This article by Librarian Jessica Pryde was originally published in the Arizona Daily Star on July 23, 2016.
For one librarian, too many books is just not a thing.
I didn’t decide to become a librarian because I loved books.
Don’t get me wrong—I love books. I would swim in a pool of books ... if the thought of so many damaged, unreadable books didn’t give me nightmares.
I decided to go to library school because I, as a then-aspiring academic, loved the research but hated the deadlines. Being a librarian would allow for frequent learning and discovery without the constant need to write and publish.
The books were an excellent perk, though, and I have been taking advantage of all that wonderful access for nearly a decade now.
I was blessed to grow up with no shortage of books. In my earliest years, you rarely saw me without a Golden Book in my hands. As I got older, I would watch my mother read — and then want those books for myself (probably making me the youngest fan of romance novelist Jude Deveraux!).
Whether I was in the aisles of B. Dalton or the teen section of the MLK Library in Downtown D.C., or spending way too much time harassing my high school librarian about “Pride and Prejudice” fan fiction, you probably couldn’t find me not reading as a youth.
One of the many who encouraged me to keep reading, no matter what it was, was my high school librarian, who pushed things into my hands that I might not have picked up on my own. She would even give me copies of books to read and tell her whether she should get it for the library. And of course, as a responsible librarian, she was the first to teach me and my classmates to use things like WorldCat and LexisNexis. She was a great person to have in my corner.
After high school, the number of books I could read outside of class dropped significantly (though I still managed to slip in a few hours of fanfiction every once in a while). Breaks and summers saw massive consumption of series eight or nine books long, or catching up on suggestions made by friends during the school year. When I finally graduated from library school, having gone straight through after acquiring my bachelor’s degree, it was like the world had opened up. I no longer had to spend all of my time reading what others wanted me to read, or studying, or going to class, or working multiple jobs.
I could ... read. Anything I wanted, whenever I wanted. For hours upon hours at a time. This is about the time the number of books I read in a year jumped from around 15 to well over 100. What a freeing time!
I acquired books in droves, whether for myself or for the school library where I worked, and borrowed even more from my local public library. And then, on a whim, I submitted a book review to a library-related YA literature blog, where I continued to write for a couple of years. Circumstances made it so I couldn’t continue, and after a couple years of not writing, I gave in and submitted an application to Book Riot, a hugely popular book lovers website, when they had an open call.
Who’da thunk? I love writing short-form nonfiction about books, authors, and everything bookish that gets me excited. And now I get to do it all the time!
As a librarian in the Communications and Systems Office at Pima County Public Library, I don’t have the same kinds of interactions that our customer service librarians do. In fact, I don’t touch physical books, exchange recommendations with library customers, or coordinate events on a daily basis.
Instead, I get to play in a virtual playground that combines my reasons for going into librarianship, doing a little research now and then, with my gluttonous need to discover new books, even though I have a massive list of to-read books that I haven’t even gotten to yet. (Seriously, could the publishing industry just stop printing books for a second? I need some time to catch up.)
Spending the majority of my day working with the various components of the library’s website, I still get to experience the thrill of guiding people to interesting knowledge, and the delight and wonder of learning alongside them.
Since I don’t get to flex my book-recommendation muscles on the regular like my superhero colleagues, I love taking an hour out of each week to jump into the fantastic fray of #askalibrarian on Twitter, using the library’s official account. I can take my own reading history and things I have seen and heard discussed by colleagues and throw out suggestions with the best of them!
Not only have I found my ideal day job (’cause let’s face it, isn’t everyone’s dream job to be independently wealthy and read all day?), but I have found an amazing community of people with which I can grow, learn and always be me.
Jessica Pryde is the Technology Librarian for Pima County Public Library. In her spare time, she is happily reading everything under the sun. She tries to keep up by having either a paper book, ebook, or audiobook at her fingertips at all times, but the books, they just keep coming.