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It’s been two years since I started as Evanston Public Library’s Collection Development Manager and I think I’m finally beginning to get a handle on what makes Evanston different from other communities around the country. Sometimes the things you learn about your new hometown are instantly obvious. Sometimes the quirks come up at the most unlikely of moments.  Here then is a quick rundown of three of the most interesting things I’ve learned about the people who walk through our doors every day.

And the #1 Most Popular
Book Display Is . . . . Grammar?

Since starting at this library I took the book displays under my wing. I like doing them. I like tending to them, like a little indoor garden. I like it particularly when they empty out. And the #1 most popular display I have ever done was on grammar / language / the roots of English.  No fooling.  I had just inspected the 400 section of the nonfiction books and to my chagrin a bunch of neat looking grammar books just weren’t circulating. Out of pity I made a display of them. For the next two weeks I was repeatedly startled by the number of books that circulated. I couldn’t fill those shelves fast enough! So you heard it here first, folks. When it comes to popularity, nothing appeals to Evanstonians more than the correct usage of the word “whom.”

African American Titles Do Well,
and Large Print African American Titles Do REALLY Well!

Don’t let anyone tell you that diverse books don’t circulate at Evanston Public Library. Titles by black authors may sometimes be difficult to find on our shelves because I failed to buy enough copies. This is something I’ve had to learn over time. Also, I only recently realized that while our fiction and nonfiction do well, it’s the Large Print titles that go out the most sometimes. FYI.

The MPEG File Has Nothing
On the Old-Fashioned CD

You all know that when it comes to e-audiobooks, we’ve got you covered. You can get them instantly without waiting through our nifty Hoopla app or, if you’re willing to wait, you can put your favorite audiobook on hold through Overdrive’s new Libby app. But if you think the rise of e-audio means the demise of physical audiobooks, you have another thing coming. If anything, audiobooks are doing better these days than ever before. We recently had a vendor in that was trying to convince us that audiobooks are on their way out. They brought up some of our statistics and were flummoxed by the fact that here in Evanston our audiobooks show strong, healthy circulations. I’m even getting new suggestions for gaps. For example, a patron pointed out that audiobooks by African American women need to be increased. Heard you loud and clear. Expect a significant increase from now on.

Betsy Bird

Betsy Bird is the Collection Development Manager of Evanston Public Library.