I don’t think I have ever shared my monthly TBRs but since I have a few books lined up and no scheduled post for today I am sharing what I plan to read this month. I have always frequented my local library but between last year and this one I have really amped up my library use. I go to the library almost weekly whether it’s to browse, pick up holds, or return books. I also make use of their Overdrive service for e-books. It turns out I do not have the funds to buy as many books as I read. I actually like borrowing books first because if I love a book I can always purchase it knowing that I really want it in my collection. Reading borrowed books has helped me knock out a lot of books I’ve been meaning to read since once I bring them home I actually read them. See, I used to buy a lot of books and they tend to sit for a while before I get around to them. With library books I am forced to prioritize my reading.
Speaking of purchased books, this year I am reading my shelves and so far I’ve read several books I had purchased years ago but never read. I am also purging my bookshelves of books I am not longer interested in owning because my reading tastes have changed a lot over the last few years.
But back to prioritizing my reading, this week, Daniel Jose Older’s Shadowshaper was released and I am dying to read it. I planned to start it the day it came out but I hadn’t finished the book I was in the middle of and with another two library books still in the wings I know that I have to wait. I am not the type of reader who likes to read multiple books at once unless they’re non-fiction, or a collection of stand alone stories. It’s not a hard and fast rule for me but I much prefer to read one book at a time. In fact, I seldom ever have multiple books going at once. Reading mostly library books has really challenged me in that I have had to begrudgingly put down a book for a few days because one of my library holds has come in.
Here is what I plan to read this month:
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings by James Baldwin
Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older
I will probably read other books but I’ll pick those out depending on what I feel like. I’ll either borrow hard copies from the library or e-book format from Overdrive. My husband has Amazon Prime so I could also borrow books from there.
Last week I wrote a post about being rejected by my local library when I called them to enquire about volunteering to read in Spanish. You can read that post here. On Friday I received a phone call from the Youth Services Department of my county’s library system. They saw my tweet and wanted to reach out to me. I would like to point out just how powerful social media can be. The lady I spoke with was very helpful and gave me contact information of people who would be able to direct me to where my services could be used.
Last night I sent off an email and this morning I spoke to somebody about my experience. It was explained to me that library volunteers go through an application process and are then placed based on the needs of the community. I am very grateful to have this information as it was what should have been given to me when I called the library. My issue with my initial interaction was two-fold: on one hand I took issue with being dismissed and on the other I was concerned that Spanish language programs were considered “not needed” by the children’s librarian. Of course, I did not expect the library to pick me off from the street and set me in front of a group of children without some sort of screening process and possible training. But I also did not expect to be sent off without any information or possibility of volunteering.
At this point I have no way of knowing if anything will come of this. All I know is that I am hoping for the inclusion/creation of Spanish language programing for children and I remain a willing volunteer. I am grateful that the Libraries Division took an interest in my experience and listened to what I had to say. That is an important step. The person I spoke with earlier today is supposed to get back to be after speaking to the librarian I spoke with in order to figure out what programs they are running in the library and what role, if any, I could play in that.
I will write another update when appropriate.
When I decided to call my local library and offer to read to young library patrons in Spanish I was expecting it to go over well. I knew they already had a story-time program in place so when I called I asked if they had any reading in Spanish. I was told that they did not and I explained that I wanted to speak to somebody about volunteering in their library in order to meet this need. The lady who I initially spoke to sounded enthusiastic about it and transferred me to the children’s librarian. The gentleman who answered the phone did not initially seem to be paying me much attention as he misunderstood my query and thought I was seeking a story-time program in Spanish for my son. I repeated myself and this time he understood but responded that Spanish story-time was not needed.
Not needed. I was taken aback. This was not the response I was expecting given that I live in South Florida. He did not offer to put me in touch with anybody, or even thank me for my call. He dismissed me. There are many things about that phone call that do not sit right with me. The first and most obvious one is the fact that a children’s librarian said to me that Spanish language resources are not needed. Nothing could be further from the truth and that he believes as such worries me. Especially considering that there are over 500 Hispanic students enrolled in the two elementary schools within my city.
Something else that bothered me is that a library’s response to a volunteer is to send them away. Libraries are wonderful resources. They are often underfunded and yet the role they have in the community is an important one. Communities are strengthened when members take part in them. I wanted to get involved but I was shot down. Now what? I should have asked more questions but I was stunned and didn’t feel like arguing. I was hoping for dialog, collaboration. Instead I got an immediate knee-jerk no.
I do not feel personally slighted. He doesn’t know me and I don’t know him, but I do feel disappointed. Reading is such an important component in a child’s education and it’s been shown to be beneficial to children of all ages. I know that my community is home to a lot of Spanish speakers who by virtue of their environment are raising bilingual children just like I am. Exposing children to a different language is a good thing, so even non-Spanish speakers could benefit and enjoy story-time in Spanish. In my opinion there was no reason to reject my offer. It would have cost the library nothing to try it out and if nobody came it would have been no skin off their nose.
I wrote the library a letter. I am hoping that by reaching out to express my disappointment that somebody will in turn reach out to me. I feel very strongly that reading programs are necessary and there’s no harm in adding on Spanish language to already existing ones.
Thank you for reading. I needed to vent a little about this as I can’t stop thinking about it and replaying the conversation in my mind. If I receive any kind of response or find somewhere to volunteer I will write a follow-up post.