Smith oversees the North Greenwood branch of the Clearwater Public Library System, located in one of Tampa Bay's oldest African-American communities. She has a hefty reading list now; however, as a child she was not a reader. Her passion for books came later. "I didn't read what was out there, the Hardy Boys or Judy Blume, because I did not connect with the characters. They didn't look like me,'' said Smith, 45. "I became interested only after I started volunteering in a library.''
Smith said she enjoys her vantage point. "I think a lot of the teenagers that come in are surprised to see me in this supervisor position,'' she said. "I spend time talking with them, not just on education, but on social things. I grew up in a community like theirs.''
Smith grew up in Daytona Beach and received her undergraduate degree in history from the University of Central Florida and her master's in library science from the University of South Florida. She defines libraries as a reflection of the community. "It is a place with neutral ground. We don't push people's thoughts in any one direction,'' she said.
What's on your nightstand?
I'm reading The Unofficial Guide to Las Vegas 2017 by Bob Salinger. I'm going in September. I'm reading a graphic novel, Josephine Baker by Jose-Luis Bocquet; Paper Girls Vol. I , a comic book; and a history book, White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg. I am listening to that on audio. I mix it up. I listen to audio and read graphic novels and comic books, and then I mix it up a little bit with books like The Darkest Promise by Gena Showalter and Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton.
How knowledgeable were you on the life of Josephine Baker?
I was pretty knowledgeable, but I love the format of graphic novel to tell this history lesson. It's not your basic history book. I think it is perfect for this age group. It's for, I would say, high school and up. Most people don't know about her background in St. Louis. It is very detailed. It's not one of your basic thin graphic novels.
And can you tell me about the selection of White Trash?
It was on one of the lists I receive, a readers advisory list. It's an adult book, although maybe a teenager or college student would read it. It goes over some tough material. I'd recommend it.
Contact Piper Castillo at [email protected] Follow @Florida_PBJC.