Reading advice for graduates

AT THE LIBRARY

Congratulations to all the kindergarten, high school, community college, college and specialized training program graduates!

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose,” advises Dr. Seuss in his book, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

While graduation is an exciting time, it’s also sometimes just a teeny-tiny bit scary as you make choices and decisions that will impact your future, perhaps for years to come. And, just how do you think your reading habits and interests will change?

In kindergarten you learned letters and short words. Now you will learn to read sentences. Do you remember when you realized you could read a WHOLE book without help? What a monumental accomplishment!

By the time you get to high school you are reading a specific (usually assigned) number of pages in a text book. Hopefully, you are also developing a pleasure reading habit and enjoying books, magazines and blogs. Who doesn’t remember slogging through a history book, or required literature assignment and breathing a sigh of relief when you completed the required reading? I shall always remember Miss Haversham in Dickens’ “Great Expectations,” not for the lessons learned, but because my dad took me for ice cream when I read the final page. It’s only years later that I realize he must have been tired of my continued complaining about the assignment.

By the time you move on to college or a specialized training program it is not a number of pages but 80- to 100-page chapters, accompanying workbooks, and lab sessions. Those entering a master’s degree program soon realize their required reading is entire books. PhD candidates will read whole bodies of knowledge, which are hundreds of books, research reports and journal articles.

For those graduates moving away from home, perhaps for the first time ever, your relationship with reading will undergo massive changes.

Up to the point when I left for college, the only library I had ever utilized was the Juniata County Library, located in the old Mifflintown Hotel. All the staff knew my name and reading interests and most of the time I didn’t even browse the shelves because when I’d go to the library there would be a stack of books waiting with my name on it. The librarian would say, “Here, you are ready for these books now.” Off I’d go with an armful of wonderful mysteries, historical fiction and a classic or two.

Our home was always full of books, newspapers and magazines so I’d been surrounded by reading material all my life. When I got to college, I realized there was something missing in my dorm room and that something was books. For the first time in my life I entered a college research library. WOW! Four floors full of books, magazines, journals, newspapers, indexes and a wooden card catalog that seemed at least a block long. Gulp!

I wandered around for a bit looking for the popular fiction section. I looked in the card catalog for my favorite authors. I went to the periodicals department only to discover you have to request a magazine. No browsing here.

Finally I approached the reference desk and asked the librarian where the popular fiction collection was located. That horrid man looked down his hawkish nose at me, “This is a RESEARCH library. We don’t carry popular DRIVEL.” That was my first customer service experience in an academic library. Trust me, it was not a good one and I’ve never forgotten that encounter. I did discover the special collection of children’s and young adult literature, so that was my pleasure reading for the semester.

So, here is a librarian’s advice about reading for graduates and those who care for them.

Your school probably isn’t going to get the Lewistown Sentinel, County Observer, Juniata Sentinel or the Times. Subscriptions make great gifts and help students stay in touch with “home.” The Lewistown Sentinel has an electronic subscription, which makes it easy for students to have access.

Packing everything you need to take with you should also include some paperback titles for pleasure reading when you need a little down-time, recreational, decompressing time. Just stuff the books in among the boxes, bags, under the seats, etc. in your vehicle so you don’t use valuable box or bag space.

Before you leave, be sure to come into the library and have your card updated with an Access PA sticker. Your MCL card can be used at any public library in the state if you have that sticker.

If the town where your college is located has a public library, USE it for your pleasure reading materials. It’s free as long as you return items on time. You will have finite resources/finances and it’s better to have spare change for “Donut Sales in the Lobby” nights than overdue fines.

To those of you who buy gifts for students, consider a subscription to Common Ground or a local paper so students continue to have that connection to the community. As always, books make great gifts and sending a surprise present is often a welcome treat in a usually empty student mailbox.

Good luck, graduates!

And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.) Your mountain is waiting. So … get on your way! (Seuss)

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Molly S. Kinney is the director at the Mifflin County Library. She is currently rereading and enjoying “Oh! The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss. Such a wonderful book with positive messages for many stages in a student’s life.

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