Share a Story/Shape a Future, Day Four:
How to Make the Library Work for YOU

h1 March 12th, 2009 by jules

Jules: As I mentioned yesterday here at 7-Imp, I’m happy to be involved in this week’s blog tour for and by the people who create and engage their readers: teachers, librarians, parents, and people passionate about literacy. Yes, a literacy blog tour: It’s a way to share ideas and celebrate everything reading has to offer our children. I love the idea, and I’m pleased to be one of the many voices this week in this literacy project. It’s called Share a Story — Shape a Future, and it’s the brainchild of Terry Doherty from The Reading Tub. Check out the project’s web site if you want to backtrack and read what you’ve missed this week and if you want to see what’s-to-come. Here’s a master schedule; Day One was devoted to “Raising Readers,” Day Two to “Selecting Reading Material,” and yesterday to “Reading Aloud — It’s Fun, It’s Easy.”

Today, Day Four of the tour, is a day devoted to “A Visit to the Library.” (Check the bottom of this post for today’s—and the rest of this week’s—schedule.) I am joined by public librarian Adrienne Furness. I already gushed yesterday about why I instantly thought of interviewing her for this literacy blog tour, so I’ll try not to make her blush today. Bottom line is that she’s an exemplary public librarian.

Adrienne is one of two Children & Family Services Librarians at the Webster Public Library in the Monroe Country Library System in Rochester, New York. She blogs at What Adrienne Thinks About That, as well as here at the Monroe County Library System and the wonderful Homeschooling and Libraries. She’s the author of Helping Homeschoolers in the Library, published by ALA Editions last year.

We’re here to talk about how patrons can best make the library work in their favor. Adrienne, isn’t it fun to be a part of this multi-blog project? I’m especially happy to be involved, since I am currently not working in a library, though I have the requisite degree and such. I’m working from home, part-time and in my jammies, yet I know from my previous experience as a librarian some of the misconceptions about library use. And I’m glad to play a part, I hope, in helping clear some of them up. (By the way, because I cannot stand to post without images, I’m going to throw in some book covers of titles about libraries. Just below is probably my very favorite one.)

Adrienne, since you are a public librarian—and a very, very good one at that, in my not-so-humble opinion—and I’ve not done public librarianship myself, I thought I’d let you start off. In fact, I’m thinking of this as more of an interview of the expert, but I promise I’ll respond to your musings.

So, I know that we considered naming this discussion something else, which was your good idea: Even Librarians Get Overdue Fines. I think I know where you were going with that -– that patrons sometimes get embarrassed about circulation missteps, thinking that, say, they will get scolded for an overdue book. Or any number of other things. Can you talk a bit more about that? I know that in my own experience …shoot, I am a librarian myself, and I paid a fine last week to the Nashville Public Library that was about $5.00. And it had been neglected for entirely too long.

Adrienne: I was so excited to be asked to be a part of this because I am all about libraries and literacy and reading to kids. One of the things that guides a lot of decisions I make as a librarian is that study after study after study about literacy shows that the more exposure children have to lots of different types of reading material, the more likely it is that they will become successful readers, maybe even the kind of people who read for fun. It seems to me that the number one easiest way to ensure that there is a variety of reading material in a child’s life is to take that child to the library on a regular basis (weekly seems reasonable) and encourage him or her to check out a lot of books, but I cannot tell you the number of parents I talk to who have decided to stop using the library altogether because they had an overdue fine or accidentally damaged a book. In the cases I’m thinking of, it’s not that the family can’t pay for whatever it is—they’re just too horrified to deal with the whole thing.

Which—ACK!—this is not why families should decide to stop coming to the library, you know? We’re not here to judge. Heck, the revenue generated from fees is part of our budgets—we NEED that money. Plus, these things happen to everyone. A couple years ago, I dropped a library book in the bathtub (ANOTHER library’s book, no less). I mean, I should totally know better than that, but I did it and I had to pay for the book and that’s just how it goes. No big deal. You could choose to look at it as a way you support the library.

If you want to avoid fines and fees, the best way to do that is to know your library’s policies and procedures. Most libraries will have some kind of handout that lists things like how long you can take particular materials out, whether (and how!) you can renew them, and what the library’s policies are on overdue materials.

