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Jane Kinney Meyers

When I grew up, I wanted to: I thought I wanted to be a lawyer at first, but there was always this thing at the back of my mind that I knew I would become a librarian.

Now I am a: Chief Executive Officer of the Lubuto Library Project, a nonprofit building libraries for street kids in Africa. And I am also a librarian.

The most challenging thing about being a librarian: is making sure you’re a very good librarian, I think. And making sure you are always working hard to provide the very best library services that you can.

The most surprising thing about being a librarian: is how really important and satisfying and wonderful it is, I think. I guess that would surprise a lot of people. Maybe it surprised me, too, when I realized it.

My fondest childhood reading memory: Oh, I use to love reading actually these adapted tales from Shakespeare that had beautiful, beautiful illustrations that I would sit there and stare at for hours, which help me understand now, working with children who can’t even read, how wonderfully illustrated children’s books can also be a way to really open the world for children.

I’m currently reading: Barack Obama’s memoirs, and this book by Walter Dean Myers which is a history of an African woman, who Queen Victoria sponsored in England, who actually became a princess. It’s a very interesting history. And a memoir of a friend of mine from Zambia.

If I could only bring one book to a deserted island, it would be: oh gosh, that’s really hard. I guess, like a lot of people, I might say the broadest and most comprehensive work of literature, as well as a book that works on many levels for most of us, which is the Bible. I would want to get the most bang for my buck. So, if it’s only one volume, it would be that.

My greatest wish is: for the success of the Lubuto Library Project. It is that we are able to get our organization on a sustainable footing, that before too long maybe I can retire and hire somebody, some wonderful librarian interested in international librarianship to take over the helm, along with the other people that need to be working on this. And that they can help us build hundreds of libraries in southern Africa. That’s what it is.

I love being a librarian because: what we do can really change people’s lives, can really give, in the case of the people we serve, the young people we serve, can give them something that really can change the course of what happens in their lives.

I am a special librarian. I am.