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Book cover for Bound in the Bond of Life features people gathered in front of the Tree of Life Synagogue

Volunteer Interview:

Recording Studio

Things have been different all over for the past year and a half due to the pandemic, and now for us at LAMP, things are also different due to our current renovation.  These differences, like our building being closed, also affect our volunteers.  I have written about our wonderful volunteers before, and for some volunteers, even with our building being closed, the work continues.  I recently caught up virtually with 3 of our volunteers: Joe, Sue, and Diane.  It was great to speak with them and to hear about the work they are doing around a specific book Bound in the Bond of Life: Pittsburgh Writers Reflect on the Tree of Life Tragedy (DBC 17524).   After this book came out, we felt it was very important to get to work at making it available to our patrons as soon as we possibly could, as many of our patrons, volunteers, and employees live in and around the community where the Tree of Life tragedy occurred.  Without further ado, here are some outtakes from my interview with these very dedicated volunteers.   

How many years have you been volunteering with the library?   

Joe: Since 2011, 10 years.  
Sue:  Since 2008, 12 years.   
Diane: Since 2006, 15 years.   

During the pandemic, you’ve been volunteering from home.  How has that been?     

Joe: First of all, thanks to Mark Sachon this is the most meaningful assignment I’ve been given, to narrate the book Bound in the Bond of Life: Pittsburgh Writers Reflect on the Tree of Life Tragedy (DBC 17524). It’s something I’ll never forget. And collaborating with my friend and fellow narrator Sue was great for me. 

Sue:  Thanks Joe, it was also great working with you.  Working from home was good, but getting the sound right was hard.   

Can you explain the process of working on this book? 

Sue:  Joe narrated most of the book, but there was a lot of Hebrew language without translation.  I narrated the wavs (files) with Hebrew.  Joe has a studio at home, and I don’t, so I did the ones with Hebrew involved.   

Joe:  One section I was doing had a large Hebrew Dialog, and Sue graciously took that on.   

What does this book mean to you, as people from Pittsburgh, the community where this tragedy occurred? 

Joe:  It was so meaningful to hear the reactions of the tragedy by the various authors, which mainly consisted of Rabbis and teachers, members of the congregation, and journalists from the Post-Gazette. To hear their interpretations of this tragedy was heartbreaking. Delivery was hard. Stacy Smith (KDKA journalist) was asked how you present tragedies. He had to do 9/11, flight 423 in Hopewell, and the Tree of Life. He mentioned a wall he has to put up without emotionally showing it. As narrators, we’re voice actors and we have to put up that wall too.  We feel the emotions, but we have to stay composed when reading.     

Sue:  For some reason, certain things get to me. I guess because I didn't do the whole thing, I only narrated parts of it. It was difficult in one sense, but in another sense, it showed me how the entire Pittsburgh community rallied around the Tree of Life.  They now have a chain link fence surrounding the building with pictures that were drawn from all over the world. Wherever there was another mass shooting, people sent these drawing and what it meant to them. Besides touching the Jewish community, and besides touching the Pittsburgh community, this tragedy has touched people all over the world.   

How is volunteering at home?   

Sue:  I would much prefer to be in the building. I miss walking in and seeing people, whether they are the staff or other volunteers like Joe or Diane. Right now, my morning is taken up with my 2-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter.  Mark Sachon and I are thinking of doing another book until we can get back into the building. 

Joe:  I enjoy recording books at home, but I loved getting out of the house and going to the library three days a week. I liked working with all of the people there. Hopefully around September this will change when the library renovation is complete. 

Diane, who is also a library user, worked on Quality Assurance for this book. 

How was the book? 

The narration was really good.  I thought this was a professional NLS narrator.  Joe and Sue did an excellent job.     

What should our patrons know about the books we make and the effort that goes into them?   

Sue: There is a lot of passion that goes into every book.  I cry at the end of almost every book I read.  These books are very meaningful to us. 

Joe:  I agree with everything Sue just said.   

