Weird collecting

Brian Herzog’s re-cap of the re-defining libraries PLA conference lecture has got me thinking again about what it means to collect and how that benefits your user groups. Centralized libraries of course are obligated to collect materials from a wide range of subjects to offer the best of every discipline for their patrons. But what really brings the masses through the doors? Why, specialized collections, of course!

Understanding your community and it’s needs is essential to any business. Why should libraries act any different? Herzog gives a few key examples:

Seed library

San Mateo is a “food desert” so this encourages people to eat healthier. Partnered with a group called Collected Roots – they help people created a raised bed in their backyard, and teach them how to plant (all for free).

How it works

  • all seeds are donated
  • people write down what seeds they’re taking (comes with info on when and how to plant
  • people don’t need to return seeds (also don’t want seeds that have been cross-pollinated

Total cost to set up: $30 – seed boxes from IKEA ($3/3 boxes), a binder (library already had). Shelf to hold boxes was donated by local artist who built it from recycled wood.”

This is an amazing way to not only teach, but involve the patrons in the beautification of their own surroundings. What’s interesting as well are the possible patron reactions:

“What? Seeds at the library? I’ve GOT to see this.”

And there you have another person walking through your doors.

Here are some weird and wonderful collections that are found by simple Internet searching; most of them accurately representing the communities they serve:

Showgirl Collections-University of Las Vegas
Westerville (Ohio) Public Library– Anti Saloon League Museum and Prohibition collections
Duke University– Medial Library collection of glass eyeballs

Does your local library have any weird collections? What collections keep bringing you back to the library?


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