Columns > Published on October 19th, 2017

Library Love: I Left My Heart in the Book Drop

I never thought so seriously about book drops until I led a renovation of my library.  So many things fell into place: the student study rooms, the comfortable furniture, the staff break room facing the mountains. But the one thing that went wrong, seriously wrong, was the book drop. I blamed myself, for a while. How did I not catch this when I looked at the drawings? Had I not been clear enough in the planning meetings? They had asked, "Do you really need a book drop?" and I had said, "Yes, absolutely. We definitely need it." I said we needed a slot, under the circulation desk counter, leading to a spring-loaded container that the books "drop" into. That's how they work. I got the spring-loaded box. And instead of a continuous counter under which the book drop would reside, I got this:

A beautiful composite counter with a giant cutout over the book drop!

WTF?? I asked everyone. Not what a book drop looks like - at all! So then I got this:

An improvement, to be sure. There was now an actual slot for the materials to enter, but still a giant hole over it. Do students put their bags in there? Is is a display case? A smart person suggested I cover it in glass and place rare books in there for display. Because that's what you do where people return things - place priceless objects to be jostled by sleepy college students.

The third and current iteration just adds insult to injury:

Yes, those are recessed lights, a pretty modern feature for a circulation desk. They give the situation some mood lighting, which I enjoy.

What happens next? Well, if someone ponies up to replace the errant section of the circulation desk, then the situation will be remedied. If not, I'll have to look to my fellow librarians for some ideas. Fortunately, librarians have a lot of practice drawing attention to book drops. Here are a few favorites:

Chewbacca book drop?!? Best idea ever, Cedar Roe Library!

Feeding an unusually toothy minion by Lynn Hill.

My absolute favorite, the three-eyed book drop monster.

And finally a collection of goblins from your favorite nightmare.

Do they all have something in common? Yes, they are giant mouths, ready to gobble up your library items as you dutifully return them on time. That's an incentive, right? There are so many examples. Cookie Monster book drop, dinosaur jaws book drop. There's even an Etsy shop that sells custom Monsters, Inc.-inspired book drop covers. Maybe they're all just trying to get back to something ancient and true, like this:

Just kidding. That's a marble mask that bites off the hands of liars!

Library lovers, do you have any favorite book drops? Share in the comments!

About the author

Stephanie Bonjack is an academic librarian based in Boulder, Colorado. She teaches the relentless pursuit of information, and illuminates the path to discovery. She has presented at national and international library conferences, and is especially interested in how libraries evolve to serve the needs of 21st century patrons. When she’s not sleuthing in the stacks, she enjoys chasing her toddler across wide open spaces.

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