Monday, April 12, 2010

Interviews: In honor of National Library Week!

There are many places in my little city of Flagstaff that cultivate a sense of community. But to me, nowhere is it cultivated more than at our public library. Especially in the youth services section. These ladies make visiting a joy!

That's why it's my privilege to showcase two of our finest Youth Librarians and Youth Librarian Assistants. They have kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions....


1. What prompted you to become a Youth Services Librarian? Could you tell us a little about your path to working in our library?

K: I've had various public librarian roles, (over 20 years worth!) but the unpredictable nature and the intellectual energy that youth, 0-18, and their caregivers bring to a library has always been a draw for me. I have an undergrad in physical education and while teaching aerobics in church basements and community colleges, raising 3 kids, and running a town basketball league for all those players that 'don't make the school team', I, on a long shot, applied for a local public library position. I enjoy the exuberance and novelty of youth programs at a library, from preschoolers to teens to outreach on the PALSmobile. For me, youth services is a good fit. I just finished a Master's in Library Science from the University of Arizona.

M: I have a B.S. in Education and also a degree in Early Childhood Education, with an emphasis in Literature. I was a preschool teacher for over 25 years. My library involvement began as a young child, living close enough to be able to walk to our local libary. I volunteered as a teenager in the same library and then for 8 years for our sons' school libraries. In Calif. the school libraries in the 1980's would not have been able to stay open during school hours if it weren't for parent volunteers. I also volunteered here in Youth Services when we first moved to Flagstaff; worked as a "temp" for 8 years and then the permanent position for 3 years.

2. What is a favorite Picture Book, Middle Grade, and/or Young Adult book (fiction or non) at the moment?

K: I love the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems, especially Today I Will Fly. I have always loved Heidi by Spyri, probably because I first read it at a time when I wished so hard that I could go shoeless and sleep in a hay loft like Heidi. Nancy Farmer is a favorite tween/teen author of mine.

M: My picture book favorite is Robert McCloskey's Make Way for Ducklings. The Black Stallion by Walter Farley and The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo for Middle grade reading and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and also The Book Thief by Markus Zusak for the young adult choices.(It is very hard to make one choice!)

3. What is one of your favorite things about your job?

K: When a child convinces their parent to look inside the PALSmobile, and a few weeks later you see the whole family at the public library for the very first time; this is powerful and probably the most rewarding part of my job. Climbing aboard and checking out books, has the potential to change our future.

M: There are so many areas of my job here in Youth Services that I truly enjoy. Visiting preschools and daycares with the PALSmobile is such fun, and the children and teachers are so appreciative of the service we provide them. Storytimes give me a chance to be a part of the growth and education of children and their parents and to introduce them to our library and all we have to offer.


4. What kinds of elements are teens and tweens asking for when they come to you for a book recommendation?

K: 'Tweens are all over the place in their taste for books. It seems to depend on their reading level. Titles are often selected because of a movie buzz or because the jacket cover looks scary. Teens, those that are reading for pleasure rather than doing school required titles, often want edgy, contemporary themes such as drug abuse, teen parents, dying young, homelessness, GLBTG. Fantasy/Sci-fi remains a popular genre, especially books in series. It seems that vampires are waning.

M: Fantasy, time travel and adventure series have been the favorite choices of the tweens and teens over the last 4 or 5 years.

5. At least one of my kids has been going to your story times for the last five years now and we love them! What is your secret to getting kids so excited about the books you read to them?

K: My secret to storytime is that there is a secret in every book. I really try to present the story so that the child discovers that secret and suddenly feels smart, proud, enlightened, and wants to tell everybody all about the story.

M: The secret to a successful storytime is having the stories, songs, fingerplays and music age appropriate. It is also important to be well prepared and enthusiastic.

Thank you so much, ladies! Your answers were wonderful and I appreciate all you do!

And if this interview wasn't cool enough, there are more going on all over. Visit Shelli at Market My Words for the complete list.


  1. What a brilliant behind-the-scenes look! Thanks for sharing.

  2. That was a great interview. Hooray for librarians!

  3. I just joined One Million People Who Think Libraies Are Important on Facebook. Just stopped at our local one this afternoon with my kids.

    Stephen Tremp

  4. Great interview! I spend so much time at the library, it's interesting to hear a little bit more about the wonderful people who make our libraries run.

  5. I heart librarians. they are the gate keepers and we, as authors, should be ever grateful for their work. thanks for the great interview.

  6. I love Elephant and Piggie! Thanks for the interview.

  7. Wow what a neat idea!!! I loved the interview it was really nice!

  8. A library has got to be one of the most wonderful places to 'work' especially for those who enjoy reading. You can tell from the interview. Thanks.

  9. There's an award for you over at Inkpots N' Quills.

    Loved the interview, by the way!

  10. They have story time at my local library and it seems I'm always there at that time. LOL! I do enjoy.

  11. Timely post. Several libraries in my area were going to close (for financial reasons), including my local branch. Thankfully, it was saved.

  12. This was so much fun reading answers from your library assistants. I'll have gather my courage to ask similar stuff of the people at my library.

    Particularly good to hear that fantasy, time travel and adventure are popular with tweens and teens. Those are the reasons why I still love MG and YA as a (cough) forty year old.

    I absolutely love Flagstaff and envy you for getting to live there.