Books, the idea: Library book as connector

Posted by Rob Walker on June 3, 2010
Posted Under: "Social" studies

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Friend of Murketing Gladys Santiago describes, here, her NYPL Connect project, which aims to “examine library books as catalysts to social networking.  I envision this project being part real-world GoodReads, part book club.  I’m interested in discovering what sort of connections can be made through communal objects.”

In noting the unique history-suggesting aspect of library books (yes, as a matter of fact, I do check books out from my walkably local library!), she’s onto something. And she’s looking to see if a connection can be made — by leaving a handwritten note in certain library books. Here’s the methodology:

I placed a handwritten note inside one of the NYPL’s 15 copies of David Shields’s Reality Hunger: A Manifesto that explains the purpose of this project and includes my contact information.  I always enjoy finding things nestled between the pages of a book.  I’ve found lottery tickets (all losers), a Polaroid picture, receipts, scrap paper, postcards–all evidence of life before me–and I welcome these mementos from readers past.  I hope other readers do as well and are open to the possibility of connecting.

Even though I own a copy, I’m going to place a note in Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Every Body because I think this project (which for lack of a better name, I call NYPL Connect) touches on many of the concepts he discusses.  A possible challenge, besides getting people to respond, might be NYPL staff or other borrowers discarding my notes before someone willing to participate reaches out to me.  Regardless, I’m going to include a note in every book I check out and hope I hear from some interesting folks.

This is an awesome project! Please blog/tweet or whatever about it. And you don’t have to mention me, pretend you found it on your own, I don’t care. But she’s really onto something interesting here and the effort deserves attention. I’m dying to know if she’ll get a response to any of her notes. So cool.

This post is part of a series.

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