As a librarian, research can take you to interesting places, and on occasion, you stumble across some vaguely disturbing information. The organization across which I stumbled certainly appeared benign enough, but even taking the smallest peek below the surface made my skin prick with a sense of unease.
It was an incomplete collection of documents that I found: a brief overview of the organization (perhaps a new employee document?), a description of the filing system, and a collection of reading programs like that which you would find at a library.
Again, the vision statement seems beneficial enough –
The Committee for Individualized Reader Development is dedicated to creating unique programs for each potential reader’s needs and interests, as well as tracking the progress of each participant as they grow in their consumption of fiction and non-fiction books alike.
– after all, who would argue against a reading program that met the individual needs of children? The “tracking” portion I had initially dismissed as an agreement between the Committee and the family to provide regular updates as a source of statistics. All that fell away as I began reading through the rest of the documentation.
The reading programs were both vague and specific, never referring to the “potential readers” by name; they were only ever the “participant,” but the details were highly individualized and almost predictive in their structure. Though uneasy by the language used, I would likely still have dismissed it all as a harmless non-profit had it not been for the description of the filing system.
Among the incomplete list of names in this document was my own, along with an identification number: 85056480. Now, my name is not the most unique in the world, but there was one file in the collection under that number, and it matched my own reading history to a T.
I could see no evidence of malevolence from the Committee for Individualized Reader Development, but the very fact that they established some degree of manipulation in my life, without my consent or the consent of my parents… “Unease” does not begin to describe it. As such, I am determined to uncover as much as I can about this Committee as I can: their motives, their methods, and if they still exist.
Of course, due to the personalized nature of these documents, I will not be sharing any programs I find that are not mine, but for the sake of research and awareness, the documents that I find pertaining to me will be posted below:
Take a BITE out of a Book – A program based around my transition as a primarily non-fiction reader to a fiction reader as well. This covers a good portion of my elementary school years, and even overlapping into some of my middle school reading, which suggests that the Committee has influence across the educational system in my hometown.
This page will be updated as I discover more.
The Committee for Individualized Reader Development, along with the framework story above, is simply a fictional excuse to explore my growth as a reader while also practicing skills I learned as an MLIS student by designing personalized library reading programs.