Review: This Is What a Librarian Looks Like: A Celebration of Libraries, Communities, and Access to Information

This Is What a Librarian Looks Like: A Celebration of Libraries, Communities, and Access to Information
This Is What a Librarian Looks Like: A Celebration of Libraries, Communities, and Access to Information by Kyle Cassidy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve been dipping in and out of this lovely book for the last month or so. If any librarian on the planet was after quotes or ideas to explain exactly why they do what they do, then this book is just full of them.

What changes a collection of books into something useful is a librarian: a curator, an indexer, a manager, a gardener who knows what to cut back, what to add, what to highlight, and, most of all, what the community around them needs to grow as a society.

You get lots of perspective on libraries over time, how they were originally thought of by the ancients as well as historical figures who have been influential in the library world. From Alexandria to Benjamin Franklin and on through more recent times.

Tyrion in particular says that books are a weapon. As a sword needs a whetstone to keep it sharp, a mind needs books, and his mind is his weapon

There are wonderful essays from the likes of Neil Gaiman, Jeff Vandermeer and George RR Martin just to name a few. All lovely perspectives on their experiences of libraries throughout their lives and their thoughts on the future of libraries. I found some of these essays very moving and really rather lovely. Also, quite revealing, some of our most revered authors have had experiences in libraries which have strongly influenced their work.

But then there are the beautiful photographs of librarians that the book is filled with. Each one has a quote from the subject of libraries, what they do in their libraries, who they work with and the new ways they serve their communities, all kinds of communities from prisons, hospitals, schools, companies and organisations of many kinds. The photos show how diverse the library community is and the comments by the librarians show the ways that needs are met despite challenges and how the role of libraries in communities of all kinds is growing and changing and adapting to technology and modern times.

I found this book to be inspirational, it gave me so much to think about, often I would read the words of a librarian and have to stop and take pause to consider how I could apply their thoughts to my work. I think that the library community will treasure this work, I’m so glad that I read it. I’m sure I’ll go back to it again and again, I fully intend to buy a print copy.

Thanks so much to Netgalley for giving me access to this wonderful book.

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