Newly minted children's librarian

100 Days of Children’s Librarianship?

I’m contemplating the theme for my next 100-day blog sprint. As a recent graduate of library school, I’ve got a lot on my mind.

Upon graduating, I was hired into a role as children’s librarian in a well-endowed public library system. My everyday work focuses on reader’s advisory, reference and youth programming. I also continued working for my internship employer – EveryLibrary – in the capacity of webinar coordinator.

John's screencap of my linkedin tagline

I’ve been attending ALA conferences on the cheap since 2012, when I began to seriously consider the library profession. I left my summer hike on the Appalachian Trail, flying from Washington D.C. to Las Vegas to get my first sense of the profession on a national scale. I couchsurfed and scavenged my way through the conference, absorbing every second of all that good library-loving juju. People were great. I didn’t know exactly what “kind” of librarian I wanted to be. I just wanted to build a career that had a positive impact, on me personally and on those around me. I wanted to use my skills to treasure hunt, entertain, educate and organize. I believe in providing access to learning (materials, spaces, community) without barriers.

Things I’ve learned so far about children’s librarianship:

  • It’s a treat because you actually get to recommend materials and find books EVERY DAY for serious readers.
  • There is an endlessness to how creative you can be… with programming especially.
  • Unions are interesting.
  • The importance of sani-wipes?
  • There’s a lot happening in children’s literature. (And now I finally have an excuse to be reading it again all the time!)
  • Kids are so much fun. The sincerity. The enthusiasm. The sponginess for learning.
  • Nannies and caretakers are a big deal.
  • Programming can be political.
  • Librarians and library staff are basically 100% great people to work around.

One big thing I’m looking forward to since I started work is the “Mock Awards” party. It’s hosted by the regional library system (WLS). The party is a great excuse for area-librarians to read and discuss the latest popular literature. It’s also a great excuse to network and eat pizza with fellow librarians. I’ve joined the mock committee for the Caldecott Medal. It is a prize annually awarded to what the committee deems “the most distinguished American picture book for children”.

As I began the reading list provided by WLS, I wondered how the actual, real-world Caldecott committee makes their decisions.  I found and skimmed the Caldecott Medal Manual, and was particularly taken with the note-taking form they provided. It is preceded by this insight:

“Develop a convenient system for taking notes about each book read—a system that works for you. Some will keep complete bibliographic information on each book, a short summary, and a critical statement, noting both strengths and weaknesses with some specificity. Notes about books that do not seem to be serious contenders will probably become briefer as the year progresses. It is a mistake, however, not to make notes about each book as you evaluate. A book that at first reading does not seem a serious contender may prove to be a good possibility on further consideration. Committee members will need to re-read many books, especially those recommended by fellow committee members. Personal notes will help in the recollection of first impressions and further thinking about the book.”

The real Caldecott committee has 15 members. The terms and criteria for the award are clearly outlined. The committee process for selecting a book is described like this:

“During the selection meetings, the committee discusses all nominated and suggested books before beginning balloting. Each committee member votes for three books, with four points assigned to first choice, three points to second choice, and two points to third choice. To win, a book must receive at least eight first place choices and at least eight points more than any other book. Once a winner is chosen, the committee decides whether to name honor books and how many.”

These are the first two books I read on my “Mock Caldecott Reading List” for the past year:

 

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The whole list includes:

The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee

Carmela Full of Wishes by Matt de la Peña,

   illustrated by Christian Robinson

Ocean Meets Sky by the Fan Brothers

Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

Alma and How She Got Her Name 

   by Juana Martinez-Neal

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

Blue by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick

I’m currently still reading Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick. After that, I’ve only got two more to go (Ocean Meets Sky by the Fan Brothers and Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love). I need to go back and take notes on two other (Dreamers by Yuyi Morales, Blue by Laura Vaccaro Seeger). I’m eager to study and hear how other people reviewed these books.

I think it may be most important to think about the impact these books can have on the kids, families and individuals who read them. Being in the library with so much access to the collection has caused me to begin questioning: what books most influenced my childhood, and life?

Will my new role be the topic of my next blog sprint?

First 100 Days Came to an End

David and I completed the first 100 days of our marriage on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2018. Of those first 100 days, my last daily blog post was December 2.

Potato,

I remember you worked, and then came home because the office was empty. I was with Rocky. When you returned home, we loaded up the car again and made the drive to my family’s home in Connecticut to spend the holiday. We missed seeing Tom. He was en route to Maine for the holiday. The girls were in Europe, your mom in Arkansas. We skipped your dad’s because of Rocky.

We arrived before my parents, who were coming home from a Christmas party. I remember the next day: full of family, food and companions! Zack and Curtis came with Duke. Rocky played happily. Chloe rocked her senility. It was cold, but nice for walking. There was a dusting of old snow still on the ground. We talked entirely too much about pest control. It was nice to be fireside in the living room. We exchanged presents!

In the week leading up to Christmas, I started work as a children’s librarian in Rye, New York. That first week was a treat, and it was nice to commute from Greenwich where we house-sat your Chapel Lane childhood home.

