Okay since February is Library Lovers’ Month, I decided to change things up for my Meet the Bookstagrammer posts this month; each Friday, I’ll be featuring an incredible librarian in the bookstagram community! Today I have the incredible pleasure chatting with an amazing lady I know IRL and is the reason I even have a bookstagram account: Anna over at @thebooksinmylapp!
Y’all, Anna is a true ray of sunlight and after a few months working outside libraries, she’s finally back in the library world! Without further ado, here’s what she had to say about herself, libraries, and books.
What inspired you to start a bookstagram?
My first dip into bookstagram was when I joined a buddy reads for The Nightingale on my personal account because of my IRL friend @compulsivereadersblog (Elysse)! I loved the chat so much, and I started to share bookish giveaways and content on my personal feed. I decided it was time to go all in and make a booksta account (and stop annoying my friends, ha!).
I imagine my life as being accompanied by a pretty cool movie soundtrack so I gotta ask: if your life was a movie and had a soundtrack, what would your entrance song be?
I am a naturally enthusiastic person and love pop music so I would love “Happy” by Pharrell Williams to be mine!
[blogger’s note: knowing Anna IRL, this is 100% appropriate!]
What is your first book-related memory, and/or your favorite books as a kid?
There was a book I loved as a kid called Socks for Supper about an older man who started to trade yarn for milk and cheese; it’s one I always think of from my childhood memories! I also remember my Mom reading Harry Potter aloud to my brothers and me, and I thought Hermione was a boy who was Harry’s brother and they rode around on dragons!
What inspired you to become a librarian, or what did your journey to librarianship look like?
Like many librarians, I was an English major in college. For a long time, I wanted to work in publishing as an editor. I minored in Professional Writing in college, and we had to do a career project where we interviewed people in the industry we wanted to work in. After interviewing someone who worked for Macmillian (textbooks) in Columbus, OH and another alum who worked in NYC in textbook editing, I realized how difficult it is to break into trade publishing. I also didn’t want to live in NYC so basically my dreams of being an editor ended there. I went back to the drawing board and since I was already working at a library on campus I thought, “heck why not apply to library graduate school?”. I did an internship in Youth Services at the Cincinnati Library before starting grad school and I absolutely fell in love.
I know you used to be a children’s librarian (and fingers crossed you will be one again soon)! What drew you to working with kids, and what are your favorite things you got to do as a children’s librarian?
So my first real job was as a summer camp counselor. I always loved working with kids, but the tweens were my favorite because they’re awkward like me but also have so much to tell you and can really hold a conversation! I loved my experience with my Youth Services internship, but I was still debating academic or public librarianship at the beginning of graduate school.
Then I took the general Youth Services Librarianship course and I was so much more invested than any of my academic library based classes.
The biggest perk of all time being a YS librarian (in my opinion) is the programs! Slime! Bath bombs! Candy science! Cupcake wars! More slime! Legitimately, cooking up programs is my favorite part of being a youth librarian! I know I *should* say the books, but I love interaction more than anything and doing that with the kids in the library is so much fun! Storytimes are pretty dang great too!
[another blogger’s note: since having this chat, Anna got offered a gig in a library! Congrats Anna <3]
What’s your favorite (or least favorite) librarian stereotype that you’ve heard?
Quinn, I have retyped this answer so many times because I get so worked up over librarian stereotypes! My least favorite is a tie between the quiet library trope and the libraries are dying one. I am not your shushing, mean, granny librarian. I’m the opposite – a loud, young, bubbly librarian!
My favorite is the classic sexy librarian. It’s such a fun dichotomy between that and all librarians are older women!
[another blogger’s note: those who think libraries are quiet haven’t been in one in like, 30+ years…just an FYI]
What’s your favorite library you’ve ever seen, visited, or worked at?
The Bodleian Library at Oxford was pretty amazing, and I loved having access to it for a year! I also loved The Geology Library at Ohio State, my first ever library job! It was the oldest building on campus and was filled with wood tables and adornments. I loved opening and closing the library and being able to unlock it was such a thrill!
What is your favorite funny library story (yes, I know you have to have one)?
I don’t know why my mind keeps going to my gross stories. Like when we made color-changing slime and it turned from pink to yellow so it kind of looked like raw chicken turning to cooked and these boys kept saying “looks like guts!’ and it’s squishy and one of the boy’s little brother’s threw up over their table. Then I had to clean it up and wash the tarp because my co-worker was too squeamish!
