Marcellus Turner, Seattle's city librarian. Credit: Seattle Public Library
Marcellus Turner started out in 4th grade shelving books in his school library in Mississippi. Fourteen months ago, he became the Director of the Seattle Public Library System, and he now oversees the Central Library and 26 branches that circulated 11,572,778 items last year. When MT, as he’s known by friends and library staff, went to his first Seafair parade last summer, he was delighted to see that so many of the people lining the streets were reading while waiting for the parade to start.
Val Easton: Do you have a book or two you’ve re-read over the years and will no doubt read again?
Marcellus Turner: I’m a big fan of Patrick Lencioni; I’m re-reading Getting Naked right now. He writes management books with great titles. Another one I like is Death By Meeting. They offer a whole different way of thinking about how you work with people.
VE: Have you read a truly great book lately? One you’d unhesitatingly recommend to friends and colleagues?
MT: Company by Max Barry, a novel set in Seattle.
VE: Do you get books from the library? Buy them? Download them?
MT: Before I came to Seattle, I lived in the Denver suburbs and listened to audio books while I commuted. I’m more urban here . . . now I’m a books-on-the-nightstand kind of guy. When I travel I check out electronic books to read on an iPad with Kindle access.
VE: How long is your library queue?
MT: It’s pretty short. I need to transfer my long written list to my library holds list. I walk over to Barnes and Noble on my lunch hour and hustle back with book titles to add to my queue.
VE: Do you read genre fiction?
MT: I love suspense, but only books by David Baldacci. I guess I find authors I like, more than genres. I’ve also gotten caught up in Philippa Gregory’s historical fiction set in Tudor England. She writes compelling and intricate plots The Other Boleyn Girl, was my first exposure to her work. I’ve read every one in Alexander McCall Smith’s series The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.
VE: When and where do you settle down to read?
MT: At home I read in bed. I like to read when I fly, and I always have a book or magazines in my book bag to read when waiting for a meeting to start.
VE: Did you read a lot when you were a kid?
MT: I’m very much geographically challenged because I always read in the car when I was young. I never paid attention to where we were going. I remember sitting on the floor, facing backwards, with the book resting on the car seat and the dome light on so I could see to read. When I was growing up, I always surrounded myself with friends who read and we enjoyed trading books.
VE: What do you plan to read next?
MT: I’m resolved to read the books on my own bookshelf. I’ve moved a lot and always carry all these books around with me. And David Baldacci has a new book out…(The Innocent, April 2012).
VE: As a librarian, what’s your advice for us?
MT: Read for the pure pleasure of it.