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Children's librarians more than storytellers

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Misti Harris
Misti Harris

Ever wonder what a children’s librarian does?

Children’s librarians select materials for the library’s children’s department, but they also do much more. They are responsible for planning a variety of programs and activities for young library patrons as well. They must conduct outreach, promote upcoming programs and answer reference questions.

A librarian who works with children must be well-versed in children’s literature — from toddler books to young-adult novels. She should regularly peruse children’s literature journals such as The Horn Book and School Library Journal. These journals contain extensive reviews of books currently available for young people. By studying these journals, she can make wise decisions on which books and materials should be included in the children’s and young adult sections of the library.

A children’s librarian also must plan programs for a wide range of ages. A children’s librarian finds herself planning a preschool story time one moment and a teen program the next. Later in the day, she may lead a book club for school-age children. It’s important that she relate well to kids of all ages and executes programs they will enjoy.

Helping with reference questions is another important task for a librarian who works with children. Many students come to the library to complete homework and special projects.

The librarian directs them to the materials they need in order to complete their assignments.

Conducting outreach is another responsibility of a librarian who works with young patrons. Many times, she travels to schools and day cares in order to read stories to children and encourage them to visit the library.

Since she regularly performs before an audience, she should have a flair for the dramatic, presenting story times so kids become excited about books and the library.

The library’s summer reading program is one of the most important job responsibilities of a youth services librarian. It’s imperative that she prepare for the program months in advance. Programs include special events, story times, special guests, and arts and crafts.

The goal is to encourage children to read over the summer by providing exciting activities at the library. Children win prizes by reading a predetermined amount of books throughout the summer months.

Often the summer program includes a finale where children who meet their reading goals attend a special celebration. Since the summer reading program is such a huge event, the children’s librarian makes careful preparations in order to ensure that it is a success.

A children’s librarian is responsible for a variety of tasks within the library. She must be skilled at conducting story times and book talks. She must schedule performers, create book lists, signs and creative book displays. She will conduct outreach and organize the summer reading program.

The librarian also must write news releases and design the monthly calendar.

The varied job responsibilities she handles makes the children’s department of the public library an exciting place to visit for kids of all ages.

Misti Harris is the children’s librarian at the Jennings County Public Library.

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