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Highly Textured Librarian: Jessica

high•ly tex•tured li•brar•i•an: A person who is a specialist in library work and has curly or kinky hair.

Welcome Jessica to Librarian Dreams

1. What is your signature hairstyle and how do you achieve it?jessica1

I kept my hair in small twists for several years after chopping off all my relaxed hair, but I recently started doing my own version of a twist out. On a regular day, I usually pull the front back for a more formal look. I put it into ten or twelve medium sized cornrows at night and have a nice wave in the morning. I cut it recently so the front is a bit short, but I hope that in the coming months I’ll be able to pull off cool bangs.

2. Which books could give insight on you as a person? Why?howtobeblack

Baratunde Thurston’s How to Be Black made me cackle like a madman, but also really resonated with me. I spent so much of my life being told I “acted white” or “wasn’t black enough” that it was really hard as a teenager to decide what my identity would be.

Also, The Monster at the End of this Book. I’m not sure why, but I often feel like Grover trying futilely to hold the pages down.

But if you really want to know what keeps me going every day, read The Joy of Music by Leonard Bernstein. The title says it all. I can’t imagine going a day without music. And to be able to really experience the highs and lows of all kinds of music–popular, “urban contemporary”, symphonic, whatever–is one of the greatest gifts I could have received in my life.

 3. What is your role at the library?


I recently moved to Arizona, and away from high school librarianship in Washington, DC. I am now a Library Specialist for a digital repository at an academic library. My primary duties include a lot of quality control work on theses and dissertations either digitized from microform or scanned from original copies. Scanners do some interesting things to black and white pieces of paper, I’ll tell you. Eventually we’ll be cleaning up decades-old metadata too, but there are lots of steps to get through before then.


4. Which highly textured author do you recommend we read?


I haven’t read it all, but I have adored what I’ve read of Alaya Dawn Johnson’s work. I am all for speculative fiction and she writes some imaginative stuff. Moonshine, with its 1920s setting and unique placement of creatures of the night, was the first I read and probably remains my favorite; but then she writes things like The Summer Prince and Love is the Drug (the latter of which is sitting on my ereader begging me to read it) that push boundaries (in a good way!) like few I’ve seen for its intended audience. The Summer Prince in particular explored a fluidity of gender, sexuality and race that I had never seen before, and made me want to dive into the author’s brain and swim around for a while. Also, she wrote this essay, and I still feel like shouting “amen” when I go back to read it.

Want to know more about Jessica? Check out Jess’s writings about books and book-related stuff on Book Riot and Panels, and follow her on Twitter.

Are you a highly textured librarian too? If you would like to be featured, send an email to highlytexturedlibrarian AT

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