Join Us as We Celebrate Women’s History Month by Recognizing a Few of the Amazing Ladies Who Call our Library Home
Every year, Women’s History Month offers people across the world the opportunity to discover, explore, and celebrate the achievements of women from all walks of life. From changing the faces of nations to helping improve their communities, women have helped to shape the lives of those around them since the dawn of human existence, and continue to do so today.
And — call us biased — some of the women we’re most enamored with are the ones who call Nashville Public Library (NPL) home. Whether folks need help researching a wide array of topics, brushing up on their job interview skills, learning to connect with the internet for the very first time, or simply finding their next favorite read, the women of NPL are a force for positive change in our community.
To celebrate our amazing ladies, we’re taking the time to share the stories of just a few of them throughout the month of March. It’s our privilege to share these stories with you and our honor to work alongside them.
Today, we’re sharing the story of Beth Deeb, a Collection Development Librarian with our Collections & Technology Services Division at the Main Library.
So, please: enjoy reading and take the time to thank all of the amazing women in your life, whoever they are!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I moved to Nashville in 2000. Before that, I lived in Tallahassee, Fla., where I got my library science degree at Florida State University. I also worked for an art museum there. My family were big library users my whole life.
As far as my interests, besides reading, I like cooking, movies at the Belcourt, and outdoor music festivals.
What led you into working in libraries and specifically NPL?
I kind of always wanted to be a librarian. It was always in my top three jobs I was considering.
Once I got my library science degree, my husband and I knew we wanted to leave Tallahassee and move somewhere else in the southeast. We visited several cities, and Nashville was the best place we visited. It was right around the time that NPL was opening the five regional branch libraries, so there were a lot of opportunities.
Tell us a little bit about your job at NPL.
Once we moved here, I started off as a Teen Librarian at the Madison Branch Library right when the new building opened. Then, I served as a Teen Librarian at the Edmondson Pike and Southeast locations, then the branch manager at Edgehill for a couple of years. I then worked with [former Assistant Director for Education and Literacy] Elyse Adler for several years, and when I was doing that, I was involved with things like the Salon@615 series and Nashville Reads.
About four years ago, I moved into Collection Development, which had always been my number one interest, so I was really excited! What our department does is we select all of the materials for the entire library system. Our goal is to ensure that we’re meeting the needs and interests of the entire community of Nashville. We want to make sure that everyone sees themselves in our collection and that we’re offering people what they want.
My specific job is reviewing and purchasing adult fiction. Other staff members focus on adult nonfiction, children’s and teen books, and movies. We purchase all formats: print, eBooks, eAudiobooks, etc.
One of the really cool things about my job is that we learn about new books and materials several months before they come out. We get these huge lists of upcoming titles from a large variety of publishers, and we also have access to reviews of the book, advance copies, and more. So, we have a lot of information to work with. We also keep up with what’s being covered in the news, what’s popular in magazines we see, and we take suggestions from customers, as well, when we make purchases for the collection.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspects of working in libraries and at NPL?
One thing I love about public libraries is that we’re one of the few public spaces where everyone is welcome and you’re not expected to buy anything. Visitors can just come, hang out, and pursue whatever interests them. I like that feeling of it being a community space.
For me personally, I love that libraries offer unlimited access to books. If you had to buy them yourself, it would be incredibly expensive. It’s this amazing thing that we’re able to offer that, at no charge, to our community.
What do you find are the biggest challenges about working in libraries?
What has been interesting is realizing that many people don’t understand the extent of all we have to offer. I have a good friend who knows I’ve worked at NPL for about 20 years and the other day he’s like, “So, I do Audible and Kindle books. Do you have those at the library?” And I said, “Yes, yes! Of course we offer eBooks and eAudiobooks and it’s free, so you need to get your library card!” We don’t offer everything Amazon has, because some are Amazon-exclusive, but we try to get as much as we can.
It’s not just materials, either. It’s the programming and services we offer. I tell people, “You can come to NPL and do yoga for free instead of spending $20!”
Who are the women you admire most in your life?
For me, it’s my group of college girlfriends. What’s interesting about them is that they're all teachers, except for one. The one exception is a childhood reading specialist. I just think so highly of teachers, and it’s just amazing that all of my friends became teachers and reading specialists, and I’m a librarian.
It’s this feeling of, “You chose to be a public servant,” and we all arrived, individually, at that decision. It just makes me happy!
What advice do you have for the next generation of women?
I really, really love being a librarian and especially working in Collection Development — it’s my dream job. I think it’s so important that you love your job; it has a huge impact on your overall happiness. So, I think it’s critical that young women really think about what they want to do, research the steps they need to take to get those jobs, and then get on that path.
What are your favorite books and why?
I decided that this one was too hard to narrow down to specific titles or authors! I’m a huge short story fan, and I feel like they’re horribly underappreciated, which really surprises me. They’re so good and they’re the perfect thing for people who don’t have a lot of time. I feel like people assume they won’t like them, so they don’t try them.
As far as nonfiction, I really like biographies and memoirs because you get an overall sense of history through the lens of one person’s perspective. I also really love cookbooks, and we have a great collection of them at NPL, in both print and eBook formats.