Since I was a little girl, I had always made my own little library and loaned out my books. I've always wanted to do that.
Coming into the Book World, we have found so many wonderful people that enjoy books and have a genuine passion for reading! We’ve been able to connect with Laura from Indiana. Laura is a Librarian by day and is also a Blogger, YouTuber, Bookstagramer, and now recently, a writer! Read on below to get to know Laura, learn how the Pandemic has changed her role as a librarian, and how she became a Librarian Blogger and Bookstagramer.
Beca: So, Laura, you're a librarian and you're a mom! You also review books for the School Library Journal and Library Journal. For people that don't know you yet, who is Laura?
Laura: I'm just very passionate about reading and sharing what I read. I've always been a reader since I was in second grade. I went into librarianship after college, while also working in the corporate world for a bit. Books and reading is my true passion and where I will always be. So I just love sharing books.
Beca: That's amazing! So tell me about how you decided, to become a librarian. I haven’t come across many — or heard people say, oh, this is what I'm going to do. Can you explain how you became a Librarian?
Laura: Yeah. I used to work for Angie's List which was a corporate environment, but started a little library there. Doing that, got me thinking, that since I was a little girl, I had always made my own little library and loaned out my books. I've always wanted to do that. So I started looking into schooling for it. I already had an English degree, so to get my Master's in Librarianship I had to take sixteen or seventeen classes. And I was like "I can do this!". I started the program to get my library degree and worked full time while getting it. And then as soon as I got it, I wanted to move back home and go back up north. So I watched for jobs and moved back home and worked in entry-level library positions for a while until I could find the school librarian job. And that's where I ended up for the past five years.
Beca: That’s an interesting journey! I did do a little bit of research, MLS, that's the Master's degree in Librarianship. Right?
Laura: Yeah, not a lot of people know about it.
Beca: Yeah, I never knew that there was a degree required for a Librarianship. What are all their responsibilities aside from checking out books?
Laura: There are catalogers, who find all the records and make sure the books are cataloged correctly so people can find them by subjects. And then there's your collection management - they have the fun job of covering all the books and labeling them. There's also the reader's advisory, which is my most favorite. That's helping someone find a good book. That requires, to ask them a few questions and keep up on the latest book trends. We also keep up with what's coming in publishing and also what kind of authors people will like. Another thing we do is information. Which is all about helping them make sure they're getting the correct information. So if you're helping someone look up a medical thing or how to find a legal form or any or even a research material for something they're doing, you want to make sure and help them find valid sources that are reliable and not just something like Wikipedia.
Beca: I’m sure knowing that you get to help people find those resources is fulfilling. At least I would think so because when I would ask a Librarian for help, I would be so thankful they would point me in the right direction.
Laura: Yeah. It’s like a treasure hunt!
Beca: Yes! A treasure hunt for information, which is the best kind! So now with the Pandemic, how has that affected libraries and the role of librarians?
Laura: At first, a lot of the libraries closed their doors, and turned to curbside pickup. That has been very helpful because materials were still getting checked out. Now we have to quarantine the materials for so many days to make sure the virus isn't on them and all that. But in my current job, I work for the State Library of Indiana. I have about 60 libraries that I am the liaison for the state. A lot of my libraries were closed, but many of them were coming up with really creative ways to get the information out. They switched their programming over to virtual, which has been great because a lot of people have been able to be involved in the programming. As before, they couldn't physically get to the library. So now they can do all these programs, which is great. The only thing I didn't like about the curbside is that you can't go inside. I personally like to go inside the library and look around and say, "Hey, what's new"? The good thing is a lot of them are open again. And they're just starting to see more traffic, but we'll see how things develop. But libraries have definitely been very useful and still prevalent during the pandemic.
Beca: That's great, because libraries are such an institution for a lot of people where kids can go someplace safe, access the Internet, computers, printers, and people knowledgeable on how to find information.
So as a librarian, you have a passion for books, which I'm sure that then transitioned into your book blogging. How did you get into that?
Laura: A few years ago, I was always on my Facebook, and when I finished a book, I'd be like "oh, you have to read this" to other people. A lot of my friends and family were like, you should start writing these down because you're always telling people about books. So I just started on blogger a long time ago, and just started writing my reviews on there. Then I taught myself more about blogging and had a friend that helped me quite a bit. Then I moved over to do a WordPress site and signed up to review for the two magazines I mentioned. And now it's just kind of second nature — when I read a book, I blog about it and post it on Instagram.
Beca: That’s really great! How do you feel about bookstagram as a whole?
Laura: Well, I didn't do much with it before the pandemic, not until I had more time. I started looking into it and I got involved in this group. There's a group of about 20 girls all around the US and we got really close and talked on zoom. We're also in a group on Instagram. We're all bookstagramers, and I'm the only librarian in the group of readers. So it's really fun now that I'm in it, it's such a great community. There are so many amazing people I've met. I look forward to someday being able to meet some of them because they're such fun and we all have shared interests in books and it doesn't matter what our political affiliations are or anything. We just love books and love reading. So I really love it.
Beca: Yeah, books and reading is a great way to find common ground regardless, like you said, of anything that may separate people.
You also have your own YouTube channel, called Book Talk. How how did you get into that? Did you just think like, oh, I’ll just post these videos of me talking about books?
Laura: I was super nervous to do that, but I just put myself out there because I wanted to try it. Especially since I started writing my own book. That’s my life goal, to write a book. So I'm just trying to branch out because I know this is what I love to do. So might as well keep doing it.
Beca: I did watch your videos and love how passionate and excited you are to talk about books! I commend you for getting out of your comfort zone and being willing to share your enthusiasm with all of us.
You mentioned you’re writing your book, what kind of story are you writing about?
Laura: I read romance and romantic comedy all the time, especially when I'm not reading thrillers. So I started writing a contemporary romance — the idea came to me a couple of years ago when I was sitting at soccer practice, of all places. I just started filling a notebook with all these ideas and they just started pouring out of me. So now, I started formatting and typing. But I basically have it all planned out. I just need to do a lot of typing.
Beca: It's great you decided to pursue that and it’s good that you already started building the foundation of an audience via bookstagram, YouTube, and your book blog! Can’t wait to read your book!
I know you first started your bookstagram around two years ago, if you could go back to when you first started, what would you tell yourself? Knowing what you know now?
Laura: I would say maybe keep it simple. I feel like I tried so hard to figure out how to make posts or how to make my pictures look good. But in reality, all that really matters is the book. So I would say, don't stress too much, keep it simple, focus on the book, and just let people see the books. Some people do a lot of nice, amazing photography. But I'm not a photographer and I just would rather tell about the book. So I would say keep it simple.
Beca: Keeping it simple is great advice!
What are your future plans for your blog, bookstagram, and everything else you are involved in?
Laura: Well, I was trying really hard to get to fifteen hundred followers, and I just made that. So now, I’ll try to hit the goal to get 2000 followers and keep trying to get more. But I don't want to get a ton of followers that aren't engaging. I like to engage with people about books. So I've found that when I hit this level of followers, it's kind of a lot to handle. So I don't want to get too high, but I just want to be able to keep up with it and keep posting and then hopefully get my book going, so I can use that platform to be helpful.
Beca: Love it! I’m sure you will hit your goal soon. I also think it’s great that you’re writing your own book and sharing your enthusiasm for books with all of us! Thank you for all that you do. Can't wait to see more of your Book Talk YouTube videos as well!