I've been saying it for years--if you want to get more people into your library, use sex to do it. As a recent article in American Libraries cleverly puts it: "Sex sells."
Private Internet viewing booths, infoporn literacy, strippers, Penthouse in the children's section--I've recommended all of these initiatives to make the library more popular. Some people object to this sort of stuff in the library, but not librarians. They know that everything that's "constitutionally protected" speech deserves to be in the library.
I'm glad to see that the other AL is catching up with me. Sure, plenty of librarians love porn in the library, but they tend to be the public librarians, the ones who think the First Amendment goes like this:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and view publicly subsidized pornography in their local library."
But now an academic library is jumping on the "sex @ your library" bandwagon. Some librarians at Penn State Altoona joined the fun of some campus sex thing and started passing out condoms with the library's name on it. If you don't believe me, just check out page 60 of the most recent American Libraries to see pictures of condoms with little stickers on them saying "Eiche Library Facts you Need Between the Covers." How risque!
Some people expect academic librarians to be all intellectual and stuff, to portray the library as a place to study and learn, but not those librarians at Penn State Altoona. Nope, they make the library out to be a place to come have sex. And I bet it will work, too. Now all those undergraduates will think of the library as they're about to get down to business. Heck, maybe they can get down to business in the library (or should I say @ the library) and scatter those condom packages all over the stacks.
We might ask why would a group of librarians do something so vulgar, but the answer is obvious. It's to fight the stereotypes, of course. We don't want a stereotype of a librarian who knows a lot about academic research. What a boring stereotype. "In marketing sessions," we're told by the authors of the article, "librarians are encouraged to shed their profession's stereotypical image and make the library 'sexy.'" That might be true, and it would explain why I don't attend marketing sessions. However, I think the authors might have misunderstood the use of those quote marks around "sexy." "Sexy" doesn't mean sexy. To make the library "sexy" doesn't mean one should invite people to have sex in the library or identify the library in the user's mind with sex. It's a metaphor, but they seem to have taken it literally.
Still, what's more "sexy" than sex?
In addition to passing out condoms with the library's name on it, they also set up a computerized sex quiz and displayed books about sex from the library. This is sort of like infoporn literacy. Exciting stuff! And then it gets even better:
"In keeping with the book theme, we also used the ALA Graphics Read CD to create glossy, color bookmarks highlighting the general call number areas of sex-related library materials--RG133 Contraception, RC200 STDs, and HQ12-440 Sexual Life."
Yay! Maybe next they can create some of those "READ" posters with Ron Jeremy or Jenna Jameson holding their favorite books over their naughty bits. That would be fun! That would make the library "sexy"!
Some of us librarians are trying to do a good job and impress the students and professors as knowledgeable professionals. But that might lead to a stereotype of librarians as serious, intelligent, educated, and professional. What a tragedy! Fortunately, we have librarians like those at Penn State who want to turn the library into a sex joke with students. Hey, we're librarians and we know things about sex! We're cool! That way the librarians can be seen as the trained monkeys they sometimes are, dancing and grinning like mad trying to curry favor in any way they can. That's a much better stereotype!
So, Penn State, you've got the condoms with your library name on them and you've got infoporn literacy. Next, you need private Internet viewing booths and strippers. Since you like passing out condoms so much and consider that appropriate behavior for librarians, why don't you go ahead and be your own strippers. Nothing brings people to the library faster than the thought of naked librarians.