Someone will often remark on Facebook or in an email that they wish they had my job. They see the bonuses I enjoy: lots of books to share. They see the boxes that block my path into the office and then the packing materials filling up garbage cans, and finally the stacks of books waiting for readers. And I will not lie: getting books makes every day a bit like Christmas or my birthday. And I love watching folks go through the carts of books as I weed my office collection. What folks do not see is the newbie me asking a veteran prof about getting books sent to me. "Believe it or not," I was told, "there will come a day when you will groan at the sight of those boxes." I have not yet reached that point, thankfully. What followed though was some great advice as I ventured out into the world of children's and YA literature.
What folks do not see often is the work behind the scenes, the results of that advice. Not just the posting of books to Twitter and Facebook and other places, but the articles and columns written over the past years talking abut the benefits of books and reading. They do not see what my university terms "scholarship." I have spent most of my academic career researching books and kids and reading. That research has resulted in so many articles, and chapters and books. I also am careful to pass these books on to new readers. I do not hoard them; i gladly offer them to others in need.
So, when people ask me today how to get all the free books, my first response is the advice given to me years ago. There is some work, some that folks see and some that remains behind the scenes. This is why I am pained when I see the bad behavior I will witness over the weeks to come as the professional conferences get underway. I watched in horror the first time I saw a professional come by a booth and simply carry off every single book/ARC she could fit into her bag. I watched folks dive under the tables to get to books not out yet when the publishers left the booth for a moment or two. I have written about this only to have others defend the actions because they NEED the books and they are free anyhow. Everyone needs books, but let me be clear: books are not FREE. Publishers are lovely generous folks who make them available to us as much as they can. But this is a business and we need to support the business. See Colby Sharp's excellent You Tube video on this topic: http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Resources/Journals/LA/0852-nov07/LA0852Profiles.pdf. (and this is actually something that post the third will come into play in passing the torch).
So, passing the torch here means providing passing along the light that a book can provide. If I hoard them in my office, the only light they provide is for me and not for others. So, they need to get into other hands. And as I prepare for my 25th annual book presentation at the Texas Library Association conference in the next weeks, I plan to shine some more light, to talk about books to hundreds of educators who will gather in Dallas. I hope this light will also make its way into other lives.
And, in post the third, I will talk about yet another aspect of passing the torch. Stay tuned.
Finally, may I ask your indulgence as I try to get the blog up and running again. Bear with me. I do proofread what I write, but I still miss things. Chemo brain seems to flare up when I try to out words on the page. I can assure you, having recently seen some emails I sent during the throes of my treatment, that it is getting better...