North Delta’s George Mackie Library. (Grace Kennedy photo)

COLUMN: Breaking down anti-book propaganda

Librarian Marisa Tutt pokes holes in people’s excuses for not reading

By Marisa Tutt, Fraser Valley Regional Library

“A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge.” — George R.R. Martin

Libraries love books. It’s not all we’re about, but we do owe our existence to them. So in recognition of Book Lovers Day on Aug. 9, I’m standing up for books. Tearing down stereotypes. Breaking down barriers. And giving you five solutions to anti-book propaganda.

1) Nothing to read? Answer: Readers’ advisory.

If there’s one thing libraries do well, it’s giving you numerous ways to find a good book. At Fraser Valley Regional Library we have “The Reading Room,” a virtual place for you to discover new books and other library materials, including reading advisors and our very own podcast. It’s not that you don’t have anything to read, it’s just that you haven’t found it yet.

2) Too busy to read? Answer: Audio Books

It’s still a book, after all. And nothing beats catching up with the latest literary trends while multitasking hands-free on your commute to school or work. Think audiobooks are “cheating?” Not so, say researchers. Listening to books has been proven to increase reading accuracy, comprehension, speed, motivation and test scores. So let’s just put that nasty rumour to bed.

3) Poor vision stopping you from reading? Answer: Accessible formats.

Large print and audio books are available at all libraries to anyone with a library card. Canadians with perceptual disabilities can also register through the library for CELA, a collection of items in accessible formats such as DAISY books, and both print and electronic braille.

4) Epic tomes too hard to read? Answer: Quick and easy reads

There are many reasons why people read slowly. Some are learning to read, some are learning a new language and, sometimes, life just gets in the way. Public libraries not only offer books for kids learning to read, but for adults as well. You can also borrow books in other languages. Other solutions include checking out short stories and lighter (dare I say “fluffier”) reads. It’s even trendy now to read young adult and children’s fiction. Harry Potter anyone?

5) Too expensive? Answer: Borrow a book (or e-book).

Libraries provide free access to a plethora of books (up to 60 at a time if you’re keen). If you like crisp, new books but have maxed out your Chapters gift card, we have those too. Some people shy from using the library because of overdue fines. If you’re prone to lateness, e-books disappear from your device, like magic, upon their due date. If you fear the e-book, we can also help. Book an appointment with library staff to get set up and we’ll make you a believer.

Whether you read fiction, non-fiction, audio or e-books, there’s something for just about everyone. There’s no excuse to book-shame, so grab a good read and celebrate all things book this August, if for no other reason than out of respect – they’ve been around a lot longer than us.

Check out these and other book-loving programs, services and resources at your local public library.

Marisa Tutt is a librarian for Fraser Valley Regional Library, based at the George Mackie Library in North Delta.

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