Another way *I’ve* personally avoided overdue books is by signing up for the LibraryElf. I’m kind of evangelical about the Elf. What it does is send you a daily snapshot of your library account—what’s due today, what’s due in the next three days, the status of your holds, what-all-else you have checked out. You can get the snapshot sent to your email or you can set it up as an RSS feed in Bloglines or Google Reader or whatever. You can even get text alerts on your phone. If you, like me, have multiple cards to manage, you can have several cards on one account, and the daily message will include everything from all the cards on the account. I’ve been using it for years now, and I love it.

Jules: Ooh! Ooh! Fabulous! You see, this is oh-so helpful. I remember hearing about LibraryElf years ago, but I suppose I assumed that it couldn’t accommodate several cards on one account. Shows you what I know. I’m signing up!

Again, I’ve never done public librarianship—only school—so I’m surprised to read that parents will actually stop using the library due to overdue fines or inadvertently-damaged books. I’m with you: NO! NO! That is nothing. Oh heavens, we’re all human. I’ve had to pay for lost library books in my day, too. And I’m a very member of the profession.

I have several more questions for you, but I want to address this one next, since I think you’re a fine children’s librarian, and I wish I could attend your story times –- not only for my children, but for my own enjoyment.

I think that sometimes a lot of parents are guided by what I’ll call the Shhh! Principle – that if their children are a bit loud in the library, as hyper and energetic children are wont to be, they are perhaps mortified. I don’t know about you, but in library school, we were actively taught to regard the children’s room, particularly the story-time area, as The Place Where It’s A-Okay to Make Noise. Do you think sometimes parents back off from story-time attendance, because they fear their children are too antsy or misbehave too much or won’t sit down and be quiet already or that type of thing? I dunno. I think some parents might think that way, and if so, that’s too bad, because story time is for fun.

Isaac Bashevis SingerI’ve always loved the last part of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s {pictured here} 1978 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, in which he lists the reasons he writes for children, including “{w}hen a book is boring, they yawn openly, without any shame or fear of authority.” He also said, elsewhere, that the “child is still selfish to demand an interesting story. He wants surprises and tensions…Young as they are, fresh from the egg, they know exactly who they are, and where they belong.” I think we story-time librarians know this—and most of us, I’d say, appreciate that about children—so we expect some ants-in-the-pants.

Do you generally have any story-time tips for parent-patrons? And, on a similar note, isn’t it true that public librarians gladly accept suggestions for collection development – that if a parent, say, really wants to have a new title added to the collection or read at story time, that they can talk to the librarian and it will at least be considered? I think often patrons aren’t aware of this. And most public librarians I know are happy to get suggestions.

Adrienne: You are so right about the Shhh! Principle. We do our youngest story-times for children aged 12-23 months, and I always have to put a lot of energy into reassuring parents that I do not expect children that young to sit and listen to me read stories for a half hour and that it is, in fact, not even desirable to have children that age sit passively for a half hour. Toddlers don’t learn much sitting around. Singer’s words are apt, especially for preschoolers. They need to be able to react and ask questions and just be their own wonderful selves in the library, ESPECIALLY in story times. So, yes, we expect and welcome some squirrelliness. In Webster, the entrance to our Children’s Room is a rainbow, so one of my favorite sounds every day is when children rush through the front doors shouting “The rainbow! The rainbow!” while skipping along toward the Children’s Room. This lets me know I’m doing something at least a little right on a daily basis.

Now, of course, some parents have concerns about bringing their kids to the library or story-times because their children have developmental delays or attention issues or other special needs. The best advice I can give in these situations is to talk to your librarians. I think I’m speaking for a lot of us when I say that we are happy to make accommodations when we can to make the library more enjoyable for everyone—this is especially true of programs. I want all children to feel welcome and included. Arguably, it’s the children who have the hardest time paying attention who stand to gain the most.

(Jules adds: Adrienne and I just really, REALLY like this. I know this may be difficult to read. Click on the image itself to see a bigger, more legible version.)

Text © 2001 by Dean Schneider and Robin Smith.
Reprinted from the March/April 2001 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Image used with permisson of Roger Sutton/The Horn Book.

