Ask the librarian: Laura Geiken

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Dearborn Public Library

What kind of librarian are you? I am the Teen Librarian for the Library.

How long have you been a librarian? I have officially been a librarian for a little over a year, but I have a worked in public and academic libraries since 2005.

What lead you to wanting to be a librarian? I started out as a page in college and that experience led me to see how important public libraries are to society, especially in lower-income communities. Books and databases are important aspects of libraries, but we also provide computer access, Wi-Fi, a safe (and warm) space, entertainment, free fun and educational programs, storytimes, etc. If you cannot afford books, a computer, preschool for your children, or internet access to apply for a job, you have very limited options. Public libraries allow everyone to access these services that would otherwise be limited to only wealthy populations. As I heard Cory Doctorow say last year, libraries are one of the last places where you don’t have to get out your wallet just to be there.

How do you pick books for your library? I read tons of book reviews from School Library Journal, Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, etc. I’m more likely to buy books with positive reviews, but that’s not the only thing I keep in mind. I also try to keep up with trends and what my population enjoys. I’ve been asked a lot for horror books in the last year, so I always keep my eye out for new horror or scary titles. Lastly, but most importantly, I want the teen collection to reflect readers and offer them glimpses into other people’s lives (the windows and mirrors concept). When reading reviews, I look for books with diverse characters and storylines. I want to add to our collection stories that have not yet been heard before.

Do you have a favorite author? Impossible question to answer! I am currently obsessed with Angie Thomas and Erika L. Sanchez. I cannot recommend I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Sanchez enough! I have also had a life-long love affair with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I believe One Hundred Years of Solitude is the perfect novel. Oh, and I am totally suffering from Ferrante Fever. I love the Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante. What character development!

How do you decide what book to recommend to a specific kid? My last supervisor was great at reader’s advisory and she would often ask people what was the last book they read that they really enjoyed. I’ve started to do this as well and I find it’s really helpful. Once they think of a book, if I am familiar with the genre, I’ll recommend some new, similar titles they might like. If I’m unsure of the title or genre, I’ll use the Novelist database to find similar books or authors. I also work with some really great children’s librarians, so I rely a lot on my coworkers to suggest titles as well.

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