Posted in Ask the Librarian

Ask a Librarian: Meaghan Battle

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Name:  Meaghan Battle

Name of Library (and website if it has one): Troy Public Library, Troy, MI    www.troypl.org

What kind of librarian are you? Right now, I am the Head of Youth Services at TPL.  I work with kids and their families, and supervise the staff activities in our department.  But in the past, I have been a Head of Adult Services, Branch Manager, Assistant Head of Youth Services, Youth Services Coordinator (at a library that had two buildings), Assistant Library Director, and Library Director at a small library.
How long have you been a librarian?  Twenty-four (24) years!
What lead you to wanting to be a librarian?  I have always loved books!  As a child, I read just about every book in our home (we had a LOT) and frequently flipped through our two sets of encyclopedias…World Book and Encyclopedia Americana.  I would randomly flip through and find an interesting article to read.  But then, I didn’t really realize that there was a job that would let me work with many books.

When I went to college, I needed a job to pay for things, so I applied at the college library.  The rest is history!  I fell in love with libraries, went to graduate school after college to get a Masters of Information and Library Science so that I could get a job as a librarian.  During all of those college and graduate school years, I worked at a child care center.  I figured out pretty quickly that I would be very happy combining my love of kids and books.  I am so happy I did! 
How do you pick books for your library?  TPL’s Youth Department has 17 staff members, 8 of whom participate in selecting materials for our Youth Services collection of materials.  Our Youth collection has about 100,000 items in it…books, audiobooks, magazines, DVDs, Blu-Rays, Kits, Wonder Bundles, Special Needs goodies, and so on, so we divide that collection up into mini-collections.  One Librarian selects new picture books, another new chapter books, until all areas of the collection have a selector.

We work with a company called Brodart from which we buy most of our books.  We have other vendors of other types of items too.  Brodart creates lists of new or about to be published books and emails them to us.  Each Librarian who selects items looks at the list they are sent to see which books we should add to our collection.  Brodart’s lists include all of the editorial reviews published for the books so that the Librarians have one place to find the information they need to make a decision. Editorial reviews are a few paragraphs written by a person who is an expert at reading books and telling others what they think of them. The Librarians usually try to figure out if this is something our community needs or would want.  Reading the reviews helps librarians figure out if a book is considered a good book, what it is about, who is  for and more.  Librarians also look through magazines about books and look for advertisements for Youth books that haven’t been reviewed by other people.

The Troy Public Library does have a Collection Development Policy, which is a paper that tells the staff and community why we have a collection of materials and how we will decide what to put in the Library for the public.  We use many factors when making these decisions, such as: the importance of the subject of the books, accuracy of the information, readability, quality of writing, significance to our community, etc.  I’ve attached the policy to this email, in case you are interested.

Do you have a favorite author? Oh, this is such a hard question!  I have many favorite authors, but will name the ones at the very top of the list.

As a child:  Richard Scarry.  My favorite books were Richard Scarry’s Best Storybook Ever and The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by Dubose Hayward.

As an adult: Rebecca Stead and J.D. Salinger. My favorite books are: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger, Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, and Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot.  I was lucky enough to be on the Newbery Medal Committee that awarded the prize to When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead one year! (Bridget note: that sounds super cool)
How do you decide what book to recommend to a specific kid?  Wow!  What a great question!  People who work in libraries call this Reader’s Advisory, which is just a fancy term for recommending books to people.

The other Youth Librarians and I read a lot of books for kids as they are added to our collection.  When kids ask for recommendation, we have to know a lot about books, and which ones we have.  But we also use databases and other sources to look for books to suggest too, since we can’t each read ALL the books we have.

But a book recommendation is really about the child! What do THEY like to read?  We ask several questions to find out what kind of books the kid likes (such as mysteries, funny, real facts, their approximate reading level, what was the really great book that they read.  This helps us get a full picture of what kind of book to suggest.  We then try to think of books that we know fit those factors, or at least most of them.  But as I said, we also use our online catalog to search for books on certain subjects, our Novelist K-8 Plus database to find certain types of books, and so on.   We try very hard to make sure that we are recommending something the child will love to read.  If we suggest a book or books, but the child isn’t interested in it, we keep trying to find just the right choices.  It is a lot of fun!

 

The bottom line:  I still love kids and books, and especially love making sure kids can get the books they want and need.  So I love my job.  It is perfect for me.

Bridget Special Request

As you walk into the children section of the Troy Library, there are posters of letters for children of Troy from famous people, like Dr Seuss or the first man on the moon. Meaghan said she would like to add new, more current authors. 

Dear authors & illustrators, would you like to send them a letter?

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