Welcome to Library Lions interviews. Raising a Roar for Libraries

Welcome to Library Lions interviews. Raising a Roar for Libraries

Monday, December 13, 2010


Welcome to the last Library Lions interview of 2010. Please Roar today’s guest, Darcy Brixey. Known for her strong passion for intellectual freedom, Darcy is a perfect fit for LL last 2010 Roar!

Darcy has been a Teen Librarian for over 9 years. She's currently Teen Librarian at Bellevue Library, Bellevue WA.

The Skinny
Believe it or not, I took a long path to admitting I was a librarian at heart. I was always that kid reading under the covers with a flashlight long after my parents thought I was asleep. I burned through a lot of flashlight batteries in those days.
When I graduated from high school I started a nursing school, then went to EMT school.

I was still denial, until I got a job working at my local library. It was a true breath of fresh air and I found myself working with the most intelligent and talented people I had ever known.

I learned that my quirks, such as constantly rearranging my book shelves, and the need to look up trivial bits of information, were not quirks at all; they were the marks of a fledgling librarian.

Library Laughs
There are so many funny things that happen in this job. Some can't be printed, and others are recurring themes.

I love the kinds of questions we get. We've been asked to provide maps of uncharted islands, photographs of Columbus, and to calculate what hamster years are in comparison to dog and human years.

My true geekiness shows when I do database demos. I love to show teens how to use the library from home, at 3 am, while wearing their bunny slippers.

More geekiness -- When I was still a kid, Tipper Gore and the Washington Wives started the Parents Music Resource Center and forced the record industry to start labeling music with a parental warning against explicit lyrics. Even as a fourth grader I knew I had strong feelings about having the right to free speech. I just didn’t know there was a term for it: intellectual freedom.

A Lion’s Pride of Programs
Teen Writers
Last summer I held a poetry and teen fiction contest. The winners received gift cards and their written works were printed in the Bellevue Reporter. I really enjoy supporting young writers. It was also nice to partner with the local paper to get these kids some recognition for their talent.

The Poster Project
I launched the Poster Project with local celebrities and young readers using ALA graphics software. As part of the Poster Project, I’ve met with city council members, newscasters, rock stars, authors and athletes.

Here’s the poster Darcy did of the readergirlz founding divas

Pictured: Justina Chen, Lorie Ann Grover, Dia Calhoun, Janet Lee Carey
Note from Janet -- Thanks for the beautiful poster of us, Darcy!

Author! Author!
I've been extremely lucky and have hosted some of the nicest authors around. They have given great workshops and spoken to kids in schools. I think any author that comes prepared to talk to audiences that may or may not know how to respond or ask appropriate questions. Some of my favorite visits have been with authors who are able to joke with the kids but also treat each audience member’s question with respect.

Author Mitali Perkins gave a terrific writing workshop

Mitali's book Bamboo People was Junior Library Guild Selection Summer 2010 Indie Next Pick ★ Publishers Weekly
★ School Library Journal

I love connecting readers to books, but my favorite thing is connecting readers and authors. I have a very supportive Friends group which has provided the means to author visits in the schools.

Poet Erik Korhel author of My Tooth Fell in my Soup and other poems gave a poetry workshop

Readers Roar
One middle school girl was so excited to meet an author. She told me she didn't think she would ever meet a "real live author."

Book Brag What three books are hot this year? Why?
Anything Manga. The kids just can't get enough. I’m seeing a new crowd of kids in my graphic novels section.

Mockingjay is still flying off the shelves. Adults have picked it up as well. I love it when parents read with their kids. I think most of the joy of reading books is talking about them with others. It is a true testament to the excellence of teen literature that parents also enjoy these books.

Scorch Trials, the sequel to Maze Runner has been popular with my teens.

Library Lion’s Roar: ONE LAST BIG ROAR
Our system recently designed a purchased a van and filled it with Mac computers. This Digital Discovery Zone will be showing up at teen centers and schools in my area. I can’t wait!

Thank you Darcy for your terrific interview!

Find out more about our great King County Library System on Facebook:

Love Libraries? Give a Roar in “Comments” below.

Note to Librarians:
If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Contact Janet at jlcarey@hotmail.com for an interview slot.

See you back here where we will Roar for Libraries again in 2011!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Special Edition Teen Read Week

Welcome to Library Lions special edition celebrating TEEN READ WEEK.
What are you doing for TRW?

