The Making of a Librarian
by Tony Snyder, Copyright/Interlibrary Loan Associate at Kent State University Libraries
It all started when automated public library catalogs were still a novelty. I had just completed a computer training course that would allow me to search the library catalog at a computer terminal. It was 1990. I was 8. My first search was “s=sports.” There were pages of results! I felt like the king of the world! My mom said to the librarian: “He'll just want to stay here all night.” The librarian replied: “Don't worry, we'll lock him in!” I was hooked and I've never looked back.
In seventh grade, my English teacher gave me a copy of From the Mixed-Up Files of Basil E. Frankweiler. After finishing it, I wanted to spend the night in the Metropolitan Museum of Art like Claudia and Jamie. As soon as I was able, I volunteered at my local public library in Orrville, Ohio (home of Smucker's jam!). I spent 10 years working there during summers and breaks including an uninterrupted year between undergrad and library school. The librarians would get really excited when I'd be home and work: “Tony's home! Our circulation stats are up!”
Some of you may remember a show on A&E in the late 90s-early 2000s hosted by John Larroquette called The Incurable Collector. I loved them all, but my favorite was when the host talked about his own love of book collecting. In the episode, he interviewed Nicholas Basbanes, author of many books on book collecting and collectors. I needed no more persuading: books would be a part of my life's work, that much was certain.
As I worked my way through Basbanes' books, I came across the following maxim: “Read at whim.” This has greatly informed my work. I'm always telling people that they should read what they like and not be embarrassed about it in the least. In my work at Kent State in interlibrary loan, we have sent books to other libraries on subjects as diverse as a social history of the toilet, to poetry, to bestsellers. I have also sent for items from as far away as China. I never know what people will ask for: I am never bored!
My book club at Kent State made the joke, “We finally found something that Tony hasn't read: Amish romances!” This is true and may just prompt me to start reading them. If any of you have any suggestions of the best of them, let me know! There is no better feeling than finding a patron what they want or need, particularly when it's hard to find. In a general reading context, I love recommending a book or other media to a patron or friend and having it be just the right book at the right time for them. As we celebrate this National Library Week, keep reading what you like and being the best you can be at doing what we love. I salute you!
Tony Snyder has always been utterly fascinated by books and reading. After volunteering in his local public library for many years, he began graduate work in library science at Kent State University in 2006. He earned his MLIS from Kent in 2008. He began work in the interlibrary loan office there as a graduate assistant in 2007 and has worked there ever since in various capacities. Currently, he serves as the full-time Copyright/Interlibrary Loan Associate.
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