Every fourth Wednesday in January is celebrated as National “Shelfie” Day, a celebration of books. The holiday was created by the New York Public Library in 2014, and is upheld by librarians and book worms all over the country. Readers may snap a picture of themselves in front of their bookshelves and share the “shelfie” on social media. This year, Shelfie Day fell on Wednesday January 26. The Purple reached out to some of Sewanee’s very own librarians to learn more about their love of literature.
“Books have been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember,” says Cari Reynolds, Learning and Access Services Librarian. Reynolds also serves as head of the Featured Item Display Committee, responsible for putting together monthly displays in the lobby of duPont Library. The current lobby display is “Book-Tok,” a collection of titles that have been highly recommended and trending on social media platforms.
Coming from a family of avid readers and educators, Reynolds remembers how her mother would purchase copies of that year’s Newbery and Caldecott award winning books. Later this year, duPont library will be celebrating the 100 anniversary of the Newbery medal with “special displays and activities to be announced,” says Reynolds.
Regarding her own collection of literature, Reynolds actively collects books of ghost stories. She is approaching nearly 300 volumes in her personal collection.
“The ones I love the most are those shared by folks who experienced ghostly activity, local legends, and folklore. Whenever I travel, I always purchase a book of ghost stories as a souvenir,” she shared. Her knowledge and infatuation with ghostlore is well known around campus, and she has even been asked to tell spooky stories at the University Archives and to the Young Writers Conference.
I also sat down with Courtnay Zeitler, Information Literacy Librarian, to ask her about books that have left a lasting impression on her. During her freshman year of college, she read The Brothers Karamazov. She always knew she would be an English major, but the book inspired her to study religion.
Zeitler pointed out that the books read as a high school student, and maybe again in college or graduate school, take on different meanings as one goes through life. To her, there is a reason we teach the same books over and over. “Certain books,” she says, “like The Great Gatsby just get better and better. Good literature has even greater endurance.”
Zeitler has worked at various libraries every step of the way, beginning in a work study position, through getting her masters, and even in her doctoral program. Always being in the library came with certain frustration to her, “Being surrounded by all of the books, you realize that you will never have a chance to read them all,” she shares. Her advice, though, is simple, “Always read a title for fun on the side. It makes you a better writer and thinker, plus it makes reading feel less like a chore and more of a privilege.”
Sure, the wide world of literature can be overwhelming, but one thing Zeitler always asks people in her community is, “What is your all time, absolute, must-read book?” A recent Sewanee alumni suggested to her All The King’s Men. After reading the book, it is now one of her favorites. “How have I gone this long without reading it?!” Zeitler reflected.