8 Things My First Public Library Job Taught Me

A picture of me with a stack of Oregon Battle of the Books (OBOB) titles during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In December 2021, I made the big life decision to leave my first public library job. I started working there in June 2016, when a renewed levy brought on a bunch of new staff as the library system expanded hours and programming. I got hired as a branch librarian in a 3016 square foot library that was housed in a former bank. A series of departures in late 2017 led to my being transferred into the job I had initially been rejected for at the main library in Youth Services. I was absolutely thrilled. By late 2019, more departures led to my temporary appointment as youth services supervisor. Because of the pandemic and an impending institutional reorganization, “temporary” ended up being until July 2021. All in all, I was there for 5 1/2 years.

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Article Alert: Best Graphic Novels 2021

This year brought many of the same challenges as 2020, but one of the bright spots for me was serving on School Library Journal‘s Best Books committee to select the best graphic novels for youth published in 2021. It was a totally different experience from Caldecott and I found the end goal of a list so freeing in comparison to selecting a single medalist. It was also freeing to not be beholden to the same sort of eligibility rules (unfortunately, Caldecott can only go to U.S. illustrators). Coincidentally, most of my favorite graphic novels of the year were by non-U.S. creators.

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2020 Tween Book Group Activities

To say 2020 was strange doesn’t even begin to cover it. But it was definitely an odd year for tween (ages 9-12) book group. First, book group stopped like everything else. We weren’t allowed to hold any programs, not even virtual. Then we brought it back via Zoom, but only with books with eBook or eAudiobook versions in Library2Go or Hoopla. In August, we found our groove (and grant funding) to provide book group boxes that we mailed to participants in advance of the Zoom discussion. As of this writing, we’ve done these book group boxes now for a whole year. (I’ll talk more about the process behind creating those in a separate post.)

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Article Alert: Graphic Nonfiction for Kids

Here’s a quick post to share that I had an article published in Booklist‘s third annual Guide to Graphic Novels in Libraries (July 2021). The piece, “Creating a Graphic Nonfiction Collection for Kids,” is mostly aimed at collection development librarians, but there is a small bibliography of recommended titles that could be useful for anyone.

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Caldecott 2021 Wrap-Up

With the 2021 Newbery-Caldecott-Legacy Banquet come and gone, my term on the Caldecott committee is officially over. What a rollercoaster these last two years have been. But, when I look back on it all, I feel nothing but pride. I’m proud of my fellow committee members (and feel so lucky to have served with them). I’m proud our choices. I’m proud of the process, which went on alongside one of the most difficult years for the whole world.

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