Posted in Ask the Librarian

Kim Campbell

My name is Kim Campbell and I work at the South Portland Public Library in South Portland, Maine.  You can learn a lot about us at www.SouthPortlandLibrary.com<http://www.SouthPortlandLibrary.com>.

I am a Children’s Librarian and Head of Youth Services for both of our locations.  We are lucky to have 2 public libraries in South Portland!

Hmmm…how long have I been a librarian?  I started volunteering at our Branch Library in 2002, I believe.  Not too long after that, I became a sub.  Over time I got a 10 hour, and then 20 hour, position.  It was probably around 2010 that I began a full-time job at the library.  It was in 2012, I believe, that I was promoted to Head of Youth Services.  That is kind of a long answer to a short question, but I like to share that I started out as a volunteer and slowly made my way to my position now without even realizing all this would happen!  You never know what doors are going to open!  All of this led to my wanting to be a librarian!  I have a degree in Elementary Education and always wanted to be a teacher.  Interestingly, that didn’t pan out (I love teachers!), but, as a Children’s Librarian, I still get to work with children and “teach” in other ways.  I am currently taking graduate study classes for my Masters in Library Science!  It continues to be an interesting and super fun ride!

I am lucky to work with a team of two other women who help with everything and add so much to our library’s collection development.  We look to a variety of sources for deciding what to add to the collection – reviews, books we read on our own, bookstores, other colleagues, patrons (which is such a cool and important way to help develop our collection!), and we have the beautiful gift of getting a boat load of books (board books through teen books!) from Kirkus Reviews Children’s Editor, Vicky Smith!  We feel like the luckiest people in the world!

Picking a favorite author is super challenging for me!  I love picture books and some of my favorite authors of them (there are SO many that I love) are Deborah Freedom, Naoko Stoop, and Elly MacKay.

Check out the debut author-illustrator team of Elizabeth Stevens Omlor and Neesha Hudson with their picture book, Walk Your Dog!

I have wanted to bring in KidLit authors and illustrators for quite some time.  Julie Falatko, author of Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book!), Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever! (Probably), and Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School, has been an enormous help connecting me with many people in the KidLit world.  She has been an SPPL patron for many years and has had 3 book launch events at our library!  Beginning with the release of her first book, Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book!), she has helped set a foundation for SPPL to be a super fun venue for KidLit authors and illustrators!  (We have cool authors from the adult world at our library, too!)  Since Julie’s first event, we have had other interested creators reach out to us and I’ve also reached out to some.  We are very lucky to have many talented authors and illustrators in Maine and I love to support debut authors and illustrators.

Some deciding factors of who we bring in to our library are interest of their work to our community (which is really most creators!), cost, and schedules.  And the Number One reason I love having authors and illustrators at our library is the connections our community gets to make with them!

Recommending books to children is very individual, as I’m sure you know.  I do often recommend something that I love that I think would be good for most any reader.  Of course, they decide if it’s something they want to try or not.  If I don’t already know the child’s reading taste, I’ll usually ask what kind of book they like to read and/or the last book they last read. If they don’t have an answer, that is when I usually jump in with a book I’ve loved or someone else has recommended – be it a colleague or patron.

I would love to jump inside so many books!  The book I often think of wanting to be in is A Story for Bear by Dennis Haseley and Jim LaMarche.  I highly suggest this picture book to people of ALL ages.

I hope I’ve answered all of your questions!  Please let me know if I can clarify or add to anything.  The attached photo is of me this Summer at Books of Wonder in NYC for my first time!  So exciting!!!  Thank you so much for reaching out to me!  I am enjoying your blog and love your mission!  Kids perspectives are the most important!

Happy Reading!