Toronto and KC librarians trash talk each other's baseball teams

Librarians have created baseball #BookSpinePoetry

The agonizing ups and downs of the American League Championship Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals has got fans on both sides engaging in some pretty wild trash talk. Yet amid all the inside baseball jokes and brags has emerged a witty war of words between the two cities’ public library systems. Combing through catalogues and shelves, librarians in Kansas City, Mo., and Toronto have created #BookSpinePoetry.

The latest exchange came on Wednesday. It was a do-or-die match, as Kansas City had a commanding 3-1 lead in the series, including the previous night’s blow-out 14-2 win. So it was the Missouri-based system that rubbed a bit of literary salt in Toronto’s wounds just before game 5.

  Fortunately for Toronto, Marco Estrada’s impeccable pitching saved the Blue Jays from elimination and, with a 7-1 win, forced game six in the series back in Kansas City.

The Toronto library system had prepared two versions of the tweet—one for a win, the other for a loss—and then just waited, and waited. A few minutes after the Blue Jays’ victory, the library sent out its winning version, reminding Missouri that the series isn’t over. Befitting this librarians’ civilized tone, Kansas City quickly replied with a one-word answer.

The #BookSpinePoetry battle started on Tuesday, after Kansas City pummelled the Jays 14-2.

Toronto wasn’t going to take that sort of talk. “OMG, we can’t let this lie,” says Bowles. Soon a group of librarians and staff were combing the catalogue and shelves for an appropriate response.

This isn’t the only challenge currently under way between the two library systems. Before the tweets started flying, Kansas City Public Library executive director Crosby Kemper sent an email wager to his Toronto counterpart, city librarian Vickery Bowles. Kansas City put up beer and barbeque while Toronto bet peameal bacon and butter tarts. Bowles thought of poutine, but didn’t think it would ship well.  While this war of books has captured the attention of social media, it’s not the first time both library systems have taken to Twitter to boost the spirits of their cities, and cheer on their teams, not only in this series, but in the previous one as well.

Bowles also notes that some of the objects in its tweets are from a historic collection of Blue Jays memorabilia that was donated earlier this year by an avid fan. Among the thousands of objects are souvenir brochures, schedules, buttons, tickets and programs. The collection starts in 1977, when the Blue Jays started in the American League East, and goes up to 1994, just after the team won back-to-back World Series.

As for this Twitter war with Kansas City, Bowles, is delighted that it’s caught the imagination of social media and is drawing more people into exploring the library’s print as well as electronic collections. “We couldn’t do this with ebooks,” she notes.

Like the baseball series, there will be at least one more round in this genteel trash-talking contest. Hopefully two.

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