Never apologize for being a reader

By Jimmie Epling, Director, Darlington County Library System

Ever had this pointed remark shot in your direction? “You have your nose stuck (or “buried”) in a book again.” When you heard it, the tone never sounded like a question or praise did it? When you heard it, the tone usually smacked of annoyance, impatience, frustration, or exasperation in that you were wasting time on something unimportant. Did you apologize for frittering away hours with your nose stuck in a book? No? Good! This idiomatic phrase just means is you are closely reading a book. The Darlington County Library System believes you should never apologize for being a reader. Readers owe no one an apology for doing what they enjoy!

The most important thing is that people read,” according to English author Neil Gaiman. He is right. As the author of “The Sandman” series and novels “Stardust”, “American Gods”, “Coraline”, and “The Graveyard Book”, a winner of the Hugo, Nebula, Bram Stoker award, and the children’s books Newbery and Carnegie medals (first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work, “The Graveyard Book”), he should know. He went on to say, “Don’t ever apologize to an author for buying something in paperback, or taking it out from a library (that’s what they’re there for. Use your library). Don’t apologize to this author for buying books second hand, or getting them from bookcrossing or borrowing a friend’s copy. What’s important to me is that people read the books and enjoy them, and that, at some point in there, the book was bought by someone. And that people who like things, tell other people.” The best authors want their writings to be read and encourage reading. You would never hear an author say, “there you go again, your nose stuck in another book,” unless, maybe it was another author’s book!

The Library and a whole host of others in our community, across the state, and the nation encourage reading! From First Steps, which works with parents of young children, to the Darlington County schools’ dedicated staff, as seen in the film “180 Days: Hartsville”, there are many in our community dedicated to getting children to read. Members of our legislative delegation, such as Senator Gerald Malloy, House Speaker Jay Lucas, and Representative Robert Williams continue working to provide funding for our schools, the Library, and others encourage education and reading because they know it is critically importance to our future. Librarians, educators, and legislators might be heard to say, “There is nothing wrong with children having their noses stuck in books because it is a sure sign they are learning.”

When you visit one of the Library’s branch locations, Darlington, Hartsville, Lamar, or Society Hill, you will be encouraged as a reader to pursue your favorite authors, genres, and subject. It doesn’t matter the format, print or electronic, we encourage everyone to read.

If you enjoy reading a bound book, do not apologize! It is not old fashion to want to read a bound book. The Library welcomes readers of bound books as it always has. Come into the Library at
any time to casually browse the books in the collection and discover unexpected treasures on the shelves. When you have found that special book, you may pluck it from the shelf to admire its cover art, feel its weight in your hands, smell the scent of its pages, and open it to read about what is within. Once you have chosen your treasures you can borrow them from the Library to take home. Once at home, you can curl up on a comfy couch or “rough it” in a patio chair in the wild outdoors with a glass of your favorite beverage with your nose buried in a bound book.

Readers who are immigrants and natives to the digital world need not apologize for your reading preference! All you have done is decide to read something in a different format. Words are no longer bound to the printed page. They can now be seen on a small screen to be read. We have been reading screens since the beginning of the 1900s with silent movies and from the 1950s with TVs. The only difference now is the screen is part of a small device that is battery powered and portable. Advocates of reading on portable devices note the number of books you can have with you at all times, the light weight, being able to read in poor light, changing the size of the type, and my personal favorite, propping it up on a pillow and never having to hold it open. There are a few drawbacks for readers using a mobile device, like the battery can die, it cannot be dropped from 20 feet onto concrete with little damage, it has an off switch, and possibly the most frustrating problem, “Please turn off all electronic devices as the plane is about to takeoff (or land)”.

For those who want to read on their portable device, they can now browse the Library’s online catalog to discover the thousands of e-books in our collection. You no longer need to go anywhere but the Library’s online catalog at to find the e-books in our collection. The process is easy and fast if you have a library card.

What is the benefit of having your “nose stuck in a book?” Let’s say your parents started you reading 20 minutes every day beginning in Kindergarten and going through the sixth grade. You would have read over 1.8 million words before starting the seventh grade. Because of all that reading, you developed a tremendous vocabulary. With it, you would have the words, the tools, you need to express your thoughts to others, understand complex problems, be successful in life, and help others. The late President Harry Truman is quoted as saying, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” He was right. At the Darlington County Library System, we encourage all ages to be readers and to never apologize for being a reader!

Author: Duane Childers

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