It’s no secret that today’s library patron is exposed to more sorcery than any of us in the profession right now. And it’s also no secret that they are exposed to sorcery from a much earlier age, with many of today’s youth, high schoolers, and incoming college students never knowing a world without sorcery and getting their first spellbooks as young as age 5.

Clearly, these patrons are expecting a library experience that is compatible with their cantrips and incantations, one that offers storage space for spell books and physical ingredients and has mana potions available for when the sorcerous ichor within runs low. Sadly, due to lack of centralized state funding, Mississippi is currently 49 out of 51 states in sorcery resources offered to all segments of the population; only the state of Denial and the state of Confusion have lower uptake rates.

It has become something of a cliché that librarians are slow to embrace sorcery, preferring tried and true methods of magic that rely on augury, interpreting the flights of birds, and of course Magic the Gathering card catalogs. But as useful as these once may have been, and may continue to be for some older patrons, the time has come to use sorcery in public programming and outreach to show—at no significant cost to the institution—the patrons of the future that libraries are still relevant.

An easy way to incorporate sorcery is to move your library’s arcana collection from your archives into the main circulation collections. While in the past it was traditional for bestiaries and books of forbidden knowledge to be library use only, those days are fading in the era of Wikibestiary and Glitter shamantags like #forbidden and #cthulhu. Even if they are offered only as exhibits, these older materials have the potential to excite patrons.

Make use of your staff as well; chances are that a few of them know a spell or two or have an Apple SpellBook Pro sitting around. Ask them to develop events and displays, to keep your Glitter account and Witchterest page up-to-date, to try and find new and novel spells to cast and ways to make existing library collections spell-friendly. Do your books support enchantments that allow them to float into users’ hands? Can they be used as prisons for demons, or portals to fantastic worlds of the imagination? It may take some work, but adding these features will pay off in the long run.

Perhaps the best resource is education: the more we learn about sorcery and spellcasting, the more we can help our patrons. Be on the lookout for low-cost séances, astral projections, and other means of networking and learning with peer and the Great Old Ones. Either way, remember that for our patrons, ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn is not a new thing: for them, Cthulhu has always wgah’nagl fhtagn.

Isola Playford
Underlibrarian
Mississippi Delta Doombrary

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