Posted in Ask the Librarian

Jennifer Barber

Name of Library East Clayton Elementary School @ecereads 

Media Center’s Website

What kind of librarian are you? Definitely not a traditional one..The library is the heart of the school where children feel welcomed and loved. At my school, the kids want to stop in and get a book. As they are getting new books, they are chatting with me about the ones they want me to purchase or telling me their likes and dislikes about the one they just read. As a librarian, my main goal is providing quality literature for the students to enjoy! When they visit the library, they get a book that they absolutely love so in hopes they go home or back to class to read the book! My school library is twenty-three years old and my drive is to keep it updated as much as possible with the little money that they give me! So as a librarian, I have to advocate for a place that I feel may disappear which makes me so nervous! With the updating of books and resources for not just the kids but the teachers also, my library gets the opportunity to be enjoyed and appreciated! So when kids grow up, they hopefully will know what a library is and take their kids to the library to enjoy books! When the students arrive, we have community time in which we may share some of the books that we have read, read a picture book together that deals with a concept or standard that connects with the grade level that I am working with, and the students will head into stations such virtual reality, Legos, Merge Cubes, 3D printing, green screen recording, or Apps on the ipad. All the stations are centered around the book that we are concentrated on. WHile students are working on their stations, we rotate through to check out books! 

How long have you been a librarian?  This will be my third year in the library however my 18th year in education! Prior to becoming a librarian, I taught 12 years in second grade, 2 years in third, and 1 year in 5th grade! 

What lead you to wanting to be a librarian? So this is an interesting story on how I became a librarian..I have always had a love for books as a classroom teacher, parent, and even growing up as a kid. Three years ago, our school librarian retired two weeks before school started. My principal emailed the staff on a Sunday night, letting us know that the librarian was retiring and she would begin looking for someone to fill her position. When I read the email, I asked myself..”I wonder if I could do that job?” The next morning I visited the office of the principal and the assistant principal was with her at the time. I inquired about the position and she asked me if I wanted the job. The words were YES and she turned to me and gave me the job position. I remember asking her..”Do I have an interview?” She replied, “No, if you do all the amazing lessons and get the kids to love you like you do in your regular classroom; I do not have to worry at all that I gave you that position.” My main goal is helping our youth enjoy reading. I hate that the kids think reading is homework. I couldn’t see myself heading back into the regular classroom. I love having the opportunity to work with over 700 kids weekly.

How do you pick books for your library? You shared that your library was in desperate need of updating! So my first priority is making sure that the resources match the curriculum. When I entered this position, my nonfiction collection was a 2002 collection. A priority for the collection was updating the nonfiction to have books that have current facts and books that the kids could relate to and enjoy in nonfiction. My Donors Choose Projects are fiction books and graphic novels. The kids love them and we did not have any graphic novels in the library when I became a librarian. With the help of Donors Choose, Grants, and Donations, we were able to put a whole new section in the library of graphic novels! We had a successful book fair which allowed me to purchase new picture books. Unfortunately, the library is an older library so there is constant upgrades in our books. This year throws another challenge with a budget cut in our state money. So I will have to write a few more grants to get the kids their LOVES! I also work at purchasing books that showcase ALL types of cultures, ethnic backgrounds, and topics. I want the children to have a diverse thinking and reading can help form that thinking! 

Do you have a favorite author? Oh..this is a challenging question! There are so many! For chapter books, Alan Gratz! I absolutely love historical fiction so his books have that and a wonderful message tied together! In October, he is coming to Raleigh and I am counting down the days! For picture books, my favorite would be Dan Santat. After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up) is my ultimate favorite! 

Can you suggest a new or lesser known author to check out? When I entered into this position, I started to follow a lot of authors on twitter. Ame Dyckman and Josh Funks’ books were not in my library! They are amazing! I have placed a lot of their books into the library and my teachers use their books for instruction also! 

How do you decide what book to recommend to a specific kid? Surprisingly with 700 kids, I am able to personalize in helping them find books. If a kid likes Pokemon, I show him/her the Pokemon books! After he/she is finished reading those, I might encourage a book that takes in a video game world. In my lessons, I often teach about authors and showcase all their books that we have in the library. With the centers in the library, I can take small groups and assist them in finding their book. It does help to have read a lot of books so I can chat with them about the book to know if they are interested in it. The catalog on the computer is a great help so I can type in a subject area and it will populate the books that are related to that subject. 

-If you could portal into any book, which would it be? When I was little, my mom always read me the book, Cloudy with the Chance of Meatballs. The book was way better than the movie! I would portal back into that book as a kid! 

