Librarians point readers in the right direction

Tyler Clarke
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John M. Cuelenaere Public Library staffers Ted Snow, Sharon Nelson, Greg Elliott and Gail Evans, from left, gather around Elliott’s pick for favourite book of the moment -- “The Martian” by Andy Weir. 

Librarians take out their share of the more than 20,000 books lent out per month at the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library.


In advance of Thursday’s World Book Day, the Daily Herald stopped by the library to gather the latest book news from local librarians, as well as which books they’re currently keen on endorsing.

Reporting a gradual rise in e-book and e-audio book loans, deputy director Greg Elliott said that they’re up to about 500 electronic loans per month -- still significantly shy of the 20,000 print editions taken out.

“E-books still tend to be a bit of a new format, and so people are still used to taking out the print books,” he explained.

“Over time, of course there will be a change, but who knows when that breaking point will happen.”

There’s one thing he’s certain of -- print is here to stay.

“It’s physical and people tend to have an emotional attachment to it,” he said, noting print’s multi-generational appeal.

“Babies today enjoy chewing their books,” he said with a chuckle. “They like the touch, they like the feel, they like the taste, strangely enough.”

Lifting a copy of his favourite book of the moment, Elliott said that The Martian by Andy Weir was quick to hook him in.

The hard science fiction novel about an astronaut who’s stranded on Mars due to a dust storm remains “quite believable,” he explained.

“The science was quite accurate and the development of the character was very good,” he said. “The insight into space exploration was intelligent, and it was quite amusing.

“Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction I look for something that can expand my impressions of the world and force me to think.”

Fellow librarian Ted Snow shares this sentiment, although his reading preference is non-fiction.

Snow’s recommendation is “The Blank Slate” by Stephen Pinker -- a book he said is “about human nature and whether when we’re born … like a blank slate or do we have a personality that’s already there.”

He explained that non-fiction books more easily absorb his attention, in that they teach him more about the real world around him.

I love the fantasy, because our world is very stressful and you can just escape into the world of the elves and the dwarfs and the hobbits. Sharon Nelson

Using books as more an escape than Snow does, librarian Sharon Nelson’s current picks include the body of work by J.R.R. Tolkein -- particularly The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings series.

“I like a good plot and good character development,” she said.

“I love the fantasy, because our world is very stressful and you can just escape into the world of the elves and the dwarfs and the hobbits.”

A blend of Snow and Nelson’s preferences, Gail Evans recommends author Patricia Shaw’s historical fiction series about the pioneers who colonized Australia.

It’s through fictional accounts like these, and similar ones about Canada, that help shape one’s understanding of why people settled where they settled, she explained.

Throwing another favourite book into the mix, Nelson recommends parents read their children “My Lucky Day,” by Keiko Kasza -- a humorous story about an intelligent pig who outsmarts a hungry fox.

“It opens up their world right away, and it’s how they learn -- by reading,” she said, adding that it’s important that parents teach their children the importance of books.

“It keeps them away from all the screen time.”

All of the books that local library staff members recommend are available at the library, either through their on-site collection or inter-library loans.

Marking World Book Day on Thursday, the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library will host their final Read with the Raiders event, wherein children are encouraged to attend the library where local WHL hockey players will read to them.

The final Read with the Raiders event will begin at 5:30 p.m., and will be capped off with a draw, wherein the winner will become a Prince Albert Daily Herald reporter for a day.

The winning youngster will attend a Prince Albert Raiders home game with a Daily Herald reporter and help interview players for a story that will appear in the newspaper. 

Organizations: Daily Herald, Raiders, John M. Cuelenaere Public Library

Geographic location: Mars, Australia, Canada

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