It’s Poe time! Why our Big Read coordinator’s excited about her job

Meet Amy Rusk, the Library Services Manager who's coordinating the Big Read activity at the Pima County Public Library (PCPL). Find out more about the Big Read at Big Read Connects Tucsonopens a new window, and find out more about what PCPL is doing for the Big Read on our Big Read pageopens a new window.

Hi, Amy! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My job involves working with branch managers and administration staff to help ensure that PCPL branches run smoothly, provide the best service possible, and fulfill the organization’s mission of excellence. I oversee Spanish Services and the Big Read – and hope to ride the Bookbike in the near future.

I grew up in Tucson and come from a family of educators and librarians. I've worked as a TUSD children’s librarian, a young adult librarian, the chair of the district’s Intellectual Freedom Committee and as the district’s Coordinating Librarian. Experience as a Mexican American Studies Latino Literature teacher, an ESL Literacy Volunteers Coordinator, and a Fulbright teacher in Tampico, Mexico, contribute to my deep commitment to our multicultural community. As a former director and long-time board member of the Tucson Poetry Festival, I avidly pursue opportunities to write, hear, and support poetry in our community – like the Big Read!

My favorite book is Gilead.

Why Edgar Allan Poe?

“Before there was black eyeliner-ed youths rocking out to death rock, there was Edgar Allan Poe.”

While I’m more of an Emily Dickinson fan, the last Big Read author we celebrated in Tucson*, I deeply appreciate Poe’s accessibility for tweens and young adults; I could not have survived 20 years as a high school librarian without an extensive Poe collection for the umpteen misunderstood youth or reluctant readers who came through the library doors. PCPL’s own Librarian Tara Foxx-Lupo, a quintessential Goth at 14, was enamored by Poe and memorized The Raven for Tucson High’s annual Arts Night. 

Poe-love is not exclusive to Twilight-reading and Walking Dead-watching youth, however. My 81-year-old father recalls reading Poe as a teenager and loving him. In fact, Poe-love appears to be an enduring phenomenon if you Google any phrase with the word “Poe” in it. Ray Bradbury once wrote, “Now all of my mail goes out with a picture of Poe on the cover, and under that stamp I always write: ‘My Papa.’”

What's going on for the Big Read that you're excited about?

There are century-old societies, exhibitions, writing groups, and you-name-it to honor “Papa Poe.” I’m excited about the line-up of Big Read events at the libraryopens a new window – from choral readings to making Poe-oriented calacas – and suspect I’ll end up liking Poe more than I thought I did!

What are you reading now?

Dept. of Speculation

*This is the first year that the Library joins the Big Read celebrations, although we do have plenty of great Emily Dickinson stuff in our collectionopens a new window!