Monday, January 13, 2014

Ask the Librarian - Liz Danner

We feature a regular series of interviews with members of the Cambridge Public Library staff. This month, meet Liz...Children's Librarian at the Valente branch and another one of the people who make our Cambridge libraries fun and extraordinary places.

What made you want to become a librarian and what do you love most about your job? For two years after I graduated from college, I was a member of an AmeriCorps program in Manchester, New Hampshire whose mission was to promote early literacy to children and families who came from low-income backgrounds. As part of the program, I worked on several outreach projects with one of the children’s librarians at the city library and saw just how much of an impact public libraries can have on a young child’s life. I decided this was the kind of work I would love to do.

I love so many things about my job, but one of my favorites is giving children their first library cards. Several times, I have had children who I know from their preschools or library story times come in to the library with their parents on the day that they turn five in order to tell me that they are there to finally get their own card. It’s a pretty amazing to be able to be a part of that experience.

What’s unique about being a librarian at the Valente branch? One thing that I really love about working at the Valente Branch is getting to be a part of the neighborhood. I've met people from all over the country and world, people who have lived in Cambridge their entire lives, and people who have just moved to the area. I especially love being able to hear stories about what the neighborhood was like 10, 20, or even 50 years ago.

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you in your role as a librarian? One day, I had been helping out at another branch and as I was walking back to my branch, I passed by a group of preschoolers that I read stories to one morning a week. When they saw me, they were excited and all said hi, but one of the group was very concerned to see me outside of the library and expressed their worry that no one was watching the books. I assured them that my colleagues were taking good care of the books back at the branch and they seemed relieved.

How has technology changed your job? What is your opinion on e-books like the Kindle? One of the greatest benefits of technology in the library is the online catalog; people are now able to renew and request materials from home and then pick them up at the branch closest to them.

I have a Kindle and I love it. I tend to read a mix of both print and e-books. I still prefer print for graphic novels and picture books but for novels, I’ll read either version. I am constantly checking Overdrive, the library’s digital media catalog, for more titles. The Kindle is especially nice on days when I use public transportation to get to work, nothing beats having a lighter backpack!

What is something that people may find surprising about your role as a librarian? I don’t end up reading nearly as many books as I would like. I've found that since becoming a librarian, my “want to read” list is growing at a much quicker pace than I am actually reading.

Tell us about a situation you were part of or witnessed at the library that has stuck with you over time. There is a young patron who comes to the library several times a week. When I first met her, she was pretty quiet but over time we've built a rapport. Now whenever she comes in, she asks me for suggestions. The (very good) problem is that she’s read more than me at this point and I’m just trying to keep up!

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