TRW poster by YA Author Holly Cupala

Library Lions Gives a Roar for YALSA (the Young Adult Library Services Association)

What YALSA says about TEEN READ WEEK
“Teen Read Week is an initiative of the YALSA. Teen Read Week started in 1998. This year's theme is Books with Beat @ your library®. YALSA encourages teens to read poetry, audiobooks, books about music, and more. Libraries across the world celebrate Teen Read Week with a variety of special events and programs”
Hear Author Nikki Grimes.

More ways Library Lions can celebrate:

1. Free a book from the Library shelf, crack open the pages like wings.

Try some of my favorites

by Justina Chen

by Holly Cupala

by Mitali Perkins

Celebrate the Beat with a Teen Novel in Verse

by Lorie Ann Grover

A Teen Fantasy

by Dia Calhoun

2. No matter what your reading taste -- free your inner teen and read an excellent Teen book. This week I’m reading Laini Taylor’s LIPS TOUCH THREE TIMES.

Laini's three tales are funny, scary, and delicious! By the way tonight (Oct 20th) Laini Taylor will join readergirlz for a live chat on Twitter. Come meet her and chat about her book.

3. Read In Public
Read on the subway, bus, in the park, in the grocery store line . . . everywhere.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Welcome to Library Lions BANNED BOOKS WEEK Special Edition! Please Roar today’s guest Lynn Miller, Teen Librarian at The Seattle Public Library, Ballard Branch.

First a bit about our Guest:
Lynn has worked 10 years as a Teen Services Librarian. She says, I am the luckiest librarian because of my colleagues at Ballard Branch. We work in concert to serve 1000- 1500 patrons a day at the busiest branch library in Seattle. Serving a teen well means being sure you already served them as children, serving their parents, serving their teachers, schools and community, and being prepared to continue to serve them as adults.

Tell us about Banned Books Week:
Every year in September libraries and book stores have the unique opportunity to remind their patrons of how precious their 1st Amendment right is by celebrating Banned Books Week and the Freedom to Read.

It is a time to feature Big Ideas, stir up conversation, even controversy. When each person stops to think about it he or she has a unique idea of what the 1st Amendment means.

American Library Association is a professional library organization that established and supports Banned Books Week in lots of ways.

If you are asking yourself “What is Banned Books Week?” Check out this Banned Books Week ALA page

Or take a look at the Banned and Challenged List for 2009-2010

What is your library doing for Banned Books Week?


We always do displays at the front of the library. But these are not passive displays!

Do your homework and be prepared for discussion. In some states or in some library settings, a Freedom to Read display might in itself be questioned or censored.

A display can be as simple as a collection of banned and challenged titles with custom Post-it notes on them, such as, “What would you do if someone said you couldn’t read this book?” (There is a Glue Stick product that can turn any piece of paper into a Post-It note.)

A few years ago, a librarian took some poor condition gift books that would have been recycled and altered them for a display that has turned out to be the biggest conversation starter imaginable. He put a copy of Harry Potter in a jar; he bolted them, locked them up, etc. This has stopped our library patrons in their tracks.

Book-It Program Danger: Books!
Finally, for over ten years Seattle Public Library (with funding from the SPL Foundation) has collaborated with Book-It Repertory Theatre and Seattle Schools to bring Book-It's show Danger: Books! to about twenty Seattle middle and high schools.

This year Book-It performed selections from On the Devil’s Court by Carl Deuker, Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes and The Land by Mildred Taylor at Salmon Bay School, my neighborhood school.

Following the performance 250 7th & 8th graders discuss censorship and the 1st Amendment. Each year after the discussion ends, I am re-inspired by these young minds and am proud to be a Teen Services librarian.

Any Banned Books you would like to highlight?
Geography Club by Brent Hartinger is a title that appears on the most recent list of Challenged and Banned books. Very well-told story. And scary. And powerful. We have countless books on our shelves of heterosexual romance among teenagers. But this story crosses the line and tells a different kind of story, equally real.

I mention it because I am proud of the West Bend Community Memorial Library, West Bend, Wisconsin for retaining it despite a month’s long campaign to remove. Both sides exercised their 1st Amendment rights. This is how the discussion should take place in a community. Fortunately, the book was retained and readers were able to then choose to read it or not read it and decide for themselves.

What can Library Lions blog readers do for Banned Books Week?
How to celebrate Banned Books Week?
For myself, I try to read and understand a little more each year about the issues of censorship. Intellectual Freedom is central to our work. As you get sensitized to the subject, one reads the news with an eye to how infringements on the Freedom of Speech and Freedom to Read play a bigger role in our life than we might at first think.

