What made you decide to become a librarian?
I decided to become a librarian when I was seven years old. I walked up to the librarian in my hometown public library and asked when I could start working there. They broke my little heart when they told me I had to be 14 years old to start volunteering. So, two days after my 14th birthday, I started volunteering and then became a (very) part-time employee through high school and college. And I haven’t looked back since… I’ve worked in libraries for almost 20 years and have loved every minute of it.
Do you have to go to school to become a librarian?
The short answer is yes, to be a librarian, you must earn a graduate degree called a Master’s of Library and Information Science (MLIS). There are a few Bachelor’s degree programs, but in order to be hired as a librarian, you need your Master’s degree. I earned my Master’s degree from the University of Maryland, College Park and I also have a Master’s in Public Administration from West Chester University of Pennsylvania.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love to read (that’s probably pretty obvious), but I also spend time blogging about children’s literature which definitely takes up a lot of my free time. Otherwise, you’ll probably find me in the kitchen cooking and baking with my dog begging at my feet! My family and friends are important to me, so spending time with them is something I value whether in-person or over the phone.
What’s your favorite genre/format to read?
The majority of what I read is considered middle grade – titles geared toward 8-12 year olds. I love realistic fiction titles in this age group because authors aren’t afraid to delve into really tough topics, but are (usually) more hopeful and optimistic than what you’ll find in young adult and adult fiction. A few of my favorite titles this year include Front Desk by Kelly Yang, The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden, and Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
I love sharing the power of words, the community that we create and support, and the chance to make a difference in a person’s life. I can’t think of doing anything more amazing than that!
How did you become involved with the Upper Merion Township Library?
I applied for a job as a Children’s Librarian while I was finishing up my Master’s in Library and Information Science degree. I loved the diversity of the area, I was close to some relatives, and when I walked in on the day of the interview the library just felt right. Three days after graduation I started working in the library at the beginning of the summer reading program that year! That’s the best way to get to know the library – jump in with both feet during the busiest season and learn everything you can as fast as you can!
What do you do here at the library?
As the director it is my job to make sure everything is running smoothly – from ordering new material, to planning programs, to ensuring my staff have the tools they need to get the job done well. But, my favorite part of the job is getting the chance to look at the big picture – where is the library going in the future and how will we get there. It’s a HUGE and exciting question to answer!
Was there a librarian, a teacher, or a library program that influenced you?
The children’s librarian in my hometown public library – Ms. Heather. She’s still the children’s librarian there, working in a small town library, providing really amazing children’s programs to the community. Her passion for the kids in town and her love for the job definitely inspired me to become a children’s librarian. Plus, now anytime I’m home, I get to talk shop with my first librarian, coworker, and colleague, which is pretty awesome!
What’s something you want all Upper Merion residents to know about the Upper Merion Township Library?
The library will surprise you. If you haven’t been to the library in a little while (or if you’re here all the time), we invite you to stop by – we have over 600 programs a year, checked out close to 200,000 books last year and a lot of services that people aren’t even aware exist! We can notarize documents, proctor tests, we offer museum passes that can be checked for FREE. You can access Consumer Reports online from home (for FREE), Ancestry.com access is available in the library (for FREE) and eBooks you can download at home in your pjs (for FREE). There’s a lot to discover at the Upper Merion Township Library and we’d love to tell you all about it!
What sets the Upper Merion Township Library apart from other libraries?
We’re looking at the future and striving to become a more integrated part of our community. We aren’t willing to sit on the sidelines and watch technology pass us by, we’re ready to educate, empower and engage to create a stronger, more vibrant community. Our passion for the job, the community and the future is what sets us apart.
What’s something we can look forward to in the next few months?
I’m happy to announce that our pop-up computer lab is ready to go! We’ve been able to implement a computer lab that can be set up as needed to offer computer classes to the public from coding for kids to basic Microsoft Word and as a way to highlight our amazing online resources. Check out our online calendar for the class schedule in the upcoming months!