Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Thomas Crane Public Library in Quincy has a new “seasonal volunteer” — the one and only Fabio.
A lifesize, cardboard cutout of Fabio Lanzoni, the Italian American fashion model, debuted in the library on Feb. 1 and will remain until the end of the month.
Widely known as Fabio, he has appeared on hundreds of different book covers — most of which are romance novels. The Quincy library purchased the cutout to feature alongside its book collection for Valentine’s Day, but started using Fabio for other promotions as well after his initial unveiling.
“People are coming into the library specifically because they have seen the social media posts and they want to take a picture with him,” said Sara Slymon, the library’s director. “People have a lot of sentimental attachment to Fabio.”
The idea started a few months ago when Autumn Nutile, a senior library assistant, and her co-worker were planning ahead for the Valentine’s Day book display. In February, and other times of year, libraries often feature a blind-date-with-a-book display case — where books are wrapped in paper and people check out a mystery book to read. But that concept can be a bit overdone, Nutile said, and she and her co-worker wanted to do something different.
Nutile and her co-worker felt the library’s paperback romance collection could use some more exposure, so they planned to feature some kind of romance-themed display. Normally, curated displays are accompanied by a sign, but Nutile took the idea one step further by suggesting a lifesize Fabio cardboard cutout.
“I just thought it was like the best thing I’ve ever heard,” Slymon, the library’s director, said. “I was like, ‘Absolutely, order him right away.’”
Even though Nutile couldn’t find books with Fabio specifically on the cover, the cutout was unveiled alongside a selection of “bodice ripper” paperback books.
The library also has customized Fabio-bookmarks and buttons, which include phrases like “Reading has never looked so good on you”, “The book lover” and “Falling for Fabio.”
The goal of it all: Draw people into the library while putting a smile on their faces.
“Usually, when people avail themselves of library displays, they’re not like giggling and snapping photos. They’re just like, ‘Oh, cool, and then they go about their day,’” Slymon said. “The fact that this has made a little fun, frivolous February destination is really cute and sweet.”
One patron, Moe Palmer, said in a text message that she’s seen people laughing out loud with surprise and then sneaking in a selfie with the Fabio cutout. Palmer, too, took a selfie.
“It is such a simple, quirky idea, but it is definitely bringing lighthearted joy to us patrons,” Palmer said.
And the overwhelmingly positive response to the Fabio cutout has some at the library thinking about who next to display.
“Coming up next year, Quincy turns 400… and because of the success of Fabio, we have now started trying to find cutouts of the much less sexy John Adams and John Hancock,” Slymon said. “We think we might be able to gain some traction by moving them around the city and the libraries.”
For a full overview of events, programming and more at the Thomas Crane Public Library, including for Black History month, visit their website.