From Intergalactic Time Travel to Psychoactive Soy Sauce: Crowdsourcing at the Public Library

Just a week or so ago, the fabulous Julia Skinner authored a guest post here about crowdsourcing in 20th century libraries.  Today I’m following up with a little story about 21st century crowdsourcing!


I think librarians everywhere can relate to this classic scenario:  a woman walked into our library last weekend wanting to find a book she’d read, but she couldn’t remember anything about it.  She began by describing a paranormal time traveling plot to my colleague:  “It’s about this guy who time travels between planets.  He works at a video store, and his best friend’s disabled sister is a major player in the plot.  Oh, and there are a bunch of people who aren’t quite what they seem.”

Soon I was recruited to help out, but by this time the patron’s story had morphed and had nothing to do with intergalactic time travel:  “So this guy wanders into an old building with portals to alternate realities, and then he turns into a demon.  I think his name is Evan, and the title is something catchy like Don’t Read This Book.”  She considered for a moment and then added, “but I just read another book with an Evan, so that might just be my default when I’m trying to think of a character?”

Continue reading