Some years ago, I was impressed by a speaker at a youth enrichment services providers roundtable who came from a vocational training background and currently worked in publishing house dealing mostly with career preparation materials. The materials she shared included, surprisingly to most of us gathered, board books for toddlers as well as interactive books for older children. These were not the “When I grow up, I want to be a firefighter” flavor: instead, they exposed kids to the actual doing of things that could eventually engage their interests in jobs beyond the Top 10 every high school student recognizes as the likely “only” options.*
A few industries are good—usually at the behest of union pressure—about exposing the fact of certain jobs existing. Think about the rolling credits after a movie. While such denominating for public view doesn’t explain what exactly the key grip or best boy does functionally, the job titles are there. And there are jobs called out in the credits as well that make intuitive sense while not, more than likely, getting much air time when the conversation turns to “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Once it’s noted as a possibility, however, costume designer strikes a chord that could turn into a wholly satisfying career.
In the publishing world, there are layers of editorial staff who receive little notice—unless they’re absent and a self-published book riddled with plotting inconsistencies, characterization inconsistencies, and, of course, linguistic awkwardnesses and outright incomprehensibility comes to attention. Audiobooks require all those editorial supports as well as the sound engineering, editing, and even recording booth construction work of professionals with actual jobs based on the skill sets and knowledge they’ve acquired to grow up to be—at least during this particular stretch of their earning lives—engaged in these specific careers.
Of course, librarians as a class encompasses a huge variety of specialties necessary at some junctures and beside the point at others. One such area that receives little attention from the world in general—except when it is lacking—is that of bibliographic control. In short, that kind of work renders any intellectual property as fitting into schemata sorting all possible intellectual properties according to specific and item-level trenchant criteria that might include content subject, language, age, intended audience, authorship, physical features, ownership, and more, more, more.
All of which brings me to calling attention to an audiobook that particularly echoes the recent occasions of both Banned Books Week and the High Holy Days. In the past 18 months or so, a couple of books have been published calling attention to World War II’s decimation of books related to European Jews, both those written by Jews and those owned by Jews. Of the pair, Rabbi Mark Glickman’s Stolen Words: The Nazi Plunder of Jewish Books (The Jewish Publication Society, 2016, both print and eformats, with the audiobook read by the author) opens more associated doors on the work of tracking, discovering, exposing, and organizing books. While rabble burned Jewish texts, millions of books confiscated by Nazi authorities were not destroyed but instead warehoused—poorly and in numerous places. In the postwar era, trying to restore libraries large and small to proximate owners fell under the guidance of the US Army who hired and otherwise acquired civilian librarians, archivists, and experts in international law to identify and restore what could be salvaged to whatever body could legally accept it.
Listening to this audiobook offers direct channels for career-explorers to note: yes, the possibilities of working as librarians, archivists, international experts in law and diplomacy, but also as researchers and—important to the format of the work here—the trained delivery a rabbi can make of what could make for distractingly complex reading. Of course, it’s a work with dozens of other connections to our time—both political and bibliographic—as well.
*Doctor, technician, teacher, pro sports athlete, performer, corrections officer, builder, clerk, cook