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ASERL Launches “Guide to Southern Barbecue”

Summer time, and the living is easy.  In North Carolina, where barbecue is a near religion for some, we know our ‘cue.  Apparently our library colleagues in other southern states think they do too.  Rather than fighting about it, we’ve joined together for the benefit of all.

With tongue firmly planted in cheek the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL), representing libraries at 40 research institutions across 11 states, has officially launched its own “Guide to Southern Barbecue,” a listing of recommended barbecue joints near ASERL campuses across the Southeast.  The ASERL Guide to Southern Barbecue is published as a freely-available, open-access guide to good eating in the region. UNCG is a member of ASERL and contributed to the Guide.

 “After years of good-natured in-fighting about where to get the best barbecue in the South,” says ASERL President Lynn Sutton of Wake Forest University, “we decided to publish our own guide.  As librarians, we have to use good judgment to select high quality resources all the time – we used these same skills to select good barbecue.”

ASERL convened a crack team of research library professionals – each a self-appointed arbiter of good taste in barbecue – to define criteria and design the user interface.  Quoting chapter and verse from Holy Smoke  (by North Carolina resident and recent Friends of the UNCG Libraries Dinner Speaker John Shelton Reed) and other bibles of the craft, at one point the planning team identified more than three dozen possible criteria to be used in selecting winners.  In the end, ASERL libraries used a variety of methods to identify what they believe are the three best barbecue establishments within a 30-minute drive of their campuses. 

The online guide – available at -- contains basic and detailed listings for each selection, and maps to help guide users.  Mobile users can get driving directions to their selected restaurant.  And of course, the website includes links to other trusted resources, and a bibliography.

 “We’ve been talking about this idea for a while.  I’m thrilled to see it come to life,” commented John Burger, ASERL’s Executive Director, who has been known to darken the door of such establishments with some frequency [note: he lives in Durham].  “I doubt it will solve any arguments – that’s not the point – but it will let people know where to start their search for the best of the best.”

Founded in 1956, the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries is the largest regional research library cooperative in the country.  ASERL operates numerous projects designed to foster a high standard of library excellence through inter-institutional resource sharing and other collaborative efforts.  By working together, ASERL members provide and maintain top quality resources and services for the students, faculty, and citizens of their respective communities.  More information about ASERL can be found at