Seven Librarians Share the Reasons They Love Libraries

*Originally published on, 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






We’d like to welcome Alicia Vandenbroek as our featured librarian from Shackelford Library at Shackelford Junior High School. Alicia is a long-time NetGalley member, a tech-savvy librarian, an author, and reviewer who shares how she incorporates technology in her library, which upcoming titles she’s looking forward to, and tips for considering which books to read and review for your audience.  


A nice place to start is with your librarian origin story – how did you become a junior high school librarian?

I’ve had a passion for books for as long as I can remember. Even at a young age, my mom always made sure I had access to books from the library. I found out in high school that being a writer might be harder than I thought, so I began to investigate jobs that would allow me to write and also explore other passions (like working with kids). I soon fell in love with teaching. After six years, I started to look for ways I could still teach, but reach a larger audience. The library was the perfect fit! It is an ideal place for collaboration, the geeky tech stuff I enjoy, books, and kids… lots of kids! Add a makerspace into the mix, and it is literally my dream job. Right now it is such a joy to see students experience things that they never thought possible and challenge themselves to do more.

As a self-proclaimed “tech nerd,” how is technology incorporated into your library, for your students but also for yourself and your staff? Do you have any goals for incorporating further technology into your library?

Yes, I’m a nerd. That used to bother me, but I embraced my inner geek a long time ago. I even rock a Haven and a Firefly shirt from time to time (only nerds will get that). What I love most about tech is that it isIMG_0009 continually evolving. Life is a journey and you can never be complacent. Technology forces us to keep growing and expanding. I started learning code last year. I stink, but I know enough Scratch to stay one step ahead of my makers and we learn together. In the library technology is a huge part of my makerspace and my lessons. Last year we got a grant for a 3D printer and 3D Doodler pens, so I’m very excited to incorporate those into curriculum this year. We’ve added some life skill tech in the form of sewing machines and a button maker too. The plan is to do some cool wearable art this year.  In lessons we use tech to enrich the curriculum through activities like online research, speedbooking, and student lead projects. I try to lead by example and then I also offer classes at both a local and regional level.

In addition to being a librarian, you also run a blog, Poetry of Words – can you describe the focus of your blog and the types of titles you review there? 

Initially, it was going to be a book blog only, but occasionally I also blog about some of the cool things happening at school like our STEAM festival. I mostly review YA books because that is largely what I read, but I review other books also like professional, nonfiction, and some christian fiction. The blog gives a summary of the book, what I thought of the book, and then some other tips like grade level, genre, etc. Continue reading “Librarian Spotlight – Alicia Vandenbroek”


Review Tips, From the Librarian Perspective

We’re happy to welcome Amanda Buschmann, a Middle School Librarian and reviewer for School Library Journal. Amanda has provided tips for writing reviews, which were also included in our live-webcast (which you can watch here). Read on for her tip 5 tips!

Briefly sketch out an outline before you begin. A helpful review is one that is organized; begin with an eye-catching introduction that entices and intrigues. A quote, a statement of the narrative situation, and your “thesis” lead the way.

Summarize the plot, sure, but spend most of the review discussing your personal commentary. What did you like/dislike, and why? What makes this book different than others of its ilk?

Quotes are helpful and give the potential reader an idea of the verbiage–something you found interesting, something that confused you, a cool line that makes you pause.

Identify a theme/key idea and introduce it to entice the reader. Does the book touch on whether or not it’s morally acceptable to terraform another planet, or covet your friend’s promotion, or so on? Discuss it without spoiling the “answer”!

Include “If you like this, then you’d like…” recommendations, as well as recommendations on age group (if applicable) and applications.

Click here to watch the full webcast, where Amanda is joined by other review experts & read our other informational Recipes for Success articles!

To connect with Amanda, follow @thegoodread on twitter. 


Reader Spotlight

Blog name: A Library Mama
Blog URL:
Your name: Katy Kramp

What genre(s) does your blog focus on?

Fantasy and science fiction for all ages are my favorite, though I write about a fair number of picture books and graphic novels as well.

Which book(s) would you suggest for a middle grade level reluctant reader?

