Posted in Book Review

Ask the librarian: Susan Farnum

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Name of Library: Forest Park Public Library http://www.fppl.org

What kind of librarian are you: I’m a children’s librarian and the head of the Youth Services department here. We work with babies through teens (up to 18 years-old).

What lead you to wanting to be a librarian? I was a kid, I wanted to be an author or run a bookstore. I always admired the librarians I knew, but it didn’t occur to me I could be a librarian myself until I worked at my college library as a student worker. The librarians there were very encouraging of us to go to library school and I know of at least two of us who did and are now librarians.

How do you pick books for your library? The other librarians and staff members in my department work with me to select books. We all have different ages and areas we specialize in. We use a combination of things to find just the right books for our colection. Award and recommended lists, magazines, and book blogs help, but we also have to do a lot of talking and listening (and observing) with the readers in our community to know what they like and are looking for. Those are the people that depend upon us the most, so we want to make sure we represent them well!

Do you have a favorite author? So many! Because I work with so many ages I read for all different ages and my favorites change all the time. Right now it’s Herve Tullet, Ezra Jack Keats, Jarrett Krosoczka, Matt de la Pena, and Tao Nyeu (picture books), Jonathan Stroud, Jennifer Holm, and Rebecca Stead (middle grade), Raina Telgemeier, Jarrett K (again), and Doug TenNapel (graphic novels), Scott Westerfeld, Rainbow Rowell, Sharon Draper, Holly Black (teen/YA)

How do you decide what book to recommend to a specific kid? I learned this in library school and it’s still one of my favorite questions to start out with: “What’s the last book that you read that you really enjoyed?” I ask my other follow up questions based on that. Even if I’m talking to a parent and kid who are there because they have to pick out a book for a specific assignment or in a certain reading level range this can be a very important question. I feel there’s so much out there that in most cases, there’s really no reason someone has to read a book they don’t like, even for an assignment. Most cases the teacher has a topic and allows for the kid to choose the title–and that’s where we can come in to make it the best fit for them. Librarians call this Readers’ Advisory, but it can feel a little like a game sometimes, and I think that’s why so many librarians love that part of their job.

Posted in Book Review

Ask a librarian: Jen Pace Dickenson

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Name of library: Polk County Public Library  http://polklibrary.org/

What kind of librarian are you? Youth Services Librarian

How long have you been a librarian? 3.5 years

Why did you become a librarian? I have always loved books and libraries and was considering going back to get my teaching certification in my late 20s. After going to Korea to teach English, I decided I did not like teaching! I was reading The American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld (which is a fictional account of Laura Bush’s life, who was a librarian) when I had the epiphany that being a librarian would be the perfect career for me! I researched masters degree programs, applied and got accepted, and got my MLIS in December 2013. I started working here before I finished my degree in April 2013.

How do you pick books for your library? I read lots of library journals and subscribe to many book lists. I choose books based on these reviews as well as requests from library patrons.

Do you have a favorite author? I have so many favorite authors… Ruth Ware, Liane Moriarty, Jodi Picoult, Jon Krakauer, Sherman Alexie, Curtis Sittenfeld, Kimberly McCreight, Mary Kubica, Khaled Hosseini, Jeanette Walls, and Kiera Cass to name a few.

How do you pick a book for a specific kid? When recommending books I try to find out about the person’s interests and other books they have liked, and then make suggestions based on books I have read or heard about from other people/reviews. Occasionally I will ask other librarians for assistance if it’s not a book genre I am very familiar with or if they have a super specific request.

Posted in Ask the Librarian

Ask the librarian: Barbara Flynn

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Name of library: Norwin Public Library www.norwinpubliclibrary.org

What kind of librarian are you? CHILDREN’S LIBRARIAN

How long have you been a librarian? 14 years

What lead you to wanting to be a librarian? I’ve ALWAYS been a reader. Books, magazines, cereal boxes! I took a part time job at the local library (which is also the library in the town where I grew up!) when my youngest son started school. Soon thereafter, the library was moving to a new building and location (so exciting!!!) and the Children’s Librarian decided to retire. At that time, I was doing one story-time a week. They asked me to fill in, so ..here I am. I decided after a brief time to finish my college degree and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Library and Information Studies. This job is totally ME–I can be silly and I get to talk to kids and families and learn about books. Reading has always been a huge part of my life and now, it’s my work, too.

How do you pick books for your library? I read reviews. I ask kids about new series, my own kids are grown so sometimes I need to hear from kids what they have heard about or want to read! I check out Barnes & Noble and Amazon for upcoming titles to be released. I see them in bookstores. I also need to know what my collection is lacking. Just last week, a girl asked me for a book on Eskimos. I told her she taught me something. She taught me I DIDN’T HAVE ONE. EEK! So, I just bought 2 books about Eskimos.

Do you have a favorite author? Kids author? I love the wacky thoughts of Amy Krouse Rosenthal. (And I’ve actually been able to have a TINY part in some of her work!) I also enjoy Margaret Petersen Haddix. The Shadow Children series was amazing.

How do you decide what book to recommend to a specific kid? I ask them to tell me something that they have read that they LIKED and something they DID NOT like. I take into consideration how old they are. Sometimes the kids are shy so Mom gives me clues, like she really likes adventure stories or he plays basketball. That helps a lot. I have favorite books that I always try to share.

Can I tell you some of my favorites? I adored THE SHADOW CHILDREN series by Haddix and the INKHEART trilogy by Funke. (Maybe I liked INKHEART a wee bit better than Harry Potter, even!) For picture books, I adore LITTLE PEA by Rosenthal and ARE YOU A HORSE? by Rash. I bet I have read each of them a few hundred times. Picture books are my favorite. Then fiction. Then non-fiction.

