Read on to learn about the joys of driving the bookmobile, why promoting early literacy is so important, and how to be part of the library revolution!
Beaumont Library District
About Amy’s job as Early Childhood Outreach Librarian:
I do early literacy community outreach for birth to five-year-olds at private and public preschools, childcare centers, and in homes. I oversee our Ready to Read Van, maintaining the collection and providing readers advisory. At this time, I do two weekly community story times. One is at the community center, and the other is at Petco. In the fall, I will be doing a few additional in house story times. I also work the reference desk two afternoons a week.
1) What are some things you like about your job or about working in libraries in general?
Well, I love driving our bookmobile! It brings the library to the people. A lot of my audience is people who don’t come to the library, so I can bring both the experience of fun and discovery to them, and also advocate for the library’s programs and services that they don’t know about. I feel especially passionate about this from our lower socioeconomic families; we have so many services to offer them, but they don’t know about them!
Building on that, I would like to add that I love being a community helper. I think early literacy can only happen when the community is invested in it. To that end, I look for community partnerships to develop and foster to show people that we are all invested in their children’s future. Libraries are safe spaces for information, help, and support. I love being a part of that.
2) What’s a project or committee you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?
We are taking the month of August off from our story times and programming. Even though I miss being silly at my story times, I am really excited to work on my long list of projects! I am reinventing the inside of our bookmobile, creating more subject-based organization. My childcare providers only spend a few minutes on the van, and they almost always have children with them. Our circulation system is offline so there is no catalog to show them. It’s all reader’s advisory and luck. I want to make the collection as accessible as possible for them.
I’m also tackling our Early Literacy kits that we deliver in addition to story times. They are already assigned themes, but I want to redevelop them to increase their circulation. They are large Tupperware containers filled with paperback books, puzzles, manipulations (foam dough), games, etc. I want more people to check them out, so I’m looking into making bundles instead do boxes and switching up themes.
3) What got you interested in libraries?
Books have been my best friends for my whole life. I have always been an avid reader, one summer when I was younger I read all the books in the children’s section for summer reading!
After college, I was a bit lost and worked several random jobs, one of them was substitute teaching. As it happened, I was subbing at my old elementary school and their librarian left in December. They asked me to sub for her for a few weeks, which turned into months. I had no curriculum or work left, just a World Records trivia game. I spent a lot of time developing lessons and working with both the teachers and other school librarians in the district. I fell in love with being a librarian and helping kids develop literacy and the love of reading.
4) What is one of your favorite things about NMRT?
Even though this is my first year being a part of this organization, I already know I found the best thing, but I may be biased! I love the ALA annual conference mentorship program! It may seem a bit oddly specific, but this past year was my first ALA Annual conference and I was so overwhelmed with programs, classes, and events that I had like a 25 page itinerary printed. My mentor, Susan Kusel, was amazing and patient. She contacted me before the conference giving me all the lessons she learned throughout her years, and answering all my questions- no matter how small. She also met up with me at the conference and talked me through what everything was like (the exhibit hall, author meet and greets, closed meetings that I had accidentally out on my itinerary). Best of all, she introduced me to the Caldecott Awards Banquet, which was a truly magical night that I would never have even thought of going to. Besides all her awesomeness, she reinforced the best part of librarians, giving back and connecting others. I was so grateful to have participated.
5) Do you have any advice for other new librarians?
Get to know your community. There are probably a lot of opportunities to partner up, but it’s hard if you don’t know each other. Ask to serve on community boards. I sit on the Prevent Child Abuse committee for Riverside County, and not only is it great for me to be connected to these resources, but it’s amazing for those community members to know that the library is a part of this, and is invested.
Also, don’t be afraid to be loud, innovators, and agents of change. It’s up to us to be a part of this ongoing library revolution. Fight the good fight, it’s worth it.
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