Personally, I appreciate getting feedback from patrons about EVERYTHING. I can’t always do EVERYTHING, but I almost always buy items patrons suggest and take a look at things they recommend. I’ve planned programs and made changes to our room based on patron suggestions (even kids’ suggestions—our Idea Box is one of my favorite things in the Children’s Room). {Jules adds: Have you seen Adrienne’s “REAL Suggestions from the Children’s Room” series of sorts at her blog? SO GREAT. Here’s one of the most recent ones.} The library belongs to the community, so we can’t really do our jobs all that well if we don’t know what people in the community are thinking, particularly those community members who use the library frequently. Librarians may look busy, but that’s just because we can’t help but read whatever’s in front of us. We also really love talking to people, so please don’t feel like you’re a bother or interrupting. You’re a vital part of what we do every day.

Jules, wouldn’t it be so fun if we could do a story time together someday? Oh, to dream!

Jules: Oh, to dream, indeed! You don’t even know how many times I’ve read the great posts at your blog and thought, I want to be in a public library one day, but I won’t do it unless, for some wild reason, I’ve moved to northern New York and can work with Adrienne. We know we’d, at the very least, always have good pots of coffee goin’.

That coffee is screaming, 'GIVE ME SOME CREAM!'

“Squirrelliness” is such a good way to put it -– in regards to children, that is, at story time. It’s probably true that parents get too worked up, though they mean well. Again, I’m a librarian, and I even do THAT. I frequent my local public library’s story times, and I sometimes all shush-like and a little too stridently fuss at my girls for, say, dancing a bit too long to the song (you know, they’re still running around the room like wild monkeys, though the song’s ended), for not sitting down soon enough when it’s time to get quiet for a story, for TALKING TO THE LIBRARIAN DURING THE READING OF THE BOOK (I think this could be its own post, including the various ways librarians handle that), etc. I guess we just can’t help it. But thank goodness they have librarians who are willing to have fun and sing and dance.

Now, here’s a question for you about which I’m not at all sure myself, since my training was in school—not public—librarianship: How do public librarians feel about patrons making suggestions about the OPAC user interface? In case that is geeky library speak, it means the online library catalog, making it possible for you to get on your computer at home, have access to the library’s web site, and see if a book is available –- as well as check your own record online, including renewing books. I use two libraries here in middle Tennessee, and one of them has an OPAC that is sometimes frustrating to me. For instance, I can’t renew materials and see my holds list (or my, ahem, fines) at the same time; I have to do those separately instead, typing my long card number several times. The other one is much more user-friendly in that way, but it also has some weirdness going on in which, when I am prompted to type in my library card number in order to check my record, the number suddenly appears, as I type it, in the search box for the catalog. And then everything goes downhill, and I have to backtrack and type the number again. And it makes me curse creatively and inappropriately each time.

So, I’ve always wondered: If I—as a very devoted library patron—gave unsolicited feedback, as humbly as possible and with my very friendliest possible smile (maybe I could throw in a twinkle in my eye), about improvements to the OPAC that would make life easier for patrons, would I get mean looks? Or grumbles when I walk away from the desk? (I once had a traumatic public library experience in which I was grumbled at by a librarian—okay, she exclaimed something like, “MY GOD!” very loudly when I walked up to the desk—IN FRONT of everyone for checking out the maximum number of books on my two library cards. Picture books for my children. Oh THE HORROR! How dare I? But that’s a nightmarish story for another day.)

Adrienne: As I’ve been writing along, I keep thinking that at some point I should admit that sometimes library staff are less-than-friendly to patrons, even in the best of libraries. Sometimes I am less-than-friendly myself—it usually comes of being tired or hungry or overwhelmed or discouraged about a patron who was recently yelling about a fifty cent overdue fee. I worked at McDonalds for many years while I was in college, and during interviews, people always ask me what I learned from that job that can be applied to libraries. What I can tell you is that working the reference desk in a public library is WAY more like working the drive-thru at McDonalds than it is like anything academic or pretty.

Anyway, the OPAC. Please do tell your librarians what kinds of frustrations you’re having using it. Tell them what works, too. When you can point to something else that works better, I think that’s also very helpful. We can’t make these things better if we don’t know what is and isn’t working for people. There are a couple things to bear in mind when you talk to someone, though. First, the average front-line librarian has absolutely zero control over the OPAC and may already be hearing your complaints from other people. If you sense some frustration when you talk to someone, that’s probably why. They’re probably thinking that they’d love to change whatever you’re talking about, but they don’t know how. I know I feel that a lot. Second, the people who do have control over the OPAC are the people who make and sell it, and they make. changes. ridiculously. slowly.