That really depends on what that particular reader is most interested in! But lately I’ve been recommending one of our Cybils finalists, Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra by Jason Fry. It’s fast-paced adventure featuring privateers in space (so fun!) and at just about 200 pages, is a lot less intimidating than the average middle grade novel these days.

I’ve also been talking up the Nick and Tesla series by Bob Pflugfelder, illustrated by Steve Hockensmith, for those who like a little more realism. These are mysteries also in the 200-age range, starring gadget-making twins, with instructions for the gadgets. The first book is Nick and Tesla’s High Voltage Danger Lab.

For readers right on the borderline of early chapter books and longer middle grade books, I love the Lulu series by Hilary McKay, illustrated by Priscilla Lamont (which starts with Lulu and the Duck in the Park) and the classic Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron, illustrated by Ann Strugnell.

Those are all prose novels, but often graphic novels are really important for helping reluctant readers bridge that gap between thinking in pictures and thinking in words. Personal favorites include Zita the Space Girl by Ben Hatke, Astronaut Academy by Dave Roman, the Mouse Guard books by David Peterson, Giants Beware! by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado, and anything by Raina Telgemeier.

How long have you been blogging about books and why did you start?

This month – gulp! – marks my eleventh year of book blogging. I started right around the time I got pregnant with my son because my on-line pregnancy group kept asking me what I was reading, and then wanting to go back to my old recommendations. I kept going after I joined an in-person parenting group. I found so many parents who had been readers before they had children. They often said that they didn’t have time for reading now, but it turned out that mostly they didn’t have time to go to a library or bookstore with their kids and pick something out for themselves. It’s so important for parents to keep reading, both for our own sanity and so our children can see us reading! As our children have gotten older, I’ve tried to deepen my coverage of the kids’ and teen books I’ve always read for myself to help parents match them up with their kids.

How has being a NetGalley member impacted your blogging?

NetGalley – oh, NetGalley! Why do you offer me so many new, enticing books to read, when there are already so many waiting for me on the library shelves? Now instead of just needing a book to read and at least one backup in print and on audio at all times, I need to have the same on my e-reader, too, or my book addiction starts twitching! More seriously, I really appreciate seeing what’s coming out, and besides letting me see those cool books early, being a NetGalley member has reminded me of the importance of communicating my thoughts back to the publisher, as well.

What is the most gratifying thing about being a book blogger?

The most gratifying thing is being able to help even more people find just that right book, especially if I can have conversations with people about the books. I’ve also gotten to know other wonderful book bloggers, which means discovering more authors and more discussions about the books we love.

Do you feel that your role as a blogger and as a librarian impact and/or influence each other?

Absolutely! I’m better at being a book blogger because of my experience helping people choose books in the library, while being a book blogger keeps me up-to-date on the books that are out there, which helps me do my work in the library better. I often find myself searching my old reviews for the title of a book I read a few years back that would be perfect for the patron in front of me. And while I know I’ll never be able to read all the books I want to, my fellow book bloggers help me seem more like I have with my patrons.

Are there certain questions you usually ask when trying to match someone with a book?

With reluctant readers especially, I usually ask what kinds of things they’re interested in, so I can find books to tie into their outside interests. Even though I think interest is more important than level, I usually ask kids about their reading level and how long a book they want to read. With kids and adults, I ask questions to figure out if they want genre or realistic fiction and whether they care more about plot or characters.

You work closely with the CYBILS (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards, can you explain the importance of these awards and a little about the nomination and awards process?

I love the CYBILS awards! I’ve been following them for a few years now, and was honored to serve as a Round 1 judge in the Middle Grade Speculative Fiction category for the first time this fall. Here the way they work: In August, book bloggers apply to be judges, and find out in September if they made it or not. In October, books are nominated. From mid-October through December, the Round 1 judges read all the nominated books and come up with shortlists, which are announced January 1. Then the Round 2 judges take over and select one winner from each shortlist, which is announced February 14.

I love the CYBILS especially for several reasons:

One, the nominations are open – from October 1-15 each year, anyone can nominate one book in each of the categories. That means kids and teens can nominate their own favorite books, and small press or self-published books will get read right along with the books that get lots of hype.

