The Men of RT: Fred LeBaron

It’s Valentine’s Week here at RT, and we are feeling the love — more so than usual! We’ve been talking about the RT Convention for a while now, but this week we want to focus on one very special aspect of the event: the Men of RT! It’s takes a special kind of man to not only attend a week-long affair dominated by women, but to make a mark of their very own. Readers, meet the Men of RT! 

Today we’d like you to meet Fred LeBaron, librarian extraordinaire. He even has his own hashtag at RT — #RTFred!

Fred and RT's Kathryn Falk!
Fred and RT’s Kathryn Falk!

Occupation: I’m a librarian in the Adult and Teen Services Department at the Downers Grove Public Library in suburban Chicago. I assist readers with reference and Readers Advisory (recommending good reads), with purchasing books and with programming (everything from social media skills to adult coloring sessions!). I love my job, and my colleagues, very much!  #BestJobEver!

Astrological Sign: Of course I’m a proud Libra!  “Libra-rian,” get it?

Dream Date: Aside from my wife (you know, just in case she’s reading this), my dream date would be Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney and Portlandia. I like everything about her — she’s clever, funny and creative in so many ways — a musician and even an author! Plus, yeah, she’s my kind of #gorgeous. Also she seems okay with Freds.

Best Publishing Industry Anecdote: This is a tough one, as I’m mostly a fan/reader, not an industry insider. One fun thing was being mistaken for (and tagged in lots of pictures as) Larry Kirshbaum, then President of Amazon Publishing, at RT 2013.  

That’s Debra Anastasia, Fred (not Larry) and E.L James in New Orleans!

What is your favorite book of all time? So hard! A book I’ve come back to read many times is The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. A great story, awesome characters (medieval Sherlock Holmes, anyone?), and layer after layer of allusions and ideas. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving is another rich and immersive read.

How long have you been a librarian? Ha ha, that seems like such a straightforward question, right, but it depends on how you count things. I graduated from Library School at the University of Michigan in 1973 (wow, that’s like 43 years ago!), and began working as a public librarian immediately upon graduation. However, after five years, I decided to go to law school to become a law librarian. While in law school I got sidetracked a bit, and ended up practicing law in Chicago for 20 years or so, before FINALLY becoming a law librarian in 2003. I worked at the Loyola Law Library for another 12 years or so before returning to public librarianship in 2014. So, I’ve actually worked in libraries for about twenty of those 43 years.

What is your favorite RT event? There are so many cool RT events at any given convention. I love the Giant Book Fair — so many authors to chat with and have sign books! And, of course, I especially enjoy the librarian/bookseller events hosted by the amazing Kate Ryan. But just hanging out in the hotel bar is an amazing experience. If you sit there long enough you’ll meet every author at RT, I swear! Just for example, I met the lovely Kat Martin and her husband, and we shared some quesadillas and convo. It was awesome!

Fred at the bar.
Fred isn’t kidding about hanging at the bar, guys. 

Tell us about your first RT convention. My first RT Convention was Chicago in 2012. I was deeply in the throes of my infatuation with Young Adult fiction, and I saw on Facebook that there was an event featuring a “Teen Alley,” with lots of Young Adult authors. I didn’t realize it was part of the Giant Book Fair, and there was a special price if you brought a teen, so I coerced my son into going. It was awesome! I met so many great authors, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stoltz, Stephanie Perkins, and so many more. Over on the adult side, I chatted with Sylvia Day, Sue Grafton, F. Paul Wilson, Francine Pascal and lots of others. I even met Kathryn Falk, who was graciously presiding over the festivities! I was totally hooked by the awesome world of RT, and have been back every year since.

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