I also make a point to read a challenged or banned book each year. There are so many to choose from! Most amazingly great literature.

For a Library? Make a display of banned and challenged books or create a booklist. If you have time and support for programming: invite community members to read Banned and Challenged books or organize a discussion led by your local chapter of the ACLU.

Readers Roar:
Middle school and high school students are at a wonderful age to think about and appreciate their rights. Their first question is “That was banned?” Followed by “How can a book be banned with the Internet?”

Pretty soon they understand that our 1st Amendment allows us to challenge books and also protect books from being banned. Rights get complicated very quickly. They love speculating about the subject of censorship!

"After Danger: Books! performed at Salmon Bay School this week a 7th grader from the school came into the library. He recognized me from the morning and thanked me for the presentation. Then said: “I think I would like to read On the Devil’s Court.”

I love connecting young people with books they might like to read. Whatever it takes.

Here’s a way to connect Library Lions Blog readers, try the Push to Talk
The SPL Teen Blog
Seattle Public Library Facebook

Thank you, Lynn, for the Special Edition for Banned Books Week!

Love Libraries? Give a Roar in “Comments” below.

Note to Librarians: If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Contact Janet at janetleecarey@hotmail.com for an interview slot.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Shauna Yusko Evergreen Jr. High Library

Welcome to Library Lions interviews Raising a Roar for Libraries and for the outstanding Librarians serving Children and Young Adults in Schools and Public Libraries across the U.S. Please Roar today’s guest Shauna Yusko

Shauna is a youth librarian at Evergreen Junior High Library in Washington

When I asked her how long she’s been a librarian her answer:
Forever :)No seriously,12 years. 5 in public libraries, which I loved;7 in school libraries,which I love more(summers off ROCK!)Shauna’s currently on YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults committee (2011),she’s won a national Best Buy TEACH Award (A LL Roar of congratulations for the award, Shauna!).
She also added she used to coach a middle school speech team and LOVED IT.

The Skinny:
I originally wanted to be a science teacher (probably high school chemistry). When it was time to get the teaching degree however,I was pregnant with my first child and did not relish the thought of student teaching while pregnant. So I was looking for something else to do. My husband, who’s aunt was a librarian, suggested library school. And that’s actually kind of funny coming from a man who never reads.But I realized that I’ve always loved to read (almost like an addiction) and being a librarian would give me a chance to work with students on all subjects, not just one. And since I can’t be Indiana Jones, this is the next best job!

Library Laughs:
Wow, I have to pick one? Hmmm…you probably do not want to hear about the time the preschooler vomited all over storytime. And when you work with teenagers in junior high/middle school, there are MANY hilarious stories to choose from. I should probably pick a story where I don’t have to change names to protect the guilty. Okay, one that definitely stands out is the time that I put up the Twilight READ poster featuring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. I had a group of 9th grade girls in the library at lunch standing near the poster, pointing, ooh-ing and aah-ing. There was quite a bit of girl giggling too. The best part is, the girls would send one of their group out to find other friends in the lunchroom so they could come ogle the poster as well. So funny to watch, I wish I had taken a picture, or even video. The best part? It went on for days.

Now,if only they realized that the Sherlock Holmes READ poster (starring Jude Law and Robert Downey, Jr.)

Or the Orlando Bloom READ poster were much more worthy of their staring…

A Lion’s Pride of Programs:
I absolutely have a favorite library program:Not Just Reading & Writing.This program allows our 7th grade Tech I classes to tie their learning of technology skills into the Language Arts curriculum. The project culminates with them writing, illustrating, and publishing a children’s picture book of their own design. Completed picture books are also turned into an audiobook, narrated by the students.(Some books are also translated into Spanish by EJH students)When the final books are published, 7th graders invite kindergartners from the neighboring elementary schools to visit the junior high library for a field trip to hear the stories read aloud.

It might be considered crazy by some to have 75 kindergartners and 75 7th graders in the library at one time, but we call it organized chaos… and GREAT FUN! So much fun that we do it each semester. Maybe that makes us crazy? I’m not sure who has more fun though, the kindergartners or the older kids.

Reaching Readers:
Since I work in a school, I have a slightly captive audience. Just like a lot of librarians, I try and reach readers any way I can…having new books on hand, displaying books, talking with students whenever I can about what they are reading, soliciting book reviews, having contests, promoting new books, etc.
I inherited an old library in an old building,so trying to make the collection up-to-date and the library seem inviting and welcoming has been a big key (it is amazing what paint and posters will do to change the look of the library).

