Welcome to Library Lions interviews. Raising a Roar for Libraries

Welcome to Library Lions interviews. Raising a Roar for Libraries

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I've known Kay Winters online for years, but we didn't get a chance to meet until ALA this summer. When I asked if she'd like to stop by this blog to share her Library Love, I got an enthusiastic YES!   
Please start by telling us a little about yourself. Take it away, Kay!
I am a children’s book author, who was a classroom teacher, reading specialist and teacher of teachers.
I was fortunate to be a consultant for the American International Schools in exotic places like Egypt, India, Nepal, Italy, Jordan, Israel and Greece. I was also an adjunct instructor   At Marywood College and Lehigh University, teaching graduate courses in Reading and Language Arts. But I always wanted to write children’s books. I took early retirement in 1992, after 29 years of teaching, and started my new career. Since then 18 books have been published. Many have won awards, prizes, and been put on state reading lists.


One of my favorite parts of being an author is doing school visits and speaking at libraries and conferences. I feel really lucky to be able to follow my dream.

(School visit in El Segundo,  California) 

 Library Love When You Were A Cub:
The first time I went to the library, I was five.
I couldn’t believe my luck.
All those books!
You could pick out ten, take them home, read them and get new ones.
And it was free!
(Kay - first time with library book – at 5)

In the 40’s when I was in elementary school, children’s books were not as plentiful as they are now. Neither was the money to buy them. I roller skated to the library with a big blue sack on my back filled with books to return and filled it with new ones to bring home.  At the library I found fairy tales, poetry, and realistic stories about children, and books that brought history to life. Treasures! The next week, more tantalizing tales were waiting to be discovered.

I was an only child. We moved frequently. I was in three first grades. Books were my companions. At the library I always felt at home.

More Library Love: Can you share your present day love for libraries from an author’s perspective?

Today my love of libraries has only increased. As a classroom teacher, college instructor, and now a children’s book author, I depend on libraries for ideas for new books, for reference materials for books I am currently developing and for my daily diet of learning about the past, the present, and the future.  Because of libraries and their riches I am never bored. We go to California for a month in the winter and New Mexico for a month in the summer. I read e-books on my ipad on the plane, but as soon as we arrive, we drive straight to the local library where I get my temporary card and fill up my sack with books to savor in our new surroundings.

I am a frequent presenter with my writer’s group at the NJ- SLA conference in the fall.

And this year I also presented at the Pa. SLA conf. with Pat Brisson.

(photo with some of the members of Bucks County Authors Books for Children: Wendy Pfeffer, Pam Swallow and Pat Brisson our panel for the  NJSLA conf. )

Author’s Roar: Funding for libraries, especially school libraries, is currently under threat. As an author, what are your thoughts about that?  
Unfortunately most politicians, the general public and even some school administrators have no idea what school librarians actually do. Librarians as a group are generally not publicity oriented. They are busy doing their job, not describing it with specific details to the press, and the public. Hence the popular assumption is… well we don’t need a trained person to do that job, librarians just check out books.

 Nothing could be further from the truth.

The school librarian is key to helping students and teachers delve deeply into their curriculum's, key to suggest sources and resources for students and teachers to use, key to introducing busy teachers to new books and materials, and helping students move beyond Wikipedia to do their research. Education is not about scoring well on tests, or filling in the blanks.  Education is about learning how to learn, and creating an environment where students catch the excitement so they want to learn. A school librarian is a key component in that equation.


(Rita Wingle librarian  from Conrad Weiser Elementary School in Pa.)

She even drove to my house on a Saturday  to collect the books she had pre-ordered for the students. There were too many for me to sign at the visit.

Hooray for ALA! 
I have gone to ALA many times. Twice I signed and autographed my own books there. Abe Lincoln: The Boy Who Loved Books was signed  at the Simon and Schuster booth and  in June 2012, Pete and Gabby: The Bears go to Town..at the Albert Whitman booth.  I go because it is so nourishing to be at a convention where the focus is on books and love of books. The educational conferences these days seem to focus on testing.

 (ALA at the Albert Whitman booth.)

A Lion’s Pride of Programs:
School librarians are often the people who book me for school visits. They are usually the staff members in the school who prepare the children for the visit by introducing them to my books before I arrive. Some encourage students do projects. Others share the books with the teachers, and they supervise activities that connect to the books.  The immediate recognition from the children when the familiar titles flash on the screen, the writing projects the children have created themselves, or the bulletin boards using the format or theme from one of my books make the visit so worthwhile for both the author and reader.

