Using a public library means coming into contact with a diverse group of people. I hesitate to use the overused term “melting pot,” but I can’t resist. A peopled pot is a beautiful thing! How else can we describe the group of Library supporters we call Social Media Ambassadors? They come to the Library from all walks of life, and they voluntarily help extend the Library’s reach into the community using a potent tool of the like-minded – social media, to be sure, but also an abiding love for libraries.
“To me that's part of what community really is, the library," says Social Media Ambassador Dave Kaplowitz in APL Volumes, the Library’s podcast. I had the honor of interviewing Mr. Kaplowitz and other ambassadors for an ongoing series of podcasts that give us a glimpse of the Library in the lives of Austinites. (Play the series below, starting with the latest episode.)
A full-time psychotherapist and part-time musician, Mr. Kaplowitz was born in New Jersey, has lived in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and California, and studied music at the University of North Texas. He’s been in Austin now for 25 years.
“My mom was a voracious reader,” he says in his podcast. “She instilled that love of libraries and that love of books in me.” Mr. Kaplowitz also plays multiple instruments and appears in an Austin jazz-blues fusion band called In the Pocket. He takes pride in the Library’s music CD collection and enjoys biographies on musical greats such as David Bowie, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop.
A library inspires this fusion of personal history and passion.
"I grew up reading to my brothers and that sort of sparked the interest in exploring and going out in the world,” explains Social Media Ambassador Michelle Sunga in her podcast. “The Library is really where I go first to check if the book I want to read next is there. I also come here to write.”
A food writer, Ms. Sunga grew up in California. Instead of going to college, she moved to New York City, where she took solace in the public library. Now that she’s in Austin, she takes similar solace in APL. She’s an NBA fanatic who loves books. She once checked out Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: “When I found that I couldn't believe it that two of my favorite things are in the library in a book. Kareem is a legend, far and wide, but more importantly he's a Laker, and I am from L.A.”
A library validates the things we love by combining eclectic elements into one delightful find.
“I think being older you kinda forget about the library. You forget that it's a resource,” says Social Media Ambassador Theresa Saint in her podcast. “I think it's one of those things you kind of discover it again, every now and then. You discover the library, and the things that it has.”
Born in North Carolina and educated in Colorado, Ms. Saint lived in Chicago for a few years and has now lived in Austin for over ten. She works as a commercial title coordinator in the real estate insurance industry downtown, near the site of Austin’s New Central Library.
Ms. Saint uses social media to remind Austinites that the Library is “not just a place for kids. I think a lot of times people think that. So I wanna make sure they realize: it's for everybody."
Like the Library, the Social Media Ambassadors program is open to everybody. Sign up and stay tuned for more podcasts on the ambassador’s webpage at library.austintexas.gov/ambassador. You can also download or stream APL Volumes on LibSyn, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher.