Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How to judge any public library, a test

I had a somewhat negative reaction recently to a couple of studies that purported to measure the quality of libraries through statistics. I decided that surely there is a better way and devised the following test to determine how good any public library is.

It is point based. The more points, the better the library!

Though I haven't tested this test, I did a comprehensive study of this test that shows it will be entirely accurate.

You can run this test on your own library, though it will work a lot better if you wear a disguise.

The Five Part Test:

1.  Approach any service desk and say "Knock, knock."

If they say "There are only two known "good" knock knock jokes. I hope this is the third" they get 5 points!

If they say "Ohhh! A knock knock joke. I love knock knock jokes!" they get 3 points.

If they say "That's it. I quit!" and storm off they get just 1 point.

If they say "I don't understand." they don't get any points.

2. Collection:

 If the library has a copy of Beck's CD Midnite Vultures on the shelf they get 3 points. If a staff member mentions that Beck looks a lot like Harpo Marx they get 3 more points! If the name "Debra" is spoken in your hearing range over the course of the next week add 3 more points. If this seems inscrutable there's a link in red that should clarify things.

3. Pet points:

Cat: 7
Frog: 2
Giraffe: 6
Any rodent, Pygmy Jerboa through R.O.U.S.: 1 (must not be considered "pest" to qualify)
Bird: .25 per bird but 3 points for ravens
Tarantula: 1, mostly to prove I am not ruled by my arachnophobia but rather am mature master of my fears despite sort of screaming yesterday when the small spider sort of flung towards me off the curtains at my house.
Fish: 1 point per foot of length
Octopus: octopi should not be kept in captivity. If the library you are testing has an octopus, free it!

3a. If when freeing the library octopus:

It inspires a library worker to write a Caldecott winning children's book about it: 3 points
You are shushed by a librarian: 2 points
The octopus "Inks": 1 point. Ouch.

4. Bathrooms!

Theme bathrooms: 5 points
Smells like coffee: 3 points
Octopus "Ink" all over floor: 2 points
Popular!: 1 point
Toilet in stacks: Use your own judgement in awarding of points

5. Library cards:

Handcrafted by artisan: 6 points
A chatty process: 3 points
Byzantine: 1 point
Not for your type of people: no points

Please enter your library's point total in the comments section below for comparison's sake. Thank you.


  1. How many points does the library get if, in number 1, the circ desk worker responds, "Who's there?"

    1. two, but you can add a bonus point if they seem fervently interested when they ask.

  2. Gawd kid, you still afraid of spiders?

    1. well, um, not when they're sufficiently anthropomorphized.


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