Meet the Librarian: @The_Romance_Loving_Librarian

It’s the last Friday of February, so that sadly means that this is the last #MeettheLibrarian post…for now at least! Today I have the pleasure of chatting with Martine from @the_romance_loving_librarian 💖

Martine is a fabulous school librarian in Norway (seriously, how cool), and if you’re looking for romance knowledge she’s your gal! Here’s what she had to say about bookstagram, libraries, and more:

What inspired you to start your bookstagram?

I had my regular personal Instagram profile for years before I noticed accounts that were bookstagram accounts, after a while I had followed quite a few and had started to interact with them too… but I didn’t post on my own account because of the stigma of reading romance in Norway… so October 2018 I decided to jump into it myself and made a separate account for bookstagram!

This is a weird question, I know, but I live my life as if I have an awesome movie soundtrack going on in the background. If your life was a movie and had a soundtrack, what would your entrance song be?

“Focus” by Hocus Pocus…

This is a crazy and extremely weird song from the 70s that I first heard in Baby Driver (I love that movie, it’s basically a soundtrack with a movie, not a movie with a soundtrack!). My husband has also told me this should be my theme song!

What is your first book-related memory, and/or your favorite books as a kid?

My mom read to me a lot as a child and I learned to read myself pretty early. But an early memory… My mom used to read the story of The Little Red Hen to me when I was really young, it was part of a beautiful fairytale picture book we had. The hen receives no help making a bread from the pig, cat or the duck so in the end she eats it all herself… my mom had to remake the ending so that the hen shared the bread every time unless she wanted a total meltdown from me… “but she has to share!!!”

What inspired you to become a librarian, or what did your journey to librarianship look like?

What inspired me the most was the librarian at the school I went to 1st-10th grade, she was amazing and would let me stay in the library on my own when I was old enough.

I wanted to be a librarian when I was 19 and finished high school but I didn’t want to move to Oslo, which was the only place they had the course. I lived in Stavanger nearly 4 years before I decided to move to Oslo after all. I got my bachelor’s degree in Library and Information Science at a school here.

You’re a school librarian in Norway (so incredibly cool, by the way)? What do you love about working in a school library, and how do school libraries differ between Norway and the United States?

I’ve never been to a school library in the States (would be fun to visit one, though!), so this question is a bit difficult for me to answer. If I had to guess, I’d say the biggest differences are in the structures of our school systems, how our society is different here in Norway in general and how the socio-economic situation is where I work.

I’ve got a full-time position as a school librarian that’s divided between 2 different schools. 67.67% (25 hours/week) is at a 1st -7th grade school (the kids here start school the year they turn six), the other 33.33% (12.5 hours/week) is an 8th -10th grade school. The schools are only a 5-minute stroll apart, so I walk between them.

The socio-economic situation at my school specifically is a little special in that nearly 50% of our pupils are immigrants, or children who are “non-ethnic Norwegians” as the politicians like to say. This is the highest ratio of non-ethnic vs. ethnic Norwegians in our municipality. This means we’ve got pupils who are 1 st -3 rd generation immigrants and some who are brand new in the country and who hardly speak the language. Norway is highly homogenous in that the first immigrants didn’t arrive before the 1960-70s. We’ve got kids from Somalia, all the countries in the Middle East, Bosnia, Albania, Germany, Poland, Latvia, Pakistan, Eritrea and so on. Many of whom are Muslims. This means our schools are highly multicultural. We don’t have a huge problem with racism, but we do have some issues with our older kids (8-10th graders)
becoming a bit clique-y.

What’s your favorite (or least favorite) librarian stereotype that you’ve heard?

That we’re not needed now that we’ve got e-books and e-readers, the kids can just find their own books.

What’s your favorite library you’ve ever seen, visited, or worked at?

I really loved both my school library and the public library from my childhood days, they always helped me find new and interesting books and they usually ordered everything I wanted. They’re both the ones that impacted me the most.

I must also say that I love my own school library that I work at now! I love that I decide which books I want to buy, what we need to focus on, how I organize everything and how I shelf the books. It’s the most comfortable work place I’ve ever had. I also kind of love that I’m alone and that the kids visit me but still aren’t my responsibility alone. I get to borrow them for a time and hand them back to the teachers afterwards!

What is your favorite funny library story (yes, I know you have to have one)?

That one time I had a whole first grade visiting and I was helping a kid borrow her books while another kid loudly yelled “HELOOO, HELLOOO, DO YOU SEE ME!?” where I replied in a slightly annoyed voice that “yes, I do see you, but don’t you see that I’m helping her borrow her books and I’m talking to her? I can’t do it all at the same time!” Where he replied “yes, you can, it’s actually called multitasking!”

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?

A recent one was that a 5th grader borrowed a lot of books and I commented “wow, so many great books here” and he replied “Yes, I like reading now!” It makes me so happy helping the reluctant readers finding books they love! I love that I’ve bought books they want to read.

What’s that one (or a few) book(s) you always recommend to patrons, friends, and/or family, and why?

I come from a family of big readers – I’ve never really recommended books to them because they easily find what they want on their, and this also applies to my friends since I met most of them when studying for my degree! I’m also the only romance reader in my family.

The most highly recommended books for the kids at the 1st-7th school are all the comics I’ve bought in the last years. Most kids find what they want fast, but some need more help and recommending comics seems to always work. I find comics suit almost everyone: we’ve got some big ones, some small ones, some for older and many for the younger ones. The Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi are by far the most popular
books. Comics by Raina Telgemeier, Ben Hatke and Gazzotti Vehlmann are also highly popular. But there’s also of course the diary books: Dork Diaries, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Tom Gates.

What do you want bookstagrammers/the general public to know about libraries and librarianship?

That we’re here for you and your next reading adventure! We can buy/borrow the books you want if we don’t have them ourselves. That we’ll only become better if you use us more. That we can help you with more than just finding your next book, we can help you with all sorts of things. That we’re here no matter how much money you’ve got, the library is open for everyone.

Do you have any advice for those looking to become a librarian or work in libraries?

Not every library expects/need you to have a librarian education, so I say apply to all kinds of jobs and just read what they want/need in the job description of the ad. If you want to get the bachelor or master’s degree – know it could get hard getting a relevant job afterwards. In Norway it’s pretty difficult finding full-time jobs as a librarian, maybe it’s not the same in the US. Also – find study buddies so you can help each other through the 3 or 5 years it’ll take you to get your degree!

Besides reading and being in libraries (;)) what do you love doing in your free time?

I love watching TV-shows (hey, Netflix!), finding new music, music videos, cooking, baking, traveling and being at home with my husband and pets… Just give me my kindle, my phone and a TV with working internet and I could keep myself entertained forever.

I know this is probably an impossible question BUT I’m still going to ask you: (to you), what makes a great book/read?

One that makes me feel everything, but especially the angst and hardship the characters needs to go through to find their own HEA.

And finally, what are you currently reading?!

Right now I’m reading the latest Hades Hangmen book My Maddie (book 8, or 10 if you count the novellas) by Tille Cole! Flame, you poor, poor guy!

I’m also re-reading The Truth About Cads and Dukes by Elisa Braden, I’ve paused The Duke of Redemption by Grace Callaway and will probably bring Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell with me home from work today.

I think I need some lighthearted reads too while I’m reading My Maddie. As you may have noticed; I love reading several books at the same time!

Martine is so fun and SO KNOWLEDGEABLE about romance and books in general! Do me (and yourself) a huge favor and follow her over on Instagram here!

Until next time…

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