Posted in Ask the Librarian

Susan Polos

How long have you been a librarian:

I have been a librarian for 21 years.
What kind of librarian are you?
I am a school librarian.
Why did you become a librarian?
I first thought I would be an English teacher, but I had the chance to work in libraries, and I realized that that was the work I wanted to do. I like the idea that there is something for everyone just waiting in the library.
What is one of your favorite thing about being a librarian?
My favorite thing about being a school librarian has been to know students for many years, from the time that some learned to read to the time they graduated from high school. I love facilitating book clubs in school and public libraries, too.
Book access is a big discussion right now. It can also be a challenge for librarians. As a librarian how do you get books to those who need them?
I think that it is more important to advocate for school librarians than to advocate for book access. I have seen book drives accumulate bushels of books that sit in buckets and boxes unread. It is more important to have librarians who cultivate readers and connect young people to books that will make them feel like readers. I think access to school librarians, not access to books, is the real game changer.
Many schools have libraries but no librarian. A library without a librarian is a room full of books without the professional who knows the books and the readers!!
What book have you read recently that impacted you?
I loved Front Desk by Kelly Yang and The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman
Was there a book that impacted you when you were my age (10)?
My favorite book when I was ten was The Children on the Top Floor by Noel Streatfield. I don’t know how much it impacted me, but I checked it out of the library over and over. I also loved The Boxcar Children.
Are there any new or lesser known authors/illustrators you think more people should know about?
I am serving on the Coretta Scott King Book Awards jury and I am reading lots of new authors, but I can’t talk about them now!
If you could portal into any book, which would it be?
Alice in Wonderland – because who doesn’t want to believe six impossible things before breakfast?!
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<>.

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!

Posted in Ask the Librarian

Charli Osborne

Southfield Public Library

My title is Library Coordinator – Youth Services. This means my duties include supervising the Youth Division staff, including making sure there’s enough staff to help people at the service desk, overseeing the budget for buying books and other materials for our collection, working with other divisions within the library and other departments in the city, and coordinating programs for youth. I see librarianship as a service profession and enjoy working with the public. I’ve been a librarian 21 years. I was the Head of Teen Services at the Oxford Public Library for 14 years and the Youth Services Librarian at Oak Park Public Library for 4 years before coming to the Southfield Library.

When I was little I always wanted to be a librarian because I loved learning and the best place to do that was our public library. But, I knew it was out of our reach financially. No one in my family had even gone to college, let alone enough college for a Master’s degree. I worked in my middle school and high school libraries as a page, and then put the dream away. I was working at contractor for Ford, doing computer programming, when I finally had saved up enough to go to library school. I started in public libraries and youth services right after graduation.

Choosing books is one of the really enjoyable parts of my job. I read reviews and talk to other librarians for recommendations. I also speak with kids and their parents to find out what they would like in our library.

My favorite author is Stephen King. I started reading his books when I was about 10.

One lesser known author I really like is YA author Tamora Pierce. She writes fiercely independent female characters and her world building is exquisite. There’s always plenty of action, intrigue and magic in a Tamora Pierce book.

When recommending books to anyone, I always begin by asking, “What is the last book you liked?” and “What did you like about that book?” That’s a good jumping off point. From that, I can get an idea of the types of books the person may enjoy reading.

If I could live in a book, I would choose Watership Down.

Posted in Ask the Librarian

Ask the Librarian: Christina Jane Stuck


My name is Christina Jane Stuck.

I work at the Charlotte Community Library in Charlotte, MI. Our website is

I’m a Youth Services Librarian, so I work for and with kids, teens, and families.

I’ve been a librarian for 10 years.

My undergrad degree is in something called Sociology. It’s the study of society with the aim to help improve it. I worked part-time at a public library while getting my undergrad and it dawned on me that a librarian’s goal is to help people improve their lives. So I decided to pursue being a full-time public librarian.

There are a number of ways I pick books for my library! The first is based on recommendations from kids and families. I also follow a huge amount of book lovers on social media, so they help keep me up-to-date with more (potentially) popular titles. But I also use book review magazines.

My favorite chapter book author is Shannon Hale. There is nothing she has written that I haven’t loved. She’s so funny! I also love Dav Pilkey. Captain Underpants is 100 % awesome.

A few lesser known authors: I love April Pulley Sayre! She does picture books of nature and her photographs are amazing. I also like Natalie Llyod and Shelia Turnage who both write chapter books.

