Member Spotlight - Hannah Rapp

January 24, 2022

This week's member spotlight is on Hannah Rapp. Hannah is a Co-chair of the ILA Diversity Committee. We asked Hannah to tell us a little bit about herself and to answer a few professional and amusing questions. Continue reading to find out more about Hannah.

A little bit about Hannah

Hannah Rapp is the Adult Services & Teen Manager at the Berwyn Public Library. She's passionate about working with teens, readers advisory, and bringing community engagement into every aspect of library services. When she's not at the library she can be found running by Lake Michigan, watching TV while trying out new America's Test Kitchen recipes, playing with her nieces and nephews, and cuddling with her dog.

How did you get into libraries?

When I was in college, my mom kept suggesting that she was hearing a lot about libraries and library science, and it seemed like a good fit for me, maybe I should check it out. Being about as self-aware as most people are at 21 and much more stubborn than most, I ignored her, and was determined to be a lawyer or Latin professor.

While I was working as a legal assistant and learning that I definitely did not want to be a lawyer, my mom was realizing that maybe she was pushing me towards libraries because that's where she wanted to be. As she started a job in a library and began working towards her masters, she would tell me about her job and her classes. Which all sounded really interesting and fun and like it combined a lot of my interests and skills. I started working towards my Masters about a month after she completed hers, and I've loved being in libraries ever since!

Best advice you've received since starting your career in libraries?

A friend and mentor recommended that I join an ILA or ALA committee, and it was great advice! Being on the ILA Diversity Committee has allowed me to meet some wonderful people, get perspectives from libraries and library staff that I would never have encountered otherwise, and contribute to the profession in Illinois.

Any advice to newcomers working in libraries?

Libraries and library work are first and foremost about people, not books, technology, or anything else, and it's hard to go wrong when you put patrons and community first.

When and why did you become a member of ILA?

I joined as a student thanks to the discounted student membership, and enjoyed the conference and networking opportunities so much that I'm still here!

What is your proudest professional achievement to date?

It might not be the most impressive, but the one that has stuck with me the most was when I was the Teen Librarian at the Glen Ellyn Public Library, and I reached out to the Gay-Straight Alliance at the local high school. I visited one of their meetings and booktalked about 30 queer titles. Not only were the teens excited in the moment, but over the next couple of weeks several of them visited the library, sought me out for suggestions, and checked out the titles I had booktalked. I maintained relationships with many of them until and even after they graduated. It was an extraordinary way to see how community engagement, building a diverse collection, and showing teens that the library was a caring, safe space really made a difference.

Hardcover, paperback, e-reader, or all three?

I regularly read all three (along with audiobooks!) but my personal favorite is hardcover because it's the easiest to read while I'm eating lunch!

Favorite author?

No way I can choose just one. Oscar Wilde and Jane Austen are perennial favorites who I re-read regularly. Recent favorites off the top of my head include Angie Thomas, Rainbow Rowell, Tiffany D. Jackson, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Talia Hibbert, Anna-Marie McLemore, and plenty more.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what five books would you bring with you to pass the time until being rescued?

  • Emma by Jane Austen because it's my favorite of her novels, and also one of the longest!
  • The Locked Tomb series by Tamsyn Muir, because I think it would take me at least 10 reads to fully understand everything, and it's wonderful
  • In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, because every time I put it down my first instinct is to start reading it again
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz (audiobook), because I would want something heartwarming and beautiful, and because Lin-Manuel Miranda's narration is fantastic
  • Something with dragons. Don't ask me to choose which one because it would depend on my mood, but I'm not committing to an indefinite period of time without dragons!

Cat or Dog?

Dog! My pit-lab mix Oscar would never forgive me if I said cat.

Favorite film, podcast, or television show?

Favorite movie is probably Singin' in the Rain, although I have a lot that are near and dear to my heart, and I love rom-coms. I don't have one favorite TV show, but I always enjoy sitcoms with a heart. Parks and Recreation is a current favorite, and Reservation Dogs blew me away with the first season - it's a nearly perfect coming-of-age dramedy.

One person you would like to meet, dead or alive, and why?

Oscar Wilde. I've been smitten with his writing since I was a teenager, he was a phenomenal conversationalist, and I think he'd have a lot to say about the hundred plus years he's missed.

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