So yo, yesterday I was cataloging. I think I wrote something about it.
And this morning, I was out of spoons, and I was too hungry to clean one, so I tried a fork. Hey, it worked. And so this is my post on unique titles.
Okay, aspiring authors, perk up your ears here. This is a librarian speaking. You will get a lot of readers of your book if a librarian can remember your title. And find it on the first try. So don’t name your book The Story. You may think you are being creative, but no. You have just created a jam in the catalog. First off, the librarian will get a list of all the books that have THAT SAME TITLE from all the other authors that thought they were being creative. Plus all the items that have an item called “The story” in their contents, like a song, or a chapter title. Then, if the patron can’t remember who wrote it, or when, the librarian will have to sort through all 22 records. Is it by Ali Real? No, okay, did it come out in 1989?
So I’m starting a movement. It’s the “create unique titles movement.” All that stuff about “don’t judge a book by its cover” is bunk. People judge a book by its title all-the-time. I blush when I tell some of the older women at the library that Good in Bed is a great book. * (Which it is, and Jen, I totally forgive you.) But what if the book had been called The Bed? Ohmigosh.
Not only do you have trouble with the reference librarian when you give a book a common title (The War? c’mon!) you also face trouble with the cataloger. Whilst bringing in Mafioso (an Italian flick) yesterday, I had to double check that the other copy in the catalog wasn’t a duplicate.
Here’s a little experiment. I just went over to clpgh.org, our county’s catalog, and typed in The War. Let’s say it’s 5 minutes before closing and a little old lady has just gone to the catalog and typed that in, cause she’s looking for Ken Burn’s documentary to watch over Memorial Day weekend. Well, if she clicks on the first link, the first page, with 12 records (of 81!) are of items that have something called the war in their contents! Because catalogs are messed up! (and wonderful.) But c’mon, if you’re looking for Ken Burn’s documentary, you’d be a little sad to see that the first entry is 10 things I hate about you [sound recording] (on which you’ll find a song called War by the Cardigans.)
Clearly, if little old lady came to the desk (which she did) and asked a librarian, said librarian would be able to limit quickly by DVD and video. Well, [pause, while I take a breath before I tell you the bad news] this is what the catalog would spit up:”Limited to: Material Type “VIDEO” or “DVD” and Location “Your Public Library” 116 results found. sorted by date.”
Luckily, the sixth item IS Ken Burn’s The War. But what if he had called his documentary “The war in which we ate yogurt?” I mean, even if all the patron remembered were “war” and “yogurt,” that would be unique enough to pull up only one record.
Let me give it a try. Good news! Right now there are no items with war and yogurt in the title! So you, dear reader, can happily go now and write a book called “The war in which we ate yogurt” and you will make cataloging and reference librarians happy everywhere. Well, at least this one. I’d even buy that book. And you’d get a royalty.