5 Questions with a Librarian


I’m thrilled to host my very first “5 Questions” blog interview this week.

Meet Ryan Gan, Assistant Professor and Systems Librarian, former Branch Manager for Orange Public Library. He’s a family friend and all-around a super guy.

1) Why did you become a librarian?

My parents took me to libraries a lot when I was growing up and a lot of the strong memories I have during back then have to do with libraries. When I would walk home I would stop by the library for a bit to decompress and explore before heading home. It was a third place for me.

Later on I was fortunate to have work study in libraries on campus and there were peers that worked at the library as well. I was so aware of it when I started a rock n’ roll band with my friend we decided to name our band The Librarians. When the band broke up I boomeranged back to my parents (thanks Mom and Dad!)  When I was figuring out what to do for the next chapter of my life I had remembered a good friend who I really respected went on to library school and then I was like, if it is good enough for them, why not give it a try? I found a part time library clerk position and then went to library school. I worked my way up through the library system and was finally because a librarian after I got my Masters in Library and Information Science. So as you can see a lot of factors went into me becoming a librarian and when I work in the library I try to keep conscious that it is the little things, the small interactions that add up to big things.

2) What’s your favorite book, of all time and/or current?

Some favorite books as of late have been Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and The Magician series by Lev Grossman. The film that lives in the same world as these books is Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan. I don’t know exactly why I keep coming back to these, but I do. The protagonists in these works do a lot of undirected work and spend a lot of time searching. Not everything is an out and out “success” and failures are necessary and inescapable but we have the power to forge them into something else on our own terms.

3) A question authors are dying to know…how do you choose books for your library?

Normally we look at journals that have reviews by fellow librarians Library Journal, School Library Journal, but a lot of librarians are now looking at their blog aggregator feeds, Twitter, etc. We also go to library conferences to meet with authors as well as network with other librarians who give workshops on the current state of the publishing industry. I also helped coordinate a young adult author panel for LA and Orange County librarians.

4) When you were a librarian at Orange, what genres were the most popular (what was checked out most often)?

During my time as a young adult librarian supernatural and dystopian fiction was all the rage. This was the mid-aughts and early 2010s.

5) If you could meet one author, who would it be?

I’ve been to a book talk with Neil Gaiman and sat far above him in a large auditorium but it would be nice to be in a proper pub and listen to him with a polite circle of fans while there was a crackling fire in the fireplace, the soft sound of rain pattering on the roof, plenty of pints, and a good pub feed.

OK, I lied. One more question.

6) What do you like to do when you’re not reading or librarian-ing?

I really like playing games. Roleplaying games, Japanese Riichi Mahjong, Magic: the Gathering, Puerto Rico and Euro board games, I collect arcade games and pcbs (shmups, fighting games, and pinball). My love for country music comes from square dancing. I I like anime and manga. I really enjoy cooking so I barbecue brisket and pulled pork, roast coffee, homebrew beer. Last week I was pretty proud having made Armenian lula kebab and Persian saffron rice. Next month will be handmade tortillas and chorizo. Right now I'm hiatus because of getting used to a new career but I do play euphonium. In homage to my rock n' roll days I sing karaoke and cut a rug at Alex's Bar for The Good Foot Soul night. I owe being a Renaissance person who is able to do a lot of things to reading! With my new academic schedule me and my wife Cynthia I'm happy to report that have been adding world travelling, last year was Japan. This year was Bakersfield and Albquerque/Santa Fe and we'll be going to Denver this Summer and then Spain/France/Belgium during Winter Break.

Thank you for your time, Ryan!

Suzanne Park