Seven Librarians Share the Reasons They Love Libraries

*Originally published on Bookish.com, an editorially independent division of NetGalley.

February 14th is the day we celebrate love in all its many forms, including the love of libraries. Here at Bookish we’ve been known to swoon over our local libraries. In fact, we are so tongue-tied about our own love for them that we decided to consult the people who adore libraries so much that they have devoted their careers to them. To celebrate Library Lovers’ Day we’ve asked seven librarians to tell us why they love libraries.

Share your love of libraries in the comments below!

“I love libraries for so many reasons. First, the library made me a writer—childhood hours spent reading library books taught me how to write a sentence, how to understand my fears and experiences, and how to tell my own story. I value the library as a pure community space unaffected by the exigencies of commerce—no one expects me to buy anything or to limit my time; I can simply hang out and read. Furthermore, the library is a democratic institution: Its resources belong to all and are accessible by all. At the library, we can find information that helps us live, learn, dream, and be more engaged citizens—for a mere few tax dollars per month. Value-added bonus: The library profession is committed to protecting everyone’s First Amendment right of freedom of speech, thought, and inquiry. Libraries are badass, radical, and crucial. How can people not love them?” —Stella Beratlis, reference librarian at Modesto Junior College and author of Alkali Sink

“What makes a library? For me, it is a place of ongoing conversation and communication. It’s a space where everyone in the community is welcome to participate in those talks. When I first began working at libraries, I thought mostly about collection development. I thought about what the library housed, not who it served. Now I’d say I think about librarianship the way I think about the world around me. I want it to succeed because I want my community to succeed. Libraries are spaces that give back infinitely—they are one of the only places you can go that are dedicated to figuring out what you need, even if you aren’t sure what that thing is. Libraries are bastions of information, certainly, but they are also repositories of community service.” —Kristen Arnett, access services librarian and circulation supervisor at a law library in Florida and author of Felt in the Jaw

“I am not the first to love libraries, and won’t be the last—thank god for millennials! Beyond the more obvious reasons to love libraries (love of reading, free programs for adults and children, free wifi, and so on), I really love libraries for their grit, tenacity, and revolutionary, rebellious spirit! Not what you think of when you think about your public library? Ditto. Until I began to learn more about the quiet, unassuming chutzpah libraries have shown since their inception. Libraries exude an incongruous mix of innocence and hope with a serious rage-against-the-machine attitude. Within these walls exist the librarians—protectors of books, intellectual freedom fighters, and guardians of patrons’ rights. Imagine a world where Harry Potter was successfully banned. You can thank a librarian that these treasures are still on the shelves. Libraries have been at the forefront of the battle for net neutrality, fighting for equal access to the internet. And right out of the pages of a superhero comic comes the real life story of the Connecticut Four—four librarians who, under a gag order as well as threat of imprisonment, steadfastly fought the federal government’s unwarranted, overreaching demand for personal and private information on patrons. Libraries provide refuge to those in need, from assisting homeless populations every day to helping victims during catastrophic events. Many librarians are now being trained to administer Narcan to help in the opioid crisis. And fearless libraries have kept their doors open to the public during the Ferguson unrest of 2014, the Baltimore protests of 2015, and even during the civil rights marches in Selma, Alabama. By providing this refuge, libraries create a gathering place where communication can occur, information can be shared, and community can grow. With what seems like an ever-shrinking amount of empathy and understanding among humans, libraries provide an opportunity for people to interact with each other in person, and to subsequently gain awareness about the others sharing this planet alongside us. By doing so, libraries help build a more resilient people. I am Groot. (I love libraries.)” —Erin Tuomi, assistant director at the Newbury Town Library

“One winter morning in 2005, I locked myself out of my house. I’d just driven my daughter to school and was still in pajamas and slippers under my parka. No spare key in the garage, under a rock, at a neighbor’s. My husband wouldn’t be home till 7:30. My wallet was on the kitchen island next to the house key. Frazzled, I wondered where I could go to kill the hours without imposition or expense or—most crucially to me— embarrassment. The answer was obvious: my local library. There, a friend on staff chuckled sympathetically at my predicament, offered me coffee, spare socks. I meandered through the dusty stacks, slipping into the forgotten pleasure of aimless perusing, and narrowed in on Seamus Heaney’s verse translation of Beowulf. I sat by a glass door with a view of woods, nodded good morning to some cheery seniors, bundled my parka closer, and got lost until I had to pick up my girl. Now I work at that library and love the idea of the place as refuge as well as resource. A place of welcome, no matter how unwashed, half-dressed, needful, frantic, demanding, snobbish, chatty, nervous, exuberant, or miserable a patron is. A place to get safely lost.” —Eileen Frankel Tomarchio, staff librarian at a New Jersey library

