We Got GUTs (Good Useless Trivia)

We didn’t use factoids on our bookmarks in 2010 as we did in 2009, and. I hope we aren’t going to do it in 2011, because that way I have enough to fill another column or two.

Our first iPod was donated in December. (It has 10,427 songs on it. We’re thinking of setting it out in place of our record section.) If you’re interested, we have also, over the years, been given one cell phone, three wireless phones, and six phones with cords (including a princess-style phone of about 1925.) We’ve had ten stereos, most of which worked, three microfilm readers, two spy cameras, a couple dozen tape recorders, nine VCRs, two Betamaxes, and one old-fashioned dictation machine that used wax cylinders. No, I STILL don’t want to have an Obsolete Technology Section.

In 1997 or 1998, a local bakery offered to send fifteen dozen doughnuts to be distributed among volunteers and library employees at the Book Fair. (Some swine actually suggested giving some to customers, but was shouted down.) They never delivered. If anybody out there feels guilty, we will accept delivery any day now.

The idea comes up every year of having some celebrity cut a ribbon to open the Book Fair. At one meeting, the questions of what color the ribbon should be, how long the ribbon should be, how WIDE the ribbon should be, how the ribbon should be cut, and how on earth it could be attached across a doorway which, let’s face it, was never designed to have things tied across it went on for nearly an hour. At the end of that first hour, somebody asked “So who should we get to cut the ribbon?”

“What ribbon?” demanded the Superintendent of Facilities. And that was that.

(If someone is unclear about my feelings on this question, I would like it known that I have no objection to celebrities at the Book Fair. As long as they’re buying.)

One of my volunteers recently confessed that, as a youngster, she went to the same summer camp every year, where she developed a hopeless crush on the skinny kid who helped out the counselor who handled the stables. (She wasn’t so much boy-crazy as she was horse-mad.) The kid grew up to be George Will, and she grew up to be a Book Fair volunteer: an excellent endorsement for this camp. (I will eventually get used to the knowledge that my volunteers have met everyone of any importance in the 20th century. I went to a meeting one day and learned I was the only person in the room who had never talked to Mies van der Rohe, and one of only two who had never met Frank Lloyd Wright.)

Time Out Chicago once did a promotion whereby a number of our customers were given a year’s free subscription. There have been other merchandising opportunities. We had a man work for several years to convince a local candy company to donate a little something we could toss into each customer’s bag at checkout. The candy folks never showed much interest. But a company that made marital aids started to make inquiries, and we decided our books are such a bargain our customers don’t really need anything else

The doughnuts would have been more practical anyhow. 

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