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.


TV Series Finale Round-Up

A tart, comprehensive chaser to Melissa's post about what's to come next season on TV may be found here.

A rant about our present conception of a television "season": When, oh, when will American TV switch to the much saner, viewer-friendly, rerun-free year-round endless season of BBC-style programming? We keep getting little tasty teasers of such a world via HBO, which will roll out new seasons of shows like Entourage and Deadwood when the current one of The Sopranos ends in June. The BBC does the same thing -- as the final series of Little Britain winds down, a new series of The Thick Of It winds up. It's brilliant.

I love this model, because:
  • There's always something new and interesting to see;
  • By producing seasons in 13-episode (or fewer!) blocks, a show's creative team can focus almost exclusively on story and character development (i.e., overall show quality), rather than on padding the story arc out over 22 episodes (and why is that the industry standard? Anyone? Comment below, please, if you know why);
  • No reruns, and no self-pitying moans about waiting for months and months for the next season of, say, Lost to start, because I'd be moving on to the next excellent show ABC is broadcasting.

CBS experimented, to wild successs, with this model when they debuted Survivor in June, 2000, and they smartly roll out new seasons of The Amazing Race throughout the year. Fox also had some success when it began airing my #1 guilty pleasure (and excellent source of music collection development ideas), The O.C., well before the typical mid-September rollout of shows.

This is one area, at least, where libraries are better than TV: we are constantly rolling out new items for our patrons to read, watch, and listen to, whether it's weekly, biweekly, and monthly titles in our magazine areas or multiple copies of the latest James Patterson thriller.

One lesson we could learn from the Up-fronts and from TV and movie previews, though? Letting our users know what's coming next. Ours is an accelerated culture, as Douglas Coupland once put it, and one thing we can do to help our users keep up is let them know when the latest titles from their favorite authors will be forthcoming. We can mine this information from Publisher's Weekly, and other review periodicals, or from bulletins we receive from publishing houses, movie studios, and record labels, and then repackage it in a Coming Soon bulletin.

This doesn't have to be fancy -- just copy & paste the information into a blog entry, create a quick Publisher file and post it at your main service points, and create a briefer version (say, the Top 5 titles in books, DVDs, and CDs) as a bookmark to hand patrons when they check out their materials. This is one way we can use our skills as information hounds to ease the burden on our users, saving them time (Oh, how Ranganathan would love it!) and improving access to materials.


  • At 2:38 PM, Blogger melissa said…

    I love the idea of a Coming Soon bulletin--it would help patrons so much with staying on top of things. My branch currently does something like this for upcoming books, but it'd be nice if we included DVDs!

    And I agree with you, I wish American TV worked more like the BBC. At least we know that next year, ABC will be running Lost in blocks, so we won't be driven mad with repeats, or even worse, lose interest and decide to wait for the box set.

  • At 5:04 PM, Blogger Sophie Brookover said…

    Yay, blocks of Lost! I think ABC made a big mistake this season and alienated quite a few viewers by assuming that because we love the show so much, we'd put up with endless repeats. Not so, network suits!

    I'm glad they're shifting to blocks of episodes, but if they're taking this step, then why not a non-stop season of this jewel in their crown, a la 24? It just seems like a natural step to me.


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