“I think I fell in love with libraries before I understood what they were, before I could tap their limitless potential just by wandering their square footage and running my finger along the books’ spines. You see, there is a black and white photograph of me sitting on my father’s lap at his desk at his library. I am about three years old, and he is young and his beard is big and puffy like a lumberjack’s. My father was a librarian at a year-round school for severely physically handicapped children and in the summer he would take me to work with him so that I could play with the kids while he worked. I remember how he welcomed each child as he or she entered the library. I would stare and take in in, and even feel a little jealous of how loved he made those kids feel.” —Olivia Gatti, librarian at Brooks School

“Outside of the high school library I run, I spend many of my hours at Central Library, part of the Brooklyn Public Library. I take photos to celebrate the library as sacred space, where one can both confirm who they are and become someone else. What I love the most about the library is the people, because without the people, a library is a building full of information without purpose. I love that the library is where my mother took English as a second language (ESL) classes and where she wrote her first poem in English. I love the people who inhabit the art section and sit and draw and collage or make watercolor paintings. I love the people who build forts of books around them and consult well-worn stacks of notes, presumably writing a book or a manifesto or nothing at all. I love the men and women studying for nursing or civil service exams. I love that the library is one of the last public spaces anyone can go and take, take, take without giving a cent. In my writing and in my life, I seek the unexpected in the everyday and the library never disappoints.” —Adalena Kavanagh, librarian at Sunset Park High School Library

“It is hard for me to articulate why I love libraries. They have always been in the background of my life. I grew up in my hometown’s public library. I attended story time as a kid, joined a mother-daughter book club as a teen, and even worked as a page in high school. I worked in my college library, interned at an antiquarian society, and helped friends start an anarchist collective library. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to pinpoint the moment that libraries became the foundation of my life, walking through Georgetown’s library where I work now, watching students frantically typing and dust motes floating through shafts of sunlight. I love the people, the conversations, the constant opportunities for learning—but I know that isn’t why I stayed. I love the fight for patron privacy, the fierce commitment to fair dissemination of information, the care and concern for all members of our community—but I think for me it’s something even simpler. I love the structure and order, the noble attempt to classify the intangible. I first fell in love with the Dewey Decimal System, its arcane largess able to contain nonfiction multitudes. I’ve grown to love the Library of Congress Classification System, with its rigid yet ever-modernizing classifications. I love archival finding aids, homebrewed special library systems, comic-shop pull lists, the color-coded books in my own home. Books contain everything we know, everything we’ve seen, everything we are, and naive and arrogant, we can’t stop trying to find ways to organize that. Every day I head into the stacks to track down a book, and every day I uncover new knowledge by proximity. The structure leads to discovery, to the words I hear hundreds of times a year in my job, that ‘I was looking for this book but then I found this one’ moment that opens doors. It encapsulates a very human need to understand each other, to draw connections, and at the core, that’s what I love about libraries.” —Dana Aronowitz, access specialist at Georgetown University Library

 

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IndieNext

Indie Next List

March edition

As we look ahead to spring, we’re turning to booksellers for these titles to watch.

The American Booksellers Association has announced the selections for the March Indie Next list, drawn from the recommendations of indie booksellers throughout the US. You can request many of these titles on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the ABA site

If you are a bookseller, you can nominate titles for the Indie Next list via NetGalley, and receive special access to new galleys via the Digital White Box program. Sign up today!

