Libraries have long been held to a certain stereotype, as being sedate and formal locales meant for tranquil study and quiet reflection. In popular culture this stereotype has been reinforced when that quiet scene is disrupted by song and dance; movies such as The Music Man and The Breakfast Club, television shows like Glee and music videos depict patrons and even staffers frolicking in the stacks and dancing on the desks. More recently the phenomenon of “flash mobs” and their sister flash raves have reflected the movie musical archetype of bursting into song in an otherwise ordinary setting. The flash rave has reached the hallowed halls of academia, primarily promoted as a stress reliever during final exam periods. While some have been true “flash” mobs, with students descending unannounced upon campus libraries and learning commons, others have been welcomed and even sanctioned by library administrations. Flash mobs and modern libraries also happen to share a common thread; the adoption of social media tools to organize, collaborate and share information. This paper will examine the depiction of dancing in the library, the evolution of the library flash rave, and how libraries are utilizing these raves and their social networking origins as tools for promotion of library services, student outreach and campus recruitment.
librarianship, popular culture, flash raves, social media, outreach, student support
Downey, Elizabeth. “So You Think You Can Dance: The Phenomenon of Library Flash Raves.” Presentation at the Joint Conference of the National Popular Culture & American Culture Associations, Boston, MA, April 13, 2012.