Our Featured Librarian:
It’s hard to fathom, but apparently, there are people in the world who mistakenly believe that the best job in the world is to be a President or an astronaut, or even a rock star. However, with all due respect, these individuals are mistaken. I have the best job in the world; I’m a Youth Services Librarian for the Sacramento Public Library, Carmichael Branch.
Every day Youth Services Librarians get to work with young people aged infants to teens and talk about books. We read books to them, discuss books with them, and help them to find the book (or other material) which will help them complete the project that may lead them to the Oval Office. Every Thursday, I have storytimes, one for preschoolers at 10:15 am, and one for babies/toddlers at 11:15am, where we read books together, share stories on flannelboard, sing songs, and, when I get too wiggly, jump up and down until I feel calmer and ready for another story. Carmichael Library now has a monthly sensory storytime for autistic/special needs kids, and they are amazing.
Once a month I gather together with kids ranging from 2nd grade – middle school to discuss a book they’ve picked to read for “After School Book Club.” While the group will choose popular titles like Warriors or Harry Potter (1-3), they also choose books like The Giver, Magyk, and Julie of the Wolves. I am always delighted by what they enjoy or dislike about a particular novel. At Carmichael Library, we have at least one program per month where families come and do crafts, or watch a performer, or celebrate something (Dr. Seuss, Star Wars, etc) and discover that the Library is a fun place to hang out and spend time together.
I do not confine my book sharing to the human species either. On Tuesday afternoons between 3:30 and 4:30 pm therapy dogs and their handlers come to the Carmichael Library and children read aloud to them. When I am super lucky, I get to hang out with these book lovers and soak up their happy reading vibrations.
As a Youth Services Librarian, I regularly have classrooms visit the Library – preschool classes, elementary classes, and even an occasional middle school class where I invite them to listen to a story, learn about our database resources, and to check out material. I openly invite people to get Library cards to check out their favorite DVDs. I particularly love field trips where I get to go to my local San Juan Unified schools and share information about the Library, its programs, and help those children to get Library cards so that they can check out all the awesomeness themselves.
Youth Services Librarians have the opportunity to share our love for the Library and books far and wide. Literacy is vital and it need not be dreary. On the contrary, it can be musical and joyous and goofy. I’ve given workshops to parents and their babies/preschoolers on how talking and learning about early concepts like letters, shapes, and yes, math and science will help prepare their child for reading and for school.
Sacramento Public Library just finished up our Summer Reading Program and it was our most successful one ever. I serve on the team that develops Summer Reading for the entire system, including the libraries that serve SJUSD. This year we had the highest number of finishers ever, and this is huge. This means that people who signed up remained engaged, and read their 5 books to collect their fabulous prize: a free book for children and a sweet book bag for adults. We had huge numbers of finishers who read 25 books to collect a summer reading medal.
I am not alone, I am a member of an incredible team of Librarians who serve San Juan and other school districts within the City and County of Sacramento. Please call us or visit http://www.saclibrary.org/Kids/Parents-Teachers/ and ask us to visit your classroom, share our resources, engage your students with this free resource with which they may not be familiar. We are all different, offer different programs, and have different strengths. But I am very confident that they will agree with me. We have the best job ever.
Prior Featured Librarians:
With the start of a new school year, I experience such excitement about welcoming students to the library. At the same time, I am overwhelmed because I want to implement all these ideas that have been swimming in my head these past few months. New start, new ways, right? So, where to begin?
Well, the first thing is to just breathe – and then get down to work. After I tackle the necessary job of freshening up the library space, I decide what book I should read for the students’ first visit. Although it sounds like a simple task, I put a lot of pressure on myself to choose that perfect book (even when I know there are very few perfect books). I want my enthusiasm for reading to spark this same passion in every student I encounter. Some titles I’ve read in the past include: Stella Louella’s Runaway Book by Lisa Campbell Ernst; The Librarian from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler; Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen; Our Librarian Won’t Tell Us Anything by Toni Buzzeo; A Library Book for Bear by Bonnie Becker; and, My Teacher is a Monster (No I Am Not.) by Peter Brown.
While I may have enjoyed these stories, I certainly didn’t get a feeling of success in terms of discovering that perfect read aloud. Upon reflection, though, perfection is not what I should strive for – exposure is. This is the lesson I want to instill. You often read books you don’t enjoy – but that can only be figured out once you’ve opened the book and read it. I know there is a book for every child – but it’s not necessarily going to be the same book for every child. And, that’s ok (I need to keep repeating this to myself). It’s ok if not every student enjoys the book I select – just like it’s ok for each student to choose books he/she may not like either. The key is to read! The more you read, the more likely you are to find the perfect book for YOU (e.g. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech for me)! With that said, I will be reading This is a Book by Lane Smith – ever hopeful this is the year I will discover that “WOW” book!