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August 5, 2009

Library lovers target Ben & Jerry's

ice creamIn an era of budget tightening at the Enoch Pratt and elsewhere, thousands of people hope to promote libraries through an unusual campaign: petitioning Ben & Jerry's to create a library-themed flavor. Eat ultra-fattening ice cream to help a library? Sign me up!

New Jersey librarian Andy Woodworth started his Facebook group in June and has more than 4,400 people supporters. Among the flavor suggestions: Gooey Decimal System (dark fudge alphabet letters with caramel swirls in hazelnut ice cream) and Sh-sh-sh-Sherbet! (key lime or a chocolate/vanilla combo. Woodworth's logic is flawless, as anyone who has taken a college philosophy course will recognize: (1) Libraries are awesome; (2) Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream is tasty; therefore: (3) A library-themed Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream would be tasty awesome.

Ben & Jerry's has honored musicians (Cherry Garcia is a favorite of mine), movies (Pulp Addiction) and comedy groups (Vermonty Python), so why not libraries? My choice for a library flavor: Overdue Chew (stale brownies in pistachio ice cream). But why not broaden the options to include character themes such as Dumbledore S'Mores (bits of graham cracker and marshmallows in chocolate fudge) or authors Peppermint Stieg Larsson (candy cane bits in vanilla)?

Edited 5/5: Andy Woodworth tells how it all started, in a comment below.

Posted by Dave Rosenthal at 5:00 AM | | Comments (8)


I love this idea and I hope it really takes off. :)

PS. Cherry Garcia is MY favorite too!

Gimmicks don't balance budgets!

[Here's an email from Andy Woodworth of the Burlington County Library System, who started the whole thing:]
This all started as an off remark to my wife while we were standing in the frozen food section of Wegman's. "Wouldn't it be funny if they [Ben & Jerry's] had a library themed flavor?" From there, we had joked about it, but the idea really stuck with me. It wasn't until I was looking at fan pages on Facebook that I realize that I could make a group for this purpose. I had hemmed and hawed about creating one until I was talking with my brother about a flavor name when he suggested "Gooey Decimal System". From there, I knew I had to go through with it.

At the start, I shared it with friends on Facebook, put on my Twitter, and posted it on LISnews, a popular librarian news feed site. I had also contacted a local paper about doing a story on it. Within two weeks, I had 2,000 group members and a story in the local paper (with a quote from one of the B&J people). It was a good start, but soon the number of members joining became a trickle. The American Library Association had their annual convention which lead to a new round of advertising on Facebook and Twitter.

Eventually, the group reached 4,000 people. I decided to give it one last publicity push. I sent out the 'penultimate' message to the group, asking them to submit flavor suggestions, to get involved with their state library association, and to vote on a poll I had hosted on my own blog. I had no idea that it would bounce around the internet so much beyond my 'penultimate' message.

I put a note about it in my blog; it documents the bouncing of the story around the internet.;

It's been wild, personally, to see where it has been linked. My post doesn't encompass all of the personal librarian, food, and other blogs that have linked to it. A Google search of "ben jerry library" in the web or news section shows some of the sites that have written about it.

Personally, for me, it has been hard to talk about something fun like this while libraries (in particular at the moment, Ohio libraries) have been dealing with devastating cutbacks. It is my hope that a flavor will bring attention to the fact that libraries are an essential service in a digital information age. The ability to critically analyze internet information is a necessary skill. In addition, public libraries provide job seekers with free internet access in a time when employers are moving their employment application and position advertisement online. Public libraries provide service information for individuals and families in search of answers for their personal and financial needs. In a time when the services of the public library are rising demand, legislators are cutting our budgets. These cuts reduce the hours, services, materials, and staff of the libraries affected. For me, for my coworkers, for my patrons, this is unacceptable.

Dave, I'd like to thank you for your inquiry. I'm certainly hoping that Ben & Jerry's creates a flavor to honor libraries. This has been a fun idea and a fun group to watch grow and change, but it has some serious undertones to it. Hopefully, it can draw attention to an institution that supports life long learning and growth.


Kenosha Kid Kookies and Kream

Sartre's Vanilla and Nothingness

Journey to the End of the Fudge by Ferdinand Celine

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Rainbow Sherbet

I suggest:

Check-Out Carmel Crunch

Library Licorice

thank you! I really liked this post!

Great idea! I love ice cream- especially if chocolate is involved.

I've been missing your column in the Sunday Baltimore Sun the last few weeks. I hope it's just because you were on vacation.

This would be great.
I think all of the flavors would be terrific but my choice would be ---

Liberry Ice Cream, of course

(black raspberry with fresh red raspberries, blackberries and hot fudge)

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About the blogger
Dave Rosenthal came to The Baltimore Sun as a business reporter in 1987 and now is the Maryland Editor. He reads a wide range of books (but never as many as he'd like), usually alternating between non-fiction and fiction. Some all-time favorites: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole; Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupery; and anything by Calvin Trillin or John McPhee. He belongs to a book club with a Jewish theme.
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