Alicia Doktor, librarian
Libraries aren't just for books anymore. The Sacramento Public Library knows this, and was even recently featured in The New York Times for its Library of Things program, which lets patrons check out items like video games and musical instruments, or use a sewing machine and a 3-D printer. To help celebrate our studious side, SN&R caught up with Alicia Doktor, librarian and supervisor at the Colonial Heights Branch, and talked to her about books, JFK’s assassination, her favorite type of paper and gardening.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished Jon Krakauer's new book, Missoula, and it was amazing. And then I'm also reading Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola. Both kind of heavy nonfiction books, but I'm a nonfiction reader.
Weirdest book you’ve ever had someone ask for?
Oh, man. You know, I'm kind of a weirdo myself, so it would have to be something really, really out of the ordinary. It seems to me, in libraries, there's always somebody who is really obsessed with the JFK assassination, like no matter what. I've worked in three or four different library systems and they'll always be the one person, and there's this one specific book on the JFK assassination that they just are very obsessed with. And it's over 10 years of time and in different library systems, and different geographic locations. It's always … there's still that conspiracy out there.
Where did the idea for the Library of Things program come from?
I think this library system is always looking at ways to continue to be relevant. We try to stay relevant as much as possible. I think looking around at how other library systems were doing things, there's other “Library of Things” in other locations. So we basically had some librarians who got together and said, “Hey, this would be a really great idea,” and Sacramento Public Library is a really supportive system that really encourages innovation and risk-taking. People got together, put the wheels to the road and got it underway.
Your branch has a seed library. What can people take from there?
The seeds that we have in our catalog are all heirlooms seeds, so they're not GMO. We're very specific when we purchase those. You can get anything from flowers, perennials—some guy came in and was really excited about arugula yesterday—fruits and vegetables, all sorts of different things.
I see a theme running with the seeds and the library’s garden.
We're also getting a demo kitchen. That's going to come online probably in the next six months. We're getting a complete renovation of our community room and kitchen, and we're going to have programming that is connected to food literacy and nutrition to kind of tie in everything we have going on with the garden. So hopefully we'll be able to harvest from our garden, and then have food programming in our demo kitchen, and we can use the tools from our tool library to harvest the plants.
How do you organize your books at home?
I am not in Dewey Decimal order, I will not lie. I have all my cookbooks together, that is the most important collection that I have. But honestly, I have moved so much in the past five or six years that my book collection is whittling down further and further. So, basically with my cookbooks in order I'm happy, and everything else is just kind of mixed together. I am a bad librarian. I do not have them spine labeled and cataloged.
Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter?
If you could erase one book from history, what would it be?
I don't think I would. I think all the books are important. Save all the books!
Opposite question: One book that everyone should read?
The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder. It's, like, one of my favorite books of all time. It's about life and mystery and serendipity and just being in the right place at the right time to be open to the universe. Amazing. Everyone should read it.
What did you dress up as for Halloween?
I was Waldo. And there was another Waldo in the system too. There was at least two of us in Sac Public.
What’s your favorite type of paper?
I'm really actually into the stock that books are printed on, and I do not like lightweight stock. And actually, Amy Poehler's book, I really wanted to read it, but the stock was really heavy and glossy and I could not do it. So I like a medium stock, and I like it to have some texture. And I'm kind of a person who enjoys a good typeset as well. Those are all things that are important to me when I'm reading a book.