One of the things I don’t get a chance to do so much since moving into my new position as a librarian for adults is read stories to people. So it’s kind of cool that with our library branch being renovated (and me being redeployed to a branch where I am kind of extraneous a lot of the time) I get to do something about that.
Jen — one of my adult-librarian colleagues — and I have been visiting seniors’ homes in our town and just reading stories to them. There are two of us so we can alternate and not get too tired, and so the listeners get a bit of a range of voices. Originally we looked at the kinds of stories recommended by “library services” books for this kind of program and oh my glob were they terrible. All Reader’s Digest “ain’t that just the way things work?” sorts of schmaltzy/down-homey bullshit. Instead we just grabbed books and stories we liked and read them to the seniors.
Yes, many of them fall asleep while we’re reading Ivan Coyote and Neil Gaiman and Lydia Davis, but we see that as a good thing. It’s soothing to be read to, and adults don’t get enough of that. And sometimes there are cookies after our 30-60 minutes are up!
A couple of weeks ago we ran into a couple of young visitors who were leaving and they saw our stacks of books (we always bring too many) and they asked what we’d be doing. Jen gave a bit of an elevator pitch and the family members smiled. Then the guy said “that crowd in there is hoping you work blue” and we all laughed. (We do tend to shy away from really cuss-laden stories for the old people.)
And because that’s been working in person I’m starting to do some grown-up storytime shows on Librarians on the Radio with Emily Orr (who also works on LotR proper). Yesterday was the first official one on the Changes broadcast, but I did a couple of independent test episodes as training on the boards at CHLY. I call them Librarianautica shows because I like the idea of these shows being a collection of stories a wandering librarian gathers. You can listen to yesterday’s show — Wild Musical Beasts — here. Apologies for the 30-second CHLY promo off the top.