As a for-example, our OPAC is shared by all the libraries in Monroe County. It used to be that when you were searching in a given library, there was a tag on the results list that would let you know which items were owned by the library you were standing in. Months ago, the tags disappeared. Patrons complain about it all the time; *I* complain about it all the time. They’re still not back. I have no idea why. It causes me as much trouble as it causes any patron, and when people comment on it day after day, I TRY to nod and look sympathetic—but it’s so frustrating when there’s nothing I can do to solve the problem. Librarians are problem-solvers by nature. It’s a strain when we’re repeatedly confronted with problems we can’t solve—BUT if we don’t hear about them, we can’t do anything about them, either. So tell us.

Jules, YOU BET on the coffee. We’re getting a videocamera for the library soon, and I want to make a little mini-documentary for the website about how the children’s staff is all addicted to coffee. People are always commenting on how patient we are with the kids; the coffee is why.

Jules: I definitely agree about being half-glass-full about your OPAC feedback – or any feedback, for that matter. Accentuate the positive first. Excellent idea.

I have one more question for you, as I suppose we should be wrapping this up. (But, my, it’s been fun chatting with you!)

Even I, as a librarian, am a bit fuzzy on how exactly the friendly, local reference librarian can help patrons. Rather, I know what he or she is supposed to do, but sometimes I get shy about asking for their expert research help. I have a feeling it’s silly of me to be shy like that and that they are there to answer questions. Any advice for me and other patrons?

Adrienne: Oh, the librarians are totally there to help you find the answers to your questions, whatever they are. Sometimes questions will be out of our scope (like if you’re a college student looking for research articles—that’s what your college library is for), but most things parents and kids are asking for are things we can find. In our Children’s Room, we help find information for kids’ assignments and personal interests. We try to match readers with the books they want to read, be they (real examples) biographies of presidents who have been assassinated or picture books in which cake is featured prominently. We help find non-book materials that match certain parameters—good audiobooks for a family road trip, maybe, or music CDs on the multiplication tables. We do a fair amount of helping parents find materials to help them deal with the various issues they face—potty training, getting the kids to sleep, discipline, even burn-out. My feeling on the issue is that I can have the best collection in the world, but if people can’t find what they’re looking for, I might just as well not have bothered. So I definitely want people to ask, and I am so happy when I can send them away with something they wanted to find.

Yeah, I suppose we should be wrapping up. We could go on and on. I’m always so glad to talk to you!

Jules: Me, too! Thanks for chatting with me on this fab blog tour—especially since you made time to do it while you were travelling and teaching—and let’s hope there will be a Part Two next year.

* * * * * * *

Day 4 of Share a Story–Shape a Future: A Visit to the Library. Hosted by Eva Mitnick at Eva’s Book Addiction:

Day 5: Technology and Reading — What the Future Holds. Hosted by Elizabeth O. Dulemba:

38 comments to “Share a Story/Shape a Future, Day Four:
How to Make the Library Work for YOU”

  1. Great interview, and thanks for the LibraryElf tip!

  2. Okay, I kind of hate this, because now I want to be four, and go to Adrienne’s library for story and screech and run around and not be scolded. And, it kind of won’t happen.

    Oh, well. At least I can, like, get coffee now. Some benefits to adulthood. I LOVE the book covers posted with this. Seriously: The Sarah Stewart book IS ME. And Please Bury Me in the Library? Oh, yes.

    My only objection to this post is that a.) we cannot see a single dress or pair of shoes Adrienne is wearing, and b.) she is not standing next to Darth Vader. Otherwise it, like Adrienne and you and all librarians, is pretty much perfection itself.

    That is all.

  3. Someone told me about LibraryElf last summer and now I love it. It tells me when anyone in the family’s books are due. I am also really happy with my public library’s OPAC and website. I can request books and renew them easily.

    We have a great children’s librarian too. He really enjoys the story hours and does puppets, songs, silly stories, etc. Both my little guys adore him. When Buddy was a toddler he was always wandering around during the story, going over and switching off the lights in the room. Mr. Jim was totally cool about it.

    Adrienne your library looks so cool! I want to run over the bridge under that rainbow myself! Great interview!

