Sunday, July 08, 2007

Make Mine a Pulitzer

As a librarian, it is important to keep reading. Sounds silly to have to write that, but a lot of people in my profession do not keep reading. They settle into their professional magazines or read just their favorite authors and call it, ENOUGH.

But, what if said librarian is cornered by a patron that wants to discuss books? EGADs!

Did you know, in our area, librarians are hiring more managers than actual certified librarians. As a matter of fact, when I started working as a librarian I was hired with a BS in aerospace. I went back to school in the fall of 2002 to get that coveted Masters in Library and Information Science; otherwise, I would have been just another manager, too.

I have a little story that illustrates the need to keep reading. One of my librarian friends was forcibly removed from her beloved job. The old toss the fat money maker and replace with a cheaper younger version scenario, was this person's fate. Well, the younger version wasn't a reader, um, at all.

The local book club found out by asking two little questions. "Did you enjoy this month's book?"

"No ma'am. Sorry. I didn't have time to read it."

"Okay, tell us what was the last book you read."

She was fishing for types of books their new librarian might enjoy, when he replied, "Um, I haven't read anything lately, but I did listen to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil a couple of years ago."

How embarrassing for this young man, to lose all credibility and in front of key library users in the community.

I don't want to ever be that Yahoo! This is why I join challenges. Yes, I read the pro-mags and favorite authors, too, but challenges keep me reading different books. Books I know I will enjoy, but just haven't read yet, and isn't that the key-keep reading.

This is a list of Pulitzer Prize Winners I haven't read yet, but will be reading in the next 12 months for the Book Awards Reading Challenge.

2006 - March - Geraldine Brooks
2005 - Gilead - Marilynne Robinson
2004 - The Known World
- Edward P. Jones
2003 - Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
2001 - The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
- Michael Chabon
1995 - The Stone Diaries
- Carol Shields
1990 - The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love - Oscar Hijuelos
1988 - Beloved - Toni Morrison
1987 - A Summons to Memphis
- Peter Taylor
1986 - Lonesome Dove
- Larry McMurtry
1983 - The Color Purple
- Alice Walker
1980 - The Executioner's Song - Norman Mailer
1968 - The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron
1958 - A Death in the Family - James Agee
1952 - The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk
1947 - All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren
1942 - In This Our Life by Ellen Glasgow
1940 - The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
1939 - The Yearling - Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
1932 - The Good Earth - Pearl S. Buck
1928 - The Bridge of San Luis Rey - Thornton Wilder
1925 - So Big - Edna Ferber


Erica said...

you are so right, maggie! in our children's department, i get the most requests for "good books" to read (probably because i read the most and select all the chapter books), and these kids are voracious! so if i just stick to the same popular authors & series, i don't have anything else to give them once they've finished up with the usual suspects. staying on top of the latest book trends is important, but so is venturing off the beaten path, literarily speaking :)

Sam Sattler said...

That's an amazing story, Maggie. What I can't imagine is WHY any non-reader would want to be a librarian in the first place. That boggles the mind...

maggie moran said...

I think it's sad how they stick any kind of Yahoo in one of the most important jobs in Mississippi! You can't make it on, "Here little Johnny, read this Harry Potter, I hear it's good."

Alabama's lucky to have you, Erica! :D

maggie moran said...

Sam Houston it's just another job to some people. Others see it as a way to fast fame and respect 'cos of all the press releases and photo ops. It isn't until they actually do the job, and possibly discover they hate it, that the whole community suffers.

I remember asking my previous boss why I didn't get the job first. He told me it was because I said I loved books and reading and thought it would be fun. This shot-up a red flag for him. I never found out why but I would think that would put me a little closer to the top than the bottom. *shrugging sholders*

Bookfool said...

I don't get that. You already know I've run into loads of librarians who hate books, down here. Do they have to make it worse?

Having said that . . . I just tagged you for a Rockin' Girl Blogger award for that very reason - you read and you care. You rock, Maggie!

maggie moran said...

Ah, thanks Bookfool! :D

There are good librarians in Mississippi, too. I guess it's like any job, good and bad abound. I just hope you run into some good ones and really soon!

Anonymous said...

Well, guess what? Bookfool isn't the only one who thinks you are a rockin' blogger :)

maggie moran said...

Ew, thanks Iliana! I'm going to need a 30inch laptop to support my big ole head! :D

Sam Sattler said...

"I remember asking my previous boss why I didn't get the job first. He told me it was because I said I loved books and reading and thought it would be fun. This shot-up a red flag for him. I never found out why but I would think that would put me a little closer to the top than the bottom."

This makes me think, Maggie. I've interviewed at two bookstores and turned in applications to four in total. I expressed the same sentiments when asked why I wanted to work in a bookstore after having retired from 35 years in the corporate world. Maybe I threw up those same red flags that you mention. Sheesh, I thought it would be a plus, not a minus, to express my love for books to a bookstore manager. That's scary.

maggie moran said...

Sam, do you think they thought we would partake of the product and ignore customers? :D

Les said...

