ASSOCIATES (vol. 9, no. 1, July 2002) -

*My View From The Back Room*


Carol Borzyskowski
Library Associate II
Winona Public Library

Gather round one and all, get comfortable and listen to the spellbinding stories of a master taleteller. Recapture a time when you were the center of attention and someone was reading a story just for you! Now as an adult give yourself the treat of listening to a good story. It really does create a different effect and general feeling in you compared to reading the same story. I am not sure why this is. I have my suspicions, but personally I find that listening to a book on tape is a totally different experience for me than reading a book. Heck, I have even read the book and then listened to it, back-to-back, and thought I was hearing a whole different tale.

Perhaps in another life I was one of the first to huddle around the fire and stare wide-eyed at the revered storyteller, the keeper of legends, the repository of our clanís history, perhaps. Good heavens that line had to be the influence of the latest Jean Auel book, which I wish someone would read to me because it is so heavy I canít hold it up in bed.

I love to feel the storyís voice in my head, I love to have it come though my ears and create pictures in a way that I just donít quite get when I read a book. Donít get me wrong, I still read, (in fact check out my on-line journal on the libraryís web page at but I am becoming quite addicted to listening to a book while I drive, grocery shop, and take my lunch break walks. I fear I am becoming quite rude, just giving people a curt nod as I pass by, or a look of exasperation if they actually speak to me, and I have to drag my mind back from the story. The characters stay with me all day, and I think about them, even worry about them. When I start to wonder what they are doing while I am working, then I will have to go check in somewhere for an evaluation.

Books on tape are becoming increasingly popular in our library and we canít seem to satisfy the demand. We inter-library loan them daily, and people are constantly asking if we have any in the back waiting to be shelved. As much as I enjoy them, NO! I do not hoard them back here. I have told you about how crowded and narrow my back room is, right? Also the fact that it has no windows? I do listen to the radio, but I donít think listening to a book while I work would be a good idea. Hmmm, it "sounds" like a good idea, but then I would get so involved I wouldnít want to jump up and help problem-solve at the circulation desk. No, I better save my visits with the storytellers, until it is my time and I can give myself over freely to the tales.

I have also found that I tend to listen to slightly different types of books than I read. For instance, I like to listen to more action, suspense or plot driven books, while I like to read more character driven books. Also I will listen to a book that I wouldnít read, thinking in a snobby way that it wasnít very well written, but "hearing" it just draws me in and I am more forgiving. I also toss in the occasional "culturally uplifting" book on tape, one that I know for sure I wouldnít be able to get through in print, like Moby Dick.

Summer programs are in full swing here, and the Childrenís Department is full to bursting with kids and parents. More and more kids are finding books on tape and the Childrenís collection is growing, too. We have all the Harry Potter books on tape for instance, and they are NEVER on the shelf. Parents love them for car trips, and it is a good way to introduce children to books and reading. Well, except it isnít, is it? It is close though, and it ISNíT a video! Most of the kids who get a book on tape also get lots of books, so they do know what the word looks like on the printed page.

I think what the kids and the adults all enjoy here is the wonderful feeling that someone is reading a story to you. It is comforting, it is exciting, it is fun, and it makes it very personal. So gather up your favorite storyteller, and let your ears take you on a mind expanding journey far, far away.

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