Another time, I accidentally trailed smoothie from my bag all over the Children’s room while closing down the room and it took me twenty minutes to clean it up, whoops!
While I know you probably have countless funny or weird library stories, I’m sure you also have some heartwarming ones too! Have you had any moments that have warmed your heart and made it all seem worth it?
There are a lot of heart-warming moments during storytimes and programs that made me heart melt – the kindness of parents, the excitement of kids! Some storytimes are just great and the kids are all involved and dancing and singing along or they’re just glued to the book and you feel like a rock star! I once did a Candy Science program where we put the mentos in diet coke and the kids went crazy, it was a ton of fun!
What’s that one (or a few) book(s) you always recommend to patrons, friends, and/or family, and why?
Picture book: I love Creepy Pair of Underwear by Aaron Reynolds! It’s about a rabbit who’s scared of the dark and buys glowing underwear that end up creeping him out and he tries to hide them at all costs. It’s a great read-aloud book and lots of fun! It’ll be sure to get some chuckles!
Beginning chapter book: Meet Yasmin! by Saadia Faruqi – this is the cutest little series about a girl named Yasmin and her Pakistani American family. It a cross between an easy reader and a chapter book and is dang adorable!
Middle grade book: Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder- Nine children live on an island, happy and carefree. But once a year, a mysterious boat arrives carrying a small new child to the island, and the eldest of the nine children leaves, never to set foot on the island again. It’s a good book about maturity, childish wonder and what happens when we grow up!
YA: Far From the Tree by Robin Benway – Three half-siblings who’ve never known their mother or each other come together as a family. The each have struggles – teenage pregnancy, parents divorcing, one has only known foster care. It’s such a heart-wrenching and beautiful story and I’m tearing up thinking about it! File under: contemporary YA that will make you cry!
Adult: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. This is a case where I personally love the book a lot more than the show. It’s dark humor at its best. There’s dark TW content: domestic violence, a death, rape. But there’s also a lot of hope and light between new budding friendships. There’s the whole Mommy drama in elementary school aspect. I think Moriarty has a lot of elements to appeal to people and great dramatic flair with timing.
What do you want bookstagrammers/the general public to know about libraries and librarianship?
That libraries are dynamic, future-focused and accessible. Above all else, the one thing I want to do on bookstagram is advocate for libraries and the power of stories and information. Libraries are not quiet places where the workers read all day. They’re community hubs filled with activity, learning and innovation! I love that bookstagram is a place where so many readers connect, many of them library lovers! I hope we can share how accessible libraries are, both in our homes and in library spaces, and how helpful they can be!
Do you have any advice for those looking to become a librarian or work in libraries?
Getting work experience before and during library school is really key! The more experience you have, the better! I figured out I wanted to become a public librarian because I did an internship, and that made all the difference in the world for me!
As a librarian, you’re going to have to advocate for libraries, librarians, your community and yourself a lot. It comes through naturally when you’re passionate about people and information! So my biggest advice is just to go for it! (But also try to get your library degree funded as best you can because debt and being a public servant is highly ironic, but it’s the way it is! The University of Illinois has graduate assistant positions that help cover tuition & it’s a big perk but competitive.)
[yet another blogger’s note: experience is so key in getting the library door! My library internship helped direct my career and gave me some great contacts in the field!]
Besides reading and being in libraries (;)) what do you love doing in your free time?
I love to hike, take photos and bake! Being outdoors and in the fresh air is one of my favorite things! I also like to hang out with my cat, my people, and drink copious amounts of coffee (preferably with a pastry!).
I know this is probably an impossible question BUT I’m still going to ask you: (to you), what makes a great book/read?
A book that completely engrosses you in its tale! You can’t put it down, you keep thinking about it and you just HAVE to talk to someone about it! For me, that means some drama, definitely some romance and great storytelling! I love a lot of genres, but if it if has that *umph* factor, then I’m totally game!
And finally, what are you currently reading?!
Right now I’m reading Fountains of Silence (Historical Fiction) for my historical fiction buddy reads, a romance called Pucked (hockey – get it lol), and I’m listening to Lemon Meringue Pie Murder (cozy mystery).
Y’all, knowing and following Anna is a true treat, so do me a favor and give her bookstagram a follow over here. Check back next Friday too to meet another librarian in our amazing community.
Until next time!