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Library offering students blind dates with a book

By Grace Azzolino
On October 29, 2013

You don't have to worry about meeting up with anyone new when you go into Drake Memorial Library to find your "blind date." This blind date is a book. College at Brockport junior, Lucie Jutsum, said she and library employees, first saw the idea on Tumblr.
"It seems to be really popular in other libraries around the country," Jutsum said. "The idea has really taken off."
Jutsum said she brought the idea to Wendy Prince, evening library supervisor.
"I had seen the idea before, but hesitated because I knew it would take a committee to make a successful display," Prince said.
Once Brian Fitzgerald, also a student library employeeand senior at the college, showed his interest as well, the committee was under way.
"The idea has been in the works since about July," Fitzgerald said.
Seven people formed this committee, including friends and library enthusiasts, and they all went through Drake Library to find books that caught their eye.
"A lot of the books were ones that none of us had heard of before, so we got a lot of different tastes," Jutsum said.
"Not only is there the physical effort of preparing the display but there needs to be a variety, more than one person's selections," Prince said.
The challenge to this display was wrapping all the books.
"With some of the items, [including movies], only the barcode was exposed, and some we had to cover completely and write the barcode on the wrapping paper," Alma Hubert, who helped with this lengthy project, said.
Although the tan packing paper covers the books, patrons are not completely in the dark about their book. Each book has a clue, or short sentence related to the book. A couple of fun clues are "I'm good in bed" and "It's a love triangle with knives."
If you really want to take a risk, there are some the books that are in the "set up by a friend" category. This means the books are random, and there's no clue on them.
"It's like when a friend sets you up on a blind date and you have to trust them because they don't say anything about the person; they just say, 'Oh, you'll like them,'" Justum said.
"The goal of the blind date display is to raise awareness of popular materials for pleasure and relaxation," Prince said. "As an academic library our emphasis is on study and research but we also recognized the need to create a balance of study and pleasure."
Jutsum also said the message behind the "Blind Date with a Book" display is to stop people from judging a book by its cover.
The classic moral is what drives the excitement behind the display. You don't know what you are going to get. There are a variety of items in the display case as well as in a bin.
"We wrapped everything that went into the case, then it took some more time to wrap everything to put in the bin of books," Hulbert said.
"I have received some nice compliments on the display from students and staff," Prince said. "Some simply enjoy the teaser comments on the books other have expressed the enjoyment of reading something outside their usual taste."  
The library staff said they are hoping to wrap another round of books within the next few days.
At the time of interview, Justum said a good handful of books had been checked out.
"I even saw some come back into circulation," Fitzgerald said.
These books are easy to spot and Jutsum was looking through ideas on the internet, she saw all kinds of different wrapping papers.
"There was even one display that had hand-drawn designs and pictures on the paper," she said. "That one was really intricate" she said."
"Blind Date with a Book" is just one of the many interesting displays and events that drake has going on right now.
Currently, Drake is offering an event series called Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys. Wednesday, Nov. 13, there will be a related lecture by Dr. Carl Davila.
"[The lecture] should be especially interesting," Prince said.
With this discussion series, Drake will be giving out 20 copies of each book.
So, not only can you find your blind date at Drake, but the library has so much more to offer.

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