Vandriel: Adult storytime

If you disagree with the library carrying certain books, please discuss with the librarian

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Storytime conjures images of young children, either gathered in a circle, on someone’s lap, or tucked into bed, hearing a bedtime story. I discovered half a lifetime ago that being read to is incredibly soothing and relaxing.

When I lived in South Africa, Sunday afternoons were either spent hiking out in the bush, avoiding ticks while searching for edible fungi, or being read to by my landlady/surrogate mother, Diana. I recall hot February afternoons in the screened porch, reclining on an ancient sofa, Di’s husband, John, stretched out on the other sofa, while Di sat primly in a hard chair reading to us, usually Dornford Yates novels. We would begin to nod off, lulled into sleep by Di’s gentle voice, only to sit up with a start when that voice trailed off into nothingness. “Another chapter!” John and I would demand, and she would carry on until it was time for tea and cake.

I miss that.

At the library, staff gather around Jeri’s desk as she goes through the new books. She picks an adorable children’s book and begins staff storytime, necessary, as we are often called upon to make recommendations. My favorites are the Pete the Cat stories. They get stuck in my head and are with me for at least a day.

I asked staff what their favorite “Storytime with Jeri” book was. Corrie responded with the Adam Mansback book, Go the @#! To Sleep. I’m familiar with the book, a storybook for adults. There is a children’s version, Seriously, Just Go to Sleep, but the adult version is much more fun, and meant for adults only! Yes, it looks like a picture book, but the language, perspective, and tone are all intended for adult audiences. Mansback gives an account of a father, desperately trying to put his child to bed. It is humorous, irreverent and meant to be read by parents or guardians after the little angels are finally in bed for the night. Unfortunately, the library no longer owns a copy.

Likewise, the second book by Mansback, You Have to @#$!-ing Eat, is also no longer in our collection, although it is owned by other libraries and you can request a copy for your own reading pleasure.

February 25-March 3 was Freedom to Read week. Usually libraries have displays of banned books and lists of which titles their own patrons have challenged within the past year. My librarian friends have stopped asking me which books in my library get challenged the most, because we have none. Not one book has been challenged since I began working here and not because we only order “nice” books. Instead of being challenged, books in our library tend to simply disappear, like the Mansback books did.

Some people might have taken these items, rather than check them out, due to embarrassment over the subject matter. (And, just so you know, I tend to purchase the more risque books in electronic format, so no one has to know what you are reading.) What I strongly suspect, however, is that we have book thieves, making judgements on the reading materials available to the community, and deciding for us what we should or shouldn’t read. I really wish they’d stop. We won’t stop buying these books, so please stop wasting tax payers’ money by stealing them. Stop denying access to information that someone else might desperately need or want. I’d much rather you challenge the book instead. Come talk to me.

Caroline Vandriel

Library Director

Sylvan Lake Municipal Library

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