BY VIRGINIA ROBERTS
Rhinelander District Library director
Here it is July, and summer reading is well underway. A few days ago, I took a day off and used part of it to just sit and read a book. Not a tremendous feat for a librarian, you might think, but lately, much harder than it sounds. You see, between committees, meetings, continuing education, grant writing and a host of other things I won’t bore you by listing out, I rarely have time to sit with a book, concentrate and read.
But I did. A book by A.J. Jacobs, “It’s All Relative,” the author of “The Year of Living Biblically,” caught my eye, and I just had to read it. Because, if you’ve read any of his other work, you wonder—just what is he putting his poor wife and boys through, now? It turns out to be quite an adventure, again. The book is about genealogy and various ways to go about finding one’s relatives. Turns out I’m a distant cousin to the author, which, if you read the book, will not be a surprise. I am also not going to say how, or even how I know, because that would be telling. It’s also not the most important thing. The most important thing is I got to read a whole book. It took me less than a month (I’m up to three this year—yeah, it’s been like that. I’ve only read three books in the first half of 2017. Sad trombone). The best part is this book does not come out until November 2017. So technically, I’m ahead, right?
Aside from recommending the book (and I completely, enthusiastically do; it’s an excellent walk through the genealogy park, especially for novices), how did I manage to get a book to read that isn’t even for sale yet? Well, a few weeks ago there was a massive conference in Chicago put on by the American Library Association. Every conference, publishers bring authors and illustrators for the attendees to meet and give out thousands of books to those at the conference in the hopes they will be read and purchased by library material selectors. Many of these titles have not yet been published. They are considered uncorrected proofs of books called Advance Reader Copy (ARC). The ARC I read didn’t have a complete list of resources or even all of its illustrations or captions to go with them. I found a host of typos—but nothing I couldn’t read to understand. Mostly I just knew the library had to have this book! Which was the point, of course. Thing is I didn’t just bring back this single (relatively) slim volume. I brought back a van full—roughly ten boxes of ARCs (and at least a box of published books RDL is accessing), thanks to ALA, publisher and my car.
This is a tremendous opportunity. It gives you a chance to help the library choose new books and gives selectors an idea of what you would like to see on the shelves in the future. Come to RDL, select an ARC, and tell the staff on a review form (conveniently inserted into the book as a book mark) if the book is worth a purchase. Many of these books have authors who have never graced these northern shelves—or any shelf, for that matter. There are books available that won’t come out until early next year! These books are free for you to keep and pass on to another reader, or bring back for the library to put back for another review. Eventually, they will be sent to little free libraries in the community for folks to read, share and share again.
And if you are truly interested in family history, Garyn Roberts, area historian, writer, instructor and published author will be speaking at the Rhinelander District Library at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 4, about writing family stories. On Aug. 5 at 1 p.m. Jerry Apps will be talking about and signing his latest book, “Never Curse the Rain,” much about his own rural history in Wisconsin (tickets required). Both programs are free to the public as a special presentation as part of the School of the Arts Legacy Program Writer’s Retreat. They are a collaboration between ArtStart and the Rhinelander District Library and sponsored in part by the Northern Arts Council, Robert Gard Foundation, Wisconsin Valley Library Service, Wisconsin Arts Board and people like you!
The Rhinelander District Library is open Monday–Saturday, at 106 N. Stevens St. To contact Director Virginia Roberts, call 715-365-1070 or email director@RhinelanderLibrary.org.