Musings: Librarians and Reading Diversely, Apparently a Hot Button Issue

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Who knew asking librarians to read diversely would cause such a problem that comments have to be closed on a Book Riot article? Yeah, I’m referring to the I Can’t Even with Librarians Who Don’t Read Diversely piece on Book Riot. Comments are closed, so I’m just gonna leave my thoughts here.

Please note that I am not arguing that librarians shouldn’t read diversely. Librarians should read diversely! But I  would say the same for anyone who considers themselves a reader. And there are some fundamental flaws with this article that does not help make its case.

It presents a narrow view of librarianship

Being a librarian is more about books, y’all. And I know this piece is coming from Book Riot, but as a librarian who rarely has a book in hand during work, I find it eyeroll-worthy. The author attempts to address this briefly, but then turns right around with the statement “And for librarians, books are your job.” No, providing access to a variety of resources—whether its books, movies, ebooks, comfy chairs, phone charger—is my job. But apparently, I’m not even the type of librarian this article will later claims to be addressing, which brings me to my next point…

If you’re going to claim you’re addressing only public librarians, then state it upfront

I saw some tweets about this article, and the comment was made that it’s for public librarians. Reread the article, and you’ll find that this directive is only at the very end and squeezed in the middle amongst a sea of gifs.  It’s poor presentation of a thesis statement, because if it’s truly about just public librarians, then why not state it at, I don’t know, the beginning of the piece?

What makes a “bad librarian,” anyway?

I’d argue that this piece is intentionally provocative with its angry tone and implications rampant that if you’re not reading diversely, you’re a bad librarian. Maybe not the most thoughtful or self-aware librarian, sure, but bringing in the subjectivity of “good” and “bad” is rife with problems.

Libraries are more than just books

This is the 21st century. And as one of my Twitter pals pointed out in the comments, does this mean librarians are obligated to watch all movies? I’ll take this a step further, read all newspapers? Magazines? The list goes on.

Personal time is a luxury

I spend quite a bit of a time reading, but I also have the privilege of only needing to take care of myself and my cat. I don’t think its fair to deride someone who works in a library for not reading when their spare time is spent taking care of loved ones, etc.

I’m not disagreeing with the overall premise of the piece. Getting out of your comfort zone is a fantastic way to broaden your horizons and expand your worldview, especially through reading. The problems, however, lay in its presentation with its sloppy, ill-defined thesis statement and divisive attitude. Contrary to popular belief, being a librarian does not necessarily automatically make someone a well-informed person. There are still ignorant people out there who need a kind, firm hand into awareness, rather than a divisive, catty one.

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