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Friday, April 21, 2017

“Read" More About Books By Watching These TED Talks About Books.

Today’s post is a reminder of one of my Ten Rules of Basic RA Service, one which I think sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of the daily grind of serving patrons:


Reading about books, just books and stories in general, is very important. Often we are so worried about reading actual books and get too focused on our TBR piles that we forget how much we can learn by just taking in information about books and reading in general. And as we enter the busy season for library conferences and book buzz panels with all of the ARCs we will be gathering, now is the time for me to caution you about this fun, but not always the most helpful, singleminded focus.

However, we can’t just read about books in a vacuum. We want to make sure that when we are “reading” about books that we are getting as wide a perspective as possible. We need resources that have this wide a perspective in terms of genre, point of view, and geography. Because of the increased thoughtful consideration of diversity in our work, thankfully this is slowly getting easier to do. 

But, reading about books is not just about knowing the titles that represent the most points of view. We also need to take a step back and consider books and storytelling in general from as broad a perspective as possible.

That’s why a couple of times a year I spend the day at the TED Talks topic page for Books. What I get from this archive is all of the talks that have anything remotely to do with books, by people from all walks of life, all professions, and from all over the world.

I want to say this clearly so there is no doubt on how I feel about this issue-- Everyone who spends anytime helping leisure readers needs to take a few moments and watch some of these talks. As many as you can. Watching these videos is essential to giving you the foundation you need to do your job, no matter who you are or where you live.

These talks will explain why authors write the stories they do, what books mean to readers, why “story” is important to human life, etc... All of the big issues around why our jobs exist. And because TED Talks are giving by a wide net of people, you can see a worldwide perspective on why reading matters.

By listening to these talks you are actively engaging in “Reading about books.” You are also learning about readers. You are actively training yourself both to understand how to help readers AND how stories are constructed. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose here.

So today, or some time soon, let these videos run while you work off desk. If your boss gets upset that you are “watching videos,” blame me. Tell them Becky told you to. Pass this blog post on to them. 

Now stop reading and start watching.

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