My Local Branch Library and Tila Tequila

I stopped into my branch library at lunch today. They are a newer branch, about five years old and their book collection is not the best for which one might hope. I was specifically looking for business books by W. Edward Deming and Peter Scholtes to read during my coming trip. Unfortunately the Scholtes book is only available in electronic format and there are only 2-3 copies of Deming’s famous book, Out of the Crisis, which I would have to order from another branch.

So I wandered over to the new arrivals shelf to see what was in. Now this branch doesn’t have many of the classics available, only a couple of shelves tops of childrens books, and good non-fiction can also be quite scarce. But I was thrilled to see that they did have a new copy of Tila Tequila’s Hooking Up With Tila Tequila.

I’ve not yet heard that Ms. Tequila is up for a Nobel Prize in Literature, but I’m sure that announcement can’t be far off. There must be a reason that the West Tampa Regional Library has a copy of “Hooking Up” and not Jean-Paul Sartre’s “The Age of Reason”. Nor does it contain a copy of Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” or “East of Eden”.

There is no copy of Solzhenitsyn’s “The Gulag Archipelago”. No copy of Marquez’s “Love in the Time of Cholera”. No copy of Grass’s “The Tin Drum”. No copy of Mann’s “The Magic Mountain”.

Lewis’s “Elmer Gantry”? Nah. O’Neill’s “The Iceman Cometh”? No, sir. Buck’s “The Good Earth”? Nada. Eliot’s “Four Quartets”? Not on these shelves. Faulkner’s “A Fable”? No thanks. Heller’s “Catch 22”? Not that I could find.

To be fair, all of these books are available somewhere in the system. I can go there, or go on-line, and order them, then pick them up later. But, for me at least, a library is a place to go and discover new books. I can look at author’s I know and discover a work I’d not read before. Or something that catches my fancy at the moment. I should be able to lift a book and read the jacket and be inspired to take it home. While Ms. Tequila’s dusk jacket was certainly eye-catching, and would have perhaps been an item that my 13 year old self might have liked to check out for some of it’s visual qualities, I feel we are in a sad state when I can find 11 copies of her book, at the main and local branches of the Hillsborough County (Tampa) library system, but can’t find any of the above on my local shelf.

When I asked a librarian why this was, she said “That’s what people ask for”. She could not enumerate who these folks are, just that there is a selection committee somewhere that makes these choices. Maybe they think this garbage will pull kids in, and maybe it will. Or it might attract a certain sub-set of adult males. Still I cry for our society when that is the choice that we make.

You should make some requests of your own. Sounds like they need some fresh input.

I bet Tila Tequila gets checked out more than Sartre. Though that really just pushes the pitting back one level to pit the people who would rather check out Tila Tequila than Sartre.

And how many times has Sartre won The Soup’s Entertainer of the Year Award, huh? When did Heller ever guide anyone to “Love, Fame, Happiness, Success, and Being the Life of the Party?”

Literature isn’t even trying to get my attention. Maybe they could try to do some sort of tie-in with Brawndo…

They do have objective measures of how popular stuff is, such as their circulation figures. So the chief acquisitions librarian can see that each of the 10 copies of Tila Tequila circulated x times in the first few weeks in the library, while the last time a book by Jean-Paul Sarte circulated was back 5 years ago.

The other thing is that shelf space costs money too. (It’s the costs of the building, including maintenance costs). So they can’t afford to keep all the older books in the library, including all 10 copies of last year’s bestsellers as well as Sartre’s oeuvre, because if they did there would be no room for the new books.

I think you don’t understand what a public library is and is supposed to do.

Enlighten me.

They actually invented Napster.

Look, if Heller or Sartre had included a hot, slutty asian bisexual they would stock more copies. They didn’t, so we have to make do with Tila.

Getting upset because some books that you would like to see are not available makes sense to me.

Getting upset because some books that you are not interested in are included does not. I’m sure that there are plenty of people who would like to read Tila Tequila’s book. Just because you don’t want to read it doesn’t mean that nobody else does. If you are looking for a book that isn’t on the shelves, tell the circulation desk. Most libraries I’ve used have taken those suggestions seriously. I think I was personally responsible for 5 or 6 titles being added to the Seattle Public Library’s shelves, when we lived there.

As for the idea that we should all be reading Sartre and Solzhenitsyn instead of some pop-culture fluff of the week, I respectfully invite you to kiss off. Sometimes I like reading classic literature that is dense and heavy with ideas and stretches my mind. Sometimes I want to read Mr. T’s autobiography. So what?

I OWN Sartre. I go to the library for stuff I won’t re-read (or that I want to read when it first comes out, and if I like it I will pick it up in paperback).

True story: I read Ric Flair’s autobiography cover to cover. It was absolutely horrible… or terrific. I forget which.

It’s not some sort of lofty repository for Great Literature. It’s an institution that serves the public. That includes making classic literature available–and your library does that–and it includes keeping things that people want in stock.

I’m sure that one of our many librarians will be along shortly to elaborate.

I’m getting Stoid flashbacks when I’m envisioning you asking the librarian why Tila’s there instead of Jean-Paul. :stuck_out_tongue: Take a look at ALA Journal, and you’ll see some of the information that the people who make the selections use.

For clarity, I listed those titles as extreme examples. I could list thousands or millions of books that I’d rather see. In a budget constrained environment I’d rather people get their Tila Tequila from the Barnes & Noble or the local porn shop and have some real books in the library, even if it’s dross like Twilight. Not every book in the library needs to be award winning, but do they have to put brain numbingly stupid stuff in when they can’t afford to keep classic literature on the shelves?

In fairness, Tila Tequila’s breasts are much nicer than John Paul Sartre’s.

But you said that they do have classic literature on the shelves, just maybe not every single title at your particular branch. Maybe not every single branch of the library has a copy of the Tila Tequila book, either.

While the Tila Tequila book isn’t to your liking, it’s still a “real” book and likely something someone asked the library to get. And it can equally be said that people who want to read so called “real book” classic literature could go to Barnes & Noble and buy it.

The public library is there for ALL of the public.

I don’t know about OP’s library system, but ours is hooked up to dozens of other libraries and if my local one doesn’t have something I’m looking for, I can usually get it from one of the others. I just put in a request and the library staff handles it. I pick it up and return it to my local library.

You might need to seek Simone de Beauvoir’s opinion on that: I don’t think Jean Paul bared his breasts for everyone.

Well, people read brain numbingly stupid stuff and not classic literature.

And she’s quite correct. It might suck that people aren’t asking about those other books you think are great but that’s not what a lot of the public likes. The library is there to serve the public and they have to balance the needs of serving those while simultaneously making sure that other titles respected by our more erudite members of society are also available. That’s why you’ll find more copies of Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire than you will of Tobias Smollett’s The Adventures of Roderick Random.

No reason to put this in the Pit. This would make a perfectly valid GD topic. <insert Pit-worthy swear words here>