Posted in Ask the Librarian

Ask the librarian: Kelly Mueller

What kind of librarian are you? – I’m a Youth Services Librarian.

How long have you been a librarian? – I’ve been a youth services librarian since September 2014. Before that I was an academic librarian, working in a community college. I started that job in September 2013.

What led you to wanting to be a librarian? – I wanted to be a librarian because I liked to read, I liked to find out information, and I liked recommending books to other people. After starting library school, I learned that there is a lot more to it than just that, but I am still enjoying what I do!

How do you pick books for your library? – At my library I, specifically, am in charge of ordering the audiobooks, books in Spanish, and board books, all for youth. Board books are special books for infants and toddlers that are hardier so they can put them in their mouths and turn the pages and they won’t rip or fall apart as easily. So, I read journals such as School Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly to find out about audiobooks and read reviews of them. I also check websites related to what I order that give awards for certain types of books. I also listen to a lot of audiobooks myself, and I am aware of a number of quality narrators out there. I have a handle on what checks out the most at our library. I order diversely so our patrons (people) have a wide range of options. I get suggestions from people at the library. I guess there are a lot of ways that I decide what books or audiobooks are best for my library!

Do you have a favorite author? My favorite author is Chris Crutcher. He writes books for teens. My second favorite author is Will Hobbs. He writes adventure stories for middle grades. And my favorite author when I was a child was Cynthia Rylant, probably because of the Henry & Mudge series and how much I loved dogs.

How do you decide what book to recommend to a specific kid? I ask what grade they’re in, what the last book they read that they liked, and then I have a few options. I have a list of “readalikes” – books in all kinds of categories like animal, funny fantasy, friendship, space-related, etc. – that I can use to recommend from. I can try to think of books that fit off the top of my head that I’ve read or that I know about. I also have a database called Novelist – a tool I can search by the last book they liked and see what comes up as being similar to that.

Posted in Ask the Librarian

Ask the librarian: Amelia

Name of Library Mercer County Library System

What kind of librarian are you? I am an Information Technology Librarian, but before this job I was a Reference Libraian

How long have you been a librarian? 7 years

What lead you to wanting to be a librarian? I didn’t know what I wanted to do after college and my mom suggested becoming a librarian so I looked into it and realized it was the perfect job for me.

How do you pick books for your library?  When I was selecting books for my branch, I looked to see what was popular in the library and what was trending in pop culture. I wanted stuff that I knew would be read, but also things that reflected what was going on in the world so people could also learn something new or find a new author.

Do you have a favorite author?  That’s a hard one, but one author I think is great for all age groups is Neil Gaiman. I enjoy his books and love that he just writes to write and doesn’t focus on an age group. I think adults can enjoy all his books and he’s an author that kids can grow up with and enjoy.

How do you decide what book to recommend to a specific kid?  When I was working at a smaller branch I knew a lot of the kids, so I had an idea of what they liked to read or something that interested them so I could make suggestions.  If I don’t know the kid, I want to know what they like to do, is there a sport they like to play or a video game they love. Then I find out how they feel about reading, I’m not going to recommend a big book to a kid who feels like reading is a chore, but there might be a great comic or graphic novel series they will love. There have been times when I’ve been happy to find them a magazine to flip through and see them reading an article that may be two pages long. It’s all about finding something that grabs their attention and pulls at them. Reading is reading no matter what the material. So sometimes I realize they would benefit from an audiobook over a paperback.

Posted in Ask the Librarian

Ask the Librarian: Amanda Liebl


Amanda LName of Library & Website:   Boca Raton Public Library

What kind of librarian are you? My title is “Youth Programs Director”. I run the Youth Services Department of our libraries.

How long have you been a librarian?  I have worked at our library since January 2015.

What led you to you wanting to be a librarian?  Our library is run by our city of Boca Raton. I had been working for the City of Boca Raton since 2004 running the Camp Programs. It came time for change and I had the opportunity to come work at the library. I have always loved children and I felt like coming to the library would be a great fit for me. What a special feeling to know that you are working in a field and a place where you are helping to make memories for children every day. You are growing their ability to read and growing their interests in all sorts of things. You are a part something important in our community.

How do you pick books for your library? I do not have the special job of choosing the books for our library but I do work closely with the person who does. My staff and I are able to communicate with that person and offer suggestions, as well as make requests. We are also lucky to work closely with children, tweens and teens every day, which allows us to learn what’s popular among them. We can share those popular topics and books with the staff that orders the books. We all work together to grow the best youth collection we can.

