Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.


MTV Music Video Award Nominations

MTV announced the 2005 Video Music Award (VMA) Nominations yesterday. Pop-punk band Green Day led the field with eight nominations, including Video of the Year, Best Group Video, and Viewer's Choice. Other lead nominees included Gwen Stefani, whose first solo album, Love Angel Music Baby (which not at all coincidentally the name of her clothing & accessories line as well -- can you say cross-branding, everyone?) has yielded 4 hit singles so far, and awards favorite Missy Elliot with six nominations for "Lose Control", the first single off her new album. Sean "P. Diddy" Combs will host the August 28th Awards Show from Miami.

So, what does this mean for libraries? Plenty! The VMA list is arguably more important than the list of Grammy nominees, for a couple of reasons. First, this is a list of nominees who are doing truly interesting and often innovative things with their video sales pitches. The video for Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (which is for my money, one of the best pop songs of the last year, whipsawing between lonesome melancholy and authentic rage) is a mind-bending thing of beauty. For every piece of vapid eye-candy nominated, there's at least one piece of fascinating short-film genius. Second, the VMA nominees represent a more accurate cross-section of what a huge demographic of this country is listening to and watching. If that's not a mandate for collection development, I don't know what is.

So, take a look at the complete list of nominees. Like all nomination lists, it's long and a bit daunting at first, but read it with a view towards seeing what names crop up again and again -- these are acts that dominate MTV's daily call-in video request show, TRL, week after week, which means that they are acts that your library users, ages 10-16 or so (this age range will skew younger & older, depending on your community's listening habits), love to listen to. Therefore, they are bands whose CDs you should offer in your collection. You probably buy Coldplay, U2, and The White Stripes for your adult users, so apply the same criteria for your younger users. They want & deserve their Green Day, Kelly Clarkson, Usher, and so on. Check your library's catalogue and see what you already have; then see what else you can afford to buy.

If you don't already have a budget line for tween & teen popular music, beg or borrow money from other budget lines to start a small collection, and then promote the heck out of it: in conversation, on your library's website, in newsletters. I cannot keep most of my Teen Music collection in its browser -- it always looks sad & picked over because it is (well, not sad, but certainly picked over), and this is a very good thing. These are items that earn their shelf space.

Next, think about hosting a VMAs party. This could be your last hurrah for your Teen Summer Reading Party, or you could consider it a warm-up to a bigger, multi-age-group extravaganza like an Oscars Party for next winter. Order some pizzas, haul out all of your music magazines and nominated artist CDs, display them attractively with all of your music-related books, hook up the TV, and away you go. If you don't have cable in your library (come to think of it, I don't think my library has cable), hold the party after the fact using a videotaped copy of the show. Or just start small with a tie-in display. Go at your own speed, but go, go, go!


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