Nancy Pearl: America's Favorite Librarian
By Susan Halas
Nancy Pearl - many readers, NPR listeners, library-goers and those who think fondly of librarians - already know her name.
This is the Nancy Pearl who started the city-wide book discussions - the format where everyone in town reads the same book at the same time and talks about it. It was an idea that was widely adopted, expanded and has now spread to practically everywhere.
This is the Nancy Pearl who wrote Book Lust, a popular volume on recommended reading, and followed it up with more popular titles along the same lines. This is the Nancy Pearl who teaches, blogs, speaks and can easily be found at her own site: http://www.nancypearl.com.
And talk about iconic high visibility librarian, this is the Nancy Pearl who has her own action figure (both regular and deluxe links below):
Even though the figure shows her with finger to lips making a "shushing" gesture, Nancy is far from the quiet type. She is outspoken about where she sees her profession going, and also about the future of libraries in general. On the positive side she points to places like Boise, Idaho, which she called "a livable city with three brand new branch libraries, the result of a supportive community and a supportive Mayor."
But she feels Boise is an exception, more and more libraries and library services are on-line and fewer new libraries are being built. From her point of view this is not necessarily the best of all possible worlds.
"As a result of the Internet tsunami, many people believe that information access is the whole role that a library plays in a community. I believe - along with a few others - that information is part of the larger world of libraries. Many others, including library educators and members of the public, believe that the library is part of the world of information and has no - or little - other role. But to me, a library is still a place where people come to find good books to read, to attend programs, to get help in job searches, and to connect with others in the community through book discussion groups."
"Most of the bigger, more prestigious, and better known professional schools have dropped the word library from their names; they're now Information Schools, and their curriculums tend to be highly theory based. I find this trend to be very sad."