Jessica Ordich and her puppet persona provide information literacy instruction to adult learners.
Fictional character you would like to be marooned with on a deserted island?
Joe Kavalier from The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay because he’s both the “everyman” and the superhero all rolled into one. He’s clever, cool under pressure, and understands the importance of solitude. He’s the type of person that would keep me from going insane and talking to a volleyball.
Recurring library-related dream that wakes you at night?
I arrive at the library for my usual work day. I walk through the doors and see all of the books being packed into boxes and recycle bins. I ask another librarian what’s happening and she tells me that we’re no longer a “library.” Now, we’re a “Learning Resource Center” and everything has been digitized.
I panic and began digging through the boxes, pulling out all of the titles I can’t live without in hard copy. Alas, I can’t search fast enough and I have to watch as most of my treasures are loaded into a garbage truck.
I think this one wakes me at night because it really may happen. I love electronic materials, but sometimes I need a break from devices, batteries, buttons, and pixels.
Favorite irate-parent (“this book is disgusting and not fit for my child”) story?
I learned very early in my library career that large groups of children frighten me and that those large groups accompanied by their parents downright terrify me, so I generally work in adult services. When I was working the reference desk, a parent and son asked for help selecting a title for his first book report. His teacher had given him a list of titles to choose from, so I pulled a selection from the list for the boy and his parent to review. They came back to the desk about ten minutes later. The parent gave me this completely disgusted look and proceeded to challenge every single title I had pulled. Titles like Bunnicula, Encyclopedia Brown, My Brother Sam is Dead, and The Chronicles of Narnia. I just went home and cried.
Favorite beverage on a hot August Nevadan night?
Frozen margaritas sold by the yard in souvenir cups. I live in Las Vegas, so it’s a rite of passage.
Best book you’ve read that no one has heard of?
Memoir from Antproof Case, by Mark Helprin, is one of my favorite reads. Every event in the narrator’s life—the good, the bad, and even the ugly—occurs because of his hatred of coffee.
I have a love-hate relationship with caffeine, so I’m able to empathize with the narrator.
Book every thirteen-year-old should read?
There are two titles that I read as a child, and I continue to reread them at least once every year. They are Stepping on the Cracks, by Mary Downing Hahn, and Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry. I read these books for the first time in fourth grade, and I knew then that I was going to become one of two things as an adult: a teacher or a librarian.
Both titles center on World War II events. They not only inspired me to become a librarian, but they also serve as therapy for me since I’m part of a military family.
If Congress handed you a billion dollars to improve the nation’s libraries, what would you do?
I would buy lots of books and give every librarian their very own puppet alter-ego, of course.
I have a passion for government resources—Social Security, Post 9/11 GI Bill, FAFSA, Medicare—and I constantly answer reference questions about finding and accessing those programs. Over the past few years, it seems that the digital divide is growing rather than shrinking. I work in the suburbs of Las Vegas, an area devastated by the housing crisis, so more and more library users can’t afford the devices or the technical training they need. So I would invest the money into expanding technology-based library programming (information literacy, computer skills, etc.) and improving accessibility.
Librarian’s most important job?
To secure the library as the cornerstone of their community. We have to think beyond books and story times, remembering that sometimes the best information resources to fill our users’ needs may be community organizations, friends, or neighbors. If we do this well, our library and our community will flourish.
I love using library programming to accomplish this goal. I’m very grateful that I work with my co-librarian, Chanelle Pickens, who is willing to go along with some of my more avant-garde ideas like Expedition Information Literacy, where we use puppetry to provide information literacy instruction to adult learners. Approaching rather mundane subject matter with a sense of fun and adventure gives our library a personality.