I also keep wondering what went through the mind of the librarian when he or she was ordering this material. Did someone really say “hey we need a book about umbrellas”?

Do you have any favorite “differing opinions” stories? I.E. a disgruntled author.

Weeding is a tricky subject for any librarian. Each library is unique and has a certain character. One book might be awful for one library but perfectly useful for another. We have some great discussions on the merit of some books. Most often there is a problem with understanding the scope and mission of a particular library. For the most part public librarians are about information for current needs: popular reading material, homework help, basic research on a medical situation, resumes and cover letters. Preservation is way down on the list. Once in a while libraries will squeeze some budget and space for local history

As librarians who see book lovers day in and out…you must have some practical advice for our readers…feel free to share insight with authors who don’t want to be featured at Awful Library Books Blog?

Lack of research or fact checking can really annoy me and many of my big readers, especially if someone is familiar with the setting or situation. One voracious reader complained to me that an author went on and on about Grand Rapids, Michigan being in the Central time zone. (In case anyone cares, it is in the Eastern time zone) Reader told me she couldn’t get past that mistake and quit reading the book.

Share a few things you love about books, libraries and book folks.

Both Holly and I think librarianship is the best job out there. We geek out all kinds of books, databases and have a great time with the public. Even awful books are a hoot and make us smile.