Books & Butchers
“If you can butcher a hog in a library, then all sorts of other things become possible,” says Sean Casserley in a Wall Street Journal article by Owen Fletcher (1/8/13). Sean is a county librarian for Overland Park, Kansas, where the Central Resource Library recent featured “a hog-butchering demonstration to about 100 people in an event advertised as ‘Books and Butchers.’” The library is one of many expanding its portfolio of offerings — “some have hosted demonstrations on blacksmithing and fly fishing,” for instance.
The Des Plaines, Illinois public library hosts “biweekly Nintendo Wii bowling competitions for seniors.” The district library in Chelsea, Michigan offered comedy shows that were so successful that its director, Bill Harmer, “is setting up a national tour of standup comics, trying to turn public libraries into new venues rivaling comedy clubs.” Other libraries feature rock ‘n’ roll, with acts such as Harry and the Potters, which has “played nearly 300 shows in libraries since 2004 with songs like ‘Voldemort Can’t Stop the Rock,’ and other tunes in the key of Harry Potter.”
Still other libraries are expanding their appeal by “lending out telescopes, musical instruments and electricity monitors.” Michael Gorman, formerly of the American Library Association, is not a fan of such diversification, saying he hopes libraries don’t turn into “a type of cooking-class meeting place with computers attached and no books.” However, librarians say the attractions are paying off, and indeed “attendance at public library programs rose 29 percent from 2004 to 2010, as overall visits to libraries also rose,” according to the Institute of Museum and Library Services.