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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Thursday, January 21, 2010 8:00 am
Minority Report: Library is the New Cool
Posted by: Vanessa Bush

47788418I was thrilled to read the review of This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson and see how the image of librarians may be shifting into cool. Anybody who loves books and libraries doesn’t need to be convinced that librarians are cool.

I particularly hope the news filters into the culture of young black men. Recently, while reading the newsletter on the web site for ALA’s Black Caucus, I ran across the unhappy statistic that 0.5 percent of the nation’s 110,000 librarians are black men. I’d never thought about it but was certainly aware that it was rare to see a black man behind the librarian’s desk, so rare that I guess that’s why I’d never thought about it. The newsletter featured profiles of several black men on staff at university libraries, community libraries and the Library of Congress.

41120410So, I do hope the news reaches more young black men. Meanwhile, I struggle with the two of my own to get them reading more, whether they are destined for librarianship or not. The younger one, at 13,  has discovered books by author Anthony Horowitz and hopefully is moving beyond Manga.

The older one, at 21, suffers through my many recommendations but seems to feel that his reading list at Ohio Wesleyan University is enough for now. After reading CBS News correspondent Byron Pitts’ memoir, Step Out on Nothing: How Family and Faith Helped Me Conquer Life’s Challenges, and learning that he too went to Ohio Wesleyan, I slid the book across the 42526609kitchen table to my son (at home on spring break) and suggested he might enjoy a fellow commiserator on how dull Delaware, Ohio, is (all the better to study, I think). When my son got up to finish packing to return to school, the Pitts’ memoir remained on the kitchen table. (Months later, Pitts visited OWU on his book tour and got to reunite with professors he mentioned fondly in his book.) But recently, home for winter break, my son — entirely voluntarily — picked up my copy of The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther and asked if he could have it to read. Of course, I gushed “Of course!”


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