Librarians deal with it all the time: Patrons who wander in and approach the front desk in desperate search of a book, armed with little to no information about its actual title.
“It had a [something] in it,” people might say.
Or, more frequently, “I think there was a [something] on the cover.”
These inquiries may be difficult to solve. But they also inspired staff members at the Framingham Public Library this month to assemble a cart that takes a playful potshot at such befuddled book lovers.
Positioned in the fiction section is an array of books that happen to have red covers. A sign above it says “I Don’t Remember the title, but the cover was Red.”
To the library’s surprise, the slightly-sarcastic book arrangement teasing bewildered bibliophiles has seemed to resonate with both readers and librarians. An innocent picture of the display posted to Twitter this week by one of the library’s workers has gone viral, amassing accolades from tens of thousands of people and working its way onto BuzzFeed and Mashable. As of Thursday afternoon, the tweet had been shared more than 43,000 times.
“I think we aren’t really sure how it exploded, but you know how these things are,” said Lena Kilburn, Framingham Library’s assistant director. “It had the right look to get a lot of attention, I guess.”
The original tweet said, “When libraries troll their patrons,” and included a picture of the display.
But Kilburn said there was no malice behind the concept; the library often comes up with quirky ideas for how to best merchandise what they have on the shelves.
“We have some really creative staff members who thought it would be a fun way to showcase books that wouldn’t otherwise be found or discovered,” she said.
In the case of the now-viral book display, she said it gives people a glimpse into the lives of librarians, and the types of questions they field daily.
“People will come in all the time and ask funny questions,” she said.
They say things like, “I can’t remember the title” but “there was one character in the book that I remember,” said Kilburn.
She said librarians then get to work to try to solve the mystery.
“They do detective work and piece it all together,” she said, adding that librarians enjoy the challenge and are happy to oblige. “We love our patrons and love when they ask us questions that give us a minute to think. It’s just all part of the job.”
The new red display, which coincides with the Valentine’s Day holiday, has gone beyond providing a laugh for people on the Internet. Apparently, it’s also inspired others to follow suit:
Of course, Framingham wasn’t the first community to tap such a playful method for grabbing the reader’s attention. Other libraries have used a similar strategy:
Green Line trains at Kenmore Square were briefly on hold Tuesday afternoon and BU issued a shelter-in-place order as police conducted a search inside the tunnels for a suspect.Continue reading »
Jasiel Correia dug his heels in at a news conference on Tuesday, after he was charged last week with defrauding investors.Continue reading »
A high-stakes case accusing the university of discriminating against Asian-American applicants begins today.Continue reading »
While some geneticists said the DNA test that Elizabeth Warren released provides evidence of her Native American ancestry, others cautioned that indigenous identity and tribal membership are not determined by genetics but by cultural, familial, and historical ties to a tribe.Continue reading »
Elizabeth Warren has never fully explained her assertion of Native American ancestry, and the Senate candidate’s extended family has mixed opinions on the question.Continue reading »
Officials believe the long-fabled Blue Line expansion to Charles/MGH Station could be done at a much lower cost than a 2010 estimate.Continue reading »
Police said the shooting took place at the intersection of Charles and Ditson streets, in the Fields Corner neighborhood.Continue reading »
The debate over Question 3, the Massachusetts ballot question on transgender rights, is airing on WBUR and Facebook Live.Continue reading »
Jennifer Gordon, a librarian at the Benjamin Banneker Charter Public School in Cambridge, received the Milken Educator Award Tuesday morning.Continue reading »