This was just a small portion of our conversation.  We are very grateful for the work of Sue, Joe, and Diane, as well as the hard work and dedication of our volunteers.  Right now, the LAMP building is closed due to our ongoing renovation, but if you are interested in volunteering in the future, keep an eye on our volunteer page.     

This interview was conducted by Scott, a LAMP Reader Advisor who also does work in the Recording Studio. 

Virtual Book Club

Book cover for Nomadland features a lone trailer alongside a deserted dirt road

Our Virtual Book Club is growing in popularity! In order to keep the meeting at a manageable size, attendance is limited. Please let us know as soon as possible if you will join us on Thursday, July 15th, from 1:00pm – 2:00pm for our discussion of Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder (DB 86971) (CL 16858). 

You can contact us via email or phone at: 

Email address:

Phone: 800-242-0586 

No special equipment, other than a touchtone phone, is needed for you to join our book club discussion. 

We are looking forward to hearing from you!  

Upcoming book selections: 

August 19, 2021, 1pm-2pm – Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue (DB 85537)  

September 16, 2021, 1pm-2pm – Fire in Paradise: An American Tragedy by Alastair Gee and Dani Aguiano (DB 100165) 

October 21, 2021, 1pm-2pm - The Escape Room by Megan Goldin (DB 95709)  (LP 35587) 

(Please note: Registration opens the first day of each month) 

Introducing New LAMP Staff: Bruce

What do you do? 
I'm a cataloging librarian in the Philadelphia office of LAMP, here to deliver state-of-the-art customer care, reader's advisory, and reference services for our beloved LAMP community, plus I’ll be helping with the new LAMP website. 

Where are you from? 
Everywhere! My family and I have lived and worked in Japan, Mexico, the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, rural Pennsylvania, Hollywood…but I grew up in the boondocks outside of Seattle. 

What’s your favorite book?  
One favorite book? Is that even a thing? Okay, let’s start with audio: this past year I loved Lab Girl (DB 84436; also in large print: CL 16572) the most, because Dr. Hope Jahren’s voice runs rich with her reverence for trees, science, humor, and her eccentric lab partner. In print, I just rode a James McBride jag with Deacon King Kong (CL 19480, DB 98819) and The Good Lord Bird (DB 77431), hooked on the comic music of his language and the depth of the stories; yes, I know I need to read his memoir The Color of Water (DB 42713) so don’t be nagging me. Right now I’m tethered to Anne Patchett’s The Dutch House (BR 22980, CL 19261, DB 96739) largely set in Elkins Park, where I lived, featuring a protagonist who’s a Type I diabetic, which I am. For a decade I reviewed umpteen dozen Spanish-language books; when I’m banished to a distant planet with room for only one favorite secular book it’ll have to be Don Quixote (various NLS editions). A goofy dreamer with a sensible sidekick in a novel-within-a-novel—four hundred years on, El Quijote is life itself. 

Staff Picks

These summer days seem to slip through our fingers like sand, which means it’s high time to enjoy one of life’s greatest pairings: a summer storm on a hot July evening, and a good, gripping read. Coming in at the end of June’s Pride Month, we would be especially remiss if we did not recommend these two masters of their craft.  

James Baldwin is captivating in his story of death, desire, and dark complexities. Carmen Maria Machado tackles similar themes in her memoir with a wit and inventiveness that leaves you breathless. Both authors are unapologetic; they will keep you captive on your porch for hours.  

Giovanni’s Room DB 12503 by James Baldwin 

In a 1950s Paris, an American finds himself unable to repress his impulses, despite his determination to live the conventional life he envisions for himself. After meeting and proposing to a young woman, he falls into a lengthy affair with an Italian bartender. 

In the Dream House: A Memoir DB 97881 by Carmen Maria Machado 

An account of a relationship gone bad and a dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse in which each chapter is driven by clever narrative tropes. Narrated by the author herself, Machado takes into account legal proceedings, fairy tales, iconic works of film and fiction, and a broad swath of queer history in telling her story.  




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