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Monday, June 17, 2013

Variety is the Spice of the Library by Jeanna

As an Interlibrary Loan librarian here at the Stillwater Public Library, I get to see the most wonderful books. Interesting books! Amazing books! Frightening books! 

Could be a collection of zombie stories, a book about what’s wrong with our food supply, or a book on how to teach a teenager to drive.  One of the great privileges of my job is getting to see some of what our patrons are reading. And boy, are you people reading -  and watching, and listening to - the most wonderful things!  Green urbanism, biographies of early Christian missionaries, children’s books with titles like “Tillie the Terrible Swede,” risqué romances, particle physics – patrons of Stillwater Public Library read it all.

The thing that amazes me most – other than the sheer, never ending variety – is that the books don’t get into big fights when the librarians’ backs are turned.  We never come back from lunch to discover that the clutter busting book has shoved the book on flea market chic off onto the floor.  The beautifully illustrated, coffee table-sized book about the fats we love to eat (I kid you not, the thinly sliced lard on the cover looked like delicious ice cream!) does not get mangled by the how-to-go-vegetarian book or all those healthy living manuals.  Books by writers from every imaginable place on every imaginable political, cultural and social spectrum peacefully co-exist right on my desk. The Star Trek technical manuals and the Star Wars novels do not even, as far as I know, trade appropriately nerdy put-downs. 

So, before I feel compelled to burst into a chorus of Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder’s “Ebony and Ivory,” let me just say that from this librarian’s point of view, variety does seem to be the spice of our public life. I may want to read up how social media is changing our lives for the better; you may want to investigate how to get off what you view as a technological roller coaster.  We may be able to meet in the middle with lively discussions on straw bale construction and achieving financial independence through multiple streams of income. We may not, but isn’t it interesting – all the things we can talk, read and argue about? For more information on inter-library loans, go to

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