by: Joelle Charbonneau
Yesterday, I was at my very first ALA conference. ALA stands for the American Library Association. And lucky me, the conference this year was in Chicago. Hurray for the windy city. (Sorry for the weather, though. The freak thunderstorms and cool temperatures aren't typical. Honest!)
While I was on the ALA exhibit floor, I got to see cool authors signing books (I even got to sign books!), browsed booths filled with ARCs and finished copies of kids and adult reading and I got to talk to librarians. The last should be a no brainer since...well, hey...it's a library conference. But there is something funny about the way television and movies always characterize librarians. In those mediums, librarians are often played as meek, quiet, shy and nervous about speaking their mind.
Um--nope! Not the librarians I talked to. Oh, I'm sure that lots of them are shy or get nervous in social situations, but when it comes to books they let their personalities shine. They love books. Not just in the casual way that some people say they love to read. These are passionate advocates for the written word. They love stories of all kinds. But beyond that they love to tell people about the stories they love. Connecting readers with stories that will open their minds and imaginations is something that drives them. How cool is that?
Growing up, I was at my local library at least once a week. I remember browsing the shelves and checking out my limit of books every time...I think it was 5 (I have now been told the limits for kids is almost limitless!!!). I also remember my local librarians making suggestions about what I should read next. Because they took the time to learn about my preferences, I was never disappointed when I read one of their recommendations. The librarians at my local library were awesome. The librarians today were just as amazing. They know books. They love books and they want the world to love them, too.
Too often, I think kids feel that reading is work. They think they have to read and remember and be tested. Those kids can turn into adults who feel adverse to reading for entertainment because of poor reading experiences as children. And that is so sad. Because I'm betting if as a child they went to their local library and had a passionate advocate like the ones I met today putting the right book in their hands reading wouldn't feel like work any more. And the more I think about it, the more I am certain that librarians are a resource our country should celebrate more. Because if the passion I saw from them this weekend could be transferred to our youth - I firmly believe that anything would be possible.
So to all the librarians I met and those I have yet to have the privilege of saying hello to - Thank you for all you do. Little by little you are changing the world!