Two, there are lots of categories, ranging from book apps to picture books to teen graphic novels. That means that if someone comes to the library looking for a book in a category that maybe I don’t read in so much myself, I can show them the Cybils categories and they can pick. Which leads me to

Three: the lists of finalists. I know it’s a good thing to have one final winner for simplicity, but my heart is with the list of five to seven books in each category that really showcase the breadth of good books in any given year. They are so helpful for giving people a choice without being overwhelming.

What is your favorite cover on NetGalley right now?

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein… no, wait, Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman.


If you were going on a long journey and could bring no books or devices, but you had time to commit just one book to memory, which would it be?

The easy answer here is the book that I carried in my suitcase the year I traveled with Up With People – Beauty by Robin McKinley. These days I do a lot less re-reading and there’s a lot more competition – I’d say Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater would be a close contender.

Thanks so much Katy and congratulations on 11 years blogging! Please make sure to check out A Library Mama and  stay tuned for our next Blogger Spotlight! *Interviewed by Tarah Theoret

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Recipes for Success: Librarian Voices
The Ins and Outs of ARCs, from ALA Annual
Guest Post: Kristi Chadwick, Library Director at Emily Williston Memorial Library and blogger at Books, Yarn, Ink and Other Pursuits

Books, Yarn, Ink

I’m happy to welcome Kristi Chadwick, Library Director and blogger, as our guest writer today for Recipes for Success: Librarian Voices. Kristi participated in a panel on the “Ins and Outs of ARCs” at ALA Annual last week and has been generous enough to write up a recap of her experience. Keep reading to find out more about what was discussed during her panel, including what publishers look for in librarians’ NetGalley profiles, and about what she’s reading and requesting via NetGalley!

The Faceless One      Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl

Recipes for Success aims to give NetGalley members helpful information, tools, and best practices to help facilitate your growth and effectiveness as professional readers. Check back often for tips and tricks from the insiders.

The American Library Association held their 2013 Annual Conference June 27- July 7 in Chicago, IL. As Marlene mentioned last week, the ALA conference is definitely “BEA for Librarians,” and this year was no exception. While I definitely found some print galleys to bring home with me, I am a self-proclaimed “go-go gadget geek” and love having access to digital advance reading copies and galleys. I love them so much, in fact, that I was part of a panel that discussed them!
Continue reading “Recipes for Success: Librarian Voices”


Recipes for Success: Librarian Voices
ALA is BEA for Librarians, and why my back Loves NetGalley
Guest Post: Marlene Harris, Seattle Public Library and blogger at Reading Reality

Reading Reality

ALA Annual begins today! For those of you who may not know what the ALA (American Library Association) conference is all about, Marlene Harris, technical Services Manager at Seattle Public Library, has graciously returned to explain. Continue reading to find out more about the American Library Association’s annual conference, and how NetGalley saves Marlene’s back at conferences like this!

Recipes for Success aims to give NetGalley members helpful information, tools, and best practices to help facilitate your growth and effectiveness as professional readers. Check back often for tips and tricks from the insiders. 

ALA is BEA for Librarians, and why my back Loves NetGalley

When I try to explain what the ALA conference is to my non-librarian friends, I often use the shortcut that ALA is BEA for librarians. I’ve never been to BEA (insert sad face here) but if the pictures of the exhibit floor are accurate, there’s definitely a resemblance!
Continue reading “Recipes for Success: Librarian Voices”


Recipes for Success: Librarian Voices
How and Why Librarians Should Use NetGalley
Guest Post: Marlene Harris, Seattle Public Library and blogger at Reading Reality

Reading Reality

I’m pleased to introduce a new segment of Recipes for Success, specifically for all of the great librarian members using NetGalley! Did you know that 12,500+ librarians are using NetGalley to discover new titles to purchase for their library collection and recommend to their patrons?

Today’s guest post comes from Marlene Harris, Technical Services Manager at Seattle Public Library. Continue reading to find out how Marlene uses NetGalley as a librarian, and some titles she thinks you should be reading!

Along Came Trouble      Flirting With Disaster      Making it Last

Recipes for Success aims to give NetGalley members helpful information, tools, and best practices to help facilitate your growth and effectiveness as professional readers. Check back often for tips and tricks from the insiders.

How, and why should librarians use NetGalley? Let me talk a bit about how this librarian uses NetGalley.

Continue reading “Recipes for Success: Librarian Voices”