Collaborating with teachers is a big key for me in order to get students in the door, as are making the library a place to want to come and hang out (now, if only they would stop playing tag in the stacks).

I have also started a library blog and a Facebook page to reach readers in new ways!

Readers Roar:
“Thank you so much for your patience and helping me find great books! I have enjoyed every one!”—Juliana, Grade 9

“Thank you so much for letting me read all the advance copies. I am always looking for more books to read.”—Gretchen, Grade 8

“This is the best library EVER!”—John, Grade 7

“Thank you so much for letting me read my book at Dickinson Elementary. I appreciate everything you have done for me. Thank you!! Thank you!!”—Selene, Grade 7

Book Brag: What three books are hot this year? Why?
Well, for us, this year means the school year, which just started. In the first week of school, our top three books (based on checkouts and hold requests) would be: (1) “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins; (2) “Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins; (3) “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days” by Jeff Kinney. Really not a surprise.

Since kids know that I receive advance copies of books, I have already been asked this year for “Halt’s Peril”, the next book in the Ranger’s Apprentice series (coming in October, which I do have an ARC of), and “Angel” by James Patterson, the next book in the Maximum Ride series (coming in February, which I do not have a copy of).

Author! Author! Describe the perfect author visit from a librarian’s point of view.

FREE :) I know that is pretty unrealistic though, but you did say perfect. I would love to host an author that genuinely enjoys talking with students and can be flexible in what they present...be willing to go with the flow depending on how the students are interacting. A real love of what they do goes a long way and really gets kids engaged in what they have to say. My dream visit would be a “roundtable” of sorts with several authors at the same time, talking about books, reading, writing, and more. As part of the BFYA committee, I attended a pizza party at ALA in June (hosted by Penguin Publishers) where John Green, David Levithan, and Andrea Cremer entertained teens in the audience with stories about books, reading, writing, touring. PERFECT!! And completely out of my budget!

Library Lion’s Roar: ONE LAST BIG ROAR
So many things I could roar about. But I’ll probably just say that I love the library blog and have become completely addicted to blogging. Truly, if there were a 12-step program for it, I might have to join. I hope that you’ll stop by and visit!


Thank you, Shauna for your terrific interview!

Love Libraries? Give a Roar for your local library or favorite school library in “Comments” below.

Note to Librarians: If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Contact Janet at janetleecarey@hotmail.com for an interview slot.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Welcome to Library Lions interviews Raising a Roar for Libraries and for the outstanding Librarians serving Children and Young Adults in Schools and Public Libraries across the U.S. Please Roar today’s guest Kirsten Edwards!

Kirsten works with teens in the King County Library System (Duvall, Carnation & Skykomish branches).




Kirsten’s worked as a librarian for 15 years. In that time she helped found the Printz Award, (having had the honor of being on A.L.A.’s Printz Award founding committee), she’s been active in Washington State Library Assoc. (WLA), and is proud to be co-president of the
Society Gaius Julius Solinus, an ancient library humor society.

She’s particularly proud of the paper she presented, “"Addressing the Balance of Gender Diversity in In-Building Early Juvenile Text-Media-Based Library Presentations" And Kirsten was the first ever Librarian Guest of Honor at a Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention!

The Skinny: How did you become a librarian, Kirsten?
I’m a failed scientist. Seriously, I bombed advanced microbiology (A+ on the class work, D- on the lab work – and it was a pity “D” because the prof felt sorry for me). I took one of those extensive “what should you do with your life” studies at the career center and got a tie for first: scientist & librarian. Since I still own My First Reference Book ™ I figured I’d give librarian a shot. I’ve never looked back. My best friend, Lorraine is the one who lured me over to the Fun Side of The Force in library school and I pursued youth services instead of special librarianship.

Being a public librarian specializing in teens (and earlier in my career, kids and teens) is the bomb: you get all the run-and-find-out reference fun in the small branches, and your customers are so much more lively, enthusiastic and yes, fun than grown ups. Seriously: in what other profession can you team up with a group of teens and build a Read-inator for the library’s entry in the Duvall Days Parade?

I also get to Talk Books with people for a living (in librarian-speak that’s called “readers advisory” which pretty darn blessed. I publish (with the other librarians at KCLS) monthly favorites at my library systems Librarytalk. I’m “Kirsten at Duvall.” Here’s my latest talk

Library Laughs:

One of our library customers recently approached us with a bag full of books to return, and pulled out a small, somewhat elderly board book.