Additional Indie Next titles

Don’t Skip Out on Me: A Novel by Willy Vlautin
(Harper Perennial, 9780062684455)

Sunburn: A Novel by Laura Lippman
(William Morrow, 9780062389923)

Promise: A Novel by Minrose Gwin
(William Morrow, 9780062471710)

Registers of Illuminated Villages: Poems by Tarfia Faizullah
(Graywolf Press, 9781555978006)

Speak No Evil: A Novel by Uzodinma Iweala
(Harper, 9780061284922)

Census: A Novel by Jesse Ball
(Ecco, 9780062676139)

Tomb Song: A Novel by Julián Herbert
(Graywolf Press, 9781555977993)

Some Hell: A Novel by Patrick Nathan
(Graywolf Press, 9781555977986)

A Long Way from Home: A Novel by Peter Carey
(Knopf, 9780525520177)

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Library Reads

LibraryReads List

March 2018

With ALA Midwinter fast approaching, we’ve got you covered when it comes to titles to watch.

LibraryReads has announced the top ten books available in March 2018 that librarians across the country love. You can request or wish for the featured titles below on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the LibraryReads site.

If you are a librarian, you can nominate titles for the LibraryReads list via NetGalley – learn more here!

Additional LibraryReads titles:

Sunburn: A Novel, by Laura Lippman
(William Morrow, 9780062389923)

Tangerine, by Christine Mangan
(Ecco, 9780062686664)

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News from NetGalley

NetGalley Seeking Full-Time Customer Service & Community Assistant

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The NetGalley team works remotely from 9am-5pm Eastern time. This employee will need to be located in the US with a home office and be able to work collaboratively and effectively in an independent setting with virtual communication.

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NetGalley Author Interview: Amy Bloom

Watch our new author video interview, “15 minutes with… Amy Bloom” now! Here, we talk about her new novel, White Houses, how a First Lady overcomes challenges from her past to find love, and the many letters that inspired her writing. You don’t want to miss this interview brought to you by NetGalley, Meryl Moss Media and BookTrib.com.

White Houses: A Novel

Request It!

Pub Date: February 12, 2018
General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction
Published by Random House

See More of Their Titles

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Librarian's Choice

Librarians' Choice: top 10

February 2018

Librarians’ Choice has announced the Top 10 titles for February 2018 that librarians across Australia love. You can request or wish for the featured titles below on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the Librarians’ Choice site.

If you are a librarian in Australia, you can nominate titles for the Librarians’ Choice list via NetGalley!

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NetGalley UK’s Top Ten Books, March 2018

March kicks off Spring with a bang, with an interesting blend of the brand new, the emerging and unsung. There are so many exciting books it’s hard to know where to start, but if you like crime, you must check out the next books from two of the most promising new mystery writers of 2017 – Daniel ‘Ragdoll’ Cole and Joseph ‘Sirens’ Knox. They are going head to head, so be sure to see which one is your favourite.

There’s also a second novel from Chloe Benjamin, whose The Immortalists is already a New York Times bestseller in her native US; while Sal and Asymmetry are debuts to watch. And finally, the superb Samantha Harvey returns with her most ambitious novel to date, The Western Wind. Don’t miss it!

BOOK OF THE MONTH

The Immortalists
Chloe Benjamin
Tinder Press
UK Edition

Picking up a huge amount of buzz in the US, and soon to be a major television series, The Immortalists is shaping up to be one of the biggest books of 2018 – with fans including Karen Joy Fowler, Lorrie Moore, Louise O’Neill and Claire Fuller.

It’s 1969 and the four Gold children head for a grimy New York tenement to see a travelling psychic who claims to know the date anyone will die. Over the following years, the siblings must choose how to live with the prophecies of the fortune-teller. Will they accept, ignore, cheat or defy them?

A tender, compelling and sweeping novel of siblings, this is one to treasure.

Hangman
Daniel Cole
Trapeze
UK Edition

Daniel Cole’s Ragdoll was one of the creepiest, and most reviewed, crime thrillers listed on NetGalley in 2017 – and this follow up further displays the suspense, twists and characters that made Ragdoll such a hit. As London and New York are both hit by a wave of serial killings. DCI Emily Baxter must work with two American agents. But is all what it seems?

Asymmetry
Lisa Halliday
Granta
UK Edition

A powerful, deeply charged novel of sex, politics and the power of the mind, Asymmentry will be one of the most talked about debuts of the year. A woman falls in love with a much older man. A man waits at an airport to fly to Kurdistan. A celebrated writer appears on Desert Island Discs. These three events shape a narrative of bold invention and seering insight.

