Saturday, January 14, 2017

Book Review: This is What a Librarian Looks Like

This is What a Librarian Looks Like
by Kyle Cassidy

Kyle Cassidy's This is What Librarians Look Like began as an article on where he featured male and female librarians of a variety of ethnic backgrounds, along with quotes from each that gave their reasons for choosing the profession and/or their views on the Library's place in world and local communities.

Cassidy's photo essay showed that there is no 'stereotypical' librarian. Librarians, like libraries themselves, are as diverse as the people they work with on a daily basis. That's part of what makes libraries so useful, so essential to the communities they serve.

The book This is What Librarians Look Like expands on that theme. Over 200 librarians are featured, both through photographs and accompanying quotes. As well, Cassidy has collected short essays, written for this book, from writers and entertainers on the importance of libraries in their lives. He has also written short chapters highlighting the history of libraries in America and some of the more unique libraries and the people who run them. Cassidy, a photographer and photojournalist, wisely does what he does best in allowing his essays and photographs set the background while leaving the majority of the 'story' of this book to the librarians who live the job each day.

One of the greatest gifts This is What Librarians Look Like does is to remind us all how vital libraries are to ourselves, our neighbors, and the most vulnerable in our community. It does so through the stories and the smiling, thoughtful expressions of the people who run libraries. Their stories encourage, and inspire through the simple honesty of their words. Librarians do not take on their jobs for the money, the do so because they believe in the importance of the work and for the difference it makes to the people whose lives they touch.

Libraries are more than just books in dust jackets sitting on shelves. They are the living, evolving heartbeat of our community, giving and responding to our needs asking only that their doors be kept open so we can make use of them. Open the covers of Cassidy's book and remind yourself what libraries have been, learn what they can be, and why you should be a part of that future.

Full Disclosure: I have followed Cassidy online, first through LiveJournal and then via Facebook, for over 10 years, although we have never met in person. I am also a former Elementary School Librarian with an MLS from NC Central University.