"I need to "fess up," quote she, "I caught my daughter peeling the cover back--almost off. So I got some acid-free glue, glued it back on and let it sit between weights. Here."

I took the book from her and examined it: "Nice work!"

"Well, I just wanted to you to see it, in case you wanted to charge me a fine or something."

"Oh no," I replied. "Normally, we try to discourage patrons from doing home repairs, but this is splendid: very nice indeed!"

She left, and I checked in the book, and what message should, before my wondering eyes, flash upon the screen?



Heh. Small town libraries are the best, and my customers rock.

A Lion’s Pride of Programs:
Shhh! My bosses let me run RPGs (Role Playing Games) for my teen customers as Summer Reading programs. I’ve done ‘Toon at Burien, Terry Pratchett’s Discworld (specifically the Night Guard of Ankh Morpok) at Lake Hills, Star Wars D20 at Skykomish, and, most recently Return To Hogwarts at Carnation.


What makes this last one so cool was that, like most RPGs I’ve run for the library, it was a special kinda one-time event. Even a pretty good moderator can’t really handle (well) more than 15 players at a time, and with teen players, who may need to be brought up to speed on the game system itself, that becomes a hard maximum. That’s a lot of work to put together for just a few kids. I got away with it for three or for summers at Skykomish where the total teen population averages, say 30 by reporting that "1/4 of the towns teens attended..." but eventually The Powers that Be caught on. Last year I was able to run a "return to Hogwarts" RPG using a game my friend (writer, gamer) Steve Jackson had devised for his children. The teens had a blast and really wanted a repeat—but I couldn't justify the time sink for just 12 teens. So one of the girls who played the game (and yes, my gaming programs—video and tabletop—regularly run 50 – 75% female, so the notion that Girls Don't Game is bogus) stepped up and offered to run another "episode." For this young lady, who writes Harry Potter fanfic, gaming is like making the best fan fic ever—and I'm happy to be mentoring a whole new generation of girl gamers.

Reaching Readers:
Mostly, as a teen services librarian, I booktalk. I do it in the library (where we call it "readers advisory", at the schools, at the grocery store ("Hey—you're the library lady") anywhere anyone (teen or parent) is willing to "talk book." While the presentations at the schools are a form of storytelling—meaning I block out my actions and gestures, write a starting script, plot interactive group reads—the one-on-one deals usually start with "tell me what kind of stories you like" whether it's in book form or T.V.

I'm all about the story me, and I have to admit that in my secret of hearts I know Books are Best, and there's something on the printed page for everyone ("Every reader his book. Every book its reader" –Ranganathan) I know that for some people, different media reach people differently. One of the great things about the explosion of manga and graphic novels in the U.S. is the way this format reaches people who prefer video as their story-delivery-media. They're turning out to be a fantastic gate-way drug into serious book reading--!

Readers Roar:
So, one of the middle school teens who comes to Pizza and Pages decided that once a month wasn't enough and decided to form her own book club. She sent me an e-mail over Christmas to let me know how her project was going. My favorite excerpt:

"This Monday I just had my second meeting! We were reading "The Kin: Suth's Story" by Peter Dickinson, and we went out into my back yard and built a fort. Two more people have joined! "
--Alison G. grade 7

Book Brag: What are the Top Three with your Teens right now?
~Well, there's The Hunger Games which would be topping the NYT best seller list if they hadn't in a fit of awesome lameness, decided to exile teen and children's lit from their lists. Take American Idol cross it with Survivor and make it to the death. Then tell it from the point of view of two teenager who are having to fake being in love with each other (except that he's probably really gone on her and trying to survive it) so that they can work the ratings—and survive the Hunger Games. Well, until the very end, when they're going to have to try to kill each other. Only one contestant can make it out of the Games alive, after all...

~Bride of the Water God is a Korean graphic novel – a "manwa"—which is spreading steadily among my local teen readers by word of mouth. The art is stunning and the beauty-and-the-beast storyline is very appealing. The heroine has been thrust into an alien world of gods and demi-gods as the bride of a petulant, little-boy water god. She was sacrificed to bring the rain, and save her village. By night she's visited by a handsome and enigmatic young man who is slowly winning her heart as a fellow "slave" captured by the capricious deity. Unbeknownst to her, he's actually her husband: he's trapped as a child by day.

