Wednesday, May 27, 2015

#ArmchairBEA Day 1: Introduction & Library Love

Armchair BEA

Today is the beginning of Armchair BEA, the online conference for book lovers who are unable to attend Book Expo America in person in New York City. Today's topics are Introductions and Library Love. One of the suggested prompts is to interview a librarian, so I decided to interview myself. The first five questions below are the five I chose from the official Armchair BEA list, and the others are questions I made up to ask myself (based in part on questions I used to ask when I posted interviews at The Library Adventure.)

Part 1: Armchair BEA Introduction 

  • Tell us a bit about yourself: How long have you been blogging? Where are you from? How did you get into blogging?
    I'm Katie Fitzgerald, and I live in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. I started blogging in January 2011, shortly after I started working for the DC Public Library as a children's librarian. My original blog was Secrets & Sharing Soda, where I posted book reviews and "random thoughts on children's and teen literature." A few months after starting that first blog, I also started blogging here at Story Time Secrets, where I recorded all of my story times and other library programs. When I had my daughter (known around here as "Little Miss Muffet") in late 2013, I left the library and subsequently merged both blogs into one. My content now ranges from book reviews to story time programs to literacy activities for all ages.
  • Why do you loving reading and blogging?
    I love to read because I love getting to know different characters. Stepping into someone else's life for a little while is a great way to gain new perspective on the world - and sometimes to escape briefly from my own life! Blogging has turned me into a more careful and more dedicated reader. Now that I have a blog to maintain, I am more organized and deliberate about my reading choices, and I look more deeply into the books I read, searching for layers of meaning to share with my audience.
  • What is your favorite genre and why? Though I can be persuaded to read the occasional fantasy novel, I am naturally drawn to realistic stories. This has always been true, ever since I learned to read and began to select my own reading material. I don't think it's that I'm not imaginative; I just prefer to imagine things that could conceivably happen in real life. I have a hard time connecting with books set in worlds completely removed from reality because I have no personal experience to draw from, and therefore no emotional connection to the book. And this is not  a genre, but I also prefer middle grade novels over any other type of book. The themes that are most common in middle grade books - friendship, family, getting to know oneself, and solving everyday problems - are the ones I relate to the most, 
  • Share your favorite blog post on your blog.
    My favorite blog post is actually not a book review, but this list of 10 Creative Ways to Share Nursery Rhymes at Story Time.
  • What book are you most looking forward to reading this summer?
    I'm excited to read Sarah Dessen's Saint Anything. I have been reading her books since That Summer was published when I was in high school, and I never miss one. Even  though I technically don't review YA anymore, I will probably make an exception for this book! 

Part 2: Librarian Interview

  • Describe your path to librarianship.
    I did not set out to become a librarian; I set out to become a writer. This did not prove to be as easy as I had hoped, and as college graduation loomed, I found myself in need of a plan B. One day, a friend said to me out of the blue, "You know what you would be good at? Being a librarian." It turned out she didn't really know that much about what librarians do, but when I began researching library school programs, I realized it really was a natural match for me. I started out thinking I would be a school librarian, but then fell in love with the freedom of the public library to make reading fun without a prescribed curriculum. I finished my degree in three semesters and a summer and never looked back.
  • Which libraries have you worked in? 
    I was an intern for the Albany Public Library during graduate school. Then my first real library job was at the Josephine-Louise Public Library in Walden, NY, where I was responsible for our tiny reference area and young adult programming. (My "young adults" are graduating college this year, and it is mind-blowing!) After three years in Walden, I needed a change, and I moved to Washington, DC where I was the children's librarian at the brand-new Tenley-Friendship Library for three years. Now I am a stay-at-home mom to Miss Muffet, whose library is far less organized than any other I have worked in.
  • What is your favorite thing about being a librarian? Story time! I still get to perform a few story times now and then, as a volunteer, but I miss the days when I was doing nine or ten programs every week as part of my job! 
  • What is the craziest/funniest/strangest thing you have ever seen or experienced on the job?I was once alone on the second floor of the library (I won't say which one) not long before closing when a patron (who was mentally ill) undid her pants and just let them drop to the floor, giving a little squeal of glee. ("Whoo!") I was so stunned, I don't even remember if I said anything to her, but I know she did take her sweet time putting her pants back on. It was an especially funny incident at the time because the Pants on the Ground guy had just been on American Idol.
  • What is one thing you wish library users knew? 
    That children's librarians are not going to be angry if a child rips a book. I have talked with a lot of moms about why they don't use the library, or why they don't allow their kids to borrow books, and the response always involves a tale of shame where a ripped book was quickly taped up and  returned in the book drop after hours to avoid facing the wrath of the librarian. I always tell them they definitely shouldn't worry, that most librarians know kids are not always careful and that anything that can be taped or glued is probably not going to result in a lecture or a fine. (If there are libraries where this is not the case, that makes me sad.) 
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