Maybe it’s a good thing that the most ridiculous attempts by libraries to be “relevant” seem to happen in countries besides the US of A.
The latest silly attempt comes from New Zealand, where we learn that “Auckland libraries are spicing things up with erotic readings and burlesque dancing in an attempt to lure more members and stay relevant.”
We’re told it’s the “brainchild” of “a consultant seconded from the UK by Auckland Libraries to help cook up new ways of getting Aucklanders through the doors of their local branch.” So in addition to sex, we’ve added cooking into the mix, or maybe it’s just a sloppy use of metaphor.
After watching a movie about sex addiction and discussing sex with a psychologist, one library “will hold readings of erotic literature, music, burlesque and theatre exploring the theme, including opera/burlesque troupe Oh! Is For Opera.”
And then it gets a little weirder. One of the organizers “wants to use the festival to develop the libraries’ relationship with its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender users.”
Because nothing says LGBT better than soft porn and light stripping, apparently. The rationale?
“Very often, at certain times of the year, we celebrate a particular thing, in this case, sexuality,” she said.
“But for our LGBT customer, that’s an identity they wear every day, and we don’t do a lot that addresses that.”
Maybe my thinking is a little off here, but are sex and sexuality really that related here? Reading porn and talking about sex isn’t exactly “celebrating sexuality” in the same way as, say, a gay pride march. Am I wrong here?
Anyway, that part seems like an inappropriate afterthought to an already pointless activity.
There are at least two problems going on here. The first is thinking that whatever brings people through the door of libraries makes them “relevant.” There are all sorts of things that can be done in a library building that won’t make the library any more relevant.
The second problem is thinking that “sex sells.” Yes, sex does sell, and yes, reading erotic literature out loud might bring some people into the library, where they will quickly realize they’re not in a sex garden. But what does it have to do with libraries?
In addition to burlesque, why not just add erotic massages to the library’s suite of offerings? Librarians can take advantage of that librarian fetish some people have, pull off their glasses, shake their hair out of its bun, and massage away. For a cash donation to the Friends of the Library, they can throw in a happy ending.
That would get people through the doors. Would it make the library “relevant”?