Zombies in the library: A user’s guide

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Jeff Tyson

“If the zombie apocalypse did happen, how would you find the information you needed to survive?” Christian Miller wondered – and then created a Zombie Survival Guide as “a quasi-serious approach” to library resources.

“It is meant to inform library users about the vast number of zombie-related materials the library collects as well as the services that the library offers, and also to (sneakily) teach the Cornell community strategies for critically evaluating information,” said Miller, a research and instruction librarian at Catherwood Library. “I usually find that injecting humor into any learning situation makes it more palatable to the people you are trying to reach.”

Christian Miller

He discovered a surprisingly large number of scholarly resources across various disciplines that refer to zombies.

“In business, there are zombie companies, firms that survive long after they shouldn’t be around; in entomology, there’s all kinds of bugs that can move around after they’re dead,” he said. “One researcher uses math to model what a theoretical zombie apocalypse would do, how fast it would spread and where. That does have utility for viral outbreaks and pandemics.”

He provides commentaries along the way, “trying to keep that overall (humorous) tone,” he said. “One of the things we want to do is convince people that there are reliable sources – of course we know that the actual way that zombies are created is the government has created a virus.”

In addition to “academics looking at all the themes in zombie-related media,” Miller said, are the media themselves. “Most people don’t realize we do have a lot of fiction and movies – we have the entire ‘Walking Dead’ series and zombie or other horror movies for casual viewing. We do collect things like that, as well as the scholarly material that is our bread and butter.”

– Daniel Aloi


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