I recently learned about a one-of-a-kind book vending machine located in a Canadian bookshop after reading an article published by a local news company. The antiquarian bookshop Monkey's Paw, located in Toronto, Ontario, is home to the BIBLIO-MAT: an antique book vending machine that dispenses an old and interesting book randomly to patrons of the bookshop for only $2. The BIBLIO-MAT, installed by Canadian designer/director Craig Small, is not only creative but a useful solution allowing the bookshop a way of selling old and unusual books that may not meet the standards of the books on the shelves, but which are much too quirky and interesting to be thrown away. This is a unique way to sell books simply for the serendipitous feeling that whatever comes out of the BIBLIO-MAT is somehow meant for you.

A mechanical celebration of serendipity. It was created to help you find the book you didn’t know you were looking for.
— Craig Small on The BIBLIO-MAT

I became so fascinated by the idea of a book vending machine that I began to daydream about an admin book vending machine and what that might look like. Let's call it the ADMIN-O-MATIC.


An admin book vending machine, placed on a university campus, could dispense books like Aesthetic Dimensions of Educational Administration by Eugenie A. Samier and Richard J. Bates and Breaking into The All-Male Club: Female Professors of Educational Administration by Norma T. Mertz. For $2, patrons of the ADMIN-O-MATIC could get print copies of journals like Journal of Educational Administration, Educational Administration Quarterly, and Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy or perhaps copies of foundational papers like Organization Theory as Ideology by Thomas Greenfield or Towards a Critical Practice of Educational Administration by Richard J. Bates. Of course, $2 would be much too cheap for some of these relatively expensive ed admin books, but it would be an interesting way to share ed admin theory in such a creative way, much the way I aim to bring admin theory into the workplace through my Adminibrary Project.

What's interesting about an admin book vending machine is the way it "interrupts" the current narrative of educational administration, which is that it is something that happens behind-the-scenes and is not understood by students, faculty, and even by other administrators. A book vending machine like the ADMIN-O-MATIC makes the invisible, visible, and the unknown, a little less obscure and understandable. It's just a daydream - a world in which I could get my hands on any ed admin book for $2 must be! - but it's interesting to imagine the possibilities of sharing ed admin theory with the rest of the university community in such a  non-conventional way.

Have you tried out the BIBLIO-MAT? What are your thoughts?

C. Valentine