Today I have accepted the job that will take me away from being a proper librarian for a year and a half until I move. This is my first job in an office, my first job of this sort, the job I will have when I marry Doctor Boyfriend, the job I will (assumably) have until I move back to my home city.
There is so much I will miss about my current library, the companionship of the elderly ladies I work with, the handyman who teases and complains with me, the funny stories to bring home, the helping patrons who want specific things. I pledge for the next two weeks, to leave my fellow clerks in as good condition as possible. I have already shown the ladies the wonders of Amazon.com in finding books when you don't know the title. (One of the ladies had a hard time finding "The moon over the mango tree" by Patricia Eween) I think they now understand that everything has to be perfect for the catalog, but that Amazon is all forgiving.
I need to savor every moment of library work I have left, and yes, that includes when patrons scream at me, as yesterday morning proves.
I get very emotional about reading. If I am being dragged away from my current book I am like a feral dog over some food, snarling and angry. I have been known to stay on the bus an extra stop or two to make it to a chapter end. I think this is a normal and relatively commonplace feeling, to be so enraptured with a book that all you want to do is read, but what might not be normal amongst avid readers is the fear and distrust I have of books that I haven't gotten into yet. When that cover is closed, or I have read a little without being swept away, I'm intensely uncomfortable. As much as I love to read, I don't like to make an effort to read, and pushing myself through those first 10 or 50 pages can be really difficult. I feel lost when I am between books, without the anchor of knowing exactly what I am into.
One of my big 'reading weaknesses' is that I tend to skip over nonfiction. I love food writing, trashy memoirs, and books about books, but otherwise I'm a fiction junkie. Nancy Pearl has lists of wonderful nonfiction in the book lust books, now I just need to force myself to broaden my horizons and read some great nonfiction. Even my Goodreads account has a scarce 32 books out of 500 that I tagged nonfiction (both read and to read). Some of that may be my poor, haphazard tagging, but most of it is that I find a reading comfort zone and then don't stray.
I plan of adventuring to my nonfiction stacks at work more often, but I also love recommendations.
I am currently reading How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read. This entire concept is an important one for librarians, who have to be able to speak authoritatively on any book brought up, whether in the collection or not. In this book, Pierre Bayard emphasizes the importance of knowing a books location, meaning its place in a larger context. For example, I may not have read Vampire Academy (yet) but I know that it is a YA book that made it onto many YALSA lists last year, less humorous than M.T. Anderson's Thirsty and sassier and more action packed than Stephenie Meyer's Twilight, but a good choice for fans of either of those.
So often, patrons mention a book and flat out ask me if I have read it. Sometimes, this can be deflected into a smile and "No, do you recommend it?", but sometimes it results in the person being shocked that I have not read it (or perhaps that I work in a library and have not read it, I should have been weeded out at some point in the interview process). Other times, I become close enough to a patron to speak openly and recognize some trends in what he or she takes out enough that I can recommend something (other than that, I only recommend or make suggestions when patrons specifically ask, I try not to be a Buttinski), then the patron inevitably asks if I have read it and I have to decide if I should lie and say I have, or should I admit I have not (and usually get my recommendation ignored then because if I haven't read it then it doesn't count).
I read School Library Journal and Publisher's Weekly whenever I can get my hands on a copy (less often that I would like, unfortunately), I browse Amazon at work when there is a slow moment to keep up with bestsellers and new releases, I am familiar with the plots and concepts of most of the major literary works that I never read, and some of the modern bestsellers. For example, I can't think of a situation where I would ever read either a Jodi Picoult or a Nicholas Sparks novel, but I know the plot (and plot twists) of most of them thanks to wikipedia and to reading last chapters. I am familiar enough with my library's (rather small) YA collection that I could pull anything off the shelf and booktalk it immediately (I am not even the YA Librarian!).
Honestly, I don't need to have read the book for you to trust me, patrons. There are other ways. Osmosis, even. At the moment, the two people who actually trust me are the Best Friend and Doctor Boyfriend. I can throw a book at them and say "read this, you'll like it" and they DO. See what you are missing, world?
Some of my colleagues were told upon entering library school that "people who like books shouldn't be librarians. As a librarian, you never have time to read". Thankfully, there was another professor who shrugged that off, explaining that she always found time to read. I really agree with that, reading is a leisure activity, same as surfing the internet or watching television. Finding time to read is as easy as making reading a priority.
I know I'm often guilty of saying I have no time to read and then watching a reality show marathon for three hours. Right now I am making a declaration: I will find reading time wherever it is hiding, and use it.
I began this blog after graduating library school, when I realized I might need to leave my part time library position for a full time job with benefits. This blog is to talk about books and librarianship even for the librarians who are not currently in a library.