Escape The Algorithm Of Book Suggestions In The Library’s Recently Returned Rack

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Photo: Denver Central Library 2 | Browsing stacks
John Rasmussen of Lakewood browses the stacks at the Denver Central Library on Thursday, May 25, 2017.

Algorithms determine so much of our life. The movies we watch. The social media posts we see. The books we read. Writer and voracious reader Elisa Gabbert found a way around the algorithm, and it's the recently-returned section at Denver Central Library.

Gabbert recently celebrated the library's return rack in a piece for the New York Times Magazine, "Letter of Recommendation: Recently Returned Books." The books Gabbert picks up are often old or weird, in genres she wouldn't normally read and from parts of the library she wouldn't ordinarily visit. The recently returned section also puts a finger to the pulse of what fellow library-goers are currently interested in.