Meet Mary Kelly and Holly Hibner of “Awful Library Books”! National Library Week 2014

Mary Kelly and Holly Hibner of "Awful Library Books" - Knock Knock Blog
Meet Holly Hibner (left) and Mary Kelly (right), "Awful Library Books" creators and book-weeding badasses. Photo courtesy of "Awful Library Books."

To round-out National Library Week, we wanted to tap into the minds of a few of our favorite librarians, who in fact reside all the way in “the Mitten.” Michiganders Mary Kelly and Holly Hibner, both public librarians who’ve worked together for fifteen years, created and run Awful Library Books. Awful Library Books is a haven true to its name, spotlighting questionable library books from around the world. Not only does this site emphasize the importance of practicing regular weeding, which means keeping the relevant and shaking off the extraneous—and downright ridiculous, but it also sheds light on how awesomely amusing vintage publications can be. Bowling for Women, anyone . . . anyone?

1. What book(s) are you currently reading?
HOLLY: I am currently reading complete fluff, and loving every minute of it. I’m reading Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot, In Like Flynn by Rhys Bowen, and for serious, The Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson.

MARY: I am reading some nonfiction: Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf. I also am reading Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower.

Why Cats Paint - Awful Library Books Blog Post
One of Holly’s favorite submissions to date, “Why Cats Paint.”

2. Off the top of your head, what are three of your favorite, utterly-outlandish Awful Library Book submissions?
HOLLY: Recently, I loved the How to Land a Top-Paying Pierogi Maker’s Job. All-time favorites include Why Cats Paint and the Complete Guide to Meeting Women.

MARY: This is like asking me which kid is my favorite (which varies day to day)! I still just crack up over the book that says you can end depression by constricting your anus.

I also just die a little with the book about increasing your bust line with mind power. I also just love the baby name book suggestions that include names from death row.

3. If you could hang out with any figure from literature (can be characters, authors, etc.), who would it be and what activity would you plan for the day?
HOLLY: I’d hang out at the Wizards Library with Hermione. She’s brilliant.

MARY: I think I wouldn’t mind hanging out with Jo from Little Women. I would like to leave before Beth gets sick, though.

Awful Library Books - Knock Knock Blog
One of Mary’s favorite submissions, “Good-bye Depression.” Just constrict your anus!

4. As librarians, what’s the most annoying question you get asked constantly? And how often is it asked? (Hoping it’s not this one.)
HOLLY: “Are you a volunteer?” Every. Day.

MARY: “Do you get to read a lot of books at work?” or “Do you know anything about computers?”

5. Any hobbies outside of running Awful Library Books and blogging?
HOLLY: I am obsessed with my veggie garden in the summer months.

MARY: I am beginning to think I don’t get out much! I do like picking up a needle and doing some quilting now and then.

6. E-books or real books?
HOLLY: Whatever is available at the time I want the book. No preference.

MARY: Same as Holly. I do love audio books in the car, though.

HOLLY: Oooh, me too.

Are you a librarian and want more weeding expertise? Check out Mary and Holly’s book, Making a Collection Count: A Holistic Approach to Library Collection Management.

Follow Awful Library Books on Facebook and Twitter! They’re currently hosting a National Library Week giveaway on their site—enter through 4/19 to win a handful of Knock Knock prizes!


  1. They forgot to mention, as they created Awful Library Books, all the adolescents and adults they assisted along the way, especially those that didn’t quite fit the typical image of library patron.

    Never a “shush”, well almost never, and a smile or laugh only an instant away!

    — Chuck Fellows on
  2. Woot! Fellow Michiganders!

    — Sara Hartman on

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