The Smiling Man
Joseph Knox
Doubleday
UK Edition

Few crime novels were as well received as Sirens in 2017 – and Joseph Knox’s The Smiling Man proves that DI Aidan Waits is one of the best new coppers on the beat. Waits is resigned to the night shift, away from major crimes. But then he finds a body, a man beyond recognition, his face set in a smile. And to find the man’s identity, Waits must confront his own…

Children of Blood and Bone
Tomi Adeyemi
Macmillan Children's Books
UK Edition

Already feverishly awaited, Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone is billed as the fantasy novel of 2018 – and it does not disappoint. Zeile’s mother, along with other practitioners of magic, was murdered in a purge of her people. With magic within her, Zeile must live in the shadows, hiding her gift from all. But the time has come to rise up, and with that comes great danger, and great adventure.

Bookworm
Lucy Mangan
Square Peg
UK Edition

The books we read as children shape us in a way we can never truly understand, and this pitch-perfect memoir takes us right back to the days of reading by torchlight under the covers, and losing oneself utterly in another world. From the most established classics, to personal favourites, Lucy Mangan gloriously evokes the pleasures of childhood reading, and what we can learn from it.

The Western Wind
Samantha Harvey
Jonathan Cape
UK Edition

A case could be made for Samantha Harvey as the UK’s most underrated writer. Her work is always different, always beautifully written, with a depth of understanding few can rival. The Western Wind looks like it could be the big breakout success she so readily deserves. A man dies in 15th Century Somerset. Was it an accident, murder or suicide? The village priest, John Reve, decides to find out.

Hetty's Farmhouse Bakery
Cathy Bramley
Corgi
UK Edition

Lauded by Katie Fforde, Milly Johnson and Trisha Ashley, Cathy Bramley is one of the best emerging contemporary romance writers in the UK right now. And this is the perfect place for new readers to begin. Thirty-two-year-old Hetty begins to think her family is taking her for granted. But things are about to change, thanks to a competition to find Cumbria’s finest food…

Sal
Mick Kitson
Canongate
UK Edition

Chosen by the Observer as one of the debuts of 2018, Sal is a thrilling, emotionally engaging and highly moving novel of survival, protection and the bond between sisters. Sal has packed a knife, watched survival videos on YouTube and is heading to the wilds of Scotland. She’s taking her sister with her too. Her sister is ten. And that was the age Robert started on Sal…

The Wicked Deep
Shea Ernshaw
Simon & Schuster Children's
UK Edition

This brilliantly magical and mythical tale of watery fates and bloody revenge is a masterclass in fantasy writing. Centuries ago, the town of Sparrow drowned the Swan sisters for witchery. Each summer since, the sisters have returned from the depths to seek their revenge. But this year, things are different thanks to 17-year old Penny, and a stranger called Bo…

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Book

Cover Love

We’ve rounded up book covers that we love, and we hope you will too. We’ve also gathered all of your cover votes from this month, and your most loved cover is…Furyborn by Claire Legrand!

Click on each cover to read the full book description, request (or wish for) the title, and cast your vote for the cover. If you’ve read these books, don’t forget to share feedback with the publisher and with your friends & followers.

Want to continue gazing upon gorgeous covers? Check out our Cover Love series!

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Library Reads

LibraryReads List

February 2018

With a new year comes a new TBR list! LibraryReads has announced the top ten books available in February 2018 that librarians across the country love. You can request or wish for the featured titles below on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the LibraryReads site.

If you are a librarian, you can nominate titles for the LibraryReads list via NetGalley – learn more here!

Additional LibraryReads titles:

Summer Hours at the Robbers Library: A Novel, by Sue Halpern
(Harper Perennial, 9780062678966)

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Top Ten Books from the UK – February 2018

We hope you had a wonderful festive period, and managed to get some reading done over the holidays! We’re really looking forward to another year of great books, and this collection of highlights for February suggests it’s going to be a cracker.

You might have seen our Book of the Month a few times on NetGalley.co.uk – The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a book we all love, and we suspect it might be one of the most popular titles of 2018. There’s also a new Julian Barnes novel, The Only Story, which is always a cause for celebration.

Here’s to a brilliant 2018!

