Name: Wendy Devilbiss
What is your job?
I am a library assistant at the circulation desk of the Emporia Public Library.
How long have you been volunteering with Kansas Talking Books?
I think my recordings go back to 2012. I remember reading a “Flyover People” column in the Emporia Gazette where Cheryl Unruh wrote about recording her book of essays at Kansas Talking Books; at the end she mentioned they were looking for volunteers.
What volunteer work do you do for Kansas Talking Books?
I choose picture books and record them. I grew up in a large family of six kids, and my Mom had a home daycare when we were older, so picture book time is something I enjoy connecting to.
If you could pick one, which of the books you narrated was your favorite?
Too many to name, each one is special. I have fond memories of Anne Isaac’s Pancakes for Supper, and am grateful for The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce, which showed me a lot about loving books. There are parts of many that just keep coming back to mind. I can’t remember every story or title, but there was an older children’s book that the librarian picked out, and the writing and pictures were just so exquisite and unique. Each one deserves a mention, to borrow from or paraphrase Mr. Rogers, “In the external scheme of things, shining moments are as brief as the twinkling of an eye, yet such twinklings are what eternity is made of: invisible, imperishable good stuff.” Books have that ability to give a moment that shines and to help you recognize when it happens, that it happens, no matter your age.
What is your favorite book?
Walden is my favorite. By a shelf-count, I have six copies. Thoreau’s pond is at the center of my world.
What do you like best about being a volunteer for Kansas Talking Books?
Volunteering helps me connect with things I love. For the first year or so, I put a Polaroid picture of my grandma reading to me and my two siblings on the stand in the studio along with the book. As one of many kids, I understood the value of having undivided attention, and reading one book at a time in a concentrated way lets the book have all the attention it wants. The recording studio environment is in all ways the opposite of the typical reading-on-the-couch or bedtime routine, with all the cozy chaos involved; it’s like taking diamonds and putting them on black velvet with special lighting: each book shines.
What’s your best library memory?
I often think back to a librarian named Lincoln who worked at the Hillsboro Public Library in New Hampshire. He was New England stock and somewhat reticent, but he and the library where singular characters, and the sense of place was very strong there.
What’s the first book you remember being read to you?
Walt Disney’s The Rescuers. Bernard and Bianca were the best.