February 12, 2016

Cory Eckert | Movers & Shakers 2014 — Innovators



Branch Manager (two branches)
Houston Public Library

MLIS, University of Arizona, 2010

@helenstwin; Storytime Underground (storytimeunderground.wordpress.com)

Photo by Ivee Sauls

Guerrilla Tactics

“The rest of librarianship often discounts what youth services librarians do as ‘just reading books to kids’ or ‘just having fun,’ ” says Cory Eckert, who recently joined the Houston Public Library as manager of two branches. “I wanted to show how much thought, and sweat, goes into planning and providing a story time.”

That’s why in 2013, when she was still the youth services manager at Octavia Fellin Public Library in Gallup, NM, she developed Guerrilla Storytime, a part-training, part-advocacy initiative held informally at library conferences and events that involves taking over a space and putting on an impromptu story time.

It debuted at the American Library Association 2013 conference, where Eckert claimed two spots in the UnCommons for storytelling participants to share best practices, from favorite rhymes to communicating the importance of play to caregivers, and to showcase the value and skills of story time practitioners to non–youth services librarians. More than 100 people joined the three sessions.

Since then, Eckert and her fellow “story chiefs” Amy Koester and Kendra Jones, also children’s librarians, have created the blog Storytime Underground to help librarians plan their own events. Guerrilla Storytimes have taken place in nine states and in Nova Scotia; the blog has had nearly 22,000 views, and the group’s Facebook page has 604 members.

“The idea that we all have a story time skill to teach and one to learn and that the best way to learn is from each other did not originate with me,” says Eckert. “I just came up with the idea to take over the UnCommons with ukuleles, put challenge sticks in a cup covered in glitter, and make an event out of it.”

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  1. I am so incredibly thrilled to see Cory Eckert on the list this year! She is such a strong advocate and totally innovative. Congratulations, Cory!!

  2. Caitlin Burns says:

    I’m so proud of you, Cory! Congratulations!!! Miss you here in Tucson :).

  3. Carol Sarath says:

    Congratulations Cory! We miss you here in Gallup too. But we always knew you were a mover and a shaker in more ways than one.

  4. Cory – On behalf of the Octavia Fellin Public Library and the entire Gallup community – Congratulations – We are all very proud of you.

  5. Syma Zerkow says:

    Cory–we are so happy to welcome you to Houston Public Library and we look forward to working with a 2014 LJ Mover & Shaker. Congratulations!

  6. Dawn McFadden says:

    I am not sure exactly when Cory joined the HPL group but, she has done great things for our youth program here that I am seeing so far. She has shown us many things that we can be using with our local youth that is entertaining and teaching them at the same time, and it actually holds their interest. Great ideas Cory and thank you.

  7. Congratulations Cory!

  8. Congratulations on this recognition Cory! You did some amazing things here in Gallup and you are dearly missed. How could we hold you back from reaching great heights. Keep going forward with all the great work for libraries and patrons.