by Ellen Wanamaker
On the second floor at Ames Public Library, next to the new books, is a shelf of books and movies called “Quick Picks.” Some libraries call these “skip the line” or “lucky day” items. If you’re currently 36-deep in the hold queue for Colleen Hoover’s “It Starts With Us” or Michelle Obama’s “The Light We Carry,” then you’ll want to learn about Quick Picks.
Our librarians pay attention to the books and movies with the greatest demand, and buy additional copies for this special collection. Books designated as Quick Picks have a 7-day checkout with no renewals and no holds. The way to get your hands on a copy is to visit the library and grab one off the shelf. We’ve watched people approach the Quick Picks shelf and say things like, “Whaaaat!? There’s a copy of Louise Penny’s “A World of Curiosities” right here! And Barbara Kingsolver’s “Demon Copperhead” too. Amazing!”
Patrons are limited to just two Quick Picks at a time, and with the 7-day checkout, there is fast turnaround for these items so that many people can enjoy them in succession. There are several dozen distinct titles in the collection, and we’re always adjusting based on what’s currently hot.
Last month I read a Quick Picks copy of Geraldine Brooks’ “Horse.” It’s a historical fiction saga about a 19th century racehorse named Lexington, and the enslaved boy who trains him with skill and tenderness. The story threads its way to present time with the stories of a Black graduate student who studies equestrian art, and a bone specialist at the Smithsonian who discovers the horse’s skeleton hidden in the museum attic. The book was too long for me to read in 7 days, but I enjoyed my Quick Picks copy while waiting for a regular 3-week checkout copy.
I’m currently enjoying another Quick Picks title by Kevin Wilson called “Now is Not the Time to Panic.” It’s a funny and touching coming of age tale about two teens who create a strange and secret piece of art that wreaks havoc in their small Tennessee town. I really enjoyed Wilson’s previous book “Nothing to See Here,” so was thrilled to luck upon a copy of his newest novel. And this one is short enough for me to get through in 7 days.
Come in and try your luck at the Quick Picks shelves!