Eleanor Adams: “You get a variety of questions about all subjects from different personalities.”
Special Note: Eleanor was an exceptional Librarian and just recently retired. She was a master at her craft at the Macon Branch and a legend in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.
Julius Thompson Q/A Session with Eleanor Adams!
ET: What is unique about being a Library Information Specialist in Brooklyn, New York? After all New York City is the literary capital of the world.
EA: You get a variety of questions about all subjects from different personalities. Writers often come in to ask where and how to publish or where writers’ groups are located or how to send their manuscripts to editors or publishers.
JT: What inspired you to be a Librarian?
EA : I like to read and want to know a little about everything. Also, I like to bring information to people. Being a librarian seem a good match to my interests.
JT: Describe a typical day in the Macon Branch.
EA ; It’s a combination of drudgery and extraordinary. Sometimes I clean up bathrooms and I also have been an event planner. Books are checked in or out, questions are answered, children are disciplined, I train other librarians and library issues are discussed.
JT: Did you ever aspire to be a published author?
EA: I am one! I have six short stories published and am tightening up my novel. Another good thing about being a librarian is that I have access to all types of fiction books, so I can learn different writing techniques.
JT: When did you first consider yourself a librarian?
EA : When I was in 7 th grade I began writing term papers on various subjects. I found I like to write and to do research. I also like to tell my classmates where they can find the information I discovered. Though I hoped I could get a job as a writer, being a librarian is a good option.
JT: Tell us about your years a Library Information Specialist?
EA: I received physical threats, mental abuse and not recognize by my supervisors for my efforts. I ‘ve also received many heartfelt thanks of appreciation from many library patrons. My greatest achievement is establishing and maintaining the African American Heritage room at Macon. I won an award which I used to buy books about African American, Caribbean and African history and culture. I also created Bed-Stuy artists programs (Macon is located in Bedford Stuyvesant) where artists in different fields (writers, filmmakers, visual artists) showed and explained their work.
JT: Have you fulfilled your goals as a librarian?
EA: All my goals can never be achieved since there’s always something new going on in the library world that’s worth exploring. I’ve been given the chance to do things that I wanted to do and did them well. I don’t feel I’m missing out.
JT: Name five novels that my readers should check out from the library .
EA: They are not all novels, but may choices are:
The Writing Class by Jincy Willett . An intriguing mystery that also examine the desperation, perversion and mania of the writing life.
Song of Myself First and Final Editions by Walt Whitman. The first edition of 1855 and the last edition of 1892 are published together which allows readers to see how Whitman developed his poem over time.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. To be read for inspiration for it stresses the importance of writing well since it makes it easier for people to remember it as books are burned because they are considered dangerous.
Mules and Men by Zora Neale Hurston . Shows how folklore is developed through facts and how stories are written from facts.
Short stories by John Cheever, Raymond Carver and Ernest Hemingway. They are considered to be the finest of short stories writers. To condense great storytelling into few words and pages demonstrates great writing skills.
JT: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
EA :A spy. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh had a great impact on me for the main character like to write things down, and spy on what people were doing.
JT: What advice would you give to authors that want their books on the library shelves?
EA: Though self-published books are on the rise most libraries won’t accept them. Being published by an established company makes libraries aware of your books. Companies will market your books for free while self -publish authors will have to pay if they want their work marketed. Publishers tend to offer libraries discounts on books or will allow libraries to return the books at no cost. Libraries operate on very little money and they appreciate the discounts that can get. Good reviews would also help get books into libraries and most review magazines such as Kirkus and Mosiac tend not to review self-published books.
Eleanor, thank you for this wonderful, candid and informative Question and Answer Session!