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A Library Fling for Spring

At Lamont, librarians played matchmaker for students and books.

Spring Fling with a Book at Lamont

March 24, 2015—This spring break, Harvard patrons had a new avenue to find their latest literary love via the “Spring Fling with a Book” display at Lamont Library.

Inspired by public libraries’ “Blind Date with a Book” initiatives around Valentine’s Day, curating librarians wrapped dozens of books in brown paper and set them on prominent display near the Lamont circulation desk. No titles or author names were visible, but librarians anonymously wrote short, personal descriptions of the volumes on the paper wrappings to pique patrons’ interest and aid in an informed yet spontaneous selection.

Since the books were barcoded on the outside of the wrapper, patrons could unwrap to discover the titles whenever they liked, timing out their own surprises.

“We thought spring break might be a better time for students to be interested in leisure reading, nothing too heavy,” said Joshua Parker of Access Services. “But we were blown away at how popular it was and how much people really seemed intrigued.”

Many of the titles on display were selected from the Farnsworth Room, which houses Harvard’s leisure reading collection in Lamont and is supported by a group of interested staff drawn from a variety of units. Around ten staffers from the Farnsworth Group, Access Services, and other departments participated in the selection of the 34 titles in the Spring Fling display, which showcased the variety of the collection as whole and included fiction and nonfiction.

“We have a lot of graphic novels and comics and I wanted to raise the profile of that collection,” explained Paul Hanna. “It’s been pretty quiet, but it was cool to see how quickly the books came off the shelves.”

As of Thursday last week, over half the Spring Fling selections had been checked out. (Parker’s selections included The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen, S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst, and The Rook by Daniel O’Malley.) While the display ended with the student vacation, the group is already looking forward to future themed displays, possibly around banned books, and to continuing to bring a spark of adventure to students’ literary lives.