~Another book with a long wait list is The Maze Runner in which Thomas wakes up in an elevator with no memory of anything but his name. The elevator rises, the doors open, and he finds himself in "the glade" where a group of similarly amnesiac boys. They tell him that the glade is surrounded by a high walls and a maze. By day, they send out Runners to chart the maze. By night they must be safely back in the glade before the doors shut off the maze or be destroyed by terrifying monsters, and shifting walls that re-create a new maze pattern every day. Thomas is intriguing, the mystery of the maze is intriguing, and even when you think you know what's going on, it turns out you don't.

Author! Author!
Add a mix of teenagers who are primed by their own interests and experiences to share what the author does and loves. In my “best author visit ever” this was me bringing Charles De Lint to the High School honors students/art students.

Charles De Lint

The honors students were readers and thinkers—a chance to hear one of the great modern American illustrators talk was a rare treat. The art students were getting what for many of these small town kids was the first chance to meet and hear from someone who’d done what they were (maybe) only dreaming of. I think school librarians and school teachers have a better chance of getting the author and audience to meet each other halfway than does the public librarian.
But every so often we have the opportunity to bring interested teens and relevant creators (authors, artists, musicians) together; and when we do, it’s magic.

Library Lion’s Roar: Any last words Kirsten?
I'm really proud of the way I piloted using VPN technology and our staff laptops for small scale but powerful outreach. One librarian + one laptop + a box full of handouts, targeted media and library cards = nanoBranch of the King County Library System. I did a dry run at a small literary science fiction and fantasy convention (Foolscap) then after about a year and a half of "proving" the technique and working through the bureaucracy, I got to use it the way I really wanted to: taking the library to the high school lunch room.

I and one of my branch managers (Lead library assistant Ronni Brown) had a library card drive / nanoBranch for two days during all three lunch periods at Cedarcrest High School. It was a smash hit—we're invited back this fall. I've attached a photo of Ronni signing up one of the high school students for a library card. We checked in books for teens, checked out books, I brought the current Evergreen Award nominees, answered reference questions, and placed holds, too.

Thank you, Kirsten for the terrific interview!

~Blog readers. Do you Love Libraries? Give a Roar in “Comments” below.

~Note to Librarians: If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Contact Janet at janetleecarey@hotmail.com for an interview slot.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Welcome Elizabeth Bird NYPL

Welcome to Library Lions interviews Raising a Roar for Libraries and for the outstanding Librarians serving Children and Young Adults in Schools and Public Libraries across the U.S. Please Roar today’s guest, Elizabeth Bird!

Elizabeth is the children’s librarian at New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building! Here are the famed Library Lions of NYPL!

Elizabeth has been a children’s librarian since 2004. Her famed blog A Fuse #8 Production is hosted by School Library Journal. She served on the 2007 Newbery committee, and writes reviews for Kirkus, School Library Journal, TimeOut Kids New York, and sometimes the New York Times. Librarian by day, writer by night, Elizabeth has sold two picture books to Greenwillow, a non-fiction adult book about the true stories behind your favorite children’s books which she is writing with two other bloggers to Candlewick, and an informational title for librarians with ALA Editions. Elizabeth was on the November 2009 cover of School Library Journal, as well,there was an article about her in Forbes Magazine in February of 2010. We are honored to interview her today for Library Lions!

The Skinny:
Elizabeth says, “I work in the best children’s room in New York City.” But she didn’t always feel that way. “I fought tooth and nail against ever becoming a librarian. I’m serious. When I was a kid I was the kind of child that would create cataloging systems for the family’s VHS tapes. I alphabetized the family’s books by author. I even tried to create subject headings for my National Geographic Magazines, long before I knew what a subject heading was. In college, I rebelled. I got a major in Fine Arts with a concentration in Photography (though I also majored in English, so clearly I was hedging my bets). Finally, after years (one year) of realizing that I didn’t want to do anything with photography that would actually pay me, I threw in the towel and went to library school. Which, obviously, I adored.”

In terms of my work, I really love getting my books into the hands of readers. So much so that I’ll spend hours making sure that we have the maximum amount of books on our shelves, just in case there’s a reader about with a penchant for the additional works of Kenneth Grahame and such.

Readers Roar:
Here’s one of the children from a bookgroup I run. She was featured in a YouTube video my library put out thanking the people of New York for helping us overcome our recent budget cuts.

As she says, “Thanks for saving the bookgroup.” – Annie, 2nd grade. Ain’t she a cutie?

