I’m thinking of a nonfiction category at CLP—Main that contains more than 6000 books. Gardening? A catalog keyword search turns up 1839 titles. World War II? 2234 titles.
Maybe by now you’ve sniffed out my subject area du jour—cookbooks. The 6,303 titles in the stacks on the First Floor don’t even include new cookbooks. Those less than a year old are shelved with other new non-fiction in the main room of the First Floor.
Each month patrons check out between 800 and 1200 of these cookbooks. Individual books borrowed more than 100 times include Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni (1980), Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant (1980), New Chinese Vegetarian Cooking by Kenneth Lo (1986), and The Greens Cookbook: Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine from the Celebrated Restaurant by Deborah Madison (1987).
Last week I attended a staff presentation given by our librarians who tend the TXs (that’s Library of Congress classification-speak for home economics books). Joanne and Karen work diligently to select, organize, and promote this grand collection.
Here are highlights of Joanne and Karen’s talk, in no particular order.
- Pies are the new cupcakes.
- TX current trends include artisan breads, sustainable/eating local, eating fresh, canning and preserving, eating raw.
- What’s most popular in our collection: vegan and vegetarian, tofu, slow cookers, smoothies, soups, baking, cake decorating.
- What’s not popular in our collection: grilling, meat, game, fish, entertaining and dinner parties.
- Classics and favorite cookbooks: Julia Child, Moosewood cookbooks, Craig Claiborne, M.F.K. Fisher, Fannie Farmer, Martha Stewart, Jacques Pépin.
- We attempt to provide cookbooks for every ethnic cuisine.
Library Journal reported that cookbooks overtook medicine and health for the top spot in nonfiction circulation in public libraries last year. I’m not surprised that cookbooks circulate so frequently. Cookbooks provide welcome inspiration for breaking out of the dinner doldrums. And if your home library has a TX shelf, you know that cookbooks are expensive. Borrowing a cookbook to try a recipe before investing in the volume is smart.