Editor’s note: For this week’s 10 questions, The California Aggie spoke with Davis regional librarian Jay Johnstone, who oversees the Mary L. Stephens public library in Davis.
What’s it like supervising a library branch?
It’s a very rich experience. [There is] lots of satisfaction when the system works well. I like the challenge of handling both the technical and the human issues.
What’s something library patrons could do to make life easier for the library staff?
Bring back materials on time or contact us before they’re late. We really don’t like to charge people for late stuff. It’s just a bummer for everyone, but it seems to be the only way to provide fair and equal access to a limited resource.
Are there any kind of summer reading programs going on right now?
There are reading incentive programs for both children and young adults this summer, but the signup period ended in June.
What’s your favorite book?
I don’t have a favorite book. The books that I keep rereading are Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig and Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck.
Are there any books that you’re reading right now?
Brave Companions by David McCullough and several books about the exploration and features of the Sierra Nevada [Mountains].
What’s the most overdue book you’ve ever had someone turn in?
We’ve found stuff in the donations drop that were 40 years late.
Why are libraries better than your computer?
Libraries contain more than computers, including smart, well-educated, specially trained librarians who can help customers clarify their search. Libraries offer recreational reading, a form of storytelling that is difficult to experience on a computer. Libraries are also a destination to visit with friends and family.
How hard is it to become a librarian?
Public libraries require a master‘s in librarianship (MLS). School libraries require a teaching credential, the MLS and an internship. Academic and research libraries generally require the MLS and a second subject masters.
What advice would you give young librarian wannabes?
Libraries require good people skills. It’s not enough to love books. Librarians don’t get paid to sit in a quiet corner and read. There are always problems to solve that involve research and strategy, consensus-building and taking risks.
What’s something most people don’t know about your library?
There is a public art installation consisting of 13 inscribed bronze plaques set in the pathways. Welded to the underside of each plaque is a tuning fork. Mechanical vibrations near them activate the forms to create “silent music” which is a form of geomancy.
RICHARD PROCTER conducted this interview and can be reached at email@example.com.