November 21, 2017

Gretchen Caserotti | Movers & Shakers 2010 – Innovators

Library Journal March 15, 2010: Gretchen Caserotti, Mover & Shaker

Goodbye, Dewey—Hello, Fun!

When Gretchen Caserotti became coordinator and then head of children’s services at the Darien Library in 2008, her supervisor asked, “If you could do anything differently, what would it be?” Caserotti didn’t have to think hard: she wanted to reorganize the picture books. Taking Dewey out of the equation, she scrapped alphabetical organization (how many four-year-olds will look for fairy-tale books by author?) and went for an intuitive approach—using colored tabs for categories like “Transportation,” “Folk and fairy tales,” etc. The next year saw an 80 percent jump in circulation, month to month, plus sky-high spirits among kids. “My heart soared when I overhead a four-year-old boy, pulling his grandfather’s arm, saying, ‘C’mon, Grandad! The trucks are the red books over here!’” she says.

Caserotti had no role model, but about a dozen libraries have contacted her asking for advice. “I expected a little more pushback from an otherwise very traditional area of our profession,” admits Caserotti, who was included in the article “The Dewey Dilemma” (LJ 10/1/09). Her innate connection with kids has additionally resulted in programs like “Little Clickers,” a collaborative computerclass for preschoolers. Caserotti has also been active in implementinga roving service model of librarianship, where staff use portable phones so they don’t have to be chained to the reference desk—which has gone from the traditional fortress style to a sleeker design.

Caserotti’s background as an actor helps her every day in children’s librarianship. Actors “immerse themselves in another character’s experience,” and at the library, “everything I do is centered on relationships,” she says.

Vitals

Gretchen Caserotti, Darien Library, CT

CURRENT POSITION Head of Children’s Services

DEGREE MLIS, Pratt Institute, 2008; BA, Hunter College, 2004; AOS, American Academy of Dramatic Arts, 1999

HOBBYHORSE Phasing out the word juvenile

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