For most parents, reading a story aloud to their children is a bond-building experience they wouldn’t trade for anything. Not everyone, though, has that opportunity. “For parents who are incarcerated, and for their children in particular, that loss of connection can take a devastating toll that could last a lifetime,” says Nick Higgins, who spearheaded TeleStory, a program at the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) to help alter this particular unhappy ending.
“Sarah Bean Thompson is a readers’ advisory [RA] rock star!” raves Jessie East, branch manager of the Library Center of the Springfield–Greene County Library District. “She has an infectious passion and incredible talent for RA, [and] every program she does leads attendees right back to books, whether it’s a mock awards session for families and educators or a Geeky Storytime for preschoolers and their caregivers.”
Cynthia Mari Orozco realizes asking a librarian for assistance can be intimidating. Her first and only experience asking for guidance as an undergraduate resulted in her quickly leaving the building. These days, Orozco goes out of her way to make herself approachable to students who may be experiencing library anxiety.
“I can’t afford both books and food,” reads a University of Idaho student’s comment on a Change.org petition to reduce the cost of textbooks. “I have to choose to either eat or pass my classes.” That student has a champion in Annie Gaines, who moved from a clerical position to become the University of Idaho Library’s first scholarly communications librarian.
Erik Berman subscribes to a “teen run, teen led” mentality, according to senior librarian Sharon Fung at San José Public Library (SJPL). “He works tirelessly to get to know his teens, build their confidence, and guide them into taking an active role in the library.” Hand in hand with local teens and professional designers, Berman is responsible for the creation of the new teen center, TeenHQ, in San José’s central Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library.
A few years ago, then youth services manager Katie Johnson noticed that no one from Pinewood Gardens, a subsidized housing development near the Twinsburg Public Library, was coming to story time. She reached out to the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority (AMHA) to ask about setting up a weekly story time at the site, home to nearly 95 low-income kids under five. The answer was yes, and Johnson partnered with AMHA employee Kellie Morehouse to create Play, Learn, & Grow, an early learning and support program, in a vacant room near the leasing office.
Gina Seymour’s grandmother was a clerk at the Queens Borough Public Library, NY, and as a kid, Seymour spent many hours there. Unlike at school, where her book selections were limited to those with the “pukey green” level label, she says, at grandma’s library she could read any book and learn about experiences different from her own.
Aiden Street has all the instincts of a great librarian. “I want to know what keeps people up at night—what are they worried about and what can the library do to help them achieve their goals?” As regional coordinator for the Pioneer Library System (PLS), Norman, OK, and Moore Branch manager, she is perfectly situated to help alleviate some of those worries.