Broaden your horizons

AT THE LIBRARY

Earlier in my career I had the opportunity, honor and pleasure to work with and for Dr. Donald Riggs. Don was a pioneer in identifying leadership styles in successful libraries. His seminal book about strategic planning for academic libraries is still utilized today. Underneath the worst toupee I’ve ever seen was a brilliant mind and compassionate leader. Don never said, “Do this now,” when he assigned a task. He would say, “Molly, please give your highest priority.” I find myself repeating this request to staff and each time I do this, I fondly remember Don and how much I learned from him.

Don had one quirk that used to completely perplex me. Every day, Monday through Friday, he brought the same lunch — two slices of white buttered bread, two pieces of lunch meat turkey, a small can of French cut green beans, two Oreo cookies, and a bottle of water. He used the same brown paper bag all week so by Friday it was pretty ratty. Even if we were attending a lunch meeting with catering, Don would take his lunch and guess what he’d bring? You got it — two slices of white buttered bread, two pieces of lunch meat turkey, a small can of French cut green beans, two Oreo cookies, and a bottle of water. As a conservative estimate, Don ate the same meal for 240 out of 365 days a year. Now I ask you, would you want this steady lunch diet all year long?

Why am I telling you all this? What does Don’s lunch have to do with books, reading and the public library? Be patient. I’m getting there.

This week I heard several conversations in the library. Individuals voiced such comments as, “I only read mysteries (or some other genre).” “I really like (fill in the author’s name) so I re-read their titles all the time.” “I read vampire, zombie, paranormal. Life is too short to read something you don’t like.”

My favorite statement this week was, “This library doesn’t have any good books left to read. I’ve read them all.” I was very impressed because this is the first time I’d ever met anyone who’d read all 69,000-plus books in the library’s collection. As it turns out, the woman was referring to only the Amish fiction in our collection. Looking at the card catalog I was amazed that this person had read all 814 unique titles in our collection and stated that to her. Long story short, we found her some good Amish fiction books she hadn’t read.

I do understand that every reader has a personal preference for the type of book or particular author they like to read. Are you like Don and “eat” mysteries every day of the week? Don’t you get bored reading the same thing all the time? Is it time for you to try something besides two slices of white buttered bread, two pieces of lunch meat turkey, a small can of French cut green beans, two Oreo cookies, and a bottle of water book?

If I had my druthers I’d read save the world thrillers one after another. But a steady diet of that genre would soon become monotonous and boring, I imagine. I’ve broadened my horizons and like a taste of historical fiction, mysteries, romance, etc. I cannot bear the taste of canned pineapple or fantasy.

As an adult, you can also branch out not only by genre/author but also by collection. There are some really terrific, thought-provoking titles in the Young Adult collection. If you are a John Grisham and Carl Hiaasen fan, these men also write children’s books that are as well written as their adult titles.

Are you willing to taste/try something new but aren’t sure how to go about broadening your reading interests? Ask any staff member and we will be so happy to help. We consider helping you find good books to be the best part of our job! Really, we don’t mind. No, you aren’t bothering or interrupting us.

Three tips to help you enjoy some new food for the mind. Take more books than you usually do because it may take a few tries to find what you like. Read 75 pages and if you don’t like the book, don’t finish reading it. Pick up the next book and try again. Read one new genre/author and then return to your favorites.

You can still enjoy turkey sandwich books, but perhaps not every day. I just know Don is in heaven enjoying two slices of white buttered bread, two pieces of lunch meat turkey, a small can of French cut green beans, two Oreo cookies, and a bottle of water. Rest in peace, Don.

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Molly S. Kinney is the library director at the Mifflin County Library. She just read the next book in the Darling Dahlias series by Phyllis Wittig Albert, “The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover.” She is on page 49 of “A Study in Scarlet Women: Lady Sherlock Series, book 1” by Sherry Thomas. Will she make it to page 75 and beyond?

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