Name: Ashley Lehman
Name of Library (and website if it has one): Ferndale Area District Library / ferndalepubliclibrary.org
What kind of librarian are you? I am a children’s librarian. My title is Head of Youth Services; I am in charge of all things pertaining to children ages 0-18. I work with one other children’s librarian as well as a teen librarian.
How long have you been a librarian? I graduated form Wayne State University in May of 2013 with my Masters in Library and Information Science. I had two part time librarian positions before I graduated, so just over 3 years.
What lead you to wanting to be a librarian? I didn’t decide that I wanted to work in libraries until I was 28. After I graduated from Michigan State University, I spent some time working at a Daycare/ Preschool as well as nannying for a family with two small children for 7 years. Although I knew I wanted to work with kids, I knew I didn’t particularly want to be a teacher, but rather something that would involve being creative, and enriching the lives of young kids. I had an “AHA!” moment while I was at a storytime with the kids I nannied for; I was watching the youth librarian and thought, “Hey, I could totally do this for the rest of my life, and I think I would be pretty good at it!”, and the rest is history.
How do you pick books for your library? I select picture books, middle grade fiction as well as graphic novels. I will first use professional reviews like School Library Journal and Kirkus to make initial decisions. I also use reviews from non professional sites to get a gauge on how popular or how the general public is receiving the book; I use sites like Amazon and Good Reads for this. I also get suggestions from patrons for books that they want to be in our collection.
Do you have a favorite author? Picking a favorite author is like picking a favorite food! I want to talk about EVERYTHING I like! I will give you a few. My favorite classic author is Maurice Sendak. His books and illustrations will always remind me of being a kid. My favorite new author/illustrator is Peter Brown. I saw him speak at a conference and it was so cool. He also talked about how he illustrates his books, and that was the most interesting to me. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is amazing! Finally, my favorite local author is Lisa Wheeler. Her books are the best to read aloud, even if they are fun tongue twisters!
How do you decide what book to recommend to a specific kid? I always have to find out what they like to read about first. I ask them what they are interested in, what they like to read about, and their last favorite book. Sometimes kids don’t know what to say, so I sometimes have to ask them everything they did last week to get a sense of who they are!