Do you have a favorite author?  I’m sure most librarians feel this is a hard question! 🙂 I enjoy authors who write in clever and funny ways for children. For me this includes Mo Wilems, Bob Shea, BJ Novak and David Horvath.

How do you decide what book to recommend to a specific kid? The first thing to do is learn from them about the other books they have really enjoyed. It’s important to know their interests, reading level and age. I love to take time with them to really explore and try a few different selections. If we are really stuck, I find the website to be very helpful.

Posted in Ask the Librarian

Ask the librarian: Kay Cuthrell


Name of Library : McIntyre Elementary School, Southfield Public Schools

What kind of librarian are you?
I am a Library Media Specialist

How long have you been a librarian?
I worked as an Intern at the Southfield Public Library in 1987 while I was going to Library School. I worked full-time from 1990-2000. I’ve worked for Southfield Public Schools as a Media Specialist since 2000.
What lead you to wanting to be a librarian?
I wanted to be a teacher and work with kids. I also LOVE reading and books, so becoming a Librarian was the combination of those two loves.
How do you pick books for your library?
I read book reviews, but I also pay attention to what the students at my school are interested in reading since I know that they’ll read more if they enjoy what they are reading.
Do you have a favorite author?
My Mom is a voratious reader and took us to the public library every week when I was growing up. I found the stash of Mom’s books, in the attic, when I was a teenager and read every one of them. My favorite, to this day, is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Our school library was even decorated as The Secret Garden for a time. My favorite contemporary author is Patricia Polacco. I can identify with many of the topics in her books. I also love that she grew up here in Michigan and has also returned to live on the west side of the state.

How do you decide what book to recommend to a specific kid?
The key is to find out what the student is actually looking to read. Students often don’t know how to explain what they want. Usually, after asking leading questions and browsing the library shelves with them, the student usually walks away with what they want (or they know what to look for at the public library if we don’t have it at school).

Posted in Ask the Librarian

Ask the librarian: Erin Durrett

Name of Library Flint Public Library,

What kind of librarian are you? I am a Digital Learning Librarian. That’s a fancy way of saying that I teach technology skills to library patrons, like how to set up a Facebook account, check out an e-book, use Microsoft Office, etc. People have different levels of skills with technology and computers, and a big part of my job is teaching them so that they feel more independent and confident using technology. I also have the privilege of holding Minecraft programs for kids and using our 3D printer for library programs.

How long have you been a librarian? I have been a Librarian for about 5 years, but have been working in libraries for about 10 years.

What lead you to wanting to be a librarian? Working in a library was my very first job in high school. I was a Page, or Shelver, and checked in and shelved library materials. That is the best way to learn the library’s collection. When I was finishing my Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology, my professor asked that we prepare an interview of someone who is doing a job or preparing for a job that we were interested in. I Interviewed my friend Anne, who at the time was getting her Masters Degree in Library Science. After graduation, I started working in another library, and the rest is history!

How do you pick books for your library? I feel very lucky to purchase graphic novels. To me, it’s one of the most fun collections to purchase. I choose some bestselling titles. Barnes & Noble has a really fantastic graphic novel blog and they post the best releases for each month. I also look at reviews in School Library Journal and Booklist, and get recommendations from library staff and patrons.

Do you have a favorite author? I have several. What comes to mind first is the YA Author, Maggie Steifvater. She has the most beautiful writing style and her magical realism seems so plausible, you don’t consider what she does as fantasy. She is a master of blending real life with the supernatural. For graphic novels, I’m a big fan of Raina Telgemeier, especially her latest book, Ghosts.

How do you decide what book to recommend to a specific kid? I ask what books they have already read that they liked. I also ask about favorite topics or genres and if they would like to read more of those types of books. It’s good to have eclectic reading taste as a librarian, so you can recommend something from every genre. I try to read over 200 books and graphic novels a year (and keep track on Goodreads), to keep up with what’s new and catch up on titles I’ve missed.