It’s hard to recommend books without knowing what books a kid has read in the past. My first question is always: “What book did you remember last reading?” Then I ask what he remembers liking (or not liking, which is equally important!) from the book. Those answers help to clue me in to some other books he may like.

Posted in Ask the Librarian

Ask the librarian: Nicole Lane


Name of Library (and website if it has one): Dearborn Public Library, specifically the Henry Ford Centennial Library (we have three locations).

What kind of librarian are you?

I’m an Adult Services Librarian. That means I generally work with Adults, though certainly not limited. Each librarian in my department has a lot of varied responsibilities and we try to have one back up librarian in the event someone is hit by a bus, or just absent.

The collection that I purchase for is FICTION (very exciting) and this includes our genre fiction as well (Mystery & Science Fiction/Fantasy). I also purchase and manage our book club kits. Each kit includes ten copies of the title, discussion questions and background information about the book for groups to discuss.

When I’m not on the reference desk or managing the collection, I have no problem keeping busy. I supervise our Pages (bookshelvers). I also sit on two committees: Social Media & Marketing. A few days in the week, I tweet from our library account and this is how I found you! There are a lot of small details to the day-to-day of being a librarian that I really enjoy because each day is unique, and I am constantly learning. Learning is truly forever.

How long have you been a librarian?

I have been a librarian for eight years, and only two of those have been in Dearborn.

What lead you to wanting to be a librarian?

I think I always wanted to be a librarian, though for a while I thought it was reserved for someone much smarter than me. It took working with a few really great librarians to realize that they have the tools to research and find information without having to be walking encyclopedias. They also encouraged me to go to library school.

How do you pick books for your library?

I follow book reviewers (like yourself!) and plenty of publications such as Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, Foreword Reviews, Kirkus and Lithub(online). I also generally purchase items that patrons place a suggestion for through our website. Besides new releases, I try to replace worn items in our collection and might order more copies if there are a lot of requests, or the book was recently made into a movie.

Do you have a favorite author?

So many! There’s no way I could pick one. A few off the top of my head are Toni Morrison, Rebecca Solnit, Louise Erdrich, Marilynne Robinson and Adrienne Rich, all of whom I didn’t read until I was in college. When I was around your age, I was obsessed with The Chronicles of Narnia, Matilda, Peter Pan and Harriet the Spy. The cool thing for you is kid lit is now a powerhouse and there are more writers than ever that are publishing across reading levels.  

How do you decide what book to recommend to a specific kid?

Such a good question, often I leave the professionals (our youth librarians) to recommend books for kids, so I’ll refer them to our children’s desk. If I can tell the kid is looking for something at a higher reader level, I start by asking them to tell me about the last good book they read and why they enjoyed it. There are a few elements that I try to listen for: Story, Character, Setting, and Language. A well-known librarian named Nancy Pearl who has written a lot about reader’s advisory calls these, “The Four Doors”. If you’re not already familiar with this, you might find it interesting as a book reviewer.

Posted in Ask the Librarian

Ask the librarian: Rachel R. Newbury

Name of Library: Carlson Library, Clarion University of Pennsylvania

What kind of librarian are you?:My position is Serials & Electronic Access Librarian at an academic library. This means I am responsible for the journals and magazines we subscribe to and I also make sure patrons can access our electronic journals and the information about what we have is accessible.

How long have you been a librarian?: I finished my Masters of Library Science in Summer of 2012, started my first librarian job Summer of 2013.

What lead you to wanting to be a librarian?: I have a degree in English and have always enjoyed reading and writing and analyzing literature. I attended an information session at IUPUI in Indianapolis, Indiana and the description of librarian work as “helping connect people with information” sounded like this would be a good fit for me.

How do you pick books for your library?: Most of the books I select are specifically for university departments, sometimes for new programs. I spend time looking at lists of recommended titles from vendors, and also Publisher’s Weekly and other selection magazines. Sometimes a book title seems interesting to me so I will read the description to determine if the book might be a good fit for our library. I also pay attention to new and emerging topics in the academic departments I select for and try to find books that speak to these topics so students and faculty can stay up to date in their fields.

Do you have a favorite author?:This is a hard question! I think my current favorites are Victoria (V.E.) Schwab and Leigh Bardugo. I have also loved C.S. Lewis since I was a kid.

How do you decide what book to recommend to a specific kid?: I always ask if there is a topic or subject they are very interested in right now, and I also like to ask if they have a favorite book or one they have read many times. Then I can recommend something similar, or ask if they might be interested in something very different.