The average person has a local library within five miles of their home. Some even have one across the street or within walking distance. Yet, when was the last time you stopped in to your local library, breathed in the book-scented air, and checked out a book you've been wanting to read?
Something made me want to write this blog post... I am not entirely sure what it was, but something made me want to spread the word about libraries, renew the love we once had for them, call attention to the library's struggles, and get an insight into the life of a librarian.
I have had the pleasure of interviewing a close family friend, who is a librarian, and someone who was heavily involved in helping me to discover my love of reading. That person is Kristen Pratt.
How many times have you been to the library? Have you any fond memories? Have you brought your children there to help start their fond memories as well? How many times has a librarian helped you to find the book that was hiding just around the corner?
When was the last time you thanked a librarian for all of their hard work?
I wanted to publish this blog post to bring awareness to the library system, and hopefully rekindle the love you have for that incredible reading paradise.
Here is my interview with librarian, Kristen Pratt:
The Literary Connoisseur: Welcome Kristen! Thank you so much for stopping by The Literary Connoisseur and answering some questions about your life as a librarian. If you're ready, let's begin. What made you want to become a librarian? Have you always known that this is what you wanted to do for a living?
Kristen Pratt: I started out as an elementary school teacher. I taught fourth grade and was also a writing teacher/coach. I learned quickly that reading and writing instruction were my favorites. So, when it was time to peruse a graduate level degree, I decided on the various areas where my love for reading and writing would play a major role. There was a flyer in the teacher work room about a graduate school program for library/media specialists and the wheels started spinning!
The Literary Connoisseur: Are you a reader? If so, what do you enjoy reading?
Kristen Pratt: I read everything from children’s books to young adult titles to mysteries and sometimes nonfiction titles too. I just finished Orange Is the New Black, have John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines on audio book in my car for my commute for work each day, Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments is what’s on my Nook (almost done) for my nighttime reading and a hard cover copy of Rowell’s Landline is on my desk at work for break time reading!
The Literary Connoisseur: In what area of the library do you work?
Kristen Pratt: I have been a Youth Service’s Librarian (children’s librarian) for the past year in the public library setting. Prior to that I spent two years as a Reference Librarian and six years as a school Library/Media Specialist.
The Literary Connoisseur: Do you prefer working with children, teens, adults, or do you not have a preference?
Kristen Pratt: Honestly, I enjoy it all. At the library where I work right now, the staff is small so although I am the children’s librarian, I spend many hours of my work week at the reference desk too. When the director is out, I get to play that role too! So, I have the best of both worlds.
The Literary Connoisseur: Do you have the opportunity to visit other libraries often? If so, do you have a favorite?
Kristen Pratt: I wish I had more time to get out and see more libraries. Someday I’d like to work in an older library with books that go all the way to the ceiling!
The Literary Connoisseur: Tell us why you feel libraries are important to society.
Kristen Pratt: Libraries are the heart of the community. I think that sums it all up!
The Literary Connoisseur: Do you feel that libraries have suffered because of the recent craze with eBooks?
Kristen Pratt: I think at first the libraries suffered because ereaders make it just so easy and convenient to not even leave home to get a book immediately! But once the library got involved with ereaders/eBooks and more and more people actually discovered that the library had eBooks available; things changed...and continue to change. In three years I’ve seen the availability of titles triple, the user friendliness of the once difficult to install program, become a much easier to install app, and continued changes to improve the variety of formats in which a person can choose to read their selected book. The county where I work actually leases the eBooks! In the early days of eBook lending selections were so limited due to this publisher and that publisher not making their titles available in the eBook format. But due to continued changes the eBook statistics are catching up to the regular check out stats!
The Literary Connoisseur: How do you feel about book banning?
Kristen Pratt: Ugh!!!!! People are going to complain about anything and everything in life, right? I believe that not everything is for everyone. If you don’t like a particular book then you don’t like it for whatever given reason, but leave the rest of us alone! We all make our own choices, it’s not our place to decide for others what they should read or not, so leave the books alone!
The Literary Connoisseur: Would you like to see your branch of the library receive a new program or reading system? Book clubs for teenagers? A new program for adult readers? A new program for young readers, etc.?
Kristen Pratt: We have just added on a few new after school programs for children including a Lego free building club and a read to a dog program! Yes, read to a dog! We have a few ideas that we are working on for young adults/teens/tweens and adults as well. Honestly the biggest problem we face is limited staff. We have the space, the time and the desire to build our library programs for the community but unfortunately not enough man power to everything we want to do! Ideas are welcome!!
The Literary Connoisseur: How would you like to see your library, the West Melbourne Public Library, improve?
Kristen Pratt: More open hours to the public and more staff members available to create and execute all the exciting programs we are dreaming about for our wonderful patrons.
The Literary Connoisseur: Tell us how people can get more involved with their local library.
Kristen Pratt: “Like” your local library on Facebook, follow them on other social media outlets; check their website for special programs! Stop by...look around, smell the books! Get to know the staff and we will quickly learn what you like and do our best to make it available for you! We have it all!! Books, eBooks, DVD’s of all the popular movies and TV shows, ours are free, unlike Red box! We have computers, printing, faxing, copying, notary service, free Wi-Fi, great lighting! My children’s department even has a small play are for the little ones. Did I mention most everything is free? Stop by and fill out a volunteer application! Ask to join a Friends of the Library Board and help make the big decisions!
So remember, everyone: Libraries are the beacon for book lovers. Next time you drive by one on your way to work, school, or to a friend's house, why not make a stop? Check out their book sales. Pick up a few bookmarks. Donate a book or two. Or if you can, volunteer a bit on the weekends, or take a family trip to a library function. There are always new and exciting things being planned at the library!
Libraries have been around forever, and they're incredibly dependable. They are always there to welcome you home.