Posted in Ask the Librarian

Meet the librarian: Lisa Collins

What kind of a librarian are you?
Enthusiastic!  But, professionally speaking, I have a degree in General Librarianship  with Graduate certificates in Storytelling and Working with Children and Youth in a Library Setting.  Which means I’m any kind of librarian you need me to be.  I’ve worked as an academic librarian at a small Christian university, a reference librarian at a public library and now I’m the library director at a base library–everything to every patron.
How long have you been a librarian?
I graduated in 2009 and have been working in libraries ever since!
What led you to wanting to be a librarian?
This is a convoluted answer.  I did not grow up wanting to be one.  I wanted to be an “-ologist” geologist, archaeologist… I ended up as a biologist.  But when I got married and had kids and stayed home to raise them, it’s hard to stay up-to-date and relevant in that field.  So, as the kids got a little older and I decided I wanted to go back to graduate school, I looked through the book Careers for Dummies and saw under “working with people and information” the profession of librarian.  Things just clicked after that and I’ve been happy ever since.
How do you pick books for your library?
I use some common selection tools: Publisher’s Weekly, the New York Times Bestseller list, Kirkus reviews, and some others.  I also rely on my own reading experience, patron requests and talking with as many avid readers as possible of all ages.
Do you have a favorite author?
That’s another tough question.  I think I have favorite authors within certain genres.  I love Terry Pratchett and his Discworld series.  I also really enjoy Bill Bryson in non-science science nonfiction.  I avidly read Amanda Quick and Gaelen Foley in historical romance.  I loved Ransom Riggs’ Peculiar series in YA and I adore Mo Willems for children’s books!
How do you decide what book to recommend to a specific kid?
I talk with them.  I ask what they’ve read before, I ask what they’re interested in.  I ask if they like to try new things.  I talk about books that I’ve read and what I liked about them.  I also ask them to come back and tell me what they liked or didn’t like about the book they eventually pick out.
Librarians aren’t all books!
Posted in Ask the Librarian, Book Review

Ask the Literary Festival Director, Dylan Teut!



Twitter @dylanteut

Tell me a little about you I am currently the director of the Plum Creek Children’s Literacy Festival in Seward, NE. Prior to that, I taught first grade for several years. I also teach literacy courses to pre-service teachers at Concordia University, where the festival is based.

How did you become the director of a literary festival? I volunteered with it one year while I was a student at Concordia University. I was so inspired by the speeches from the authors and the children’s excitement, that I became heavily involved the next three years. After I graduated and moved to IL, I came back for the festival each fall. I started a mini version of it at my school in IL, and when the director of Plum Creek retired in 2015, I applied for the job to take over. I got the job and moved back to Nebraska, and couldn’t be happier.


What is easiest part? Getting up and going to work every day – it’s so easy to get up and go to a job you love at a place you love doing what you love.

What is hardest? The hardest part is winnowing down the line up each year! We are a unique festival in that we have a very small number (12-15) authors that we are able to invite each year. I have hundreds on my list who I would love to invite and I know would be such a good fit for the festival, but so many factors go into play- we try to have a balance for all ages, authors, illustrators, author/illustrators, male, female, diversity, and so much more. It’s never an easy task to find just the right line up, but we do our very best!

What do you hope comes from the festival? Children who are inspired to read, write, and draw and follow their dreams.


You have a book coming out soon. How did you become an author too? No books officially for me yet, but I may have some news to share soon. I never imagined I would become an author, or really thought I could do it. I have to give credit to Candace Fleming for getting me started- she saw something I wrote and told me it would make for a good picture book. With the help and guidance of a few other friends, I turned the text into a manuscript. From there, I got my agent, and we have just recently sent my first text out for submission! Now we wait! Stay tuned for news. 🙂

Who are your favorite children’s authors right now? This is a difficult question! There are so many individuals who I respect and admire so much. Though I’ve never met them, I would love to have a cup of coffee with Eve Bunting and Cynthia Rylant- they’ve both been so influential in the field over the years. I have great respect for Brendan Wenzel- he is a fantastic author, illustrator, and just one heck of a human being. I do look up to him, along with Ryan Higgins, Loren Long, Judy Schachner, Elizabeth Rose Stanton, Candace Fleming, Eric Rohmann, Denise Fleming, Julie Fogliano, Matthew Cordell, Evan Turk, Ben Clanton, Ben Hatke… gosh, and so many more, it would be impossible to name them all! Be sure to check out all of their books.

Any favorite children’s books? Another hard question! How about I share a few of my recent favorites- Rabbit Magic by Meg McLaren, Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell, The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet by Carmen Agra Deedy.

Friday was Multicultural Children’s Book Day. Why do you think multicultural books matter? Multicultural books matter because it’s so necessary for every child to see themselves, and know that they matter; and to see many people different from themselves, and know that they matter, too.

What advice do you have for kids? Read, write, draw, and be kind. Reading and kindness can lift you up to so many places you never would have imagined possible- and in doing so, you have the opportunity to lift others up with you.