The Newest Superheroes: Your Neighborhood Librarians

 If there was any doubt that your neighborhood librarians should be given superhero status, take a look at this New York Times article about how the economic downturn is putting new stresses on libraries and librarians. Librarians are facing increased demands as “first responders” to patrons who are seeking help in filling out job applications and unemployment forms, using the library’s computers and free wi-fi access, looking for language and citizenship training, borrowing books and DVDs for free entertainment, and dealing with the emotional strains of making do with much less. Even Nancy Pearl’s beloved Librarian Action Figure might find it difficult to deal with all of these demands.

So how can you help? First of all, take the time to thank your neighborhood librarians – a kind word goes a long way. Second, consider volunteering at the Library – there are many different ways you can get involved. Third, email City Councilmembers and ask them to preserve funding for the Library: jean.godden@seattle.gov, richard.mciver@seattle.gov, bruce.harrell@seattle.gov, sally.clark@seattle.gov, tom.rasmussen@seattle.gov, jan.drago@seattle.gov, nick.licata@seattle.gov, tim.burgess@seattle.gov, richard.conlin@seattle.gov.

If you’re looking for books that feature fictional librarians, here’s a list from the Library’s Shelf Talk blog. And although the following books don’t feature librarians, consider the book recommendations below from the Friends’ Board meeting in April. You can just click on the links below to get to the SPL site to reserve a copy of these books. Quoted book review excerpts are reprinted with permission from Booklist.

Bone [Vol. I], Out from Boneville, by Jeff Smith. “One of the most acclaimed new comics of recent years, Bone is a Tolkien-meets-Pogo fantasy about the Bone cousins, who leave their home, Boneville, for adventures in the outside world. . . . Smith, with his clean draftsmanship and flawless comic timing, has been compared to comics masters Walt Kelly (Pogo and Carl Barks (creator of Uncle Scrooge McDuck). Like Pogo Bone has a whimsy best appreciated by adults, yet kids can enjoy it, too . . .” — Gordon Flagg   This review was written in 1995, and there are many other volumes available.

Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism, by Muhammad Yunus with Karl Weber. Nobel Peace Prize winner Yunus is the founder of Grameen Bank, which lends small amounts of money to poorer individuals to help them start small businesses. This is an inspiring tale about the possibilities of “micro-lending”, and businesses that are helping people while still being profitable.

Why I Wake Early : New Poems, by Mary Oliver. This is a lovely collection of poems about nature and contemplative ideas, and encourages us to slow down and appreciate nature.

Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese. This is Verghese’s first book of fiction, and starts in a charity hospital in Ethiopia while spanning three continents and several generations. This garnered a starred review in Publishers Weekly.

A Hand to Guide Me, Denzel Washington with Daniel Paisner. Actor Denzel Washington, a national spokesman for the Boys and Girls Club of America, has collected stories from over 70 celebrities (including himself) of how mentors made a difference in their lives. Contributors include Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Gloria Steinhem, Whoopie Goldberg, Bonnie Raitt, Cal Ripken, and more.

Readers, who are your favorite neighborhood superhero librarians?

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