Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles empire. When I began my first stab at weeding the juvenile* fiction section at my library, I was thrilled to discover a set of TMNT picture books in pristine condition. Yet no one had ever checked them out. As the turtles would say, "BUMMER, DUDE."
Maybe the Turtles were past their prime? I decided there was no harm in trying to get them more attention. If in the next year, they were still on the non-circulating report, they were goners. But I suspected that even if actual kids were unfamiliar with the Turtles, there had to be some nostalgic parents out there excited to relieve their childhoods.
The first thing I did was change the books' cataloging from J fiction to Easy**. Then I gave them their very own spotlight in the picture book section. And they have combined for more than 80 checkouts in the time since being re-cataloged. That's pretty solid for books that were shelf-sitters before.
- Books are for use.
- Every reader his [or her] book.
- Every book its reader.
- Save the time of the reader.
- The library is a growing organism.
And maybe we can re-write them to be the Five Laws of Ninja Turtle Library Science:
- Ninja turtle books are to be read.
- Every reader might enjoy a ninja turtle book.
- Ninja turtle books have readers.
- Save the time of the reader by putting the ninja turtle books where someone might find them.
- Ninja turtle books are growing organisms. They need to be cultivated: acquired when there is demand and (sniff) weeded when there is not.
So what did the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles teach me about being a librarian?
- If your patrons can't find a book, you might as well not have it. Market them!
- Keep series books together even if they have separate authors. ESPECIALLY if they have seperate authors.
- Never underestimate Turtle Power's appeal to multiple generations.
- "Forgiveness is divine, but never pay full price for late pizza." --Michelangelo
*Libraries should not be calling kids juveniles anymore. It only encourages them to be delinquents.
**I don't think we should be calling picture books Easy either. Kids learning to read struggle and labeling something as Easy is destructive to their efforts. I would prefer Picture Books or Beginning Readers as appropriate. And even that isn't perfect because I frequently pull books for adults learning to read as well.