I love my work. I will write about it as my next blog theme. There’s a lot grad school didn’t teach me that I’m learning now, a lot still to be learned, and a lot learned that has yet to be relevant.

The days leading up to Christmas were a blur. My internship with EveryLibrary ended, and my final day of grad school for my Master’s of Library Science (MLIS) was December 18.  I last wrote about food (Cream of Broccoli Soup). I like communicating through food. In the weeks before and after the holiday we shared a lot of takeout, leftovers and grocery story filler trip food items.

It was so nice to start the new year with a clean kitchen. I’m remembering us in breathing masks, going full swing with caulking guns, the new mop, bleach, insecticide, and dish towels.

Today we returned home from our new year retreat in the Catskills (my Christmas present to you). The king size bed upgrade, the sugar cookies, the late night french fries, Jackson, the walk around town, to Pennsylvania, and the storm hike with hail that looked like vanilla Dip and Dots ice cream. I remember gorging on the extravagant breakfasts, the naps, the sniffling. Then there were the luxurious shower supplies, the fireside rummy game, the conversations. I remember one that began with me saying marriage didn’t seem to feel so different, and you taking the other position but elaborating little.

You lit up when we were driving back across the George Washington bridge. Back to your city where success, wealth and victory hides in every corner.

Back to the world of League, where things are less shiny and you play games on end. I watch your gameplay chat like a concerned mom-type. “Hey, that’s like the meanest thing you can say.” And celebrating your team’s little victories. Another game cues to the sound of Newt Gingrich and Christopher Hitchens debating the nature of the “war on terrorism”.

So what’s next? Past the first 100 days? I love you, and I’m excited to see.

Yours Truly,
Samantha

“Cream” of Broccoli Soup (Vegan)

The day started with a shared bagel and leftover veggie smoothie. Computer time then fitness time, followed by veggie tacos. The rest is a pleasant blur.

For dinner? Soup!

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 leeks, the white parts, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 qt. vegetable broth
  • 2 heads of broccoli, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 tbs. Italian herbs (thyme, oregano, etc.)

Directions

  1. Cut up the leeks and saute them on medium heat in a large skillet or pot. Use a bit of water or veggie broth to keep them from sticking to the pan.  Cook ’em for 10 minutes. Add herbs and cook for 1 extra minute.
  2. Add the chopped broccoli, broth. Bring to boil then reduce to medium heat. Cover and cook for 10 minutes until broccoli is tender.
  3. Blend it.
  4. Add pepper and salt to taste.

Serve with toasted, buttered bread because that’s the best.


Tonight’s about catching up on the blog.

Bullet Points

Here’s what I remember of the day:

  • The John Brush stairway
  • Leftover linguine with homemade tomato sauce
  • Afternoon exhaustion
  • Great sex
  • Trying to do computer work
  • Call the Midwife
  • Dinner date at Harlem Public

We ate together outside and then inside when it started to drizzle. Fried avocado, $2 club soda, and meal covered by roommate gratitude (in the form of a gift card). I loved walking with you.

Sunshine

Dear David,

You were proud of me today for getting the jump on job prospects, and also for my homemade tomato sauce which was “better than yours” (thanks, Joy of Cooking). The best part of the day was relaxing into the weekend with you.

The morning started slow, the early afternoon was a downer, but the end of the was sunshine.

Thank you,

S

Love Letters

What if…

The first hundred days ended in love letters instead of data?

Dear Potato,

We woke up on the twin bed, warm in the cold front room. The night before ended in last minute arrangements and exhaustion, but most importantly – it ended in family time.

Our slow morning was so much like the night before. You decided to join me on my “trip to Coventry”, and I love those moments because it’s so much like getting to take home with me. You insisted on driving despite my feeble offers. Let the debate rage on

Thank you for encouraging my professional life forward, even if you had to stimulate my competitive side.

Being home with Mom and Mitch comforted me. I feel, with hopes stacked tidy, that you and I have so much to look forward to in the years ahead.

Thinking of late night cuddles,

S

Thanksgiving

Still on vacation from the husbometer data project, but life is good. Thanksgiving has been a time for family.

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A fun part of married life is all the new family!

Playing Nurse

I headed to Brooklyn on a sticker mission for work.

You came home early with lymph-nodes exploding.

I made vegetable broth, and nursing maneuvers.

Pleasure reading, letting you sleep, and easing into the Thanksgiving break.

Get-Well Veggie Broth

Water brought to a boil. All the leftover veggies in your fridge and on your bar top: 1 whole (medium) onion, mushroom stems and (3) mushroom caps, carrots, celery greens, herbs (nothing spicy for the sick boy). A dab of butter. Dash of salt? What else?

Bring to boil, then let simmer for 60-90 minutes.

The Joy of Cooking says you can put your whole onion in the broth without peeling or cutting it. This adds to the broth color (allegedly).

Broth seemed to the satisfaction of the sick boy, and after a long sleep, he seemed better.