  4. I had the most wonderful children’s librarian growing up. Sadly, I can’t remember her name, but I remember her face, and how glad she was when our family showed up every week and how she seemed almost conspiratorial with me when I checked out the max number of books that I could carry. (I don’t remember a card limit, just the limit of what I could physically hold.)

    I love reading Adrienne’s real suggestions from the box. And the fact that she LISTENS to her patrons, big and small.

  5. I grew up in a very small town and we had a very small library with one librarian; she would stop everything when a group of children gathered in the room with their mothers/dads/friends and sit in the rocker and read to us….checking out of books could wait! We so loved hearing Mrs. Mayo read a story to us. Thank you for bringing back those memories and reminding all of us about the many things a library and the librarians can do to assist each of us. And Jules, thank you for the great visuals you could not resist adding…I am delighted to have some new titles to add to my “library” list!

  6. Thanks Adrienne and Jules! Now that I’m going to the library more, I definitely need to check out LibraryElf. Here in Cville, when I want a real library experience, I go to the original library on Main Street. The closer library doesn’t have a children’s room as much as a space-with-low-bookshelves next to the computer area.

    I love your comparison to working the reference desk and working at McDonalds. I spent my four years of college working in our University library. Reference Desk, Front Desk, quarter pounder with cheese and a large fries … it was much the same.

    Thanks ladies for a most enjoyable conversation.

  7. I love how everyone is sharing their favorite-librarian (and library) memories. In grad school once, we talked about perceptions of the library, and my prof once gave us a hand-out she had created about well-known authors’ and illustrators’ experiences with the library — how they see the library, what their good and bad experiences were. There were many who were rather scared of libraries, due to bad experiences with librarians who were entirely too strict. I tried to find that hand-out, but I seem to have lost it.

    But there were also many happy, wonderful memories, too, of course.

    I also liked Adrienne’s analogy about McDonalds. I’ve never done public librarianship, but I have worked at McDonalds, which was McHorrifying, AND I’ve worked as a school librarian, checking out books to kids. And I get this analogy. I do. I really do. I try to remember this when I check out books at my public library.

  8. Best. interview. ever!! Any person who was ever hesitating about going to the library because she has fines or his kids aren’t absolutely quiet will want to dash on over to the local library today. And oh, I’m so envious of that rainbow room…
    Thanks, Jules and Adrienne!!

  9. […] How to Make the Library Work for YOU – an interview with Adrienne of What Adrienne Thinks About That conducted by Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast The World Beyond the Library’s Walls – Melissa at Librarian by Day ABC Storytimes: Taking the Library Home – Pam Coughlan at MotherReader […]

  10. “…working the reference desk in a public library is WAY more like working the drive-thru at McDonalds than it is like anything academic or pretty.” Gosh, that’s a great quote—and a great interview.

    I got shushed at the library all the way through high school, but I still loved it. The books, the cool rooms, the magazines–endless possibilities.

  11. What a great interview! Thanks for the LibraryElf recommendation. I just signed up!

  12. I’m with Tanita. I wanna be small so I can run through that rainbow and listen to Adrienne read me stories.

    I’ve never met a librarian I didn’t like. The school and public librarians who recommended books for me while I was growing up changed my life. I was a latchkey child. A public librarian “gave me” the Little House books. Another showed me The Trouble with Jenny’s Ear. I still remember how kind she was to a scared little girl when she said, “I think you’ll really like this one.” And I did.

    Thanks for the wonderful chat, you two. And I love all those library themed books.

  13. Thanks so much to Jules and Adrienne for this great interview! (It totally lived up to the sneak preview which Jules provided yesterday.)

    I’ve always liked libraries (although I had a complicated experience with one in 7th grade, as I described on somebody else’s blog last year). As an adult, I’m afraid I got spoiled by the expensive habit of BUYING every book I wanted to read; as a now-responsible adult (cough), I think it’s time to renew my relationship with the main branch here in town (which is a block away from where I work).

    About libraries (and books etc. about them), some great ones are in: Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series (in which the formerly human librarian has suffered an unfortunate run-in with some stray magic, and is now happily and apparently forever an orangutan); Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series (here, the librarian is the Cheshire Cat!); Jorge Luis Borges’s story “The Library of Babel,” about a library so vast that it contains every book which can be printed; and Wim Wenders’s film Wings of Desire, in which the angels gather in the library to listen in on — to experience — the thoughts of the human patrons. (Video of that wonderful scene on YouTube, unsurprisingly.)