Library Laughs: What’s your favorite funny library story, Elizabeth?
Ever? Oh, this one’s good. It’s a true story and it happened to a friend of my husband’s. It’s not a public library story, but I think folks can appreciate it anyway.I went to a small liberal arts college in Indiana, and typically when winter break rolled around some kids would go home and some would stay at school. Two girls were working the circulation desk of the college library when my husband’s friend noticed them. Thinks he: “Aha! I have a chance with these girls!” and he proceeds to make himself obnoxiously present for days at a time. They just want to get some work or studying done, and there he is. Wanting to chat.

In the course of one of his chats, he mentions oh-so-casually that he’s staying off-campus and if they ever want to visit he never locks the door. They pay attention to this fact, because by this point revenge is at the forefront of their minds. So one day they determine when he will be out and they go to him home with a big box of tattletape. Those of you who have worked in technical services will remember that tattletape is the long, think, and sticky metal strip that folks put in books so that they’ll set off the library’s alarm. And in my library they had those bars you had to push through to exit the building. So in the event that a person had not properly checked out a book, an alarm would sound and the bar would stop the person from leaving.You probably see where this is going.

That night the two girls placed the tattletape in all the guy’s clothes. And I don’t mean in a rush job either. I mean in the cuffs of his shirt. The inseam of his pants. The inside of his hems. By the time they were done, most of his clothes had tattletape in them. Then the fun began. The first time he visited them in the library, nothing happened. They had missed that batch of clothes. He was probably pretty flattered by how closely they watched him leave too. The second time he visited, however, off went the alarm. He studiously emptied out his bag entirely for the miscreant book, only to find nothing there. So they let him out. Then it happened a second time. Then a third. Every time this guy came in the library he was setting off the alarm.

Eventually, he couldn’t take it anymore. So one day, after the alarm went off, he began to try to figure out what the rogue element was. He tried walking through without his bag. Off goes the alarm. He removes his shirt. Off goes the alarm. Before the girls knew it, the guy was performing an elaborate striptease right in front of them, desperately trying to get rid of whatever clothing it was. At long last he stood there in only his underwear . . . . and made it through.

By that point they just had to tell him, and they did. A prankster himself, he was thrilled at the explanation. I suppose that at some point he worried that he had magnetic blood. Now every time I go through a security gate in a library, or even a store, I think about that story. Whatever you do kids, don’t make the employees angry with you. Their revenge could be epic.

A Lion’s Pride of Programs:
My favorite program is one that was started by Rebecca Schosha and Sarah Couri at my previous library, and that I’ve picked up. The Children’s Literary Salon is a monthly series of talks with people in the children’s literature field on a variety of topics. We’ve had everything from New York Times reviewers of children’s literature to playwrights who have adapted children’s books to the stage to female graphic novelists to scholars. Every month it’s different, and every month it’s interesting. It’s just for adults too, so anyone with a love of children’s literature can attend and hear a variety of folks speak about the field. It’s unique and a lot of fun.

Reaching Readers:
I thought I'd show you some readers circa 1913?

We see a lot of kids on a daily basis, partly because we have so many tourists. But on a local level a lot of classes and teachers like to bring their kids to the library for programs and tours. Since we have so many authors in the area, it’s fun to bring in kids to see a special author or illustrator talk on a program. We also give tours of the building and tell folks about all the stuff the library provides. As for myself, I do the toddler and preschool storytelling programs, which are a lot of fun.

Book Brag: What books are flying off your shelves this year and why?
Movies always make certain books hot, so right now I’m seeing all my Ramona books checked out. They usually go during the summer months because of reading lists, but not ALL of them! So thank you Ramona & Beezus! Also, I still can’t seem to keep Diary of a Wimpy Kid on the shelf. We just bought about ten new copies of the books, and they disappeared entirely after two days. Amazing!

In terms of books that haven’t been turned into movies, I’m seeing a lot of love for Meg Cabot’s Allie Finkle series, Elizabeth Cody Kimmel’s Suddenly Supernatural books, and John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice titles.

Author! Author! Describe the perfect author visit from a librarian’s point of view.Oo.
Excellent question. The perfect author visit comes when an author wants to visit my library, free of charge, and we happen to have a Saturday open for them. If they’re an illustrator then they do lots of great drawings on our sketchpad both for and with the kids. If they’re an author, then they know how to make the kids laugh. And no matter how you slice it, the best visits are from folks that are former teachers. The kinds of people who know how to command a room full of antsy kids. That’s the definition of my perfect visit, anyway.

Library Lion’s Roar
Keep an eye peeled for Elizabeth’s picture book Giant Dance Party, due out on store shelves Fall 2011!

