Couldn’t resist this story. Dillon Helbig, a rising young author, recently completed his novel, Dillon Helbig’s Crismis Adventure. As he wanted to share this work with the world, Dillon, an Idaho second grader, snuck the book onto a shelf in his local public library. When he went back a few days later, it was gone, and his mother figured it had been thrown away or put in the library’s lost and found.

Little did they realize that children’s librarians are the best. The librarians had found the book, read it and loved it, and then catalogued it and put it back on the shelf, ready for the public. There is now a years-long waitlist to check out this one-of-a-kind work, which features Santa, a bomb, a portal, and a giant turkey.

As Dillon notes in the video below, “I’ve been waiting to put a book in the library since I was five.” Me too Dillon, and congratulations.

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is a Senior Consultant at Clarke & Esposito, a boutique management consulting firm focused on strategic issues related to professional and academic publishing and information services. Previously, David was the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He oversaw journal policy across OUP’s journals program, drove technological innovation, and served as an information officer. David acquired and managed a suite of research society-owned journals with OUP, and before that was the Executive Editor for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, where he created and edited new science books and journals, along with serving as a journal Editor-in-Chief. He has served on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc., as well as The AAP-PSP Executive Council. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.


6 Thoughts on "That’s One Way to Get Your Book in the Library"

We librarians all saw this story – it was widely circulated on our lists and social groups. It’s very cute because it’s such a young boy and a feel-good story. But let’s be clear – this will NOT be tolerated in academic libraries. This is what comes of that stupid “little free library” trend misinforming the general public that any random collection of books managed by any random individual constitutes a library and anyone running such a box is a “librarian”. Libraries are carefully curated (by professionals with advanced degrees) and managed collections, and librarians don’t just accept every donation that comes along. I can’t speak for public librarians, who are an entirely different profession, really, from academic librarians, and I’ve never been one of the former.

Hey! I love the little free libraries, and I have no illusion that they are a substitute for fully curated libraries. Indeed, I know of no one except librarians who believe that anyone thinks this. I have a firm policy that for every book I remove from one of the little libraries, I donate two. I also make contributions to our town’s public library (which does a great job). The more little libraries, the better. And let’s have even more, bigger, and better supported public institutions. This is not an either/or situation.

Well, no, you wouldn’t because you’re well educated as what libraries are about. But the vast majority of the public is not, and I can’t count the times I’ve read interviews with people offering these boxes who proudly claim that because of this box, they are now a “librarian”, without any further correction by the article author. For just one example that I found quickly just now via Google, see this article: but there are tons more of this kind of “news coverage” about these boxes that call the owners of them “librarians”. And for another direction of criticism, see this article:

That said, if kids want to write their own books, great! And if they want to stick them in little free libraries, great too! But to think that just sticking a copy of a book into library shelves without any authorization makes it part of the collection does enormous insult to my entire profession. Would you think it’s so wonderful if what anonymous patrons were sticking into library shelves were books that deny the holocaust, advocate for white supremacy, and the like?

The funny thing is that publishers have the same gripe about people who think publishers add no value to an author’s work. I think the rule of thumb is that everyone thinks everyone else’s job is simple, that what you see from a distance is all there is to learn about it. Me, I’m an advocate of mediation, which puts me at odds with many people today.

If I’ve learned anything after years and years of ebooks disrupting the print market, it is that aggregators are more willing to let ebooks of varying quality into their packages than they ever were about letting print books into their approval plans. This has advantages and disadvantages. But folks are a lot more willing to peer review articles than books, however you define them.

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