Magazine article Information Today

This Is Us

Magazine article Information Today

This Is Us

Article excerpt

This Is Us This Is What a Librarian Looks Like: A Celebration of Libraries, Communities, and Access to Information by Kyle Cassidy New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 20i7 ISBN: 978-03i6393980, 240 pages; $24.99, hardcover

Author and photographer Kyle Cassidy is not a librarian, and yet he has created This Is What a Librarian Looks Like: A Celebration of Libraries, Communities, and Access to Information, a lively new book acclaiming us and what we do. Prompted by librarian Naomi Gonzales, Cassidy visited the ALA 2014 Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia, where he lives. He interviewed and photographed 30 librarians there and then went to two more ALA events (ALA 2015 Midwinter Meeting and ALA 2016 Annual Conference) to talk with and take pictures of nearly 300 more librarians. Although he began the project with a love of libraries, he developed great respect for our profession as he learned more about all we do.

Cassidy has been published in popular sources, including The New York Times and Vanity Fair. This Is What a Librarian Looks Like is a beautiful book, filled with vibrant photos of individual information professionals. In addition to the quotes from and photographs of librarians, he got short contributions from writers and others, including Cory Doctorow and Jude Deveraux, about the importance of libraries in their lives. He researched some interesting aspects of library history and visited several libraries to provide brief profiles of what they do. One is the Tablet Room at the University of Pennsylvania's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, where thousands of Sumerian clay tablets are cared for by Sumerologist Steve Tinney. This "library" is currently digitizing its collection and working on a dictionary of the written Sumerian language.

Briony Zlomke Beckstrom of the Franklin Public Library in Wisconsin was inspired to create an American Girl doll lending program, including monthly events based around the dolls. The dolls are now the library's second most popular collection. Cassidy interviewed writer George R.R. Martin, which led to interviews with archivists and special collections librarians about preserving the work of authors and small-press literature such as fanzines. Martin has strong opinions about books and libraries: "[B]ooks are a way to keep the mind sharp, keep the mind flexible, test yourself against other voices, other ideas, and learn things" and "University libraries, in particular, are the repository of all our history, and should be." Martin's papers are preserved at a Texas A&M University library. …

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