  14. YES!!!! This is exactly why I wanted to become a librarian. Like Jules, I am a “trained” school librarian, but I currently work as a reference librarian at a community college, but there is so much crossover from each “domain”. We want to give our patrons – students, faculty, staff, community users – a positive library experience. We never say “ssssh” unless youtube is being played a little too loud upstairs, and we can hear it at the desk downstairs. We even allow snack food and covered drinks. We welcome feedback and questions. In fact, I get a little bored when the only questions I get are about databases – I like being asked for help finding Canadian mountain ranges. (As much as I like my job, I am looking forward to getting back into the school library, and I will use those wonderful library titles featured in the post). That is my librarian perspective, now let me put on my public library user hat.

    When we lived in Oak Ridge, I used to take Cy (18M – 2 1/2YRS) to storytime at the public library. The children’s room was (and hopefully, still is) run by the wonderful Mr. Will, a magnificent librarian and Scot. He did such a great job of incorporating readalouds and songs. He wasn’t a sssshhy librarian, but I really felt like other parents took advantage of that. During storytime, many kids would run around the library, making a lot of noise, that made it hard for the rest of us to enjoy the stories. I felt so bad for Mr. Will, because he really didn’t mind excessive dancing and questions and general toddler/preschooler “squirreliness”, but I felt like some parents treated the library as an indoor playground – a place they could chat and let their kids run riot (like a McDonald’s play area). Still, I miss that library. And I would love to go through that rainbow – what an inviting space!!!

  15. Susan, I probably should have said that getting shushed isn’t all bad. I was speaking specifically about the children’s room, which isn’t supposed to be quiet, for sure. But I actually also talk to my daughters a whole stinkin’ lot about how—when we’re walking through the non-children’s part of the library—they need to be quiet and respectful of the grown-ups who are working. I do think they need to know that — in other words, the Shhh! Principle isn’t all bad.

    In the children’s room, though….that’s no place for it. (Unless, you know, the librarian’s talking or reading a book….Like Zoë said, it’s also not an indoor playground! Great point, Zoë!)

    And I know what you mean about “endless possibilities.” Isn’t it the best place? It also makes me happier than bookstores, since at the library, we’re re-using and sharing.

  16. Fun stuff, Jules and Adrienne! Maybe you two can do a storytime for all of us at the next KidLit conference…

    I especially liked the Horn Book image about how not to raise a reader. Perhaps a bit subtle for widespread use, but I really liked it. And all of the book covers, too. Such a celebration of libraries, all in one place. You made me miss going to library (something I don’t do as much now, since so many books make their way to my house every week via the UPS man).

  17. Here’s a few of things I’ve done (or the kiddies have done) and I still go back to my library:

    My newly potty-trained daughter had an accident in the library.

    My son went “missing” and I went berserk looking for him. The children’s librarian had dragged him off to, yes, story-time. (I had just dashed in to get a book). When I found him, one of the librarians gave me a stern talking-to. I gave her a stern talking-to. We both cried. But I still went back to the library (okay, I went to a different library for about 5 years, but I went to the library).

    I’ve had to pay for drawn-on books, wet books, lost books and books mangled by the dog. I seriously think I’ve put a librarian’s kid through college with my library fines/fees.

    But I’ll always go back. I love libraries so much, I want to marry them. And I love librarians who love their jobs. Oh, and the great library books here. Thanks, Jules and Adrienne-really enjoyed this post!

  18. Wonderful!! Bravo for intrepid librarians, and thanks to the 7-Imps and Adrienne for the fab interview. I have so many good memories of my mom taking me to the library when I was little (and enrolling me in those summer reading programs) and I still frequent my local public library so I don’t spend huge ginormous amounts of money on books. 🙂

  19. […] How to Make the Library Work for YOU – an interview with Adrienne of What Adrienne Thinks About That conducted by Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast […]

  20. Thanks again to everyone for stopping by, and John, I love all those book tips. And that Wim Wenders clip! Thanks muchly.

  21. […] four on tour is another great one!  You can take a wonderful tour of the New York City Library, learn about LibraryELF, pick up tips about making the most of a library’s many services, and see a collection of great […]

  22. I just got home from my flight from LA, and I love finding all these comments and stories! Thank you so much for the kind words about the interview and our Children’s Room. Truly, I wish I could read stories to everyone.

