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.


Bringing Your Expertise to Pop Culture

While I've been a fan of Project Runway, I've been a casual one until this cycle. Part of that is because Carlie and I have a standing date to IM during the show, so we can share our moments of "Genius!" and "What the hell?". Our snark doesn't compare to that at Project Rungay, but we have fun.

It's been interesting to discover how I watch Project Runway, though. I sew a little; I'm not anywhere near good enough to be able to sew something without a pattern, but I know the basics and I know enough to tell when something's been put together well. And I have to say, this cycle's contestants are a disappointment to me, with most garments being badly fit, poorly sewn, or both. One of my shining moments was criticizing the construction of an outfit, and having Michael Kors say the same thing within a minute of me typing it to Carlie.

Yet even though I have some knowledge that makes me watch the show differently, it doesn't affect my enjoyment of the show. After all, I can't do what the designers do. There's been other occasions where my knowledge doesn't let me enjoy something. When a TV show or a movie features librarians, or has a character baking, or is set in Tudor England, and they don't get it right in my opinion, I'm usually pulled right out of the entertainment. I know that sometimes facts are pushed to the background, for the sake of the story, but I still get distracted by my thoughts of "But that's not right!"

Thankfully, I'm not as bad as the woman discussed in this blog post, who can't get any enjoyment out of the Olympics since she was an elite gymnast until she was injured. Because I sew a little, I get more enjoyment out of Project Runway, all the while being aware that I'm not skilled enough to achieve what any of those designers can achieve. And that's okay; it's fun to feel like an expert, even if I'm not really.

As a side-note, why isn't there a Project Runway book, to help me learn how to be a better sewer or how to design clothes? Nina Garcia has a book, Tim Gunn has a book (and a TV show of his own, for that matter). Simplicity has a line of Project Runway patterns, so you can sew clothes that mimic looks seen on the show. But I'm surprised that there isn't a tie-in non-fiction title.

Until they create such a title, I guess I'll be an armchair designer, sharing my thoughts with Carlie and enjoying the show. Maybe you have a TV show that you watch like this--might this be a springboard for something library-related? Hype a class in basic sewing by advertising to Project Runway wannabes. Have a realtor talk about how to sell your house, highlighted with what not to do, drawn from the shows on HGTV. Something as simple as a display, called What Not to Wear, could be done to highlight your fashion and style books, the ones that you think are the best. The sky's the limit when you bring together pop culture and your own personal knowledge.



  • At 1:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm a super huge fan of PR and a librarian in DC. Tim has recommended in several interviews the Reader's Digest Guide to Sewing, and let me tell you, it's INVALUABLE! It covers all kinds of information from fabric choice, to thread tension and hand stitches.

    FYI: I was at Michael's Crafts and there is a line of Project Runway Paper Dolls. It's so cute!

  • At 12:24 PM, Blogger Becker said…

    The Denver Public Library did its own version of Project Runway--Frock Out Denver: http://denverlibrary.org/programs/scene/frock.html. It was a HUGE success, and hopefully will be repeated in the future!


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