Making the library a little more Awesome

As soon as I read about the Awesome Box at the Somerville Public Library, I thought it was a fantastic idea and I wanted to bring it to Arlington as well. The Awesome Box, dreamed up by the capable inventors at the Harvard Library Innovation Lab, allows library users to “cast a physical vote for an item they found amazing or useful” by returning it to the “Awesome Box” instead of the regular Returns bin. Library staff then scans the “awesome” items, and they appear on the library’s web page.

Awesome at the Somerville Public Library

Awesome at the Harvard Library

Awesome at the Robbins and Fox Libraries¬†(We just launched this week so there aren’t very many items yet, but keep checking!)

We’ve also devoted one of our four Staff Picks display shelves at Robbins to items that have been “awesomed” – so it has, in effect, become a Patron Picks shelf. It will be interesting to see what turns up there, and I hope it will be a conversation starter for library users and staff alike.

Talking about books (a.k.a. readers’ advisory) is one of my favorite parts of librarianship, which is why I pushed so insistently to bring Awesome Box to our library. Fortunately, there was a lot of in-house enthusiasm in all departments, and the folks at the Harvard Library Innovation Lab have been absolutely great to work with. SPL librarians also responded helpfully when I asked them about their experiences with implementation, and based on their answers I was able to make up a simple FAQ for our staff here in Arlington.

I’m looking forward to seeing what people think is awesome. I expect to see a lot of popular, high-profile books, movies, and TV shows, but I think it will also be a great way to discover some more obscure items as well.

Because my reading list isn’t already long enough.

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