Tuesday, January 6, 2009

No Time

Yesterday at the library I tried to help a mom and her son. They needed historicial fiction and they needed it fast. They had no time. He wasn't interested in a book and the interview wasn't productive - a shrug. The eye-roll. The mom looking at her watch. It happens often in juvenile fiction. The kid has to have a book, the kid has no interest, the mom has no time. I grabbed a couple of good ones, with good covers. Less than a minute - they were gone. What exactly happened there I don't know but I am thinking seriously about ways the library put materials in these patrons' hands with a better result. Can we do Reader's Advisory by email - 3 easy questions -- or telephone? Give us a call, we'll do the interview by phone and have a stack waiting for you -- by the curb if necessary. All these books waiting for readers.... I am resolved to remedy by all means possible - or impossible. I let this family down, it is impetus for change. No excuses.

5 comments:

La-la said...

Do you think that young people don't enjoy reading because no one has time to teach them the wonders of books? I don't blame the mom to much, I am sure her life is packed with so much daily 'stuff' that it was hard for her to find time to add another job to her list. But if she would only remember what it was like to be young and become absorbed in a good book, she could take that 10 minutes, work with a librarian who is excited about the library and really try and help her son find something that would grab him and lead him down a pathway of reading for pleasure, not just because he has to. Am I too out of touch with reality? Maybe.. but it is never to late to try and get kids to read.

Nan Hoekstra said...

La-La, Thanks for the thoughtful comment. You are insightful. As a newly-retired reference librarian once taught me -- it's ALL about DELIVERY. My job was to fulfill the request -- I couldn't change that they were in a hurry and that the boy wasn't enthusiastic at that moment. I need to find a way to make materials so incredibly accessible that it can be accomplished in no time. It is possible to run into Target with no time and get an item and be on your way...

Mrs. F-B's Books Blog said...

I think that this scenario is a sign that our systems, our society are failing families rather than you having let this family down. You could not control how much time that family had. Perhaps the mother was on her way to her second job and couldn't either. Perhaps the child goes to a school where the teachers are overworked and underfunded and where there is no librarian to get him excited about reading. So many perhapses. Think of this possibility. Perhaps that child will go home and open the book and discover reading or a subject he or she cares about. It could happen. Probably you'll never know, but perhaps.

Best to you!

jimmyprell said...

First, by way of preamble: Nan, I LOVE that you are injecting more of yourself into this blog. Love it, and I'm proud of you for your determination to make Anokaberry even better in 2009. More Nan, all the time, 24/7!

As for this issue, forgive me, I don't think this has anything to do with systems failing our families. And Nan certainly did the best that anyone could do. Reading requires time. Too many people are twittering around on whirlwinds, frantic, running from one thing to another. If there's no time to select a book, how can there be time to read it. I have a friend, Joe, who writes adult books. He's often complaining how no one reads books anymore. And it's true, our choice of reading material has changed and continues to shift away from novels (but don't get me wrong, the novel is NOT dead by any stretch of the imagination). Joe says that at least I'm in the right market, writing for kids. He says, "Even though parents don't read books anymore, for some reason they still want their kids to." Regarding those people who are flying through the library: I don't think there's anything you can do to help them beyond what you did. At least they were in the library. Or, okay: Bring back the BOOKMOBILE . . . with Nan behind the wheel!

James Preller

Nan Hoekstra said...

I want to move faster -- in order to do that I must innovate so that materials are ready and available. It is connected to basic attitude about displaying materials and not relying on the way we've always done it... The library has to deliver immediately somehow. As fast as Google. Patrons can reserve items online for pickup but what if people could email ahead for that random kind of vague inquiry -- "he needs historical fiction at least 200 pages", or "she is doing a report on snakes" and we could have a stack of books waiting for perusal... So much on our shelves is just lost from public exposure -- stuff I am sure people would take with them but are too hurried to browse or intimidated by the archivness of it all... This really should be a blog post but here it is anyway...