I loved Middlesex, The Good Earth, The Grapes of Wrath, The Color Purple and Beloved. Good choices!

Gentle Reader said...

I'm with Sam, I can't imagine why a non-reader would want to be a librarian. That is a wild story!

Love your choices for the awards challenge!

Ana S. said...

I've only read a few of those, but they were all amazing (especially Middlesex - my favourite book ever). It sounds like you have some great reading ahead of you. I look forward to your reviews!

Tiffany Norris said...

Amen! Amen!
And I see so many "old friends" on your list...The Good Earth, All the King's Men, Kavalier and Clay.
Have to say, though...I couldn't even make it through Middlesex, which is rare for me. Maybe you'll enjoy it more!
Again, great post!

Debi said...

Oh Maggie...that is just incredibly sad! I must say that it surprised me to hear that there are librarians out there who don't read. But I guess that makes me extremely fortunate, because I've never run into one, huh?

Anonymous said...

Be warned that the Chabon book is a bit slow at the beginning. I put it down the first time around until I read Summerland, when I realized that he's just not really great at writing book beginnings. It picks up tremendously after the first 100 pages and is worth sticking with.

maggie moran said...

Thanks Les! Some of these are rereads, but I have forgotten them and need to revisit. Grapes of Wrath is the perfect example. If I were to booktalk it today, I would be sunk. All I can picture is Henry Fonda standing with the family and broke down jalopy on some mountain. It's bad to use the movie as booktalk! :)

Gentle Reader, some Mississippi librarian jobs do not require a master degree. This allows extra room to hire the mayor's daughter or a board's nephew. Our state isn't alone...

Nymeth, I bought Middlesex last summer and it has lanquished on my tbr stacks. (In our little town we have a hermaphrodite. He/she is in his 90s and lives his life as a man. He married a woman with kids and he has all kinds of grand/great-grand kids; which one is the spittin' image of him.) I better get to reading it 'cos we have a huge Oprah following here.

And, again thank you, TDN! I'm looking forward to Kavalier & Clay! Oh, maybe you should read Larry McMurty during the Southern Reading Challenge since you will be moving to the big T soon. ;D

You know Debi, I would love to see a poll asking librarians how many books they read a week, month, or year, and broken into genres, professional, and age groups. What would be the norm?

maggie moran said...

Thanks so much Sprite! I guess he sets the scene and establishes the characters really good before diving into the plot.

Kelly said...

I have some librarian friends who almost never read it is really weird. It looks like we are reading some of the same things for the book award challenge.

Murf said...

Hi, Maggie! To share a quote of yours from back on 6/20: I deliberately read just a taste so that I'll actually read it before doing the book discussion. I have a terrible habit of reading a book, suggesting it for discussion, and then never picking it back up. Bad, bad, practice when you are the speaker.

Perhaps your saying should be "Keep reading...and read the whole thing." :-)

Isabel said...

I know that some libraries are overwhelmed (too much work, not enough people). But, not to read anything, not even a magazine, in your spare time is bad.

All libraries should have a PAID 30 minute read time for the employees, once a week, so they can at least know what's in the collection.

maggie moran said...

MyUtopia you probably do a great service to these librarians who don't read by telling them what you think of books you bring back. Then they can suggest or not suggest based on your opinion. I can hear em now, "Oh, one patron just loved this book..."

Sorry, Murf, totally different context. I was speaking of discussion books.

"I deliberately read just a taste so that I'll actually read it before doing the book discussion." I need to make sure it is a discussable book plus if I read it too early I won't go back."I have a terrible habit of reading a book, suggesting it for discussion, and then never picking it back up. Bad, bad, practice when you are the speaker."

The Memory Keeper's Daughter is my assigned book this coming semester and I read a taste to suggest it and write a booktalk for the newspaper. A Walk in the Woods is the book I read in '99, suggested and held discussion for in 3/07, which I skimmed through and didn't reread. I did a very bad thing which relected within the discussion.

I was the YaHoo for not rereading the book. I'm so sorry for the confusion Murf. I assume my readers already know what's going on in my head, not realizing they haven't a clue unless I tell them all the details; such as the bad mystery writer who gives one the clues at the end instead of along the way. :D

maggie moran said...

You are so right, WW100! Public librarians are overworked, along with teachers, in our society. If I'm ever a boss again, I think I'll try to make DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) mandatory. Spaced throughout the day of course. Great Idea! :D

sage said...

That's a good idea about going back through and reading the pulitizer's that you've not read--there's a number of them that I didn't get around to reading, but right now I'm reading Gilead (I'll include it in the Damn Yankee Reading Challenge

maggie moran said...

Go Yankees! Just got my tickets for the game, Sage! I should be able to knock off a lot of Damn Yankee books while in the area. :D

Sam Sattler said...

"Sam, do you think they thought we would partake of the product and ignore customers? :D "

Well, something I said sure scared them, Maggie, and I'd give a dollar to know what it was.

Diane said...

I have read 11 of the books on that list and loved all of them . . . I also tried to listen to March, and absolutely hated it . . .

As a person who dreams of getting a masters in library science and becoming a librarian as my next career, I can't imagine anyone becoming a librarian who didn't love books . . .

