Under the Influence of Books

I love books, so it makes a lot of sense that my job is being a librarian at Dacula Public Library in Dacula, Ga. And I’ll admit, even though I have been a librarian for more than eight years, I didn’t fully make the connection between books and how so many people choose their jobs or careers until I came across the list of Books that Shaped Work in America on the U.S. Department of Labor’s website, dol.gov/books.

This list has terrific recommendations on more than 100 books that have shaped Americans’ views on workplaces, workers or just the idea of work. You’ll also find essays from a number of influential people about how certain books shaped their career paths, from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to National Urban League President Marc Morial.

Librarian Susan Kosenka stands next to Dacula Public Library's Books that Shaped Work in America popular book display.

I’m always looking for new ways to get those around me to pick up a good book, so we built a display at my library that showcases the books that are already on the list as well as others that local patrons and staff members have suggested. These books are so popular that we often have to check out books that are on the display to keep up with the demand. The most popular title on the list so far has been “Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type” (a big hit with the youngsters). This clever tale about farm animals who go on a labor strike teaches children how to settle disputes and interact with each other – great lessons for the next generation of leaders in the workplace.

What I think is really valuable is that all of the books on the list have a direct correlation to issues and services that the Department of Labor addresses or provides, from job training and workplace safety issues to resources for women and statistics about growing occupations. Each book’s page shows who has recommended that title as well as the department’s topic or resource webpages related to the book.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that my favorite book on the list is The Devil Wears Prada. As a self-appointed fashionista, I highly enjoyed this story about a woman in the fashion industry struggling with work-life balance and the demands of a difficult job.

I challenge you to pick up a book that fits your interests. And if there’s one not already on the list that shaped your own view on work in America, add your recommendation here!

Susan Kosenka is a librarian at the Dacula Public Library in Dacula, Ga.

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