On speed dating at the library

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Couldn't get enough of this NY Times trend story on speed dating at libraries. First, it has to be noted, that there's a “certain” person who would go on a speed date to begin with — and our cultural stereotype is that that person has already struck out in the regular dating scene, whatever that means.

But it takes a whole other person to go on a speed date at the library.

One question is…what about the homeless? Can they sign up? Because my library is full of them or maybe it isn't, sometimes it's hard to tell what's performance art and what's homelessness and what's the latest alt-bro trend. But most homeless dudes I've met at library events will take a couple of free hors d'oeuvres in exchange for waxing poetically on the truths inherent in Catch-22, and I'm sure they'll take any lady who speaks to them.

Here's another one– What do you do with this guy?

Among them was Jeremiah Lee, a 33-year-old software engineer who said he
had not stepped foot in a public library in years. “The kind of person
the library can attract is different than the kind you get at a bar,”
said Mr. Lee, who wore a dark purple fleece and blue jeans for the
occasion. Participants were asked to bring a favorite book, so he
clutched a copy of “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell and “The
Road” by Cormac McCarthy.

Man, there's a lot to go over here. Mr. Lee, though he means well, obviously hasn't read a book in a very long time. The Tipping Point? The Road? At least bring some Pretty Horses or some Blood Meridian to the game to show that you're not a total Oprah follower. All Mr. Lee did was stop by Target on his way, and that was after using the GPS to find the library anyway.

Yeah, and the kind of person that you'll find at the library and not at the bar is Mr. Lee. Because at the bar, no one would speak to Mr. Lee. At the library, on the other hand, he can act like he's read a few books and then subtly divert the conversation to Netflix and The IT Crowd.

And why did the NY Times mention what he was wearing anyway? To help his chances or to subtly mock him? Can't tell.

Then there's this:

“The age range from 20 to 40 is a population that we do tend to lose
unless they have young kids to bring them into the library,” said Audra
Caplan, president of the Public Library Association. “They’re paying
taxes and voting. We need to be viable to them and provide them with
experiences and resources that are useful.”

I love this, because it shows that only those forced to read or those with way too much time on their hands pick up reading. It reminds me of the conversation a few years ago about how much stuff baseball stadiums were putting in to divert everyone from the actual game of baseball. So now libraries have to try everything else but promote the content they actually have. It's the beginning of a slow death.

And it keeps coming:

“It’s a safe space,” said Diane Moore, a librarian at the
Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library. “There is no alcohol,
so you don’t have to worry about people saying ‘Oh, baby’ one night, and
then the next morning waking up and going, ‘Yikes!’ ”

That could come straight from Parks and Recreation. But there's this:

One logistical snag is the preponderance of women. Libraries reported
difficulties attracting men in sufficient numbers. In downtown Fort
Collins, an event had to be canceled when no men signed up. At the San
Francisco event, the sign-up ratio was about one man to every five
women. (The one exception seemed to be the same-sex night, when more
than twice as many gay men turned up as lesbians.)

I'm kind of at a loss, the cultural stereotypes wafting out is too overwhelming for me to fully articulate.

“We can’t figure out how to get enough men,” Ms. Moore said.
Chattanooga’s downtown branch is planning to host date nights quarterly,
and is soliciting ideas for how to draw more men. Some have suggested
putting photographs of attractive young women on their leaflets. Others
proposed playing down fiction, since men seemed to bring in more
nonfiction books.

And of course men don't like made-up stories, in fact they hated stuff like 300, Avatar, Gladiator, Fast and The Furious, and True Grit. But if you're not putting attractive women on your leaflets, who are you putting on your leaflets? And why wouldn't you put attractive women on your leaflets? You can get GQ and SI Swimsuit Issue at the library, right? And if you're only putting attractive men on your leaflets, maybe that explains the previous quote about gay men and women. Just saying.