Anonymous said...

"A Summons To Memphis" by Peter Taylor is quite good !

Dewey said...

Wow, it never even occurred to me that there might be people working in libraries who don't read? Why do they want to work in libraries, then? Oh wait, I see Sam asked that already.

maggie moran said...

Me, too, Sam! ;)

Diane, that's wonderful news!

Diane and Dewey, there's all sorts of reasons for hiring whomever and I'm not sure I could come up with them. I do know, for a fact, non-readers are chosen for the profession in managerial slots. Small town libraries cannot afford to pay an actual librarian's salary and will take anyone they deem suitable.

This has me wondering if librarians also get tired of books. I came to reading late and life and I just love books. Everything I read is fresh and exciting. Maybe, they suffer from old-hat-syndrome?

Paul, I think this may be my first book-I'm leaning towards the southern authors right now. ;)

Bookfool said...

I've met a few great MS librarians - don't get me wrong - but I think they're particularly rare at elementary school level because of the way teachers are slotted in at random. Do you work in a school library or public library?

maggie moran said...

Oh, Bookfool, I'm a college librarian. My official title is Public Service and Reference Librarian. Fancy, right?

I worked as a public librarian for nine years before moving up.

Nyssaneala said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. I would think that a hobby of reading in your spare time would be a requirement for a librarian's job. Of course, mandatory DEAR would be better! I don't like getting recommendations of books from a person that has only read the back cover or review!

Kate said...

Wow, an amazing story. And a sad one as well. Sometimes I wonder why people do the jobs they do. Sigh.

I worked in a library through high school and college and the head librarian made sure we read all the current titles, just in case someone asked us to recommend something! I guess that was in the old days!! Ha!!

tinylittlelibrarian said...

Bravo! That's why I've started doing so many challenges, too. Not that I've ever been accused of not reading, but I was getting a bit stuck in the chick lit rut.

But oh...the books! There are so very many. I adore selecting the YA books for our system but it just adds more and more books to my TBR list. I could have nothing but DEAR time forever and not get through them. And then, as Erica said, I have to try and keep up with the kids' chapter books, which I fall down on a bit. Sigh.

But wow, that story is really, really bad! One of our librarians confessed to not liking reading much a while ago and it was a bit shocking. But to not have read anything in several YEARS? Egad.

I blame library schools - they're turning into "information professional" schools where the focus is on computers and public librarianship is seen as inferior.

maggie moran said...

Nyssaneala, I won't read a book jacket until the end of a book, but read reviews for work, and I do see how easy they would be to manipulate into your own opinion w/o reading the book.

Ew, I used this on someone the other day..."Bloggers like it." How's that for a reccomendation! ;)

Kate, I'm starting to think ole school wasn't so bad. :)

Tiny Lil' Lib', it's hard to read for fun when in school, too.

Since most people come to library school from a Liberal Arts background, I think an assumption is made on reading habits. Yes, I read as a manager of a library, but it was maybe one book a month. It took a YA class before I realized I must read constantly to stay ahead of the game. Not just read, but also write and discuss; otherwise I'll forget what I just read! :P

Jennie said...

Oiy... luckily, I work in a library of readers. Even the custodial staff are heavy readers. I agree with Tiny Librarian though that as Library School try to encompass more and more of the Information Professional, less emphasis is placed on librarianship and reader's advisory.

Also, lots of states have non-MLISed librarians. I'm one. I'm also a library student. It all goes in how you treat and train your little l librarians. In Maryland, there is intense training you have to undergo early on.

And I wonder if it wasn't so much the "I like to read" comments that through hiring personnel off but the "I think it would be fun" because that sounds like you might not take it seriously.

Now, if I could just make myself read some more *Adult* materials... (I'm a children's librarian. I rarely get to read non-work, non-school related stuff!)

maggie moran said...

Well, Jennie, it's not too late to join a bloggin' reading challenge. The Dystopia Challenge might be perfect for adding adult books which teens would love to move up to. :)

Money may be a factor in training Mississippi para-professionals. The public library system is so used in this area that I know it is hard for employees to take time off for seminars, too. BUT, the fact that they hire non-readers in the first place-is swinging way too close to the business model thus way too far from the library's mission.

Jennie, I never thought a potential employee would frown on "having fun." (Sam, take note!) I see your point. :)

I'm sorry public wasn't emphasized at your library school. I actually heard some belly-aching from peers while at UofAlabama which indicated they spent too much time on public. Go figure.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

Jennie said...


I was just pointing out to your commentors that many states have non-MLISed librarians, not just Mississippi.

It's sad, however, that libraries are using this as an excuse to hire whomever and to move to a business model.

Who wouldn't want an employee to have fun? I have no clue. The most successful workers are those who enjoy their work...

I still just have a hard time believing there are non-reading librarians!

maggie moran said...

Pshew, I felt I had offended you, Jennie.

1morechapter said...

Maggie, I didn't know if you were interested in reading ALL of the Pulitzers or not, but if you are, we'd love to have you at The Pulitzer Project.