Find out more about NYPL on their blog or here on facebook

Thank you, Elizabeth for your terrific interview!
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Love Libraries? Give a Roar in “Comments” below.

Note to Librarians: If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Contact Janet at janetleecarey@hotmail.com for an interview slot.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Jan Chapman, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, Ohio

Welcome to Library Lions interviews Raising a Roar for Libraries and for the outstanding Librarians serving Children and Young Adults in Schools and Public Libraries across the U.S. Please Roar today’s guest Jan Chapman

Jan writes book reviews for VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates) and is currently serving on the 2011 Michael R. Printz Award Committee. The Printz Award is given yearly to the author of a young adult book that exemplifies the highest literary standards.
Jan says working on the Award Committee is, “the absolute highlight of my career! I love reading all those wonderful books and engaging in intense and lively discussions with my fellow committee members. What could be better than that?”

ROARCuyahoga County Public Library, Strongsville, Ohio was recently rated the NUMBER ONE library (for its size and population served) in the entire country!

The Skinny:
I have been a teen librarian for eleven years and loved every minute of it. When I was studying for my degree in library science, I took a class in young adult services. That was all it took. I knew that was what I wanted to do in library land.

I began working in libraries as a volunteer when my two children were in school and I realized that this was the perfect career for me. When I began working with teens, I discovered my passion for teen services, a passion that has never waned. Teens need parents to raise them and teachers to educate them, but they also need an interested adult in their lives who encourages them to read and to be a part of their community. Teen librarians can fill that role and it is one of the greatest gifts of the job.

Library Laughs:
A few years ago, I was walking down a flight of stairs to the lower level of the library in order to help a customer, who was walking ahead of me, find a book. I warned her that the steps were narrow and tricky to maneuver. A second after my warning, I tripped and fell on her! No injuries, thankfully, except to my pride.

A Lion’s Pride of Programs:
My favorite teen program is a Project Runway Fashion Challenge that is based upon the popular reality series, Project Runway. We hosted the program during the summer, when we had an “ecological” summer reading theme.

The challenge for each budding fashion designer was to create an outfit using only bubble wrap, colored duct tape and recyclable materials (which tied in to the ecological theme). Each designer brought along a friend, who would be their model. They had about an hour to complete their outfits so that they were ready for a runway fashion show and judging. I was absolutely floored at the creativity and imagination that went into making some of these outfits. Check out the pictures, you will see what I mean!

Reaching Readers:
Book clubs are a great way to connect readers with books. I lead a book club at a local middle school and also participate in leading a graphic novel book club called Comix Quest. The best way to reach readers, I think, is just to chat with them about what they like to read. Being friendly, enthusiastic and knowledgeable about teen books goes a long way when trying to reach readers.

Readers Roar:
~“I always remember sitting in the school auditorium listening about all the cool things the library had planned for the upcoming summer's annual Summer Program. I never thought that someday I'd have the opportunity to volunteer for that same program. I am grateful for all of the chances you gave me and all of the other teen volunteers to help out the library. Thank you. Please inspire more kids to keep reading; it seemed to work for me.”
-Kevin G.

~ "Reading is always a great way to have a good time while learning new information and jumping into a whole other world. I can always find a great selection of books at my public library, as well as a friendly staff who are always willing to help. I love to read and am grateful for my library!"
-Jada G.

Book Brag: What three books are hot this year? Why?

~ Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins. This is the sequel that everyone is waiting for! The Hunger Games and Catching Fire are the first two books in this incredibly suspenseful sci-fi series. Mockingjay is coming out in August and there is already a huge waiting list. And you can bet that I am on it!

~ The Pretty Little Liar series, by Sara Shepard is really hot this year, especially now that it’s a television show on ABC Family.

~ This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen. Sarah Dessen is always a popular author and This Lullaby is a funny, sometimes cynical look at love.

Author! Author!
The best author visits are from enthusiastic authors who love talking to teens and engage them in conversations during the visit, instead of just doing a presentation where the author is doing all the talking. I also love it when authors share funny stories about their writing experiences or about their lives.

Library Lion’s Roar:
I’d like to give a “roar out” to my library, Cuyahoga County Public Library, which was recently rated the NUMBER ONE library (for its size and population served) in the entire country. That is a great testimony to all the wonderful librarians and branch staff who work for this library system.

Thank you, Jan for your terrific interview!

Love Libraries? Give a Roar in “Comments” below.

Note to Librarians: If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Contact Janet at janetleecarey@hotmail.com for an interview slot.