  23. […] How to Make the Library Work for YOU – an interview with Adrienne of What Adrienne Thinks About That conducted by Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast […]

  24. Your children’s section looks so welcoming! I think I would run to the rainbow too! Thanks for sharing about the library world – especially storytimes.

  25. Wonderful interview – I don’t think I realized how prevalent that anxiousness of fines and overdue books really was, and that it probably kept me from the library sometimes too. Now that it’s “out there” it can be overcome!
    I also loved the Horn Book list – I hadn’t seen that.

  26. You guys, this is EXCELLENT. I was a public children’s librarian for a few years, too, and I saw exactly the sort of hindrances you’ve described – people embarrassed by overdue or lost books, children’s behavior, and their own uncertainties about how to find stuff. Thanks for addressing all those issues.

    One thing I didn’t see until I worked in a very multi-cultural neighborhood in Cambridge: parents who have moved to the US from other countries who only checked out DVDs for their kids – never books. It wasn’t until we children’s librarians had a workshop from the local literacy council about serving immigrant families that I understood why – they were embarrassed about their English, and didn’t want to read books to their kids for fear that the little ones would pick up their accents. How sad is that?

  27. makes me want to visit my library more 🙂

  28. Wow, Eisha. I’d never thought of—or heard of—that. Whoa.

  29. You guys are making me feel bad that I’m not a librarian. Seriously. You are both so … cool. I really want to go running toward the rainbow and max out my card on picture books and then sit and coffee with the both of you. Humph.

  30. Oh my gosh. And also, you guys? That How to Raise a NonReader??? i LOVE that. LOVE.

  31. Eisha, I’ve seen this, too. An intrepid ESL teacher in our district started organizing these ESL nights at the library once a year for families in the district, and this is one of the things the teachers talk about, which is very cool. One of those things I just kind of lucked into.

    Liz, YES, I love “Unlucky Arithmetic.” The Horn Book gives away poster-sized versions of it at ALA conferences, so we have a laminated one that we usually have up in the Children’s Room or Story Room. I think Jen’s right that it’s lost on some people, but, if nothing else, it’s a good reminder for me about what I’m up to.

  32. A very fun conversation and really touched on alot of the stuff we see in the library. Thanks for the reminder on ELF too! My former library had pre-overdue notices so I paid no attention until I got here and ..urk! Fines again. As I tell people who worry about fines and overdues, “Hey, I work here everyday and I ALWAYS have fines! Small price to pay when I think what it would cost me to buy even one book!”

  33. Great interview! And yes, I am so glad to know about LibraryElf. I can keep track of my books, but I don’t always know when my husband’s books become due. I’ve also hesitated about getting my 5 year old daughter her own library card for that reason. With LibraryElf, it looks much more managable!


    I would have loved to have been a child in Adrienne’s library. My library was functional enough, but I didn’t want to spend time in it. I would go to the library, walk up and down the aisles until I couldn’t carry any more books, and then check them out, never thinking that I should have perhaps brought a bag or a wagon. I didn’t go to storytimes because I just wanted to read. I love it that the babies and young toddlers have their own storytimes now. Those storytimes are as much for the parents as they are for the children.

  34. Another book for the list above: The Legend of Spud Murphy” by Eion Colfer. Two brothers are packed off to the library by thier stressed out mom during the summer holidays where the dreaded librarian Spud Murphy awaits. Hilarious!

  35. “Even Librarians get Overdue Fines”
    Even this librarian’s dog spills chocolate syrup over a brand new library book, chews on it and then does what dogs do (when they’ve eaten chocolate) on top of the book. So believe me, I will believe and sympathize with anyone.

    I love Adrienne’s outlook on librarianship and life.

  36. […] How to Make the Library Work for YOU – an interview with Adrienne of What Adrienne Thinks About That conducted by Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast […]

  37. […] How to Make the Library Work for YOU – an interview with Adrienne of What Adrienne Thinks About That conducted by Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast […]

  38. […] interview with our very own cool-shoe-wearing Librarian to Lord Vader, Adrienne. The very awesome Jules interviewed Librarian Adrienne on how she has risen to the heights of the Death Star, and surprisingly, it had not a lot to do […]

Leave a Comment

Should you have trouble posting, please contact Thanks.