Tayari Jones

Tayari Jones: LIbrarians were the book pushers

"Librarians wanted you to be an outlaw reader in a way that your teachers didn't."

My earliest library memory is probably growing up in Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia, and there was this thing called "The Georgia Booklist," where librarians had chosen the twenty best books for Georgia youth. And you could get prizes for how many books you read on the list. And I would come in to the 100th Street Branchof the Atlanta Public Library faithfully as often as I could, because I wanted to read all the books on the list and, you know, earn the affection of my local librarian.

At the library, you could have all the books you wanted, not just the books on the Weekly Reader list, or that your teacher chose. Librarians were always a little bit more flexible than your teacher. Like librarians wanted you to be this outlaw reader, in a way that your teachers didn't.

So, librarians were like the book pushers, I think.

I think that my favorite librarian probably would have to be Mrs. Wilcox, who was the librarian at my elementary school. She was like... kind of like a subversive librarian in the Atlanta public schools. She was amazing.

I'm really interested now in archival things that can only be found at the library and often can only be found with the help of a librarian.

[On budget cuts] So to cut the library's already lean budget...I feel like the library does so much per dollar, that to cut the budget I think is just ridiculous.

[On censorship] I don't think books should be banned, and I definitely don't think they should be banned by libraries. I think that each library should have whatever books it wants to have in it's collection. I believe that libraries are a local institution and they should reflect what each library wants. We should not have standardized libraries with like "no fly lists" for books.

"Silver Sparrow" is my new book which has just been published by Algonquin. It's set in Atlanta, and it's about a man who has two families. One public family and one secret family, and it's about the daughters of each family. I'm working on a new novel called "Dear History" that is about the migration of African-Americans from the South to the North, particulary in the 30s.

Silver Sparrow

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Book Title: 

Silver Sparrow