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Hastings High School Library Setting Up Students on Blind Dates with Books

Books To celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, the Farragut Middle School and Hastings High School library is playing matchmaker between students and books!

With the holiday on the horizon, the library has started an initiative to increase readership by setting up students on blind dates with books. The books are displayed in the Hastings High School lobby, but students will spot something missing - their covers!

The front covers including the book’s title and author are obscured by wrapping, with only the first line labeled on the front. Hastings librarian Arianna Grassia said that although it ties in nicely with the holiday, her main goal was always to get students to pick up a book, not an easy task when you take away the front cover.

“I’ve been throwing this idea around for a while and I wanted to increase circulation,” she said. “But I never knew what to put on the cover to tempt the students to pick the books up.”

Utilizing an impressive repertoire of literature, Grassia hopes that students will be attracted to some of the eye-catching opening sentences for some of these books, most of which will be a mystery to even the most experienced bookworm.

“These are all brand new books,” she said. “I really wanted to get them out in the mix for kids to read.”

With Valentine’s Day just a day out of the month, Grassia also made sure to recognize the month’s other observance: Black History Month.

“A lot of the books are multicultural with at least 50% written by black authors,” she said. “The collection is pretty diverse.”

With the initiative in full swing, Grassia hopes the idea will bring more students back into the library, a place that has seen fewer students since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Visitation has been down,” she said. “Kids just can’t go in and out as they have been.”

Although visitation to the library has decreased, Grassia was able to think of a way to bring the books to the students without being there. With the ISBN on the front cover, all students need to do is write their name and ISBN number on a heart-shaped piece of paper which Grassia collects at the end of the day. Using Grassia’s check out system, students are able to binge their books with little contact with the librarian.

“It’s great, I don’t even have to be there when they pick them up and check them out,” she said.

Grassia maintained that students are still hungry for a good read. This became evident after six books were checked out from the blind date display in a little over an hour on the first day.

“I think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew already,” she said. “But I will keep filling the table when it goes sparse.”

The blind date display will be up throughout the month of February.