Posted in Ask the Librarian

Ask the librarian: Ami Jones

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Name of Library: Alamogordo Public Library

What kind of librarian are you? Youth Services, which means I do everything for newborns on up to college kids.

How long have you been a librarian? About ten years now.

What led you to wanting to be a librarian? I was a public school teacher for ten years, and while I loved my students, I was getting frustrated by all the things that keep teachers from actually being able to teach these days. When this position opened, I jumped at it. Now I get to do all my favorite parts of teaching!

How do you pick books for your library? I look at several blogs every day, I go through catalogs, and I continually evaluate my collection to see what is out of date, or what is popular and need to be expanded. I also keep a book request box with easy forms on my desk, so kids can tell me what they want to see more of – those go to the top of the ordering pile!

Do you have a favorite author? Sooooo many now, but when I was growing up it was Madeleine L’Engle and Bruce Coville.

How do you decide what book to recommend to a specific kid? If they are new to me, I ask them what they have read recently that they really liked, and go from there. I feel really good when I know a child well enough that, when a book comes in, I immediately think, “so and so would love this!”

Posted in Ask the Librarian

Ask the librarian: Silence Bourn

This librarian wins my new award for Best Librarian Name Ever!

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Name of Library – Seminole County Public Library
http://www.seminolecountyfl.gov/departments-services/leisure-services/seminole-county-library/

What kind of librarian are you? I am a Youth Services Librarian. I do everything from reference and collection development, to storytimes and programs for ages 3-18.

How long have you been a librarian? 5 years

What lead you to wanting to be a librarian? I feel like this job picked me, rather than the other way around. Many people told me I would make a great librarian, and I eventually looked into it. Turns out, it’s the best job ever! I feel really lucky.

How do you pick books for your library? We have what is called “a collection development policy” that we follow. It lays out the criteria we use to select books. I also read professional reviews, advanced copies of books, and speak with my community to help me pick books for all.

Do you have a favorite author? I have a lot of favorites, but if I could only save one series, it would be Harry Potter, by JK Rowling.

How do you decide what book to recommend to a specific kid? I think it’s is really important to ask them what they are interested and work together to find books that they specifically want to read. I also ask them to comeback and tell me how they liked what welcomed together, good or bad. This way I can help them even more next time.

Posted in Ask the Librarian

Ask the librarian: Alesha Lackey

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Name of Library: Charlotte Mecklenburg Library http://www.cmlibrary.org

What kind of librarian are you?  I’m a children’s librarian.

How long have you been a librarian?  I have been a librarian for 5 ½ years, but I’ve only worked for Charlotte Mecklenburg Library for a year and a half.

What lead you to wanting to be a librarian?  I love learning new things. Gathering new information and sharing it with friends, family, and coworkers is fun for me and learning and sharing new information with others is a big part of my job. I also enjoy reading so having access to so many great books is like an added bonus!

How do you pick books for your library?  Unfortunately, book selection is not a part of my job.

Do you have a favorite author?  There are way too many great authors to choose just one favorite, but my favorite picture book is Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and my favorite standalone chapter book for kids is Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. My favorite juvenile novel series is The Gaither Sisters (One Crazy Summer, P.S. Be Eleven, and Gone Crazy in Alabama) by Rita Williams-Garcia.

How do you decide what book to recommend to a specific kid?  I try to read a lot of different types of books about different subjects, that way, when I recommend a book, I can tell a child why I liked it. I prefer recommending books that I’ve actually read. I always like to ask children about their interests, what they’ve already read (and enjoyed) as well as if they’re looking for books for specific assignment or project, or if they’re looking for books to read for fun.

Posted in Ask the Librarian

Ask the librarian: Mike Golczynski

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Library: Ionia Community Library (www.ioniacommunitylibrary.org)

What kind of librarian are you? I am a Youth Services Librarian. I handle all kids matter from books to programming for all children babies through 12 years old.

How did you become a librarian? I honestly just sort of fell into it! I went to college and became a certified elementary school teacher. I couldn’t find a job. A friend of mine was working as a desk clerk at my library and encouraged me to apply for the job. I’ve always had a gift for reading aloud to children. I’ve always enjoyed talking to children and listening to the many stories they bring with them on a daily basis. I suppose this is the job I’ve always been meant to do. I love it!

How do you pick the books for your library? I pick books for the library based on current popular trends like diary style books, comics, easy readers, beloved franchises, etc…I also have to work within a small budget. We are a small library and I have to do the ordering for all the children’s books. Picture books, non-fiction, magazines, chapter fiction. You name it, I order it. I try to mix and match between easy reading, fun books and more complex fare that will challenge the exceptional readers.

Do you have a favorite author? When I was a kid, I would have told you that my favorite author was Louis Sachar because I read Sideways Stories from Wayside School too many times to count. Today, I’m a huge fan of Mac Barnett. His books like Sam and Dave Dig a Hole are both hilarious and thought-provoking. His collaboration with Jory John in The Terrible Two is my favorite new fiction from the past few years. I have never had a kid read that book and bring it back disappointed. It’s turned into quite the hot ticket around here!

How do you pick a book for a specific kid? I talk to them about what they like. I try and get them to throw the term “reading level” out the window and encourage them to read for fun. If they tell me the like dragons, we get fantasy. If they like to laugh, we pull Andy Griffith or Mac Barnett off the shelf. And so on. Each kid is different so I try to read from a very diverse array of genres.