Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Are the coffee table and its books facing extinction?

The Coffee Table: disappearing trend?

Recently I read that many families are eschewing the typical coffee table with couch decor usually seen in living rooms and family rooms. Right away I wondered, what do you do about all those lovely coffee table books you own? Wikipedia defines a coffee table book as an "oversized, usually hard-covered book whose purpose is for display on a table intended for use in an area in which one entertains guests and from which it can serve to inspire conversation." Could inspired conversations be in danger with this tableless trend...?

The library has a display area called 'What’s Trending This Week.'  We use this area,  located between the new fiction and nonfiction books, to display books about current events, the seasonal holidays, and even silly “holiday” books like Square Root Day which fell on 4/4/16. For the Fourth of July we displayed some beautiful coffee table books about the Jersey shore. One afternoon, a patron sat in our lounge area and perused all of the big books in this display. We discussed the display and both recounted our favorite beach memories.  The coffee table books on display had served their conversation boosting purpose!

In our art section (the 700’s room behind the Circulation Desk) we have many stunning coffee table books in a separate area called, in library lingo, - 'Oversized.' Some favorites are: New York Gardens in Bloom , Dr Seuss’ The Cat Behind the Hat , Edward Durell Stone , Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs , Henry Moore Sculpture. Many additional artists, gardens and artsy topics can be found in our collection. A patron favorite is Skyscrapers by Andres Lepik which depicts buildings like the classic Flatiron Building built from 1901 - 1903 and the Turning Torso of Sweden built from 1999 - 2005. Travel, food, art, sports, the Jersey shore and many more coffee table books can be borrowed from the library. Hopefully they inspire a lively discussion at your next gathering. Just head for the 'Oversized Book' area pictured below.

~ Ann-Marie Sieczka
July 15, 2106

Clarification: The oversized collection mostly contains art books now, Ann-Marie reminds me. We intershelve/interfile big books on other subjects on the regular shelves when we can fit them. Even if a book is shelved sideways, we hope that people will stumble upon it and start browsing. For more thoughts on the problems of oversize books in libraries, where to put them, do they get used, are people willing to lug them home, read this blog post from library blogger Holly Hibner: 'Oversized Books.' 
Such is a day in #librarylife. - Anne deFuria

Oversized Books at BHPL

Big Art Books Shelved on Big Shelves

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