Reading, but with an air of literary mystique

Posted in: Society
By Kaye Collier
May 2, 2013 - 9:03:46 AM

MISS MATCHMAKERThey’re neatly wrapped in recycled manila craft paper and adorned with razzamatazz like vividly-colored stickers, jeweled accents, feathers and mini pompons.
On one side of the packages are stickers containing the words, “Blind Date with a Book,” in delicate white script and brief questionnaires supplying clues to what’s inside. On the other side are handwritten hints about the contents of the mysterious parcels.
Patrons of the Garland Smith Public Library who love to read and don’t mind a little temporary mystery might want to check out one of the packages at the desk and take it home, because the contents inside the paper wrappings are books whose identities remain a question mark until after checkout.
The barcode of each book is even handwritten on the sticker so that the librarian can enter it manually into the system without having to tear the cover off. And the due date is taped to the cover to preserve the book’s anonymity.
It is simply, as the sticker implies, a “blind date with a book.” An interesting note is that at this time, each of the books is a new arrival at Garland Smith.
Furthermore, for the younger set, the library is also offering a “Playdate with a Book” project. A box filled with gift-wrapped books in the children’s section will allow kids to select a “new friend” to take home.
The reader may love the book and decide to try other works by the same author, or. . .he or she may be disappointed and feel that a definite mismatch has occurred. But honestly, isn’t a bad fit between a reader and a particular book always a possibility?
Either way, when the reader returns the book to the library, he or she is asked to critique the literary “date” by completing a short questionnaire and rating it with the appropriate number of hearts, rather than stars.
For youngsters, a “Rate my Playdate” form is also available.
Geared to inject a little fun and mystery into the age-old practice of taking literature home from the library, this project is the brainchild of pretty Marlow High School senior Allison Collins, a library aide at Garland Smith.
Allison got the idea from an online friend who is herself a library aide in the small village of Hilton, New York. In Hilton, the local library introduced the “blind date” program in 2010 as Valentine’s Day approached.
The project was designed to give the hapless souls having no sweetheart an opportunity to combat loneliness by curling up with a good book.
The idea caught on, and the Hilton library has been in the “matchmaking” business throughout the year ever since.
So if you need a little mystery in your life, or if you’re looking for something new and exciting to do, you might want to go into the library and browse through the selection of gift-wrapped books and acquaint yourself with their “dating profiles.”
“There won’t be any awkward feelings if you don’t like your date,” noted Allison, “but you might find the literary match of your dreams!”
(Just don’t check out a book on anti-gravity. You won’t be able to put it down.)
Allison expressed hopes that the new program will prove popular enough to persuade the library to make it a permanent fixture.
The matchmaker
And just who is this lovely matchmaker seeking to pair literature with book lovers?
The tall honey-blonde girl with the friendly smile is the daughter of Robert and Bunny Collins.
At Marlow High, she is co-editor of the MHS Outlaw yearbook, as well as a member of FCCLA, for which she has served as vice-president and secretary. With a grade-point average of 3.7, she is also on the school’s academic team. And for two years, she sang alto with the Entertainers show choir.
Allison is an avid reader herself. Her preferred genre is mysteries, or as she termed it, “stuff that keeps me on my toes, and you don’t know what it’s going to be until the end. It’s not a good book unless it has some kind of weird plot twists.”
She actually has two favorite authors—one contemporary and the other not so contemporary, but a well-respected novelist, nonetheless.
Rick Riordan, writer of youth fiction who pens the Percy Jackson series, is her preferred modern-day author. And in a surprising twist for one her age, she revealed that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, is her other literary hero.
His writings are “the original mysteries” in her book, so to speak.
In addition to reading, another of Allison’s pastimes is playing video games with her older brother Michael, a field technician for Image Net in Oklahoma City.
“He’s my best friend,” she asserted.
She also enjoys making macramé bracelets and selling them online through Etsy. Her profits from this endeavor will be used to fund travels abroad while she’s in college.
And speaking of college. . .Allison plans to attend the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha, where she will pursue a bachelor of science in psychology, then perhaps transfer to the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond for a master’s degree.
But for now, “I love my job,” she said, “and I’m happy that I have the chance to do this (the ‘Blind Date with a Book’ project).”