“Blind Date with a Book” project sparks literary romance

Students have the chance to step out of their reading comfort zone with the Blind Date with a Book project in Western Carolina University’s Hunter Library.

The display for Blind Date with a Book went up around Feb. 8. The project was meant to be displayed just in time for Valentine’s Day. Books in the leisure reading section were wrapped in brown paper so that the titles were invisible to the future reader.

Each section of the leisure reading area (romance, horror, science fiction, et cetera) has a liaison. The liaison was responsible for choosing which books were to be wrapped. Student workers wrapped and decorated the books used in the display. The wrapped covers caused students to pick up a book they would not ordinarily read.

The books only had slight clues and decorations on the paper covers to hint at the plot. Descriptive words such as “mysterious” and “romantic” were used on some of the covers with heart stickers. Only one or two sentences are used for the plot hints, making sure the books’ identities are fully concealed.

“Apparently it took off very well because we have very few books left, and we’re having to wrap more,” said Shirley Finegan, administrative support associate for Hunter Library.

Student assistant for the library Erica Wollen saw the idea on the popular website Pinterest, a site that lets users ‘pin’ pictures and recipes to virtual boards.

“I thought it would bring a lot of interest in the library. I know sometimes they have things for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and I thought it would be something to catch a reader’s eye,” said Wollen.

The project took around a week to put up, which involved choosing which books were to be wrapped and decorating the covers. The display was originally supposed to last through February, but Finegan said the display may stay up until March due to the overwhelming response.

“We’ve gotten such a good response we’re looking to put more [books] out,” said Finegan.

When Wollen first brought the idea up, she had to go through reference librarian Krista Schmidt.

“I thought it would be fun and a good way to promote our leisure reading section. I don’t know if a lot of people know about it, so anything we can do to draw people in or get them to read, that’s great,” said Schmidt.

The display’s popularity has ensured its return at a future date although it is not certain when exactly the display will go back up.

Not everyone got into the spirit of picking up a new book, though. Freshman Dallas Crawford and senior Scott Burr did not check out the books, saying they did not know about the project.

“I think it’s a cute idea. I definitely looked at it, but I have 19 [credit] hours and a job,” junior Peyton Flinchum said as her reason for not checking out a covered book.

For more information, contact Hunter Library at 828-227-7485.