Reading is Outreach

Books.  For months now I’ve written about technology.  Technology is important.  However, we are in the business of information—no matter its medium.  Sometimes, the goal is to foster imagination and creativity.  That can come from an app or coding, but it can also be between pages.  For years and years, that is what books have provided.  That doesn’t change.

1It doesn’t matter that there aren’t really airships that use hydrium, a mango-scented gas that is lighter than air, to carry passengers across the ocean.  It doesn’t matter that there are not really air pirates nor flying creatures that resemble a mix of a cat and a bat.  When I read Airborn by Kenneth Oppel, I can picture all of these things.  I can use what my acting teachers long ago called “suspension of disbelief.”

2 Now’s the kicker—how does this relate to outreach?  For people who never make it into the library building, we are more than its face.  We ARE the library.  Which means we read, too.  We read for fun.  We read to learn things.  If someone asks us, “What are you reading?” we can answer that.  (I’m reading Freak Boy, a YA novel-in-verse about gender questioning by Kristin Elizabeth Clark).

Being able to navigate through technology, to ferret out strong sources, and to implement programs off-site are important parts of what we do.  They are not ALL of what we do, though. It doesn’t matter what we read.  It matters that we read.

For me, to enjoy reading came with the freedom to stop reading something I didn’t like.  I used to push myself through tales I found irksome at best.  If I couldn’t stomach another word, I stopped reading altogether.  One of my co-workers about eight years ago ended that.  She said that she will quit any book that she isn’t enjoying because it gives her time to explore other ones.

We are extremely lucky.  We don’t have to teach to a curriculum.  We don’t have to work off of pre-set lists.  However, “with great power comes great responsibility” (says the Spiderman series).   To encourage life-long learning is our calling.  We may spark the curiosity of whoever creates tomorrow’s next great invention.  How? We bring them books.  When the sparkle in our eyes shows that we love what we are reading, everything else follows naturally.

There is a comment box below.  Tell us, what are you reading?

With book and educator site 2013Anna Francesca Garcia earned her Master of Library and Information Sciences Degree from the University of North Texas and has worked for nine years in public libraries in Nevada and Missouri. Currently, Anna Francesca is the Education Librarian for the Kansas City Public Library.  She doesn’t think that technology will ever replace print books, but she does believe that they can coexist.  Anna Francesca enjoys using both.  She also gets a kick out of telling her six-and-a-half year old daughter that Mama is older than the Internet.

2 responses to “Reading is Outreach

  1. Well said! As an academic librarian, I often hear comments about whether or not technology will replace books. I simply respond that the print book will always be here, right beside the e-reader. Here are my current reads:
    Kaleidoscope Eyes, by Karen Ball (just completed)
    Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration, by Scott Tracy Griffin
    Shadows on the Rock, by Willa Cather
    Tea: The Drink that Changed the World, by John Griffiths
    Killing Lincoln, by Bill O’Reilly
    Student Engagement and the Academic Library, by Loanne Snavely

  2. Wow! I am amazed that you can keep so many books distinct in your mind as you read them at the same time, but I can see how varied they are. Thanks for your reply, Leslie. I believe I will track down Tea: The Drink that Changed the World, by John Griffiths. I mostly read children’s and teen’s books. Right now there is a focus on reading adult materials at my library. (If I read five adult books, I can earn a mug with our logo! This will be my third such cup). So, thank you for your suggestions.

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