This is a guest post from Katie MacBride. Katie is a writer and librarian living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She writes about addiction, mental health, politics, pop culture, teenagers, and her deep, unhealthy obsession with her dog. Read her work at www.katiemacbride.com. Follow her on Twitter @msmacb.
I’ve been a librarian for five years and I worked in libraries for five years before that. In my decade of stack dwelling, the two questions I am most frequently asked are:
1) “Libraries still exist?” (This is a good way to find out who you don’t want to spend time with.)
2) “What do you think about ebooks?”
Perhaps because we are such unabashed lovers of the written word, such fierce protectors of the page, it seems only natural to assume that librarians would regard ebooks warily. Initially, ebooks seemed like they might pose a threat to physical books–-certainly the publishing world has had to undergo major changes as a result of the popularity of ebooks. While some still swear the physical book is endangered, most of us have come to realize that ebooks and physical books can coexist peacefully.
Most libraries have offered patrons access to free ebooks for years but there’s still an assumption that librarians frown over our spectacles at the Kindle or iPad, that for whatever reason we will be the last holdouts against the e-ification of literature. “There’s just something about a paper book–-a book I can hold in my hands,” a patron will say. And there’s truth to the statement–-I have yet to meet a librarian who doesn’t relish thumbing through the pages of a favorite novel or who hasn’t carted an embarrassing number of boxes of books from one apartment to the next because parting with those well-worn paperbacks feels like letting go of an old friend.
That said, what librarians love more than the actual books, is reading. It was the story that first and foremost transformed our lives. If what was inside those books wasn’t a powerful tale, if it didn’t have the ability to transport us to far away places, or reveal something about ourselves we never knew how to articulate, books wouldn’t have any significance to us at all. They would make for excellent doorstops and too-bulky paperweights.
So, however you want to get that story is fine with us librarians. I am, and always have been, a reading addict. I will take my stories any and all of the ways I can get them. I listen to audiobooks when I am driving or in the shower, I read physical books at home, and I read on my phone if I’m waiting at a doctor’s office. If there were a fourth option I would do that, too. If you have a preference for physical books, that’s fine. You certainly don’t have to start downloading ebooks. But there’s no need to sheepishly tell your librarian that you have a Kindle. When it comes to reading, we librarians are simple creatures: if you love reading, if you love stories, we love you. Now, what can we help you find?