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Why Everybody Should Read "Everything"

Front hall closet shelves usually store stray gloves, old clothes, and other forgettables nobody can bear to throw away. My closet has more precious cargo: about six large boxes of RC literature.

I'm the lucky keeper of the Chicago Region's RC library. When I'm getting the literature ready for a workshop or fishing an item out of one of the boxes for someone, inevitably I spend at least an extra half-hour reading one of the pamphlets or browsing through a journal or a book. I also have at least two RC books next to my bed and one on my coffee table.

I've realized something I think will benefit everyone: all of us should read every bit of RC literature. All of the literature is important to our re-emergence. (For example, I am a white, middle-class woman, but I've found so much inspiration recently from reading Black Re-emergence, Our Asian Inheritance, and Working for a Living.) But I'm not sure this is clear to everyone. I have some ideas about where people's trouble spots lie and some tips for getting RC literature into our lives.

First, we think we don't have enough time or money for literature so we think we should buy and read only the things that apply to our constituencies. And we avoid reading some things because they don't sound interesting.

Actually, every bit of literature applies to each one of us because it's about human beings. The literature helps us get to know each other as individuals with our own unique stories beyond the various identities. Plus, the literature for specific constituencies usually contains valuable information about being allies to those constituencies. Not reading everything keeps us separate from each other because we don't get that information about each other. When we approach the literature from these perspectives, it becomes much more interesting!

Another trouble spot is distress around reading. We need to work on discharging this, whether we "don't like to read," were told we were stupid in school, or don't think we have distress in this area because we found school easy and are avid readers. We need to find time for working on this, even if we think other distresses and oppressions need our attention first. Distress around reading prevents us from tapping into the tremendous written resources about those oppressions. We can read to gain insight into those oppressions that will help us get rid of them.

Here are some tips for putting more RC literature into your life:

  • Talk to your Community's librarian about paying for literature in installments if you can't pay in one lump sum.
  • Counsel in the direction that reading is fun or some other direction toward reality.
  • Volunteer to be your Community's librarian or offer to assist the librarian in whatever way you can.
  • Start your day off right-read a few pages first thing in the morning or at the breakfast table.
  • End your day right-keep some literature on your nightstand for bedtime reading.
  • Set a day on your calendar (the first of the month, payday, etc.) to buy literature or to make plans to do so.
  • Read aloud during your sessions as a way of conquering distress around reading.
  • Submit articles to Present Time.
  • Get a Present Time subscription.
  • Remind yourself how smart you are-write it on a piece of paper and tape it to your bathroom mirror.
  • Pick the piece of literature you think might be the most difficult and make a commitment to tackle it with zest.
  • Remember that you have all the time in the world to dig into that literature. Take your time and don't be urgent.

I would also like to share my ideas with all of you other RC librarians out there, be in contact with you, and learn from you. Here are a few things about me and my job as librarian:

I'm a twenty-five-year-old white woman who lives in an apartment on Chicago's North Side, and I'm a reporter for a daily newspaper in the northwest suburbs. I've been the Chicago librarian for a little more than a year.

Here's what I see as my duties: I keep several copies of most of the books, journals, and pamphlets, and some video and audio tapes. I sell the literature to people in the Chicago Region by providing it to individuals, classes, and workshops. I don't lend literature because our Region already has a separate lending library, although I've started renting out the videos. I use the money from literature and video sales to buy more from Rational Island Publishers.

I also see it as my duty to pay attention when any new literature comes out, order it, and publicize it to our Community through our quarterly newsletter and word of mouth.

Some of my goals: Get people to see that all RC literature is important to their re-emergence. Make sure all RCers know the library and literature are here. Encourage people to discharge distress around reading.

Ideas I have or am implementing to expose more people to the resources of the library:

  • renting out the video and audio tapes;
  • hosting a literature open house for people to look at the literature or acquaint themselves with the library in general;
  • starting a monthly video-showing series at locations around the Region;
  • writing library updates for the quarterly newsletter;
  • making frequent announcements about literature at workshops;
  • carrying some literature in my car so it's always available;
  • sending fliers to RC teachers to remind them to promote the literature with their students;
  • starting a support group for discharging distress around reading; and
  • mining the Present Time and RC Teacher indexes for articles on these topics.

Another step I've taken is to seek occasional feedback and appreciation for my work and that of the people who help me. While everybody's work is important, I think this makes people realize how important the literature is.

Being the Chicago RC librarian has been just a plum job for me! It keeps me in touch with members of my Region, forces me to be visible at workshops, puts me in the mode of thinking well about the group, and puts me in touch with the folks at Rational Island Publishers. And best of all, I get to have all this literature in my house! I get first crack at everything and ample bedtime and bathroom reading material. I encourage everyone to take on this job if they ever have the chance.

I'd like all the RC librarians around the world to be in close touch by phone, letter, and/or electronic mail. We can share our ideas, maybe even through something like a librarians' newsletter. I'd especially like to hear about ways to get people to read more literature and about insights into distress around reading.

Please feel free to call or write me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Chris Heidenrich
Chicago, Illinois, USA


Last modified: 2020-07-01 09:06:00+00