12 June 2011

Real Life and Reading

I realize my posting has slowed down a bit, as of late. To be honest, I feel like I've hit a bit of a blogging slump, or rather I've hit a bit of a slump in general. The truth is, I LOVE it here and am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to live in Uganda...but being here is sometimes hard. Think about 'normal' life: wondering about the future, wanting to perform your job well, building and maintaining relationships, questions about self worth, etc. Now add: living in a new culture, facing questions about poverty, a different way of life, eating different food, being surrounded by a new language, etc. Plus, the year before I came was hard in a lot of personal ways...I think there was a part of me that hoped I could come to Africa, jump into a new job and a new life, and forget about all the stuff I was still processing and grieving. Ha. At any rate, I find myself in the downward swing of culture stress, the part that makes me wonder why I am here and if I am really the right person to do this job. Don't worry I'm not depressed or anything...just dealing with normal ups and downs. Yes, I am on an amazing adventure this year but I'm still a person living real life. The good news is that despite my feelings, they WILL pass. And, thankfully, the down days don't take away from the fact that I really am sooo thankful for this opportunity. And I know and trust that soon enough I will find myself back on an upward swing and loving my life here. 

All that to say, sorry for my lack of blog posts. But don't worry, I do have something else (more positive) to share today:

So, let's face it. I don't write much about reading on this blog. I'm honestly not one of those librarians that reads all the time while sipping tea and petting my cat. (Speaking of cats, last week a cat got on my fourth floor balcony and I feared it so much, as they say here, I made some neighbor boys get it down. Not joking.) I'm also probably not going to write reviews of books or talk about the latest reading craze.

But.

Libraries are about information. And often (traditionally?) that information comes in the form of books. I received an email the other day from my sister, who is in middle school. It was quite inspiring to me and sparked a lot of thoughts about books and reading. Here's an excerpt from her email:

OH i forgot to tell you i started reading harry potter book 7! it is so good! remember when we listened to that on cd in your car? that was soooo much fun. and i havent even gotten to a part that i havent heard already. i like it though cause i remember the exact times when i heard those things. like i can remember hearing it. its weird. i really like to read. i very much, want to build up my book collection really big! oh and do you remember that book you gave me a while back, meet the austins. well it didnt interest me at first but then i was looking through your books and i found the book, a ring of endless night, and i read it and i really liked it, and i found out that meet the austins is the start of that series so now i reallly want to read it. so i thought i should thank you so much for that book. i have really started to appreciate and love books. its amazing cause its just pages and pages of of of of i dont even know what. and as i just wrote that i keep thinking how weird that is cause you are a librarian. haha. but do you agree? books are just so entertaining and fun. and there are hundreds maybe millions i havent read and i just want to have them all so i could read a different one every day. and their all completely different. thats what amazes me. every single book on this planet is unique and special and full of adventure and fun. and history. i really like social studies class because i like to learn about the past i love to learn about all the stuff that happend when i wsnt even alive. it just amazes me how young i really am compared to everything else. ... 

And in those sentences I was reminded again about the joys of reading. Too often I get defensive when people say to me, "You must love to read" when they find out I'm a librarian. I am quick to tell them my Bachelor's degree is in Science, not English. And in an effort to break down stereotypes, I think I've turned around and made myself into an un-reader. Or at least someone who doesn't read much. I make sure I tell people that librarianship is about more than books. It's about information and connecting a community to that information.

But this email from my sister was inspiring. It reminded me that despite the never ending predictions that people are going to stop reading 'real' books and Google is going to take over the world, there is still magic in reading. Reading shows you how big the world is and how much you have left to discover. I am constantly needing to remind myself that what I am doing is not about ME or about what I want. I find I need to remind myself, as my sister says, 'how young I am compared to everything else'. Instead it's about something bigger, about a bigger story. And she just reminded me one easy way to be reminded about that story...open a book.

And, really, my work here is about books and reading. I have a whole library full of books I am cataloging. Students ask daily to use books on reserve or for a book on a particular topic. Some students wander through the shelves to look for books that will help them with their assignments or to find ones that just look interesting. Others simply stop to look at the ones I've put on display. In a world where computers, email, and Facebook are new and sometimes intimidating, books are still the go-to place for information, adventure, knowledge, fun, help, and education.

Maybe I will become a reader after all.

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