Books that matter (to librarians); what books matter to you?

By Jamie Morris

From L to R: Sara Walker, Colleen McGregor, Marieke Junkin, Elizabeth Beauparlant.
  1. Every reader their book.
  2. Every book its reader.

From S.R. Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science (1931)

Sure, libraries have lots more than books to offer these days — everything from digital magazines to gardening workshops. But books remain the beating heart of every collection and the mission of librarians is still, as it was for Ranganathan, to be a matchmaker between books and readers.

Here’s an observation and a question, though: Librarians themselves are devoted readers, so what are the books that have mattered to them, personally – and maybe even changed their lives?

I asked some library staff at the Lindsay branch.

Sara Walker, Library Staff

There is a book that once upon a time opened up worlds and led me to tumble down a rabbit hole of literature. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has opened up so many doors of discovery for me, from silly children’s stories and nonsensical rhymes to tales of the fantastic and extraordinary revealed within the ordinary, to strong heroines who aren’t afraid to speak their minds or stand up for what’s right.

Finding other stories like Alice’s was difficult when I was a kid, but through the 1990s, thanks to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the publishing industry exploded with an entire subgenre of stories with roots in Wonderland. Urban fantasy brought fantastic creatures into our ordinary, everyday world. More often than not, these stories featured strong heroines who could kick butt while firing off witty remarks. It was Alice in a new age. The publishing industry’s appetite for urban fantasy may have waned in recent years, but not mine. I continue to believe at least six impossible things before breakfast.

Colleen McGregor, Circulation Services

I can vividly remember the summer I began to call myself a ‘reader’ . . . my desire to stay inside with a good book overtook my wanting to play outside with friends. Today not much has changed. Being a mom of five great kids, I cherish the moments when I can sit down with a good book and a cup of tea in hand. Working at the library I’m often asked the question “What’s a good read?” Three books come to mind: The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd and Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. The common thread with these books is the strong connection between mother/ caregiver and child.

I’m happy to say that I have passed on my love of reading to my children and hopefully it will continue for generations to come.

Marieke Junkin, Library Specialist

I am not a born reader. My parents were hard-working immigrants with no time for the frivolity of picture books and junior fiction. While I dabbled in some unmemorable reading along the way, the turning point that made me a capital “R” Reader took place when I was 12. I came across a paperback copy of Alex Haley’s “Roots: The Saga of an American Family.” I was immediately captivated and spent every waking moment engrossed in the social history of a black family. It opened up a world of historical fiction and enthralling sagas that continue to keep me up at night and forever turning pages.

Elizabeth Beauparlant, Library Specialist

Growing up, I was not a reader. I read the odd novel here and there but I was always busy with other things. When I was 18, I was given a copy of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz during a trip to California. Ruiz talks about living a life controlled by yourself, and only you can make decisions and changes to better yourself. I was going through a rough time, with no motivation in life. I was told this book would change my entire way of thinking but I didn’t believe it. Boy, was I wrong. This book completely changed my life and my attitude towards my relationships with the people around me.

This book gave me the motivation to go to school and it would land me to where I am now. I feel like that I am a completely different person after reading this, and I recommend it to everyone. I’ve bought multiple copies, and have given it as a gift to a lot of people. I can say honestly now that I am an avid reader and this book will always be my go-to.

Annalisa Rielly, Circulation Services

As an avid reader at a young age, the library quickly became a second home to me. My parents and other family members have always encouraged me to become a strong reader to not only expand my knowledge but to help me form my own opinions. A House in the Sky, a memoir by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbee, is one book that has influenced me and that I find myself recommending to others. I read it when I was trying to pick a career. The same thoughts of how to understand the world and live a significant life are still questions I ask myself today, just like Amanda did. How can I make a difference in the world through my career? The strength, courage and undying determination that Amanda displays through even the darkest of times show how brave she is. This book has stayed with me and will continue to remind me that every life experience makes you the person you are today.

Annalisa Rielly, Julie Lynch, Jamie Anderson.

Julie Lynch, Children’s Services

I have a very fond memory of my first primary reader in Grade 1. Mr. Whiskers. A cute little kitten as the main character brought me much joy as I loved kittens and I felt confident to be reading on  my own! What excitement! Another favorite that I still treasure in my personal collection is  This Little Pony by Dorothy Haas.

I also remember visiting the Lindsay Public Library to borrow books and watch puppet plays. At that time the Children’s Department was downstairs.

I imagined that it would be so amazing to work at a library with a whole world of information surrounding you. Well here I am now. I’ve worked here for over 30 years. I love the career path I have chosen and I still love books.

Jamie Anderson, Library Director

When I went to university I thought I was going to be a lawyer, until my second term. Then I took a class called “Ancient Greek History through Primary Sources.” One of the books we read was Herodotus’ Histories and I was hooked. I became a history major with a minor in classics.

I probably re-read portions of the book every year. I used the text to help me learn fifth century Greek and I have traveled around the Mediterranean Sea with a well-thumbed Loeb Classic edition (my original Penguin copy fell apart and was  replaced in London).

I still think it is one of the best examples of storytelling and enjoy reading it to this day.

So, what’s the book that has mattered most to you — that maybe even changed your life? Join the conversation by adding a comment below, either on The Lindsay Advocate’s news site or social media.

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