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, Karen Kline. In her years of service, Karen was also instrumental in bringing Read Across America to the Lake Washington School District.
Welcome Karen. First up let’s hear the skinny.
The Skinny:I’ve been a librarian since 1994 when I graduated from the University of Arizona with an MLS. I am currently working at Emily Dickinson Elementary and Explorer Elementary in Redmond, Washington. I serve students from K-6
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Interestingly, I attended an elementary school for two years that had no librarian or real library – just a small collection of donated books in a common area. I don’t recommend that!
Library Laughs: The first library I managed was a new portable building that seemed to have been placed on the migratory path of scorpions – one of my volunteers was stung (she was okay in the end). The same school had the custodian walk the perimeter of the playground prior to recess to do “snake patrol.” Only in Arizona!
Inspiration:I decided to become a librarian the year I was assigned to teach middle school science with no textbook – the building had spent all the money on lab materials that year at the new school, and I was only allowed use of the lab two days a week. I spent a lot of time in the library creating curriculum materials!
I love finding the right book for the right reader. I love reading and interpreting literature for students and hearing the ahs, oohs, and laughs in all the right places. I love being bombarded by students after a book talk asking if they can check out the book that I presented.
Hidden Treasure: The best goldmine in the library is often the librarian’s assistant. These folks catch all the bizarre things that go on behind the scenes. They alert the librarian to things she may have missed and keep things running smoothly. My advice: make friends with the librarian’s assistant and bring her chocolate!
My favorite library program is our district’s Battle of the Books. Seeing kids huddle up to discuss the answers to questions about what they’ve read and get excited about books is fuel on the librarian’s fire!
Reaching Readers:Kids seem to stay very current in what is hot on the reading scene. Last year’s favorite books don’t seem to remain favorites into the next year. To reach today’s young reader, I try to interview students to find out what books they’ve read recently and liked and try to suggest similar reads. Moreover, it works even better if a peer can recommend books to another peer, so I try to give time in class for peer book recommendations. Our library catalog is soon to allow students to submit their own reviews, and I think that will be exciting for young readers.
“Why can’t we just spend the school day reading what we want to read?”
Nelly, Grade 6
Book Brag: What three books are hot this year and why?
~ The Piggie and Elephant series by Mo Willems -- These books seem to really understand kid humor.
~ The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins -- Gore, suspense, and an element of survival make this one a hit.
~ The Two Bobbies: The True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery – This book was a landslide winner of the Washington Children’s Choice Award. I think kids really identified with the struggles of the animals in this heartbreaking story.
The perfect author visit begins with teachers who promote the author’s books weeks (maybe months) before the visit. I love it when a class has had a class read aloud or two from the author’s works. Small group meetings with the author are optimal. Of course, the books must be wonderful and engaging, and then everything seems to fall into place.
Library Lion’s Roar:
We library and book lovers must continue to band together at the polls to pass levies and elect officials who promise and keep promises to fund school and public libraries. It is unacceptable to fund libraries from donations and to staff libraries with volunteers. Our libraries are a public good that pay off untold dividends!
Thank you, Karen for your terrific interview!
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org for an interview slot.