(Photo: Michael sitting on a porch with his baby daughter in his right hand and his son sitting on his left.)
Name: Michael Lang
Job Title: Director, State Library of Kansas Talking Books Service & Regional Network Librarian
Job Duties: I supervise the Kansas Talking Books staff, oversee the Talking Books program for the state of Kansas, and act as liaison between the State Library of Kansas and the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.
Years at Talking Books:
Almost four years as an employee. Before that, I volunteered for about two years.
Michigan Valley, KS (unincorporated)
I am a fan of horror, science fiction, humor, narrative non-fiction…I just love to read.
I try to read everything by Stephen King, George Saunders, and Joe Hill. I’ve been pushing myself to read more female science-fiction authors and highly recommend Becky Chambers and N. K. Jemisin’s books.
I read hundreds of picture books a year right now. I also try to read as much Finnish literature (in translation) as I can. Through this pursuit I have identified a genre I call Nordic Agrarian Fiction and I love it.
Have you ever faked reading a book?
I never finished Macbeth in high school, but I’m pretty sure I was honest about it.
Best library memories:
As a child going to the Overbrook Public Library was always a treat for me. When I was little, they had a reading structure; it was carpeted and I could climb on top to read, or there was a little reading cave below it where I could hide from my mom. I remember the excitement of the book sale and going to summer reading/story time and listening to the Baby Elephant Walk on the record player. When I got older I devoured the science fiction section and read every Stephen King book they had.
There are great memories from my first library job, at Council Grove Public Library. In my first week on the job I had to help put out a truck fire. But the real joy was forming relationships with community members.
I now have a toddler at home and my newest favorite library memories are the days that we say, “Let’s go to the library,” and he starts running in circles yelling “LIBRARY, LIBRARY!”
Plus, Highland Community College, Emporia Public, Emporia State University, Hiawatha Public; all the libraries in my life have positive experiences associated with them.
First book you remember being read to you?
I remember my mother reading me a Winnie the Pooh picture book when I was just a little guy, or it might have been Corduroy. What I remember most vividly is the chair we sat in; an overstuffed swivel chair with nightmares for upholstery. The chair had a hole in it and I’d pull out the little bits of stuffing.
If you could have any famous person narrate any book, who would it be, which book, & why?
Future scenario: I would like to hear one of my children (Nobel Prize in Physics for creating the world’s first space elevator) narrate a book written by my other child (one of the books for which they received the Nobel Prize in Literature and Nobel Peace Prize). That would be pretty cool.
What do you find most interesting/rewarding about working at Talking Books?
The most rewarding part of the job is providing a service that people truly appreciate. We receive so many notes from patrons and their families thanking us for what we do. It makes it very easy to wake up in the morning and come to work.
Farthest you’ve ever been from Kansas?
Rovaniemi, Finland. You should visit. It is the “Official Hometown of Santa Clause.” The city library was designed by famed architect Alvar Aalto and is really cool.