Janet Good is well at home among the books. She scans the shelves of the young adult section with a practiced eye, quickly pulling out three different novels to recommend to teen readers.
She holds them fondly, pointing out their eye-catching covers, describing the genre and plot of each — magic, fantasy, aliens.
Good is the branch manager at the Silverthorne north branch of the Summit County Library. She’s been working there since 2000, watching over the estimated 30,000 books that line the shelves.
While Good is a fan of all literature, she finds herself particularly drawn to young adult materials. So much so that she chose it as her specialty while studying for her master’s degree in library science at Kent State University. At that time, in the 1970s, the idea of young adult literature was relatively new.
“They used to just lump (teens) in the children’s room and then (later) they could go read the adult stuff,” she said.
Good had worked with teenagers before, volunteering with Girl Scouts, and knew she enjoyed that age group.
“I like them because they’re fairly self-sufficient. You don’t have to cut out crafts projects for them,” she said with a laugh. “And they’re not finished yet, like adults, who can be very opinionated.”
Good is in charge of the middle school and high school programming for the three Summit County libraries, a job she also did in Cleveland, Ohio, before moving to Colorado, and one that she continues to love.
“The (teens) are open to new ideas and will try things,” she said. “They’re just more fun because of that attitude.”
One of her successful programs in Summit County has been the Missing Ending Book Club. Open to any student in middle or high school, the club focuses on both reading and discussion. Readers start with a book that has its last chapter stapled shut (as well as a goody bag filled with fun extras). At the end of the reading period, Good sits down with the club and everyone discusses what they think the ending will be. The closest guesser wins a prize, and everyone gets to keep the book.
Good described many of the young people she knows as “avid” readers and said she doesn’t hold with the recent trend of print-is-dead, reading-is-dying naysaying.
Before libraries, Good actually had a different career in mind. She wanted to become a teacher and live abroad, teaching English as a foreign language. She studied for her master’s in linguistics at the University of Michigan, her home state, and set her sights on France.
The allure of France came from a six-week trip she took in high school with 250 other American students. They stayed in the French Alps, in a town called Villeard-de-Lans, near Grenoble, attending classes in the morning and taking educational field trips in the afternoons.
So she studied language and teaching, planning to return. Then, fate stepped in.
She met her future husband, Michael, an economics student at the University of Michigan, and fell in love.
“So instead of moving to France, I moved to Cleveland!” she said, laughing. But that didn’t stop her from re-visiting Europe.
“I’ve instilled my love of France in Michael, and so we travel there a lot.”
It was in Ohio that Good began getting involved with libraries. A neighbor recruited her to work at the nearby elementary school library and soon she was hooked.
“I just thought it was wonderful,” she said, “telling stories and getting kids interested in books.”
The first time Good visited Colorado was in 1977 on a trip with the Girl Scouts. She fell in love with the high, dry and sunny climate, so different from Ohio’s humidity.
“It took nine years, but I finally dragged my husband out here,” she said. The two moved to Summit County in 1986, settling first in Blue River and later in Silverthorne.
The county was a bit different back then, she recalled, without so many of the larger shops or easily accessible conveniences.
“You could buy a T-shirt up here, but you couldn’t buy a wastebasket,” she recalled. But she didn’t mind. Not only was she surrounded by the beauty of the High Country, she owned horses for the first time in her life — a childhood dream.
“From the first, when I first learned to read, I just read everything I could get my hands on, especially horse stories,” she said. After polishing off classics by Walter Farley and other horsey authors, “I moved on to Nancy Drew and I read every biography in the school library.”
Good credits her parents for her love of reading, and believes that the more that children see their parents reading, the more they will want to do the same.
At any given time, Good has at least three books that she’s in the middle of reading.
“I have one book on my bedside table, I have one book in the car for when I’m waiting at the doctor’s office or something, and then I have a (book on) CD in the car.”
When she’s not discussing literature with the teens in her book club, Good can be found in any corner of the library, doing anything from shelving books to ordering new ones. When she took over as branch manager, the previous manager gave her a toilet plunger wrapped in a bow, signifying how jack-of-all-trades the job is.
“I haven’t used it,” Good said, laughing. Then she added, “I’ll give it to the next person.”