World’s Strongest Librarian #il2013 #internetlibrarian

Josh Hanagarne
World’s Strongest Librarian

Librarian in nonfiction at Salt Lake City library.

Extreme case of Tourette’s.

Why libraries? Change lives. Great equalizers.

Without libraries, there would be no librarians.

Pro self-improvement, but despises the self-improvement industry.

When it comes to libraries, willing to be preachy. Libraries have saved his life.

SLC director said it’s our job to make a better community, to give the public as much of what they want as possible within the library’s mission.

Ideas: lifelong learning, introduce people to knowledge and people to people, economic empowerment, dream with our eyes open.

Josh: Purpose of a library is to make people free, freer than they could be without the library.

Story of his Tourette’s.

Couldn’t go outside, not even to the library.

Went to the quietest place he could think of — the library — and asked for a job application.


Arranged to offend a homophobe.

Homeless man from Nicaragua said the library was a miracle.

Homeless man named Scott who seemed to be playing a video game was actually designing one. “A library immediately awards you dignity by walking in the doors.” You can be anonymous or you can ask a question.

Woman who had to give up kids for adoption.

woman who was being battered.

Vietnamese man: “You have such lovely Dockers.” Said he found his true love in a Vietnamese newspaper. “Without the library, there is no true love.”

Another man with Tourette’s: only place where they let me be me.

Any time you spend thinking “I can’t believe this is happening” is time you can’t spend reacting. Say, “This is happening.” The sooner you can say that, the sooner you can say, “What next?”

What sustains us is how much you love yourself and how much we love each other.

Old definition of “to free” is “to love.” With librarians, this is where he feels free, in every sense.

When he was 4, saw moth with a 3-foot wingspan. His mother said, “Where do you think it went next?” Libraries are about questions.

We can leave this conference freer than we arrived.

Very inspiring. Everybody in the room got mushy. Standing O.


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