Spread the Love

by Shelley Macon, Head Editor, INALJ Florida

Spread the Love

image In honor of February and Valentine’s Day this month, I have been thinking a lot about love.  One of  the most important duties of a librarian is to spread love.  The kind of love that makes your heart beat fast and your palms sweat.  The kind of love that makes you walk around smiling like a crazy person.  The kind of love that only comes from reading a good book.  Everyone should have the opportunity to experience this kind of love.  Unfortunately, there is one group that libraries are the most at risk of losing…boys.

As the mother of a son, I did all the things we are told to do to raise a reader- I read to him, encouraged him to read, and modeled positive reading behaviors among other things.  And as my son grew, I could envision time spent reading side-by-side and discussing our deep and profound thoughts. Surely, my son would be the exception, right?  Wrong.   It was a beautiful dream.  Unfortunately, it was only a dream.

In reality, I witnessed the insidious effects of video games, girls, and sports on my son’s love of reading.  In library school we all spent time learning about “literature.”  We turned our noses up at all those popular book series made of fluff and fantasy.   But I tell you now, there was a time when all I could get my son to read was Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney and Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey.  Yes, even with my librarian super powers I could not convince my 1O year old to read a book without pictures.  I felt like such a failure, both personally and professionally.

Even though I couldn’t convince him, short of threats of imminent death, to read anything else, I persisted.  He refused.  I insisted.  He refused.  Stalemate.  We finally made a bargain.  I could try to interest him in books, but he could choose what he read, and he had to read 30 minutes everyday.  I let go control and in return, he discovered the joy that could be found in the pages of a book.

Now, my teenage son loves to read.  For the last few weeks we have been discussing his deep and profound thoughts about Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.  He cannot wait to go to the library and pick up his next book.  My beautiful fantasy turned reality.

My son taught me that the most important duty of a librarian is to inspire a love of reading, not necessarily a love of literature. By all means, introduce children to new authors and genres.  Expand there focus and horizons.  Show them the doorway to wonderful new stories and characters.  And if you have a child that can and will read classics like Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain or Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson or award winners like The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman or The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (choir of angels singing) go for it.  Just don’t be disappointed at the ones that only window shop.   And don’t forget the power that comic books and video game manuals and fluff have in their own right.  Eventually,  with patience and persistence, they will walk through the doorway and then you can hook them.  And as we all know, a love of reading is the bridge to lifelong learning. So, spread the love.



Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of T160K.org, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ. INALJ has had over 21 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.