Book of the Month

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Stuart Turton
Raven Books
UK Edition

Sometimes you read a novel’s synopsis and just want to dive in right away – and this is certainly the case for The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. Who could possibly resist a supernatural twist on an Agatha Christie-style Golden Age murder mystery?

At the end of a glamorous ball, Evelyn Hardcastle is murdered. But she will not be killed just once. Each day will start the same, repeating itself with her death, unless Aiden can uncover the murderer. But each day, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest – and someone is determined to stop him from ever getting to the truth.

Delivering on every level, this is a standout thriller that you’ll read in one glorious sitting. 

The Only Story
Julian Barnes
Jonathan Cape
UK Edition

The sublime Julian Barnes returns with another elegant, acute and deeply moving glimpse into the human heart. Paul is nineteen and in love, his first love; a love that flies in the face of social convention.But it is merely the beginning of his romantic life, one that will shape and define his years. Beautifully written, tender and surprising, The Only Story is Barnes at his incomparable best.

Force of Nature
Jane Harper
Little, Brown
UK Edition

Jane Harper’s debut, The Dry, was one of the most garlanded thrillers of 2017 and her follow-up, Force of Nature is similarly replete with tension, suspense and twists. As a team bonding exercise, five co-workers walk out for a hike. But only four return. What happened to Alice? Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has his suspicions; especially as Alice was embroiled in his latest case. Gripping from first to last.

The Gods of Love
Nicola Mostyn
Piatkus
UK Edition

The Gods of Love has been described as Neil Gaiman meets Bridget Jones, which gives a flavour of the humour and imagination of this wickedly funny debut. Frida is a divorce lawyer. She is also, though she doesn’t know it, a descendent of Eros. When a deranged man called Dan bursts into her office claiming only she can save the world, Frida must assume the role of humanity’s saviour…

The House of Impossible Beauties
Joseph Cassara
Oneworld
UK Edition

The Harlem Ball scene – immortalised in the classic documentary Paris is Burning – inspires this witty, iconoclastic and moving tale of gay and transgender clubbers inaugurating the first all-Latino House. Between the 70s and 90s in New York City, we meet a vividly depicted cast of characters as they provide an alternative history of the City, of love, and of finding your true self, whatever that might be.

The Word for Woman is Wilderness
Abi Andrews
Serpent's Tail
UK Edition

Abi Andrews has created a wonderfully immersive hybrid novel: part travelogue, part fiction, part rumination on nature and it is a superb achievement. Erin is 19 and has barely ever left England – but  now finds herself traversing the globe, treking through the Alaskan wildernesss. It’s a journey that will challenge her physically and mentally, as well as bringing her closer to nature and to understanding herself.

The Eye of the North
Sinéad O’Hart
Stripes Publishing
UK Edition

The Eye of the North is classic Children’s fiction of the highest order, suffused with magic, adventure, strange lands and mythical quests. Emmeline Widget has long believed her parents have meant her harm. But now they have vanished, and Emmeline is forced to head to the frozen north to discover the truth. It’s a mission that will find her run with ice ponies and face the terrifying Northwitch. Ideal for readers of all ages.

The Perfect Stranger
Megan Miranda
Corvus
UK Edition

Failed journalist Leah bumps into an old friend, Emmy Grey, and decides to move out to the country with her. It’s an escape that turns strange when a woman is murdered who looks just like Emmy. And sinister when Emmy herself disappears. This unnerving tale of identity, secrets and violence is truly compelling with enough twists to satisfy any mystery junkie.

In the Pines
Erik Kriek
Canongate
UK Edition

The murder ballad has been a staple of songwriters since the turn of the twentieth century, and this exceptional graphic novel from the creative mind of Erik Kriek uses them as a springboard to create a series of stories that chill, surprise and horrify. Get lost in the forests, wander where the wild roses grow and watch for old Stagger Lee in this eerie collection…

The Memory Chamber
Holly Cave
Quercus
UK Edition

The central premise of The Memory Chamber is one of hope: the end of death. Now you can just choose your favourite memories and live them out for eternity. It sounds idyllic. But all is not quite what it seems, as Heaven Architect Isobel realises as she creates a heaven for the man she has fallen in love with. Jarek has secrets. And he is not alone… 

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