(K with librarian Sharon Edelberg, Burnet Hill Elementary School under welcoming banner… and she marked my parking spot with balloons! A great way to start the day.)

Library Lion’s Roar: ONE LAST BIG ROAR
My local library is my favorite place to go! I depend on the librarians to get me copies of reference books from other Pennsylvania libraries for various research projects that precede a new book. I read other children’s books to get ideas for new ones. Going to the library, which I do on a weekly basis, makes my day!
Let’s Link Up

Website: http://www.kaywinters.com  

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/public/Kay-Winters  

Thank you, Kay for sharing your Library Love with us!

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. 


Thursday, October 4, 2012


Welcome to Library Lions Special Edition Spotlight. Teen Services Librarian, Hayden Bass, is here to Roar for  Banned Books Week. Welcome Hayden!

What’s your deal?
I am a Teen Services Librarian Seattle Public Library, Central--also known as “that big glass thing downtown.”

It’s a fun place to work because the interesting architecture gets people excited about libraries. It helps us re-imagine what libraries can be. I pretty much have the best job on earth because I get to work with teens every day.

I lead a fantastic teen advisory group that blogs, reviews books, creates videos and podcasts, and generally tells us how we should run the library. They always impress me with their great ideas and articulate, thoughtful discussions. I also visit schools to teach students how to do good research, or to talk about good books.
Recently I joined our Social Media Team, which means that I get to Tweet  and  Facebook  the library. And I love creating personalized reading lists through our Your Next 5 Books service.
What’s the deal with these banned books?

So, first let’s get the definitions out of the way:  A “challenge” is an attempt to remove or restrict access to materials, while a “banned” book has actually been removed from access.
Every year, dozens of books—many of them written for teens or children— are challenged or banned.

(Banned Books Display Seattle Central Library)

Why should we care? Because we all have a First Amendment right to the freedom to read, and freedom of access to information. Librarians, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers everywhere all come together during Banned Books Week (now in its 30th year!) to call attention to censorship. We advocate for your right to decide what you want to read about, and how you want to learn.
Plus, librarians love a good fight.  (Not really!  Well, kind of.)

In any good library, there’s something to offend everyone. There are many books in my library that I don’t like. I might find them racist, sexist, homophobic, or just plain dumb. But that doesn’t mean I’m allowed to remove them.  If we all removed all the books we didn’t like from the library, how many would be left?

How do you spread the word?
Besides creating displays (Like these, done by Erica Delavan and Janie Arnold at our Northeast Branch).  

(Erica Delavan and Janie Arnold)  
and blogging about banned books, librarians sometimes visit schools and other places in the community to talk about the freedom to read.  I ask students who THEY think should get to make these decisions.  The government? The library? Would they let their younger brother or sister read anything they wanted? Why or why not?

This is a complicated and difficult issue.  We all have to decide for ourselves what the right answers are.

What can Library Lions readers do to roar for Banned Books Week?
Think! Take a few minutes to ponder: Why is it important to stop censorship? What will happen if free access to information is lost?

When you’ve done that—and maybe started a conversation with a friend or two—make sure you use and support your library.

We often hear that libraries are no longer important because everything is on the Internet.  But you know what?  It’s not true. Most good, factual information—from newspapers, journals, and books—is not available online! That’s because this stuff costs money, so publishers don’t give it away for free.  The only place to get it for free is your local library.  And the people protecting your right to access that information? Your local librarians.

Without libraries, only the wealthy would be able to afford access to ALL of the very best books and information.

Highlighted banned books
People are often surprised that children’s picture books are constantly being challenged and banned.

The Carrot Seed is a classic by Ruth Krauss published in 1945. A little boy faithfully waters and cares for a carrot seed, despite the fact that his elders tell him it probably won’t grow—resulting in a lovely big fat carrot. This book has been attacked for showing “contempt for authority, and in particular . . . children not respecting their parents.”

Maurice Sendak’s much-beloved Where the Wild Things Are has been challenged for “having witchcraft, supernatural elements, and a child who yells at his mother.”
Most of us agree that these are books we think children should have access to. However, there are some children’s books that I personally would rather not see in the library! For example, here’s a book that I personally wouldn’t mind banning:

This is a children’s book that portrays homosexuality as a psychological problem that can be “cured.” This book was challenged at The Seattle Public Library in 2003, but was retained as representative of an alternative view of homosexuality.

Do I think this a wonderful book? No.

Do I defend everyone’s right to access it anyway? You bet.
Thanks, Hayden for your inspiring Roar for Banned Books Week! Since Banned Books only lasts a week, we'll keep this post up until mid October to make the roar last.
Note to Readers: 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.