Lincolnshire library wants patrons to share laughs via interactive display
Cynthia Fuerst may never be mistaken for standup giants like Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers or Jerry Seinfeld, but the Vernon Area Public Library District director isn't bad when it comes to delivering a joke.
"A squirrel managed to get into our library," Fuerst says. "He wanted to get the Inter-nut."
Inter-nut! Inter-nut! Well, maybe you had to be there.
Fuerst and her staff have been infused with the comedy spirit thanks to a new interactive display at the Lincolnshire library, 300 Olde Half Day Road.
Prominently located on a cylindrical column near the adult services desk, the display is a collection of short jokes written on sticky notes by employees and patrons.
A sign urges people to "take a joke, leave a joke." And they certainly have.
"So far the jokes on the pillar have been mostly submitted by staff, but more are being submitted by the public every day," Fuerst said. "The response has been very positive."
The display went up April 1 -- April Fools' Day, of course. It will remain in place all month.
Adult services librarian Donna MacCartney developed the display. A former employee at the College of Lake County's library, she was inspired by a collection of encouraging comments left there by students during final exams.
"Librarians are always looking for new ways to engage our patrons," MacCartney said. "The joke display attempts to engage users with the same interactivity found in social media exchanges."
Some patrons have smirked as they've read jokes off the column, MacCartney said. Others have rolled their eyes.
"A few have taken photos of jokes," she said.
Some people have seemed reluctant to pull jokes off the column. But the notes really are designed to be removed.
To encourage the addition of new jokes, the display includes blank notes and pens.
Among the jokes left this week was this gem: "What's a ghost's favorite ice cream? Boo-berry!"
Some jokesters have written on both sides of a note to create a dramatic pause before the punchline.
"How do you count cows?" the front of one such note reads. "With a cowculator" is scrawled on the back.
The staffers who work at the adult services desk have been tasked with ensuring the jokes are family friendly. Nothing objectionable has been discovered yet, Fuerst said.
The display isn't just an opportunity for librarians and customers to try out comedic material.
Flanking the pillar are two vertical book racks. One is labeled "A Pillar of Puns" and displays books with puns in their titles, such as "Cooking and Screaming" and "The Grapes of Math." The other rack is labeled "A Column of Quips." It features books by and about comedians, including Tim Conway, Carol Burnett and Martin Short.
Tina Fey's autobiographical "Bossypants" is on the rack and is one of MacCartney's favorites.
"We actually grew up in the same area of Pennsylvania," MacCartney said of the former "30 Rock" and "Saturday Night Live" star. "It was interesting to gain her insight into growing up in that area and following her path to success."