music at peninsula

They say music soothes the savage beast. Well, maybe, but it certainly has made life at Queens Library at Peninsula better since Superstorm Sandy hit.

On the book bus at Peninsula in the first few weeks after the library was destroyed, my colleague Kacper Jarecki brought in a radio. So along with coffee, we had music for all of those 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. shifts in November and December. “Die Young” by Ke$ha became the unofficial book bus song.  I think people waiting for their phones and other electronics to charge appreciated being able to hear a few tunes in an otherwise blacked-out neighborhood.

In mid-November, Kacper purchased a karaoke machine (there are a few clips out there of spontaneous book bus karaoke; I won’t tell you where). In early January we took it with us when we upgraded from the book bus to a trailer space, which is still small compared to the regular building. This karaoke machine let us play CDs, and at some point I learned I can play music from my iPhone. Now, instead of a quiet library, we always have music playing.

In January and early February, due to generous donations, we were able to order new materials for the library.  Along with getting popular books and movies, we decided to get CDs. I got lists online for Grammy nominees for the past five years, along with lists for classic rock, hip-hop, and more. All staff pitched in some of their favorites. Starting from almost no collection at all, any purchase is an improvement.

We ordered more than 100 CDs (Queens Library at Broad Channel, which also lost materials in the flood, ordered about 300), and they do get checked out. Also, we can play them on the karaoke machine. I believe having music in the background is relaxing, and on more than one occasion people have asked what was playing.  In some instances we could put the CD in the customer’s hand then and there.

Music also factored large in our rally against proposed budget cuts on May 15. The theme was “Wild About Libraries” and we had a DJ play an hour of animal-themed (“When Doves Cry,” anyone?). At Peninsula we are glad our rally and other library advocacy counted so there will be no budget cuts. Now we can focus on improving service in the area including getting more popular materials like CDs.

As we enter the summer, we still listen to the radio. And although on the trailer nothing has stuck out as much as “Die Young,” I feel more knowledgeable about music than I have in years. I know we have to keep this up.

In the next CD order, I need to get Daft Punk’s latest and others. Who out there has some more suggestions for the music library at Peninsula?