Monday, June 4, 2012

Ask the Librarian - Maya Escobar

You'll find Maya in the
Teen Room at the Main Library.
We've been running a series of interviews with our library staff.  Here’s another featuring one of the people who make our CPL system extraordinary.

What made you want to become a librarian and what do you love most about your job?
Working in a library was initially something that happened to me -- the summer after I graduated from college Susan Flannery encouraged me to take a part-time position at CPL. I worked the evening shift at the circulation desk for eight months before embarking on other things, but whenever I ran into Susan she would remind me that the library was always waiting in the wings. I came back to work full time in the Children’s Department 10 years ago and honestly now it seems like destiny.

I could answer the second question by saying that I love books, and I love the atmosphere of the library building, and I love being able to wear what I want (I did my time in the financial district. Khakis: never again). But it comes down to the people I work with and the people who visit the library: this community of book lovers, IDEA lovers, who thrive on creativity and unconventionality. You know -- weirdos and nerds.

Are you in a book club? If so, how does your group select the books?
I am in a book club that hasn’t met for a few years, but before that we met for eight years. And it is co-ed. I think book groups have an undeserved rep as solely chick lit gatherings; you can absolutely have dudes and ladies get together over books.

At the library I have run a couple of book groups for middle school kids and teens. We select the books by voting on two or three titles I describe for the group.

What is something that people may find surprising about your role as a librarian?
I think librarians have an excellent sense of what they offer the world, but too often we are preaching to the choir and not to the people who still think we’re all shushing and reclusive. Even I worried, when embarking on this career, that I might be cloistering myself away from the real world. In fact librarians are incredibly outspoken and impassioned! I mean, it’s our job to know stuff and tell as many people as possible. So because of all we learn -- or because information-sucking is our nature -- library staff have an amazing breadth of talents and interests.

We also have a superhuman ability to detect the presence of cake in the building, and we are frequently still around at last call. That whole It’s a Wonderful Life librarian-lonely-spinster thing? Total lie: everyone wants to hang out with librarians.

Tell us about a situation you were part of or witnessed at the library that has stuck with you over time.  The marvelous things are small and incremental -- you have to remind yourself to look for them. Like when a child in story time is seeing something in a picture book that you have forgotten how to see. Or the teenager who comes to the library every day and makes you crazy, but he or she still comes in every day and then comes back years later to say hello. So many times I couldn’t tell you what I did; I just hope I keep doing it.

You can find out more about what's going on in the Teen Room on the CPL web site or by reading the Teen Room blog.
There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help to support our Cambridge libraries click here.

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