March 10, 2009
ASB New York Public Library!
Recently, over spring break, I was able to participate in SI's Alternative Spring Break Program. I worked at the Children's Center at the 42nd St. and 5th Ave. branch of the New York Public Library (that's the famous one with the lions in front). I chose the Children's Center because although I've had experience working with children, I wanted to learn more about being a Youth Librarian. This was the perfect opportunity to get a taste of life as a youth librarian and as a New Yorker!
My first day there the NYPL was nice enough to hold a breakfast for all the SI ASB students that would be working there for the week. Over the breakfast we discussed our backgrounds and why we chose the NYPL. I chose the NYPL because I know I want to work in a public library particularly a large urban system like the NYPL, who deal with a broad and diverse community.
Over the course of the week I helped out with programming, reference, selection, and was exposed to a lot of children's literature. The NYPL holds story times twice a week for children of 3-5 years. During the story time the kids are read to from a few picture books, they sing songs, and at the end work on a craft. The first story time I helped with over 50 people including children, mothers, and nannies showed up! And at 4:00 on a Monday it definitely took some effort to keep up with all the children there and have the energy to sing songs, read, and play games for an hour.
Spending time at a youth reference desk was also a totally new experience, here are some examples of reference questions from children:
1. Do you have any books on dragons?
2. Do you have books on animals?
3. I like otters.
Alright the last one wasn't a question but I've learned that if you think reference interviews are hard with adults it's even harder to gauge what children are actually looking for.
I was also encouraged and able to read the children's material. The librarians I worked with would recommend items to me and even hold material aside for me to read during the day. I've always enjoyed children's literature but don't often find the time to get into it. This was a great opportunity to learn about innovations in children's literature and remember the books I had read growing up. I even got to meet a great children's illustrator that just stopped by for a visit! Shaun Tan, who wrote or rather illustrated The Arrival paid a visit to the Children's Center. If you've never read The Arrival I highly recommend it, there is no dialogue and the illustrations tell the story of a man making a journey to a new place. It is unbelievably moving.
On my last day there the library had gotten Nintendo Wii and PS3 gaming systems. I was able to use my gaming expertise to set up the systems for them and hook them up to the internet via the gaming systems. I was excited about being able to help in a unique way to the environment of the Children's Center.
Before I end this I think I should talk about the Children's Center space. They had just moved to the 42nd and 5th ave. branch in November so the room had been re-done. There is an awesome mural of NYC sites done by a children's book illustrator that wraps around the entire room. There is a lot of fun and colorful furniture, bean bags, and sofas that the kids can lay down on, bounce on, and slide all over. It was just a very cool space. The NYPL owns and has on display the original Winnie the Pooh characters and the Mary Poppins umbrella, and there is a separate display room for those items that is also accessible to children. All in all it was a very cool space.
So I'm not yet sure if youth librarianship is my passion but it is definitely something I'm open to and would like to learn more about.
Posted by ansh at March 10, 2009 01:35 PM