Like many librarians, Debbie is a little bit of a late bloomer. She came to librarianship after two previous careers in the medical, educational, and social services fields. After obtaining her Master’s in Library Science in North Carolina, her home state, Debbie began her career as a librarian at a middle school.
The truth is that Debbie had never NOT been in libraries. She’d spent her high school years in the school library, helping the librarian, sitting in the corner enjoying a good book, or eating her lunch in the back room. In college, she worked part-time in a public library, an experience that left many fond memories. “Doug, the head librarian, got a kick out of showing me the ropes,” remembers Debbie, “and I’d help with programming, organizing, and assisting in title selection. He liked to share his knowledge with others, and I learned everything I could.”
When she completed her bachelor’s degree, Debbie didn’t stray from libraries. In fact, she was such a devoted patron at her local library, the staff asked her to become a volunteer board member. She accomplished so much in that role, they invited her to serve on their regional board, and then, eventually, to become the board secretary.
Debbie’s MLS program guided students to work in rural school libraries, and her graduate coursework enabled her to obtain certification in both public and school sectors. After Debbie had worked in the middle school library for a year, her former beloved mentor at the public library died. A sense of loyalty, of honor, of respect compelled Debbie to apply for the position he’d held, Head Librarian, and she got the job. Her years of experience had, of course, helped to bring her full circle, but she likes to believe that God also had a hand in it. 😊
Can you talk a little about how you joined the Collection Development team at Ingram?
When I worked in a middle school library, and then managed a small, rural public library in a regional system, I did everything from checking out books and helping patrons, to programming, yearly budgets, and grant applications. But what I enjoyed most was title selection. So, now I work at Ingram doing what I love in a category I’m passionate about. I have finally found my niche.
You create lists for Graphic Novels and manage the Graphic Novels standing order program. Can you remember how old you were when you first began reading and enjoying graphic novels?
I was around seven when I found some of my Dad’s old comic books from the 1950’s and 60’s. To a hyperactive child and reluctant reader, these issues of Donald Duck, Hot Stuff the Little Devil, and Archie and Friends were a doorway to quietly enjoying books. Suddenly, a voracious reader was born.
What aspect of your job do you most enjoy?
The books -- always the books! I love exploring new titles, new authors, new illustrators. It’s a thrill to be able to work with people who share your passion, and I really enjoy talking to our customers about graphic novels.
How would you advise someone to discover the joys of reading Graphic Novels?
Find a graphic novel that is along the lines of a genre you like to ordinarily read—or even a television show you like to watch. There are many novels that have been adapted to graphic novels, and television shows adapted from graphic novels. This is a tremendous hook for a lot of readers.
What book are you currently reading?
I am never reading just one. I just finished Spy Island by Chelsea Caine. Now I’m reading The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict and They Turned the World Upside Down by Charles Martin; I’m listening to Poppy Done to Death by Charlaine Harris, and Depth of Winter by Craig Johnson. I’m also looking forward to reading my just received copies of The Bounty by Janet Evanovich and Steve Hamilton and An Incurable Case of Love, Volume 7 by Maki Enjoji.
What skills do you feel are vital to your role in Collection Development?
My knowledge of graphic novels and Manga, the creators, and the industry. So many people shy away from graphic novels, but I love to share everything I know about them, because I think that people MUST experience them!
If you were to create your own graphic novel, who would be your protagonist?
My protagonist would most likely be a conglomeration of the strong women who influenced so much of my life. No special powers needed, but they would all become part of a superheroine simply by being themselves.
Why do you think graphic novels have become more mainstream in the last 20 years, and why do many educators consider them effective teaching tools?
I firmly believe part of the growth in popularity of graphic novels is due to expanded scope. For so long, male readers dominated the market, so that’s who the industry catered to. But the genre’s focus and stories have shifted in recent years to include women, the LGBTQIA+ experience, people of color. This added a depth and richness it previously lacked.
I especially love the increase of nonfiction works. Yes, more educators accept graphic novels as an instruction tool for reluctant and struggling readers, because their text format and visual content offer clues to deciphering the meaning of words. But, as a former instructor to reluctant and struggling readers who has seen the positive results of using graphic novels in the classroom, I wish more teachers and parents incorporated them within the curricula to help kids who struggle with reading. They truly do help.